Online Human Development and Family Studies Bachelor's Degree

What You’ll Learn & What You Can Do After Graduation

Earning an online human development and family studies degree serves as the first step toward a rewarding career in human services, education, health, business, or advocacy. This undergraduate degree prepares students, should they choose, to continue their studies with graduate work in areas of social work, clinical counseling, psychology, or sociological research.

In short, the curriculum for a bachelor's degree in online human development and family studies explores how relationships grow and change over time and how societal change impacts said relationships. Students learn about research-backed practices that promote positive changes and inform government and community policies for better health and wellbeing for all citizens.

This guide explores the field of online human development and family studies to help you choose from the best degree programs to launch your new career.

What Is Human Development and Family Studies?

Those who work in human development and family studies help individuals live physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially healthier lives. Relationships with family, community, and society at large all impact an individual's quality of life. Human development and family studies courses help students craft unique research to analyze those relationships and develop research-backed methods to address issues of abuse, neglect, addiction, mental illness, and more.

The curriculum draws from a variety of disciplines, providing students an interdisciplinary education that builds critical thinking and problem-solving abilities. Electives and concentrations allow students to specialize in particular areas of interest, such as health and wellness, advocacy and policy, and public health education.

Students find they have multiple career opportunities upon graduation, especially in education and human services (in certain programs, the degree may fall under social work or early childhood education). Individuals with an interest in business careers may also find a human services degree complements human resources roles. Finally, the degree serves as a strong foundation for individuals interested in counseling, behavioral health, or therapist graduate programs.

When selecting an online human development and family studies degree, ensure you choose colleges and universities with a regional or national accreditation recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. Accreditation ensures graduate programs, potential employers, and licensing boards recognize the degree. Full-time students often need at least four years to complete a bachelor's program, which will include general education courses.

What Can I Do With an Online Human Development and Family Studies Bachelor's Degree?

In addition to the interdisciplinary knowledge gained through your online human development and family studies bachelor's degree, professionals in this field need to build skills in interpersonal communication, problem-solving, and organization to best serve their clients, students, and/or employees. These skills translate to many rewarding and competitive career fields and foster collaboration across multiple areas.

Skills and Knowledge Gained

An affordable online human development and family studies bachelor's degree builds skills in observation, communication, and problem-solving. Students also learn to work in stressful situations while building productive relationships with peers and clients from varying backgrounds and cultures.

Coursework includes biology, psychology, and sociology so students may learn how cultural influences can impact physical and mental development. Graduates learn to identify individual, family, and group development and how individuals develop their sense of self throughout life. They also learn how pivotal life events impact individuals and families.

With careful planning, course selection, and volunteer service, students may tailor their degree to their chosen career. Many schools offering an online human development and family studies degree complement their program with concentrations related to pre-medicine, early childhood education, prevention and intervention science, and leadership. Minors in gerontology, early childhood development, or addiction treatment enhance a student's understanding of the specific needs of the population and offer in-depth studies of intervention and prevention strategies.

Many programs introduce undergraduate students to research methods and design. These courses help students identify quality, research-backed practices to use on the job or to develop original research projects. Students develop data analysis and organizational skills while exploring theories and principles of human development.

Internships or practicums offer an opportunity to put these skills to use in a real-world environment. Individuals focusing on case management or human services may work directly with clients. Many nonprofit organizations or government agencies offer volunteer opportunities for students as well. A capstone experience may provide hands-on learning and enhance a student's resume as graduation nears.

Careers and Salary Potential

The interdisciplinary nature of an online human development and family studies degree means graduates can choose from a variety of industries and career paths upon graduation. Many of these careers anticipate strong growth over the next several years as communities strive to help their residents enjoy a better quality of life. Each field and profession offers unique challenges and rewards, including salary expectations, work-life balance, and emotional stress.

  • Human Services
    Human services encompass professions that help individuals navigate difficult situations, such as connecting with assistance programs following the loss of a job or finding help to overcome mental illness or addiction. Providers may find employment in government agencies at the local, state, and federal level, or with nonprofit organizations.
  • Early Childhood Education
    Early childhood education focuses on children age eight and younger. Preschool teachers, assistants, intervention specialists, and childcare center directors all need an understanding of human growth and development. Individuals work in private or government-operated childcare centers or with government and nonprofit agencies.
  • Human Resources
    Businesses use human resource specialists, directors, and managers to handle administrative tasks for their employees. A human services degree helps HR managers understand employee motivation, handle disputes, and develop training programs. Career titles may include benefits specialist, employee services manager, training development specialist, and recruiter.
Social Worker

Annual Median Salary: $49,470

Social workers help identify client needs and available resources in the community, respond to crises, and provide ongoing case management to ensure personal situations improve. Many states require only a bachelor's degree to begin working in the field, though these professionals may provide a limited scope of services.

Health Educators

Annual Median Salary: $46,080

These educators evaluate the overall needs of the community and develop education and awareness campaigns to help people make healthier choices. They often collect and analyze data, help individuals access healthcare resources, and advocate for policies or resources to promote healthier living. Many health educators work in government or nonprofit agencies.

Childcare Center Directors

Annual Median Salary: $47,940

Directors oversee the teachers in their facility and ensure appropriate curriculum for each class. They organize training and professional development sessions, recruit and interview new employees, and manage facility budgets and maintenance plans. They also work with parents to discuss student progress and individual needs. They may work in private centers, nonprofit or religious schools, or government-operated facilities.

Human Resources Manager

Annual Median Salary: $113,300

Often referred to as HR, these professionals manage staff relations. They recruit and screen applicants for employment, implement procedures for new hires -- such as training and benefits enrollment -- and ensure compliance with state and federal laws. They may also serve as mediators or oversee disciplinary procedures.

Rehabilitation Counselors

Annual Median Salary: $35,630

These counselors help individuals overcome barriers to independent living through individual counseling, referral to appropriate specialists, and access to education and training programs. Some counselors work with specific communities, such as seniors or veterans. Individuals with a bachelor's degree find work in rehabilitation centers, though they may not provide clinical counseling services.