14 Best Schools with Online Bachelor’s in Human and Family Development in 2023

Online Bachelor's in Human & Family Development - featured image

Human Development and Family Studies explore how people change and develop over time, specifically within schools, communities, and families. For those who wish to make a difference in other people’s lives, an online human development and family studies degree program helps you secure a rewarding job helping people, children, and families.

Online Bachelor's in Human & Family Development - fact

Over the years, the need for social service and community workers has rapidly increased because of numerous factors, including the opioid pandemic, and people living longer. The Labor Statistics figures reveal a projected job growth of 7% for Human Development and Family Studies professionals, especially child life specialists. With that, pursuing a degree in human development and family studies is a great choice.

In Human Development and Family Studies, most students are required to complete practicums or earn observation hours. These are usually completed in learning settings for younger children, like daycare or preschool classrooms. Students interested in the field should expect to study data, read scholarly reports, and research in this program. They will also familiarize themselves with the qualitative and quantitative methods used by social scientists.

More to consider… Take a look! Best Schools with Online Bachelor’s in Child Development

Quick Summarization

An online bachelor’s in family and human development program is a very interesting field of study that can work well with many people. In this online degree program, one can take different classes related to social services, social science, and education. For example, the family studies bachelor’s program may cover topics like:

  • Social Science Statistics
  • Human Development
  • Programming Methods
  • Family Advocacy

Through these varied studies, students are prepared for work in different fields. However, you need to be an expert in a specific area or choose a program concentration to excel. Some of the common specializations in this bachelor’s degree include social services and case management, early childhood development, and aging services.

Take note though that not all universities offer specialized tracks. However, students can choose their electives to support their career goals. Some of the common electives in human development and family studies programs include adolescent development, counseling and therapy, gender and sexuality, public policy, parenting, or mental and behavioral disorders.

Some Human Development and Family Studies degree programs are designed to prepare students for an industry certification, too. For instance, one could have a career as a Certified Family Life Educator or Certified Child Life Specialist. These certifications need practical experience or additional coursework that is beyond what is needed for college graduation.


We feature 14 of the best schools for an online Bachelor’s in Human and Family Development and Family Studies, emphasizing the course topics and coursework, and other online program features.

This list is a combination of accredited academic institutions, universities, and colleges that pride themselves on the quality of their online programs designed for distance learners. Each program was picked using these factors:

  • Provides challenging Human Development and Family Studies coursework delivered in an online or hybrid format,
  • Underscores diversity in the coursework through intervention strategies, cultural sensitivity, and excellent oral and written communication skills, along with respect for the ethical and legal issues surrounding family and human development,
  • Prepares students for entry-level positions as child welfare specialists, behavioral health specialists, substance abuse counselors, juvenile corrections, autism specialists, or advocates for senior adults or the youth,
  • Provides networking and internship opportunities through alumni contacts, internships, and career advisors with specialized training in Family Studies and Human Development,
  • Taught by professionals in the Family Studies and Human Development field,
  • Provide financial aid options and ease of transfer credits,
  • Regionally accredited, demonstrating compliance with the academic standards mandated by state regulations or by third-party institutions.

Visit our Methodology page and learn how our ranking process works.

The 14 Best Online Schools for Online Bachelor’s in Human Development and Family Studies Degrees

Southern New Hampshire University

Southern New Hampshire University

Southern New Hampshire University is one of the best online universities in the US. This nonprofit, accredited university has more than 3,000 on-campus enrollees and over 80,000 distance learners. The school has more than 300 undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs designed for students to be able to keep up with the constant changes in new technologies and professional requirements.

SNHU is recognized by the US News & World Bureau as one of the “Most Innovative” regional universities in the nation that continues to reinvent accessible and affordable higher education.

Southern New Hampshire University offers an online degree in Human Services with a Child and Family Services concentration. This child development specialization helps communities and individuals master the basics of efficiently helping populations in need, and master the art of advocacy. Through this course, online students will have a better understanding of how compassion meets process and policy. This 120-credit-hour coursework covers topics like:

  • Child Growth and Cognitive Development
  • Trauma on Children and Families
  • Family and Community Systems
  • Ethics and Laws in Child Development and Welfare

This online learning is handled by practicing professionals in the field with years of experience in their teaching. This is ideal for those who are particularly interested in child welfare, juvenile corrections, schools, family support agencies, family courts, domestic violence agencies, and other child and family organizations.

The child development concentration helps online students develop intervention strategies. They should be able to efficiently and ethically link families with the necessary community resources to improve their well-being and the well-being of the community as a whole.

SHNU has regional approval from the New England Commission of Higher Education.

University of Alabama

University of Alabama - Online

The University of Alabama, located in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, is a public research university that is also the largest and biggest university in the University of Alabama System, as well as the whole of Alabama. The school is noted for its excellence in service, research, academic quality, and teaching, providing students with a robust campus environment so they can reach their fullest potential.

UA has nearly 200 degree programs at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. It has also developed more than 90 online degrees and certificate programs, including the Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Studies- Child Life Concentration. This online program helps students to become experts in the development and growth of both healthy and hospitalized children.

  • This school is just one of the very few universities in the US with a Ph.D. faculty in Child Life. Students will have the highest academic experience from academic advisors who are leaders in shaping the healthcare industry. These professors are the same faculty that extend the same academic quality to online students.
  • This family studies program requires 120 hours. It consists of core courses related to the development and growth of children. Students will join in a lot of practicum and laboratory experiences with children.
  • Along with the necessary theoretical information, the experiences students get will give them the foundation needed for working with hospitalized children and their families.
  • This family and human development concentration allows qualified students to sit for the Child Life Professional Certification Exam after graduation.
  • After completing the child life coursework, students must continue to gather practical hours with children under a Certified Child Life Specialist.

The University of Alabama has SACSCOC approval.

Penn State-World Campus

Pennsylvania State University-World Campus

Penn State World Campus has been a leader in high-quality, world-class online education since 1998. As the online campus of Pennsylvania State University, Penn State World Campus has 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 7 associate degrees, 51 master’s degrees, and one doctorate that students can complete entirely online.

The Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Studies at Penn State World Campus is suitable for those who are finding ways to reach their career goals while helping to improve individual and community health and well-being.

This Family Development program is also an ideal option for those who are just starting to earn a degree in the field of human services or those who already hold an associate degree or have academic credits in the field.

  • In this online bachelor’s, students will learn and understand how people develop from birth until old age, how communities and families influence these processes, and how to come up with interventions that will boost the lives of people through hands-on coursework.
  • This online bachelor’s in human and family development will teach students how they can make a difference by promoting new social programs and policies or designing new models to treat and prevent emotional, social, and behavioral problems.
  • Through this human development and family studies degree, students will gain transferrable and practical skills that prepare them to confidently interact with different types of people throughout their careers.
  • Students have the option to immediately start the bachelor’s degree program, or earn first the associate degree in human development and family studies. The credits earned at the associate level can be applied toward the bachelor’s degree at Penn State.
  • While this is an online program, students in this online bachelor’s in human and family development degree are required to work with real people in the field. They need to complete an internship at their local human service organization. Through these real-world experiences, they get to establish references and build professional networks.
  • Financial aid, payment options, and scholarships are also available.

Penn State World Campus is the Middle States Commission on Higher Education approved.

Texas Tech University

Texas Tech University

Texas Tech University is one of the best Hispanic-serving institutions in the US. This public research university advances the knowledge of its students through creative and innovative teaching, scholarship, and research. TTU provides the highest standards of excellence in higher education, stimulates well-thought-of research and service to humankind, and fosters personal and intellectual development.

Texas Tech University offers more than 85 undergraduate degrees concentrated into 73 majors in 24 broad fields. The school also has over 80 online programs, including the online Bachelor of Science in Human Sciences.

  • This interdisciplinary online bachelor’s degree allows students to integrate courses from different departments while enrolling in some (or all) of their courses online.
  • In this online human development program, students will organize their degrees around three areas of concentration, with 18 credits per area. These can also be satisfied with previously earned credits.

Students can choose at least two concentrations from the academic department in any of Texas Tech’s 13 colleges. Within the College of Human Sciences, concentration options are:

  • Addictive Disorder and Recovery Studies
  • Human Development and Family Sciences
  • Family and Consumer Sciences Education
  • Nutrition
  • Retail Management
  • Personal Finance
  • Restaurant, Hotel, and Institutional Management

With a handful of concentration options, some of the most commonly selected concentration groupings are:

  • Studies in Personal Finance; Organizational Leadership; and Restaurant, Hotel, and Institutional Management
  • Nutrition; Human Development and Family Sciences; and Health Professions
  • Studies in Personal Finance; Human Resource Development; and Restaurant, Hotel, and Institutional Management
  • Nutrition; Human Development and Family Sciences; and Restaurant, Hotel, and Institutional Management

In today’s interconnected economy, a majority of owners prefer to hire new employees who are independent thinkers who can synthesize different ideas from multiple sources of information. Through this online degree, students will emphasize their ability to collaborate in courses from different academic fields, while honing their skills in writing, research, communication, and critical reasoning.

Texas Tech University is SACSCOC-approved.

Arizona State University

Arizona State University

Arizona State University is a public university recognized by the US News & World Report as the country’s most innovative institution. For ten straight years, ASU has remained its spot as the top producer of elite scholars. With 86 top-ranked programs, ASU has more than 800 degree offerings in a wide range of studies.

ASU offers online degree programs, as well. One of its more than 300 programs and certificates is the online Bachelor of Science in Family and Human Development. This online human development degree explores the academic, theoretical, and historical frameworks used in explaining family behavior and human development.

  • Through the human development courses in the program, students will study marriage, family relationships, and cultural diversity, among others, completely online.
  • The courses strongly emphasize the well-being of adults, youth, and children, both individually and in families.
  • This online bachelor’s in human and family development degree combines broad-based and traditional liberal arts education with a focus on the practices and theories of family studies and human development.
  • Students will develop the abilities and knowledge needed not only in their personal lives but also in a wide variety of career paths and positions.

While the Certified Child Life Specialist profession is not earned at ASU, students can still enroll in online courses outlined by the student’s academic advisor so they are allowed to complete the necessary coursework for the CCLS certification.

Arizona State University gained regional approval from the HLC.

Washington State University Global Campus

Washington State University Global Campus

Washington State University Global Campus is the online campus of WSU that brings the best of the state university to students all around the globe who are looking for transformative and engaging education but opt to study and learn at their own pace. This online campus uses cutting-edge academic technologies to allow faculty members of WSHU to bring the courses to life through distance learning.

WSU Global Campus offers 12 bachelor’s degree programs, which include the Bachelor of Arts in Human Development program. This online-based learning curriculum is designed to develop the skills of students in finding solutions to life challenges as they pertain to communities and family relations.

  • This program is dedicated to understanding the nature of emotional development, youth development, adolescent development, adult development, and human relationships within the context of schools, families, and communities.
  • Students who complete this degree will be prepared for many career paths working with children, teenagers, and families in many professional settings.
  • Development and family studies majors focus their studies on one of five options offered: Lifespan Development, Gerontology, Child and Youth Development, Early Childhood Development, and Human Services.
  • Students in family studies will gain a broader perspective on family and individual development by learning from instructors who research, study, and teach a wide range of professional areas and disciplines.
  • This human development and family studies bachelor’s program develops the skills of students in preparation for working in different human service and educational settings, as well as for further education or a graduate degree.
  • Students are required to complete at least 120 semester credits, together with the University Common Requirements (UCORE).

Washington State University is Northwest Commission on Colleges & Universities-approved.

Eastern Kentucky University

Eastern Kentucky University - Online

Eastern Kentucky University is a mid-sized university located in Richmond, Kentucky. This regional, coeducational, public institution offers general and liberal arts programs, pre-professional and professional certificates, and training in various fields at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

EKU offers more than 100 programs delivered on campus and online. Its Bachelor of Science in Child and Family Studies- Child Development program is 100% online to allow students to learn from anywhere.

  • This infant and toddler development and family studies program will prepare students to work with children in human services, institutional, and educational settings.
  • This online curriculum blends professional and academic preparation through course topics including early childhood observations and assessments, interaction and guidance, early childhood professionals, advocacy, and ethics, and family involvement with young children.

This child development program is rooted in the latest research and best practices in the field that will prepare students for rewarding career paths or graduate or professional programs. Some of the program benefits include:

  • Accelerated 8-week terms
  • Free textbooks through the school’s EKU BookSmart
  • Personalized graduation plan
  • Financial Aid
  • Reduced tuition for active military members and their spouses
  • Free online career services assistance and tutoring
  • Credit hours will count toward the Child Development Associate (CDA) and may also be used toward the student’s state credentials.

The coursework of the child development and family studies program incorporates the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) professional preparation standards.

Eastern Kentucky University is SACSCOC-approved.

California State University, East Bay

California State University, East Bay

California State University, East Bay is part of the California State University System. This comprehensive bachelor’s and master’s degree-granting university offers undergraduate degrees in 51 fields and 35 areas for its graduate degrees.

Cal State University East Bay also has an online campus that offers award-winning hybrid and online programs designed for busy working adult learners. It offers a bachelor’s degree in Human Development in Childhood Development concentration through the school’s Human Development and Women’s Studies Department.

  • This human development concentration aims to hone the student’s basic knowledge of major core concepts and research findings in the field and their ability to evaluate and assess practical and theoretical issues.
  • In this human development degree, students will demonstrate knowledge of the psychological, biological, and socio-cultural aspects of the field.
  • Students can identify and assess problems by using human development knowledge in diverse contexts.
  • As part of the school’s commitment to educational access, this online bachelor’s incorporates a wide range of educational formats. Aside from the online classes, this class is also offered in a hybrid format that combines online classes with face-to-face interactions, face-to-face discussions and lectures, and seminar classes.

California State University, East Bay has a WASC Senior College and University Commission approval.

South Dakota State University

South Dakota State University

South Dakota State University is a public research university in Brookings that was founded in 1881. It is the state’s oldest continually operating and most comprehensive university. SDSU offers nearly 200 programs and is packed with over 240 unique student organizations, innovative research, community outreach, and daily campus events, which is why there will always be a place for everybody in this huge university.

South Dakota State University also offers a variety of online degree programs, including the Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Studies. This online program at SDSU will prepare students for different careers such as assisting prevention advocates and specialists or working with children and families. Graduates can work in schools, government agencies, childcare facilities, clinics, and non-profit organizations.

  • This program works to draw research and theory to study human development and family dynamics across the interaction of family members.
  • These family studies will prepare students with the experience and knowledge of the science behind human growth and development, family relationships, and human interactions.
  • During the course of the program, students will experience a range of settings that human development and family studies professionals inhabit. They will also have supervised work in a professional setting.

South Dakota State University is HLC-approved.

Oregon State University

Oregon State University Ecampus

Oregon State University is a public institution based in Corvallis, Oregon. This land-grant research university offers more than 200 undergraduate degree programs plus a variety of graduate and doctoral degrees.

OSU delivers online undergraduate and graduate programs as well through the Oregon State Ecampus. One of its fully online bachelor’s degree programs is the Bachelor in Human and Family Development Studies.

  • Students complete the core courses in the field and become a part of a rewarding career that empowers people and communities within the contexts of school, family, society, and work.
  • The human development and family sciences program provides current practical skills, knowledge, and opportunities to help students excel in fields designed to improve the lives of people.
  • Human and family development majors can gain access to external and internal funding opportunities such as federal financial aid, fellowships, or scholarships.

Oregon State University has obtained the Northwest Commission on Colleges & Universities’ approval.

Concordia University-Saint Paul

Concordia University- Saint Paul

Concordia University- Saint Paul is a private institution that offers valuable and affordable education. Offering more than 100 degree options at the undergraduate and graduate levels, CSP also has an online format for those who cannot attend classes on campus called CSP Global.

The Bachelor of Arts in Family Science emphasizes the family life cycle, family relations, diverse family relationships, development, and growth.

  • This online family development program features a career-connected curriculum accredited by the National Council on Family Relations, an affiliation connected to the Certified Family Life Educator credential.
  • Students can customize this degree according to their suitable career paths where they can go for a certification or non-certification track.
  • CSP Global is noted for being the most affordable private college in the Twin Cities. There are also financial aid and partnership scholarships for qualified students.

Concordia University-Saint Paul is HLC-accredited.

Maryville University

Maryville University

Maryville University is a private school in Town and Country, Missouri. This nationally recognized university offers more than 90 programs at all levels across its four schools and colleges. Students with extremely busy schedules can choose from the 30 bachelor’s degree programs at Maryville that are delivered 100% online.

Maryville University offers a bachelor’s in human development and family studies degree that explores the social, physical, cognitive, and emotional development of families and people across the lifespan.

  • Human development and family studies major students will focus on the intricacies of family dynamics and the human experience, along with the influences and environments that shape them.
  • Students will learn how family systems work throughout their educational journey, and understand the relationship between people, families, and social establishments (governmental, educational, healthcare, or religious).
  • The program curriculum aligns with the standards set by the National Council on Family Relations, Youth Care Certification Board, Child Development Council, and the Association of Child Life Professionals.

Maryville University holds an HLC accreditation.

Southeast Missouri State University

Southeast Missouri State University

Southeast Missouri State University offers students personal support and groundbreaking academic instruction. This mid-sized school is recognized for its excellence in research, creativity, education, and engagement through its more than 300 majors and programs to match the needs of students.

Those who cannot go into the traditional brick-and-mortar campus can choose from SMSU’s more than 50 fully online programs, including the BS in Family Studies degree.

  • This online program is accredited by the Certified Family Life Educator program and is overseen by the National Council on Family Relations (NCFR). It has coursework that follows the criteria and standards needed to become Provisional Certified Family Life Educators.
  • This program will prepare students either for advanced degrees or for a variety of jobs that primarily focus on family members in all states of their lives.
  • Built into this curriculum are real-world experiences to ensure students will graduate prepared and ready to start their careers.
  • This family development program requires at least 120 credit hours to complete and includes the general education prerequisites plus 39 senior division hours.

Southern Missouri State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Colorado State University

Colorado State University

Colorado State University is the flagship university of the Colorado State University System. This public land-grant research institution has more than 300 academic programs, including 70 majors, 140 concentrations, 80 minors, and pre-professional advising.

CSU also delivers online programs to allow students to earn highly-respected education from wherever they are. Colorado State’s online Bachelor’s in Human Development and Family Studies allows students to skills so they can help families and people throughout their different stages of life.

  • This program prepares graduates for careers in early childhood development, programming for older adults, adolescent intervention, community outreach, and social services, among others.
  • There is also an alternative to this four-year degree program: the accelerated HDFS degree that can be completed in three years.

Colorado State University is an HLC-approved.

Check this out: Best Schools with Online Bachelor’s in Human Resources

Career Options for Human Development and Family Studies

Career Options for Human Development and Family Studies

Degree programs in human development and family studies will prepare graduates for potential career paths to work in diverse populations in fields like human services and counseling or education. Here are some possible career paths for graduates.

Child and Youth Workers

These workers coordinate activities and guided programs for young people. They usually work in seasonal camps, parks departments, or community centers. They are also the ones tasked with making lesson plans that include educational elements, as well as overseeing these programs to make sure attendees will have a positive experience.

School Counselors

All educational levels need school counselors. Their main task is to evaluate students and help them pave their way toward their academic and career goals. They can also be called to support distressed students in need of one-on-one counseling to help with academic or social problems.

Labor Statistics data show school counselors have a median pay of $60,140. School counselors are usually required to hold a master’s degree in the field, although that are some states that accept counselors with a bachelor’s degree as well, provided that they hold state licensure.

Certified Family Life Educators

A certified family life educator provides counseling services to families. These professionals closely work with families suffering from different issues like debt, substance abuse, domestic violence, or child abuse. These family issues are addressed within the context of parenting, education, economics, and human sexuality, including youth programs and family therapy programs.

Certified family life educators are employed by family resources services and community-based organizations. Its certification is handled by the National Council on Family Relations (NCFR). To become eligible, one must hold a degree in human development or in any closely related area. There are also eligibility exams, including the ten content areas in family life education that must be successfully passed to earn the Certificated Family Life Education credential.

Child Care Directors

These professionals look after the people who work at childcare facilities, including childcare associates, teachers, and teaching assistants. They supervise the hiring and training of new employees. Sometimes have a say in parent-teacher collaborations. Childcare directors must have a bachelor’s degree in human development or a related degree, plus decent management experience in human service settings.

Child Life Specialists

Child life specialists work in hospitals evaluating child patients, especially those suffering from serious illnesses. Their main goal is to help children and parents cope with long-term treatment and hospitalization. These specialists must have a degree in family and human development and a certification as a child specialist.

Crisis Counselors

Crisis counselors handle patients with severe trauma or personal crises. They help them cope with their crises instead of staying away from their painful memories. Most employers employ crisis counselors with a degree in adult development, or human development and family degree. Other positions also require relevant certifications.

Preschool Teachers

Program Development and Family Studies are ideal degrees for those who plan to become preschool teachers. These teachers lead classes of pupils between three and five years old and prepare them for kindergarten and elementary education. Preschool teachers must be degree holders and have teaching certifications to qualify for this position.

Social and Human Service Assistants

These professionals usually work for government agencies or private organizations. They help an organization screen clients to find out whether they are qualified or not for certain services. Social and human service assistants are the middle persons between their clients and service programs to guarantee that all of the needs of the clients are met.

Marriage and Family Therapists

These therapists help couples and families deal with issues that are causing a strain on relationships among family members. In some cases, marriage and family therapists endorse a couple or family to a psychologist for further evaluation.

Professional Associations in Human Development and Family Studies

Professional organizations provide many educational resources and services for their members, including access to learning materials or online journals, professional development opportunities, and invitations to networking events.

There are also professional organizations that provide discounted membership for students. Here are three of the most notable professional associations in the field of human development and family studies.

Society for the Study of Human Development

This is an interdisciplinary organization that represents scholars in different fields, including economics, psychology, sociology, and medicine. SSHD offers exclusive webinars on research in human development. Family and human development students receive a two-year membership. An online journal may be accessed as well for $60.

National Organization for Human Services

This organization is home to the Journal of Human Services, a publication aimed at human services students, professionals, faculty, and administration personnel. NOHS also offers training programs in human services-board certified practitioners that help graduates prove to future employers their dedication to the field.

American Public Human Services Association

This is an organization that strives to improve the lives of families, adults, and children by working with policymakers and government agencies. APHSA also pioneered initiatives to assess education programs that are career-oriented, evaluate strategies in job search assistance, and help unaccompanied children and refugees.

How long will it take to earn an online bachelor's in human and family development degree?

Frequently Asked Questions

How long will it take to earn an online bachelor’s in human and family development degree?

The standard online bachelor’s degree in human development and family studies program requires 120 credits. Full-time students can complete the whole program in four years. The accelerated option takes less than that, usually in just three years.

How do online degrees in Human Development and Family Studies cost?

There are many factors to consider when it comes to the cost of attendance for the online bachelor’s in human development and family studies program. State residency is a major factor considering most universities and colleges charge higher tuition for out-of-state students.

However, some schools charge a flat tuition fee for online students, no matter where they are residing.

Key Points to Ponder

  • A degree in human development and family studies will help you start a career in helping people.
  • Online formats are good options for busy students, as well as those who live away from campus.
  • Human development and family studies programs are considered people-focused degrees that are perfect for those who plan to work in human service agencies, daycare facilities, treatment programs, or nursing homes.

For additional information, see this: Best Online BS in Social Work

Malcolm Peralty
Chief Editor