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Welcome to the ISU Department of Human Development and Family Studies where your adventure features:

What is HDFS?

Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) is the science of how individuals and families develop behaviorally, cognitively, economically, emotionally, physically, and socially throughout the lifespan and within various contexts. HDFS emphasizes the application of knowledge and resources to promote positive development and expand human potential as well as the importance of diversity, inclusiveness, and social justice. HDFS takes an interdisciplinary approach to knowledge development and application.

From the very young to the very old, students in human development and family services help populations reach their full potential, despite life’s challenges, such as addiction, abuse, aging, chronic illness, immigration, and special needs.

If you want to help youth, adults, families, or the aging lead a better, more fulfilling life, a degree in HDFS may be your ideal adventure!


Financial counseling and planning is an approved program of excellence!

The Iowa State University financial counseling and planning bachelor’s degree program, which is the only program of its kind in Iowa, is now an approved program of excellence by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards.

Great with numbers but want to work with people, too? Visit LoveMoneyLovePeople.com  for the numbers on the Financial Counseling and Planning degree!

HDFS News Stories from the College of Human Sciences

Emotional toll from mass trauma can disrupt children’s sense of competence
How children respond to trauma relates to their perception of competence – or how they view their ability to control a situation.
Family history of Alzheimer’s may alter metabolic gene that increases risk for disease
A new Iowa State study may have identified the link explaining years of conflicting research over a gene and the risk for Alzheimer’s.
Iowa State provides 21st century skills through family and consumer sciences
Iowa State University is equipping family and consumer sciences educators to provide today’s students with 21st century skills.
College of Human Sciences to recognize graduating seniors at spring convocation
The College of Human Sciences will recognize nearly 450 graduating students on May 5 and 6.
Greder named Rossmann Manatt awardee, to present public lecture on health and education
Kimberly Greder, winner of the 2016 Rossmann Manatt Award, works with communities across Iowa to connect Latino immigrant families with resources to bring education through building trust.
Human development and family studies students use virtual reality to measure stress response
Students in an Iowa State University human development and family studies course are venturing into virtual reality to intensify scientific inquiry. When Elizabeth “Birdie” Shirtcliff challenged her HDFS 640/440X Biomarkers of the Family class – a mix of undergraduate and graduate students – to create a situation that would trigger a stress response, they created a computer simulation.
College devotes more than $200,000 to help unpaid interns and student teachers
The Iowa State University College of Human Sciences has awarded more than $200,000 in scholarships over the past two years to assist students gaining work experience through unpaid internships and student teaching experiences.
College of Human Sciences students gain workplace readiness skills at etiquette dinner
Human Sciences students are making strides in their career preparation that would make etiquette expert Emily Post proud.
ISU alum will premiere and discuss her new documentary on campus March 27
Vanessa McNeal, a 2015 Iowa State alumna in child, adult, and family services, will on Monday, March 27 premier her third film on campus. ”The Voiceless” features stories of five men who have experienced sexual violence. The event comes in recognition of Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April.
Human sciences students spend their spring break serving others
Sixteen College of Human Sciences students were among 59 from Iowa State University who spent their spring break doing service projects aimed at helping those in need.
  • Contact Information

    2330 Palmer Building
    2222 Osborn Drive
    Ames, IA 50011-1084

    Regular Office Hours 
    M - F: 8:00 am to 5:00 pm
    515-294-6316

  • HDFS Announcements

    HDFS graduate student Shannin Moody receives Graduate Student Mentor award from ISU McNair Program

    HDFS graduate student Shannin Moody received one of two Graduate Student Mentor awards from the ISU McNair Program, which aims to increase the attainment of doctorate degrees by first-generation and underrepresented college students. Moody mentored Mouhamad Diallo, a junior in mechanical engineering who noted that Shannin "keeps him on task and provides helpful tips on everything from time management, potential opportunities, and what life is like outside of the mechanical engineering department." More».



    Tera Jordan receives Above and Beyond award

    Tera Jordan, an assistant professor in human development and family studies, has received the Thelma L. Harding Above and Beyond award for her service to the Iowa State University McNair Program. The McNair Program seeks to increase the attainment of doctoral degrees among first-generation and underrepresented student populations by providing graduate school preparatory courses and undergraduate research opportunities to McNair Scholars. Jordan became involved in the McNair program at Indiana University Bloomington in 1995 as an undergraduate, and participated in the program for two years. Jordan then went on to become active in the Iowa State McNair program and was recognized with the Above and Beyond award for her leadership, support, and dedication to the program.



    Human Development and Family Studies alumna Vanessa McNeal wins Young Woman of Tomorrow award at Women of Persimmon ceremony

    Vanessa McNeal, a 2015 Iowa State alumna in child, adult, and family services, won the Young Woman of Tomorrow award at the 2017 Cedar Valley Women of Persimmon awards ceremony on April 25. The recognition is given by the YWCA of Black Hawk County. Nominees demonstrate a commitment to the Cedar Valley through their time, talents, and efforts. Award categories include Professional/Business Woman, Volunteer, Young Woman of Tomorrow, Youth Advocate, and Business or Organization that Empowers Women. McNeal recently released her third documentary, "The Voiceless," which features five men and their experiences with sexual assault. The film will be available for purchase online beginning May 1. More».



    Margaret O'Connor to complete Heddleson summer internship

    Margaret O'Connor, a human development and family studies major, will serve as one of two interns this summer. Coordinated by Iowa State University Human Sciences Extension and Outreach, the Heddleson Internship program is designed to support student experiences that prepare individuals for a career in extension or community outreach. O'Connor's main interest in extension and outreach is family health and underserved populations. She hopes her internship will let her see firsthand the wonderful work Iowa State University's Extension and Outreach is doing for the community and will give her the experience she needs to work in Extension and Outreach after she completes her doctoral degree. More».



    Sergio Torres promotes his passion for diversity in student profile article

    Sergio Torres wants to one day help people manage their debt as a financial counselor. When he isn't studying, he can be found dancing, writing, or playing video games. More».



    WalletHub shares Birdie Shirtcliff's tips for addresing, reducing stress

    Shirtcliff, an associate professor in human development and family studies, explains that while stress can provide the energy to deal with challenges, breaks are often necessary to give the body time to recover and repair. More».



    Paula Burns, Valerie Evans, and Karla Embleton among those honored with CYtation Awards from Professional and Scientific Council

    Three staff members from the College of Human Sciences were awarded 2016 CYtation Awards. Paula Burns is a human services specialist in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies and works as a technical writer and trainer for the Child Welfare Research and Training Project. She also volunteers her time as a P&S Council Professional Development Conference Subcommittee member. Valerie Evans is an administrative specialist in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies. She facilitated for Total Quality Management, has served on P&S Council from 2007-10, and has been a member of the College of Human Sciences P&S Council since 2014. Karla Embleton, a program coordinator in human sciences administration, is an instructional designer and supports faculty and students with Blackboard Learn, Qualtrics, and other software for the college. Embleton is also the chair of the College of Human Sciences CHS P&S Council, and volunteers with the Ames Public Library and the United Way Campaign. More».



    Human development and family studies graduate student Ebony Williams receives 2017 Gender and Sexuality Research Award

    The Gender and Sexuality Research Award is given to an Iowa State faculty, staff member, or graduate student who has made important and innovative contributions in research expanding understandings of gender and sexuality. This year's award was given to Ebony Williams, a graduate student in human development and family studies, for her research on African-American women with college degrees and their lower likelihood of marrying or marrying later in life than any other racial group. Williams was recognized for her accomplishment at the Gender and Sexuality Equity Awards reception on Wednesday, March 22. Amber Manning-Ouellette, a lecturer in leadership studies, also received the award. More».



    KCCI features ISU alumna Vanessa McNeal and her documentary "The Voiceless"

    Vanessa McNeal, a graduate of the Department of Human Development and Family Studies, was featured in a KCCI TV segment about her documentary, "The Voiceless," which covers the seldom-discussed topic of male sexual violence. Her aim with this documentary is to create a more open dialogue surrounding the issue. McNeal screened "The Voiceless" to Iowa State students on March 27. More».



    HDFS graduate student Quentin Riser to receive a 2017 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship

    riser_quentinQuentin Riser, a graduate student in human development and family studies, was selected to receive a 2017 National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) fellowship. For the 2017 competition, NSF received more than 13,000 applications, and made 2,000 award offers. The selection is based on demonstrated potential to contribute to strengthening the vitality of the U.S. science and engineering enterprise. More».



  • Faculty job opening

    HDFS invites applications for a 12-month, tenure-track Assistant Professor position focused on extension and outreach scholarship and activity relevant to lifespan human development and aging with an emphasis in health and wellness. Learn more.

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