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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

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.
Changes to credit reports will benefit college students
Jonathan Fox, director of Iowa State University’s Financial Counseling Clinic and Ruth Whipp Sherwin Endowed Professor, and other financial experts say many Iowa State students may benefit from changes to credit report criteria taking effect this summer.
Peterson named to new professorship in early childhood development and education
Carla Peterson, an associate dean of the College of Human Sciences and a professor in human development and family studies, has been named the Nancy Rygg Armbrust Endowed Professor.
Career fair expands options for future educators
Fifty school districts and organizations in nine states will attend Iowa State's third annual Teacher Education Career Fair next Monday. The first of three events to help students prepare will be held tonight.
  • 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

    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».



    Iowa State Daily features Birdie Shirtcliff's research on positive parenting

    Birdie Shirtcliff, an associate professor in human development and family studies, was featured in an Iowa State Daily article that covers a study investigating how parenting affects children's physiology. The study showed that children who are subject to positive parenting have higher levels of cortisol that those who are subject to negative parenting. This suggests that children raised by negative parenting could suffer health problems later in life. More».



    Haylee Flint-Baker shares career goals in student profile feature

    Haylee aspires to be a Department of Human Services (DHS) social worker. When she’s not studying or working at Mainstream Living, she enjoys reading, going out to eat with friends, and taking naps with her dog. More».



    Katie Tullar featured in College of Human Sciences student profile

    Katie Tullar can’t wait to become a family and consumer science high school teacher. When she isn’t studying, she can be found working out at State Gym, hanging out in coffee shops, or exploring new places on campus. 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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