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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

Brenda Lohman named associate dean for research and graduate education in Iowa State University College of Human Sciences
Brenda Lohman will serve as associate dean for research and graduate education in the College of Human Sciences, effective Oct. 1.
Lee draws economic insights from US tax, health care policy
Daeyong Lee uses data related to consumers’ health care decisions to peer into families’ financial stability.
Human scientists celebrate passion for helping people
Human Sciences Week will from Oct. 2 to 6 celebrate the dedication of students, faculty, and staff to improve people’s lives.
Human scientists on cutting edge of big data research
Human scientists are at the forefront of turning "big data" into usable knowledge with implications for children and families.
Brain research aims to reduce effects of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease
Human scientists provide expertise in Iowa State’s brain initiative aimed at reducing effects of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.
Researchers tackle obesity from multiple perspectives
College of Human Sciences researchers in several departments seek to better understand, prevent, and treat obesity.
More human sciences faculty engage in extension and outreach
Three new projects from Iowa State University will bring human sciences research to Black Hawk, Polk, and Jefferson counties.
New intervention program reduces domestic violence recidivism rates, Iowa State study finds
A new Iowa State study finds that domestic violence offenders who complete a new intervention program are less likely to reoffend.
Iowa’s rural centenarians help unlock the secrets to aging well
Researchers are peering into the secrets of aging well. By studying lives well-lived, they’re addressing global health challenges.
Summer internships provide springboard to careers
At least 345 College of Human Sciences students secured internships this summer in Iowa and across the globe.
  • 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

    Olivia Diggs discusses importance of research in student profile:

    Olivia Diggs wants to become a tenured professor at an R1 teaching and research academic institution. Between research projects, Olivia finds time to kayak, attend concerts, and support her siblings in their sporting and music activities. More».



    Human Development and Family Studies alumna Vanessa McNeal wins best director at Newark International Film Festival

    Vanessa McNeal, a 2015 Iowa State graduate in child, adult, and family services, won best director in the documentary category of the Newark International Film Festival for her documentary "The Voiceless." The Newark International Film Festival seeks to recognize emerging filmmakers and put them in front of major players in the film industry and movie lovers from around the world. "The Voiceless" features the stories of five male survivors of sexual violence and aims to shed light on the taboos, stereotypes, and impact of male sexual violence. "The Voiceless" is McNeal's third documentary, following "We are Survivors" and "I am," both of which discuss similar topics. McNeal earned a master's degree this spring in social work from University of Northern Iowa, and currently runs her own company, McNeal Media. More».



    Sia Turner shares the impact her past has made on her future career in student profile:

    Sia Turner's goal is to serve as a Peace Corps Youth in Development volunteer. She would also like to be a social worker, empowering teens to improve their lives. Between volunteering, Sia finds time to bike, listen to music, and watch Netflix. More».



    Jordan Arellanes shows importance of bringing passion into research in student profile:

    Jordan Arellanes hopes to become a professor at a research-intensive university. Jordan spends time fishing, coaching soccer, and playing with his dog, Lana, when he isn't in the lab. More».



    Sia Turner shares the impact her past has made on her future career in student profile

    Sia Turner's goal is to serve as a Peace Corps Youth in Development volunteer. She would also like to be a social worker, empowering teens to improve their lives. Between volunteering, Sia finds time to bike, listen to music, and watch Netflix. More».



    Jordan Arellanes shows importance of bringing passion into research in student profile

    Jordan Arellanes hopes to become a professor at a research-intensive university. Jordan spends time fishing, coaching soccer, and playing with his dog, Lana, when he isn't in the lab. More».



    Christine Lippard named Early Career Research Award recipient by National Association of Early Childhood Teacher Educators Foundation
    Lippard, an assistant professor in human development and family studies, received the award for her proposal "Preparation for a Strong Early Childhood Workforce: Preservice Training." It was selected on the merits of its being evidence-based, early childhood/early childhood teacher education research; making a significant contribution to the knowledge base of teacher education in early childhood/early childhood teacher education; and addressing issues of quality of program development in early childhood teacher education/early childhood. The award will be presented at the NAECTE Conference Reception, November 15, 2017, in Atlanta, Georgia. More».

    HDFS alumna Vanessa McNeal wins two international IndieFEST Film Awards:
    Vanessa McNeal, a 2015 graduate in child, adult, and family services, and her team for the documentary "The Voiceless" received two international IndieFEST Film Awards: Award of Merit: Liberation/Social Justice/Protest, and Award of Recognition: Women Filmmaker. "The Voiceless" features male survivors of sexual violence. The IndieFEST Film Awards recognizes film, television, videography and new media professionals who demonstrate exceptional achievement in craft and creativity, and those who produce standout entertainment or contribute to profound social change. Entries are received from around the world. More».

    Peter Martin awarded 2017 Distinguished Career Contribution to Gerontology Award:
    Peter Martin, a University Professor in human development and family studies, was recently awarded the 2017 Distinguished Career Contribution to Gerontology Award from The Gerontological Society of America behavioral and social sciences section. The award honors Martin for articulating a novel perspective or synthesis that addresses significant gerontological challenges. Martin will formally receive his award and deliver a lecture in November 2018 at the annual GSA meeting in Boston, Massachusetts. More».

    Jordan Arellanes receives 2017 Feldman Outstanding Research Proposal for Research in Family Policy Award:
    Arellanes, a graduate student in human development and family studies who holds the Dorothy A. Wyant Fellowship in Family Health, is the recipient of the 2017 Feldman Outstanding Research Proposal for Research in Family Policy Award. He'll receive the award Nov. 16 at a plenary session of the National Council on Family Relations annual conference in Orlando, Florida. Arellanes works with Brenda Lohman and Kim Greder in studying Latino fathers' contributions and strengths to help their children succeed in school. The award he will receive recognizes a graduate student or new professional who has demonstrated excellence in research and potential contribution to family policy studies. Arellanes will receive a $250 cash award and plaque, and will present a brief report on his project and related findings at the NCFR annual conference. More».

  • Job openings

    HDFS invites applications for a full time, Postdoctoral Research Associate focused on policy-relevant research in the areas of early childhood, family poverty, child welfare, and school readiness.

    View all HDFS open positions.

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