The Washington State University Pullman Catalog

Department of Human Development

The online catalog includes the most recent changes to courses and degree requirements that have been approved by the Faculty Senate, including changes that are not yet effective.

Department of Human Development
Johnson Tower 501

Interim Chair and Professor, D. Handy; Professors, C. Bolkan, M. Cleveland, M. Diversi, L. Hill, P. Pendry, Y. Sano; Associate Professors, C. Bletscher, B. Cooper, R. Cooper, J. Hewa, M. K. Patton, S. Perone, K. Rodgers, A. Salazar, S. Waters, R. Weaver, E. Weybright, A. Whitehall; Assistant Professors, T. Burkhard, M. Cheng, L. Colón, J. Duckworth, R. Dueben, K. Forsythe, L. Krupke, J. Putney, S. Reisz, N. Scalise, G. Shrestha, B. Wilson; Adjunct Instructors, T. Ashford, W. Ewest, M. Garcia, S. Grant, N. Kaivan, C. Ojeme, N. Porter, D. Rock, C. Seeley, K. Smathers, M. Strey; Professors Emeriti, B. Boyd, M. K. Deen, J. Dillman, J. Hiller, S. Horton, J. Lanigan, A. Lawrence, L. Linden, J. McReynolds, D. Nelson, L. Parker, K. Peterson, T. Power, E. Soliday, G. Tan, M. Tate, M. Wandschneider, M. Young.

Undergraduate Program

In the Department of Human Development, students focus on how children, youth, adults, and families develop, change, and face challenges throughout the lifespan. The Department of Human Development is a multidisciplinary department devoted to understanding the nature of human development within the context of families, schools, and communities. Students completing a Human Development degree are well prepared for a wide range of careers working with children, adolescents, adults, and/or families in a variety of professional settings; many Human Development graduates are also well equipped to enter graduate school in a number of disciplines.

Human Development majors may choose to focus their studies in one of seven options: Family and Consumer Sciences Education, Lifespan Development, Early Childhood Education, Child/Youth Development, Gerontology, Family Services or Prevention Science. All options lead to a Bachelor of Arts in Human Development.

The Family & Consumer Sciences Education option is for students interested in teaching in a junior or senior high school setting. Family and consumer sciences teachers instruct courses in foods and nutrition, family health, human development, apparel and textiles, family resource management, family communication, and interior design. Graduates are prepared for Family and Consumer Sciences and Career and Technical Education state certification. They are also well prepared for careers with agencies and organization that serve the needs of families in the community.

The Lifespan Development option is for students who desire to deepen their understanding of the foundations of development from childhood, adolescence, to adulthood.  Students in this option will gain psychosocial and bioecological perspectives on the interrelationships between individuals, families, organizations, and communities. A Lifespan Development focus opens the doors for many helping professions. Students are ready for careers in public and private human service agencies, and local, state and federal government. 

The Early Childhood Education option focuses on children birth-age 5. Students gain a deeper understanding of the importance of building relationships with children, observing and documenting their development and learning, planning and implementing age-appropriate curricula and assessing the success of the planned curricula. This option prepares students to be early childhood educators as they complete a 270-hour practicum in a high-quality, early childhood classroom. While this option focuses on preparing for a teaching role, students are also ready for careers outside of the classroom working with young children and their families.

The Child/Youth Development option is designed for students preparing for careers or graduate education focused primarily on children and adolescents. Examples include careers developing programming for youth (e.g., parks and recreation, after-school programs, youth development programs); working with youth engaged in systems of care, including those who have experienced trauma (e.g. residential treatment facilities, foster care systems, behavioral health or developmental services); working in the juvenile justice system; counseling youth and families.  

The Gerontology option is for students who desire to deepen their understanding of the foundations of development across the entire lifespan, particularly in adulthood to later life. Students in this option will gain an overview of the interdisciplinary field of gerontology and explore psychosocial and bioecological perspectives on adult development and aging over the life course as it affects individuals, families, and communities and has social, political, and economic implications world-wide. Examples of careers in Gerontology include working directly with older adults in a variety of settings and administering programs for older adults.

The Human Services option is for students who seek to improve the quality of life for individuals, families and communities through direct service, advocacy or policy. Students will gain an understanding of: the foundations of human development including conditions which support or limit optimal functioning, family functioning and family dynamics and how those relate to human development across the lifespan, service delivery systems, and strategies for working with diverse clientele. Students in this option may be interested in careers such as family social service programs, advocacy and nonprofit work, community education, and counseling support. This option will also prepare students for advanced education in social work, counseling, and family law. 

The Prevention Science option is designed for students who are interested in taking a developmental approach to improving public health. Specifically, the Prevention Science option focuses on (a) identifying risk and protective factors that shape human development throughout the lifespan, and (b) designing, implementing, and evaluating interventions, programs, and policies that promote well-being for individuals, families, and communities. The option in Prevention Science is a good fit for students interested in graduate studies in fields such as Prevention Science, Public Health, and Community Psychology; in addition, this option will prepare students for careers in fields such as community coalition coordinator, public health prevention coordinator, and residential youth counselor.

 The department also offers four certificates: early childhood education, adolescence, gerontology, and family studies. 

Students completing a human development degree may also complete a minor or approved certificate of study. A minor or certificate of study should be selected in consultation with a human development advisor, preferably by the end of the third semester.

Student Learning Outcomes

We expect our graduating students will demonstrate: 1) an understanding of social, emotional, cognitive, and physical development across the lifespan in the family context; 2) an understanding of how contextual systems interact to influence family and individual development; 3) the ability to critically select, evaluate, and utilize information to understand and benefit individuals and families; 4) writing, listening, and speaking appropriate for human development related occupations; 5) application of human development knowledge and skills in professional settings.

Graduate School Preparation

The human development degree provides preparation for graduate work leading to teaching, research, counseling, or administrative positions in domains such as academia, social services, and counseling.

Graduate Program

The department also administers an interdisciplinary doctoral program in Prevention Science.  Students in the program learn to conduct basic research on risk and protective factors, and to develop, evaluate, and disseminate evidence-based programs to promote the well-being of people across the lifespan.  The program is offered in collaboration with the Colleges of Communication, Education, Medicine, and Nursing, as well as WSU Extension.  Graduates are prepared for careers as faculty members, program evaluators, research analysts, and research associates to work in a range of settings including universities, research institutes, social service agencies, and consulting firms.

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