NDSU Distance & Continuing Education (DCE)

Bringing Education to You

Online Degrees

B.S. in Human Development and Family Science: Family Science


View an informational video about the B.S. in HDFS: Family Science option online


Program Description

Sample plan of study

Frequently asked questions

Tuition & Fees

Contact information



Program Description

Study and learn about interactions of individuals, families and the broader environmental context in this online B.S. in Human Development and Family Science: Family Science degree program.  Course work in the Human Development and Family Science (HDFS) department provides students with an ecological approach to the study of human development and families. Students gain an understanding of the development of children and adults and their interaction in the family and society. The family science option allows students to take a concentration of courses in human development, family science or family economics in preparation for careers in direct and support services for families. All undergraduate majors are required to complete a core set of courses for the department and for the option, but flexibility is provided by allowing students to select electives within the department to help them prepare for careers in which they are interested.

Each of the undergraduate options also includes a field experience component. All students are given the opportunity to work in a professional placement during their undergraduate program. This requirement enables students to apply their course work to a professional position as they prepare to move into important careers with children and families.

The Family Science option allows students to take a concentration of courses in human development, family science or family economics in preparation for careers in direct and support services for families. Each option offers the flexibility of a generalist program, but students may choose to focus on an area of specialization as well.

Career directions through HDFS can be divided into two general areas:


View Human Development and Family Science Program Fact Sheet


Other careers require preparations beyond the bachelor's level. An HDFS degree is excellent preparation for students considering graduate work in counseling, family therapy or child and family development. If you are interested in a complementary graduate program, consider our online M.S. in Human Development and Family Science degree with options in Gerontology and Family Financial Planning.  Both of these programs also have online graduate certificate programs available.

"I am a busy mom of three young children. Distance learning is the only way I could achieve my goal of obtaining a master's degree. NDSU has made the process much less stressful. I am able to work on my education on my own schedule."

- Angie, Fargo, ND
  HDFS 462 Risk, Resilience & Competence in Families


Back to top



Sample Plan of Study

HDFS Core Courses: (20 CREDITS)

Family Science Core Courses: (9 CREDITS)

HDFS Major Electives: (9 CREDITS)

Additional Courses:

Total Credits: 122


Back to top



Frequently Asked Questions

How long will it take to finish this program if I am employed full-time and have a family?

At 122 credits, you can finish the program in 4 years if you take 15 credits each semester.  Typically our online students don’t take 15 credits because they have a family or because they work full time.  You can use that 15 credits per semester as a rule of thumb.  If you are taking two-thirds of the credits, you can expect to finish it in a third longer time.  If you are taking half the number of credits, you can expect it to take twice as long.  There are ways to speed that up; if you have course credit from other institutions, you can transfer that in to NDSU.  We also have a variety of summer offerings. We offer anywhere from 6-12 courses each summer.  You can cut down the amount of time it takes by taking summer courses.

How many courses per semester would you recommend I start with in the program?

Most of our students begin by taking 2 courses each semester. Some will find that with work or family demands that that’s too much and they will cut back.  Others will find that that is not challenging enough so they will take more courses. It really is an individual preference for this kind of thing.  You just want to find that niche for what the right number of credits is for yourself and then work with your advisor to plan a program of study to graduate in a timely fashion.

Is there an internship required and if so, how can I do that as an online student?

There is an internship involved in the program.  We call it a field experience and all of our students take five credits of that.  We will work with you on finding a field experience. We have a wonderful field experience coordinator who works with students on campus and off. Once she knows what you are interested in, she will help guide you to something in your area that will work.  She will handle all of the evaluations online or through the mail.  So, you will not have to come to campus to finish your field experience.  We have had students do field experiences in probably half the states in the country as well as Okinawa, Japan and some other military bases. We understand the problems with trying to do a field experience from a distance and we are ready and able to help.

Do I need a minor with this program?

Yes, you need a minor.  It is a requirement for the degree.  Pick a minor that compliments what you want to do or helps you get a job in the area you want. Or pick something that will let you further your education in an area that interests you.  As Jim Deal, Ph.D., department head, says, “Higher education ought to be fun; it ought to be about more than just getting a job.” So, if you’ve always wanted to be an art major but you’re thinking family science will give you more career opportunities then pick up an art minor.  If you’ve always enjoyed literature, pick up something in English.  If you are looking to be employed in an area that requires a specific minor your advisor will work with you to figure that out so that you can be successful.

Will this program prepare me for graduate school?

Family science is a really good option for considering graduate school. If you do well in your undergraduate program and enjoy the research aspect, you might want to consider going on to graduate school.  You could move into graduate programs in couples and family therapy; family financial planning; sociology; psychology; human development and family science; and social work would be options for you.


View our FAQ page




New Undergraduate Admission
Transfer Student Undergraduate Admission
View Getting Started Guide


Back to top



Contact information

NDSU Department of Human Development and Family Sciences
Phone: 701-231-9849
Email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Web: www.ndsu.edu/hdfs/

NDSU Office of Admission
Phone: 1-800-488-6378
Email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Web: www.ndsu.edu/admission/


Back to top