Ph.D. in Human Science, major in Human Development and Family Science (HDFS)


Program Description

In the Human Development and Family Science (HDFS) Ph.D. program, we train students to become the next generation of scholars, university faculty, and researchers. Our graduates have successfully obtained positions of their choice in some of the nation’s leading academic institutions.

The HDFS curriculum addresses relational and family process in contemporary families, such as cohabiting couples, families of divorce and remarriage, military families, and foster families. Faculty are noted for their study of children’s friendships, couple dynamics, intimate partner violence, parenting practices, racial socialization, among other topics.


  • Required Core Courses
    • HOE 6366 Research Best Practices in Human Sciences
    • CHD 5617 Professional Development in FCS
    • FAD 5481 College Teaching in Family Sciences
    • FAD 5942 Supervised Teaching
    • CHD 6261 Theories of Child Development
    • FAD 6436 Theories of Family Science
    • FAD 6930r Special Topics in MFT: Family Diversity
  • Required Research and Statistics
    • CHD 5915 Methods of Research
    • FAD 5700 Applied Research in Human Sciences
    • FAD 6935r Special Topics in FCS: Qualitative Methods in FCS
    • FAD 5912r Supervised Research
    • FAD 6917 Research Methods in FCS
    • FAD 8964r Preliminary Doctoral Exam
    • FAD 6980 Dissertation
    • FAD 8985r Dissertation Defense Examination
  • Data Analytic Electives (examples)
    • COM 5317 Content Analysis in Communication Research
    • EDF 5402 Adv. Topics in Analysis of Variance Apps.
    • EDF 5406 Multivariate Analysis Applications
    • EDF 5409 Causal Modeling
    • EDF 5410 Nonparametric Analysis Applications
    • SOW 6407 Survey Research Methods
    • STA 5179 Applied Survival Analysis
    • STA 5856 Time Series and Forecasting Methods
  • Elective Courses (examples)
    • CHD 5618 Policy Development and Analysis in FCS
    • CHD 5266 Advanced Child Development
    • CHD 5919 Grant Writing in FCS
    • FAD 5263 Advanced Family Studies
    • FAD 5900 Readings in FCS (topics vary)
    • FAD 5906 Directed Individual Study (topics vary)
    • FAD 6930r Special Topics in MFT: Intervention Research
    • FAD 6916 Outcome Research in MFT

Research Training

Doctoral students have access to the entire departmental faculty as part of their education and professional development. Students select their major professor and supervisory committee based on areas of scholarly interest and expertise. The doctoral supervisory committee provides mentorship throughout the doctoral experience. Doctoral students have access to computer laboratories, statistical software, and on-campus and remote access library resources.

Degree Completion

For students admitted to a doctoral program after completing a Master’s degree, a preliminary examination is usually completed within 3 years but no longer than 5 years from beginning coursework.

When students complete coursework, they then complete a preliminary examination. Upon successful completion of the exam, the student enters into “candidacy,” where original research is undertaken, culminating in a dissertation. Although some students complete their dissertation within a year, others take longer. The period of candidacy is limited to 5 years.

We make every attempt to provide financial support to full-time enrolled students through Teaching Assistantships and Research Assistantships. Students typically provide 20 hours of service to the department through these assignments.

M.S./Ph.D. Option

Students can enroll in the Ph.D. program in Human Sciences with a concentration in Human Development and Family Science directly following the completion of a bachelor’s degree. In this degree program, students earn an M.S. in Family and Child Science as they progress toward a Ph.D. in Human Sciences with a concentration in Human Development and Family Science.



  • An upper-division undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. The same scale applies to graduate-level work.
  • A competitive Graduate Record Examination revised General Test (GRE) score; a recommended score of above the 50th percentile in both verbal and quantitative sections with a 4.0 or high on the writing section.
  • International students must have a TOEFL score of at least 550 (paper-based) or 80 (internet-based).
  • Selected applicants are invited to on-campus interviews during February to determine fit.

Attainment of these minimum requirements does not guarantee admission to the program. Admission decisions are based on assessments of all aspects of the student’s application materials. The department reserves the right to increase standards if warranted by enrollment limitations and by the number and quality of applicants. Financial aid is a separate process from the admission to a graduate program.

You may apply directly to the Human Development and Family Science Doctoral Program following a related bachelor’s program and earn your Master’s on your way to the Ph.D. For those students accepted into the in-flight master’s degree program, the master’s degree must be completed within 3 years of enrollment in the doctoral program.

Application Process

  1. Apply Online and pay the application fee.
    • Upload a personal statement outlining your research interests, career goals, and why Florida State University is a good fit for you. We strongly encourage applicants to familiarize themselves with the research interests of the faculty in their area so the statement can specifically address those faculty members. The statement should include how your background and prior training make you a good candidate and should include your top three (3) choices of faculty members with whom you would like to work. If you are applying to the Human Development and Family Science Doctoral Program directly following a related bachelor’s program, you must clearly state that you are also interested in the Family and Child Sciences in-flight master’s degree.
    • Upload a resume or vitae (information should be current)
    • Upload contact information for three recommenders. The recommenders should be professionals you have worked with who are familiar with your academic performance and can speak directly about your qualification for this degree. Academic recommendations are preferred, but relevant professional recommendations will be accepted. No personal recommendations or letters from peers will be accepted.
    • Upload a writing sample. Please submit a writing sample that represents your best scholarly work. Examples include a thesis, a research-based paper, published article, or a paper submitted as a course assignment.
  2. Submit official test scores (GRE and, if required, TOEFL) and official transcripts to the FSU Office of Admissions. The school reporting code for test scores is 5219; no department code is required. We require transcripts from EVERY post-secondary institution you attended (even if those courses are posted to another institution’s transcript).
Last updated Feb 2020

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About the School

Family and Child Sciences is more than working with people – we strive to make a difference in their lives. We offer programs of study for both undergraduate and graduate students that address the nee ... Read More

Family and Child Sciences is more than working with people – we strive to make a difference in their lives. We offer programs of study for both undergraduate and graduate students that address the needs of children, youth, adults, and families across the lifespan, with special attention to those in complicated families. Read less