Human Development and Family Studies with Certified Family Life Educator credential

Help families develop healthy parenting, financial, and mental health strategies

Combine your goal of bettering family systems with a breadth of knowledge across the fields of psychology, biology, and sociology in Penn State’s unique Human Development and Family Studies major.

At Penn State Shenango, you have the option to concentrate your studies to become a Certified Family Life Educator. These professionals typically provide information to families through an educational approach, often in a classroom-type setting or through educational materials.

With a demand for health educators quickly growing by 17%, now’s the perfect time to peruse your passion of helping families.

Penn State Shenango offers two Human Development and Family Studies program opportunities:

  • The Human Development and Family Studies major focuses on developing and conducting human services across the lifespan. You will explore the biological, psychological, and the sociological facets of life in order to help community members live healthy, successful lives.
  • In addition to earning a degree in Human Development and Family Studies, you have the additional option to concentrate your studies in family life education. Penn State Shenango’s accredited program allows graduates to apply, in an abbreviated process, for the National Council on Family Relations’ Certified Family Life Educator credential.

You’ll love the Human Development and Family Studies major with a Family Life Educator credential if…

  • You have always been curious about human behavior and family relationships, and how people relate to one another
  • You are passionate about pursuing a career in which you develop, implement, or evaluate interventions designed to improve the lives of families
  • You are excited to join the in-demand health educator field
  • You plan to pursue a career educating families from a primarily preventative approach
  • You are interested in studying how psychology, sociology, and biology relate to human development
  • You plan to pursue a graduate or professional degree and wish to establish foundational knowledge of the complexity of individual and family development across the life span

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Human Development and Family Studies with family educator credential career opportunities

Students who complete this program are prepared to assume educator roles in a wide range of human service and health professions.

The U.S. Department of Labor reports that the social and human service field is one of the fastest-growing occupational areas between 2018-2028 at 13%, a rate much faster than average. Now’s the perfect time to get started in our career-focused Human Development and Family Studies program!

Health program developer

These professionals work in a variety of settings to manage day-to-day operation of a program that is designed to improve the physical state of participants. This position requires strong knowledge of specific health topics.

Health service educator

Develop programs to teach people about conditions affecting well-being. Community health workers promote wellness by helping people adopt healthy behaviors.

Mental health services program coordinator

Serve as a liaison to community agencies and other agencies providing mental health supports and coordinate collaborative activities for mental health awareness.

Youth services coordinator

Plan, oversee, and direct services and activities to support youth education and development. These programs are often sports, education, or counseling related.

Women’s resource manager

Provide safe transitional housing, advocacy, support, information, referrals, and follow-up services to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking to persons at risk of domestic violence.

Public welfare and family service officer

Support the wellbeing of individuals, families, and communities to provide resources like affordable shelter, food, and employment opportunities.

Early childhood educator

Specialize in the learning, developmental, social, and physical needs of young children. These educators provide a safe and comfortable environment in which young children can learn not just early academics, but social, motor, and adaptive skills.

Public policy social worker

Become a specialized social worker employed by nonprofit organizations and government agencies to enact large-scale social change through legislation, education, and other interventions that are formulated at a policy level.

Continuing your education

Earning your Human Development and Family Studies degree at Penn State can lead to a master's or doctoral degree in the areas of human development, family studies, psychology, sociology, law, behavioral health, nursing, occupational therapy, elementary and secondary education, business, child life, counseling, or social work.

Human development student works with toddler on a craft

What to expect in the Human Development and Family Studies major with a Family Life Educator credential

The additional Certified Family Life Educator area of concentration builds upon Penn State’s Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Studies. You will combine the areas of psychology, biology, and sociology with special consideration on how to teach and foster this knowledge and these skills to enable individuals and families to function optimally.

As a student, you will consider societal issues within the context of families, such as: economics, education, work issues, parenting, sexuality, and gender. In your professional career, you will work to prevent or minimize problems like substance abuse, domestic violence, unemployment, debt, and child abuse as they exist as part of larger systems.

Attainment of the CFLE certification can be embedded within the 4-year HDFS degree and does not require additional classes or semesters. However, it does require careful and specific scheduling of classes with an academic adviser.

Applying to be a Certified Family Life Educator

The program encourages applications from professionals who have preparation and experience in Family Life Education settings, including formal teaching, research/scholarship, community education, public information and education, curriculum and resource development, health care, military family support, and ministry.

Learn more about the CFLE application process or contact Roxanne Atterholt.

Program accreditation and approval

NCFR recognizes schools offering undergraduate and graduate degree programs with course work that follows the Standards and Criteria required for approval as a Provisional Certified Family Life Educator (CFLE). NCFR approval allows the school to offer their graduates the opportunity to apply for Provisional Certification using the Abbreviated Application process. The CFLE Checklist represents the courses that meet the CFLE criteria at that school. Students must complete all the courses on a checklist in order to qualify to apply for the CFLE designation through the Abbreviated Application process.

You can learn more about the CFLE credential, Penn State Shenango's program, and the application process on NCFR's website.

Undergraduate research opportunities

Work with faculty experts to learn how to conduct scientific research. Many human development-related careers seek research experience, giving you the chance to gain skills related to the social and behavioral sciences.

A culture of collaboration

There’s something special at Penn State that converts the “I” to the “we” and ignites our passions to collaborate on meaningful impact. Shenango is rooted in supporting each other in the classroom, in the community, and beyond. In the Human Development and Family Studies major, you can expect to collaborate on unique projects outside of your direct area of study to learn new ways to problem solve and expand your skill set.

Credentials for your interests

Beyond Penn State Shenango’s expanding list 4-year and 2-year degree options, the campus also offers dynamic minor and certificate programs to compliment your major and career goals. Explore our academic programming options.

Start your Penn State story

We're excited you're ready to become a Penn Stater! Now's the perfect time to get started on your application. If you need help getting started, check out our guides to apply for first-year, transfer, or adult students. 

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Human Development and Family Studies major courses

Review the full Human Development and Family Studies course listing for additional requirements and a sample of the program’s structure.

Adult Development and Aging

Become familiar with changes in physical health, cognition, mental health, social roles, and relationships, and the implications of these changes in adult development and aging that impact disability, dementia, caregiving, and end-of-life decisions.

Infant and Child Development

With a focus on child development theories, this course focuses on children's social interactions, emotional development, cognitive changes, acquisition of language, physiological growth in infancy, and biological changes during the transition from childhood to adolescence.

Family Development

Learn about the social changes that families have undergone throughout time and explore the causes and consequences of these transformations on modern families.

Development and Administration of Human Services Programs

Develop the fundamental knowledge to create and facilitate human services programs in community settings.

Resolving Human Development and Family Problems

Learn the strategies and roles of professional specialists in human development, as well as solutions for human development and family functioning problems.

Headshot of human development graduate

Gain Human Development experience before you graduate

Our Human Development and Family Studies program is designed for you to complete an internship in your senior year that facilitates the application of your classroom learning in a field setting.

This opportunity is designed to provide students with firsthand experience with both challenges and rewards of the business professional in our local communities, a design that sets the major apart from other human development programs in the region.

Human Development and Family Studies students have completed internships in a variety of businesses and organizations related to:

  • Social work, counseling, and psychology
  • Teaching and education
  • Advocacy and non-profit work
  • Business
  • Health careers
  • Research
  • Children, youth, and family services
  • Human resources
  • Drug and alcohol services
  • Higher education
  • Corrections
  • Behavioral health


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