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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

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.
Renovated labs provide researchers with critical space for advancements
Building renovations provide College of Human Sciences researchers with the space and equipment crucial to their research.
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.
  • 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

    WHO-TV interviews alumna Vanessa McNeal about new documentary:

    Vanessa McNeal, a 2015 graduate in child, adult, and family services, was interviewed by Megan Reuther at WHO-TV about her latest documentary, "The Voiceless," featuring male survivors of sexual violence. Her film has been accepted into the Newark International Film Festival in New Jersey and was screened June 21 at the Des Moines Social Club. HBO has asked for a screeners version of it. She is one of the cover stories on the Iowa State University home page. More».



    Spring 2017 College of Human Sciences dean's list announced:

    The list honors students who have earned a grade point average of 3.5 or higher during the spring semester of 2017. More».



    Latest film by HDFS alumna Vanessa McNeal accepted into Newark International Film Festival
    Vanessa McNeal, a 2015 graduate in child, adult, and family services, is one of the cover stories on the Iowa State University home page. Her latest documentary, "The Voiceless" featuring male survivors of sexual violence, has been accepted into the Newark International Film Festival in New Jersey and HBO has asked for a screeners version of it. She credits Iowa State with her success. "It was here that she discovered the path that would lead her to filmmaking, public speaking, and advocating for sexual abuse victims." More»

    Summer, fall Rosenfeld interns announced

    One human development and family studies student, Haylee Flint-Baker, has been accepted into the Louise Rosenfeld Undergraduate Research Internship Program. Rosenfeld internships provide undergraduate students in the College of Human Sciences with opportunities to gain hands-on research experience while they consider whether to pursue advanced degree. The program offers interns exceptional opportunities to work with faculty and learn how to conduct research in their chosen fields.



    Clinton Gudmunson and Tricia Neppl to receive faculty promotions
    Two human development and family development faculty members are among those granted promotions, in action by the Iowa Board of Regents for the 2017-2018 academic year. Among those promoted to associate professor with tenure: Clinton Gudmunson and Tricia Neppl in human development and family studies. The promotions take effect Aug. 16.

    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».



  • 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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