Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS)

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Degree Offered: M.S., Graduate Certificate

This program is offered in Durham.

The Department of Human Development and Family Studies offers two programs of study leading to a master of science degree in family studies: the Core Areas of Study Program and the Marriage and Family Therapy Program.

The goal of both programs is to provide students with an understanding of theory and methods relevant to human development and family studies and to prepare them to work with individuals and families in therapeutic, educational, and community or corporate settings. The Core Areas of Study program has two foci: Adolescent Development and Child Development. Students may elect a thesis or comprehensive exam. The Marriage and Family Therapy Program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education and requires a minimum of two years of full­-time study, including two summers.

The Department of Human Development and Family Studies also offers a one-year, 14­- to 15­-credit, multidisciplinary program of study leading to a graduate certificate in Adolescent Development. The certificate program is intended for individuals who are working in the field but who lack specific knowledge about adolescence, as well as those who are changing careers or who are already working in related fields and need to meet continuing education requirements or desire additional academic preparation.

Admission Requirements

Students in good standing with undergraduate degrees in any field and a specific interest in working with individuals and families are encouraged to apply.

Candidates for the master’s degree program must have completed an introductory statistics course or the equivalent as part of their undergraduate program. If their undergraduate program did not include such a course, students who are accepted into the M.S. program must successfully complete an introductory statistics course before they graduate. (Note: Students in the Core Area of Study program must also complete a graduate statistics course, see “Program Requirements” for the Core Area of Study.)

In lieu of the standard UNH Graduate School personal statement, applicants to the MFT program must answer the questions listed on the department's MFT admissions website. Responses to the MFT questions should be submitted in numbered format, and should address each question separately and explicitly. Answers to the MFT questions should be submitted with the application.

Individuals applying to the Core Areas of Study and Certificate programs should submit a standard personal statement with their applications.

Accelerated Master’s for the Core Area Program

UNH Juniors and Seniors with a 3.2 GPA or higher can apply for early admission to the Core Area program in either Child Development or Adolescence by the deadlines noted on the Graduate School website. Accepted students will begin the accelerated program in either the fall or spring of their senior year. Students will be permitted to take up to 12 credits for dual credit.

M.S. Degree: Core Areas of Study Program

Adolescent Development: This core area of study is designed to develop general competence in understanding and applying theory and research regarding adolescents from teen years through early adulthood within the context of their families and communities. Students are expected to participate in projects involving adolescents and to complete a practicum in a program that serves adolescents.

Child Development: This core area of study is designed to develop an understanding of theory and research regarding children from infancy through the early school years and to prepare students to work in a variety of social science positions focused on children's family and school experiences. Students are expected to complete a practicum in a child-focused setting.

M.S. Degree: Marriage and Family Therapy Program

The Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) Program is a 72-credit program designed so students may achieve a master of science in a minimum of two years and two summers. The program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE). MFT students must:

  1. satisfactorily complete an established array of courses
  2. accrue 500 hours of client contact through teaming, the Marriage and Family Therapy Center, and (for the majority of students) through an external internship
  3. satisfactorily complete an integrative paper and presentation

The clinical training emphasizes treating individuals, couples, and families in relationship to larger systems that influence them. Supervised practica continue throughout the program.

MFT program graduates function as competent and ethical marriage and family therapy professionals and have a solid knowledge base of marriage and family therapy theory and research as well as clinical practice principles. The MFT Program successfully prepares graduates for employment as marriage and family therapists in community agencies.

Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS)

HDFS 807 - Practicum

Credits: 1-6

Supervised in-depth experience in teaching, research, or advocacy in a professional setting to increase the student's understanding of children and or families. Prereq: permission. Special fee. Cr/F.

HDFS 809 - Child Study and Development Center Internship

Credits: 1-6

Supervised positions within the UNH Child Study and Development Center child care programs. A) videotape assistant; B) assessment assistant; C) infant assistant; D) toddler assistant; E) 3-5 year old assistant; F) kindergarten assistant; G) health issues assistant. May be repeated up to a total of 9 credits. Permission. Special fee. Cr/F.

HDFS 833 - Supervising Programs for Young Children

Credits: 4

Philosophical bases and theoretical rationales of various programs for young children; program alternatives and resources; issues in administration including supervision, finances, and regulations. Prereq: permission. (Fall semester only.)

HDFS 834 - Curriculum for Young Children

Credits: 4

Designing and implementing developmentally appropriate activities for young children; assessing the effectiveness of activities; evaluating materials and equipment. Permission. (Spring semester only.)

HDFS 841 - Marital and Family Therapy

Credits: 4

Introduction to the theory and practice of marital and family therapy; major approaches to be examined include strategic, trans-generational, structural, experiential/humanistic, and behavioral. Permission.

HDFS 843 - Families, Schools, and Community

Credits: 4

Emphasis on the critical value of effective family-school-community partnerships in enhancing the education of young children. The literature assessing the interactive nature of the parent and school resources with cultural influences examined. Current models of family-school-community partnerships explored. Students required to participate in parent/school/community activities within early childhood education centers and schools. Prereq: permission. (Fall semester only.)

HDFS 846 - Human Sexuality

Credits: 4

Investigations of physiological, psychological, and sociological aspects of human sexuality. Particular attention to various social practices, policies, and programs that affect sexual attitudes and behaviors.

HDFS 857 - Race, Class, Gender, and Families

Credits: 4

Explores the intersection of race, class, and gender in family life in the United States. Theory, research and other relevant literature used to examine the variety of family configurations in our society today and the diverse experiences that families have as the result of existing social, political, and economic institutions. The strengths various family types considered, as well as the particular challenges these families may encounter in contemporary society. Prereq: permission.

HDFS 860 - Family Programs and Policies

Credits: 4

Analysis of the connection between family support programs and family policy. Program planning, implementation and evaluation are stressed. The research, theory, history, and current status of model family programs are examined.

HDFS 871 - Observation and Assessment of Young Children

Credits: 4

A comprehensive view of various observation techniques for determining children's strengths and emerging skills. Exploration of issues regarding the use of formal assessments and testing with young children, retention and transitional placements, and the parent's role in testing. Permission. (Fall semester only.)

HDFS 872 - International Approaches to Child Advocacy

Credits: 4

Investigation into the rationales for advocacy, types of advocacy, advocacy techniques and strategies, and current domestic and international advocacy issues and approaches. Prereq: permission.

HDFS 873 - International Perspectives on Children and Families

Credits: 4

Investigation of historical and modern conceptions of children and families in selected African, Asian, European, and Latin countries. Emphasis placed on the contribution of these populations to the changing ethnic portrait of America. Prereq: permission.

HDFS 876 - Children, Adolescents and the Law

Credits: 4

This course is designed to familiarize students with the specialized laws and adjudicative systems that govern children, adolescents and families and reflect society's effort to balance competing interests and goals. It provides the chance to explore laws and processes that affect children and adolescents as they interact with their caregivers, families and society at large; permission.

HDFS 894 - Families and the Law

Credits: 4

Exploration of laws that affect families as members interact with each other and with society in general.

HDFS 895 - Advanced Independent Study

Credits: 1-6

Also listed as HDFS 795.

HDFS 897 - Special Topics

Credits: 1-4

Highly focused examination of a particular theoretical, methodological, or policy issue. Prereq: permission.

HDFS 898 - Marriage and Family Therapy Practicum

Credits: 1-8

Clinical experience under direct faculty supervision. Trainees develop competency in treating individuals in the context of their families and larger systems. Prereq: permission. May be repeated. Special fee.

HDFS 899 - Master's Thesis

Credits: 1-6

May be repeated up to a maximum of 10 credits. Cr/F.

HDFS 911 - Graduate Internship

Credits: 2-8

Advanced, supervised internships in professional setting. A) Child Development; B) Adolescent Development; C) Child Advocacy and Family Policy. May be repeated to up to a total of 8 credits. Prereq: instructor's permission. Cr/F.

HDFS 930 - Child Development in Context

Credits: 4

Theory and research on social, cultural, and developmental issues of early childhood with a particular emphasis on ecological and social constructivist frameworks. Prereq: instructor's permission.

HDFS 942 - Advanced Systems of Marital and Family Therapy

Credits: 4

Critical analysis and integration of selected systems of marital and family therapy. Prereq: HDFS 841; permission.

HDFS 945 - Family Therapy Practice I

Credits: 4

Designed to develop beginning practice skills in structural, strategic, systematic family therapies; and assessment and treatment skills necessary to manage specialized problems (e.g., divorce, remarriage, substance abuse, suicidal behavior) encountered in practice. Prereq: permission.

HDFS 946 - Critical Problems in Family Life

Credits: 4

Evaluation of the needs and resources of families with critical problems; maturational and situational sources of stress influencing the contemporary American family; students demonstrate mastery of theoretical concepts by developing self-help strategies to be used by families experiencing stress. Prereq: permission.

HDFS 947 - Family Therapy Practice II

Credits: 4

Designed to develop advanced skills in integrating structural, strategic, and systematic family therapies; sensitivity to gender differences and cultural diversity; and assessment and treatment skills necessary to manage specialized problems (e.g., physical, emotional, and sexual abuse; sexual dysfunction) encountered in practice. Prereq: permission.

HDFS 950 - Contemporary Issues in Adolescent Development

Credits: 4

This course is a graduate-level seminar that focuses on contemporary issues faced by youth, adolescents, and emerging adults in our society. Focus is also on the social ecology of adolescent development, which means understanding adolescents within the contexts of families, peers, schools, communities, and the broader culture. This course also emphasizes the positive youth development perspective and approaches aimed at enhancing the lives of youth, adolescents, and emerging adults.

HDFS 952 - Clinical Interventions in Couples Therapy

Credits: 4

This course will explore interventions that target problems faced by couples at various ages and stages of their relationship. The focus will be on developing and implementing effective strategies for enhancing attachments as well as approaches for improving communication and problem-solving skills in Couples Therapy. The format will be interactive with illustrative demonstration. Majors to include: HDFS: Marriage and Family Therapy and Social Work.

HDFS 954 - Sex Therapy

Credits: 4

This course begins preparing graduate student therapists to address sexual topics with clients. Using a foundation grounded in the physiology, psychology, and sociology of human sexual development, this course explores problems in sexual interaction and treatment options available through sex therapy, focusing on the integration of sex therapy with couples therapy. Students are encouraged to examine their own attitudes, values, and beliefs regarding sexuality, and will deconstruct "sexual dysfunction".

HDFS 991 - Professional Issues for Family Specialists

Credits: 4

Exploration of major ethical, legal, and professional issues facing child, family, and consumer specialists. Focus on ethical decision making, values clarification, and development of professional identity. Prereq: permission.

HDFS 993 - Theoretical Approaches to Human Development and Family Studies

Credits: 4

Scientific knowledge and the scientific method, the relationship between theory and research as it applies to family studies; why and how theories change; major theories in historical context. Prereq: permission.

HDFS 994 - Research Seminar

Credits: 4

Introduction to social science research methods; analysis of research reports and other professional papers in family and consumer studies; development and evaluation of research proposals. Prereq: permission.

HDFS 995 - Seminar and Special Problems

Credits: 2-4

A) Consumer Research; B) Family Relations; C) Education; D) Family Resource Management; and E) Human Development. The student contributes to a selective review and critical evaluation of the research and current literature and an examination of issues and trends. Independent projects may be a part of the experience. These seminars are open to graduate students with sufficient background and are not scheduled every semester. One or more semesters, maximum of 4 credits in one area. Prereq: permission.

HDFS 997 - Advanced Research Seminar

Credits: 4

Interdisciplinary approach to research in child, family, and consumer studies. Emphasis on the multidimensionality of family problems, appropriate research strategies, and critical analysis of current literature. Prereq: permission.