Earning a doctorate in human development and family studies online prepares graduates for the highest positions in the field. Many pursue careers in academia, becoming professors or researchers, while others work as clinicians or as directors for private organizations. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that many of these fields will grow by 2026, with positions for professors projected to increase 15%. Doctoral students also contribute to the field by conducting original research. By pursuing a doctoral degree, prospective students build advanced skills in family studies and human development, expanding their career prospects.
Choosing a Program
Earning a doctorate in human development and family studies online requires that students complete courses, pass exams, and write a dissertation. Most human and family development programs offer a mix of core classes and electives, with coursework covering human development, quantitative research methods, and emotional development. Many programs also offer classes in marriage and family therapy or provide opportunities for interdisciplinary research in neuroscience, social work, or education. While a doctorate prepares graduates to work in academic positions as professors or researchers, each program emphasizes different areas of human development and family studies. This means that prospective students must evaluate which programs align with their goals.
Within human development and family studies, doctoral students can focus on emotional development, diversity and cultural influences on development, poverty, or cognition. Each program offers several concentrations, core classes, and faculty advisers, allowing doctoral students to customize their degree around their research interests and professional goals. For example, students interested in statistical analysis and careers in research science may prefer a program that offers that concentration. By researching programs, prospective students can find the best fit for their interests.
For career information, skip down:
- What Else Can I Expect From an Online Doctorate in Human and Family Development Program?
- Online Doctorate in Human and Family Development Careers
What Else Can I Expect From an Online Doctorate in Human and Family Development Program?
Doctorate in human development and family studies online programs design their own curricula and concentrations, so prospective students should carefully research what each program offers. By looking at specializations, elective courses, and the career path for graduates, prospective students can choose a program that fits their interests and career goals.
Concentrations Offered for an Online Doctoral Degree in Human and Family Development
Social and Emotional Development: The social and emotional development concentration trains doctoral students in theories, methodologies, and research in human social and emotional development. Doctoral students may take interdisciplinary courses in family dynamics, intervention, and neuroscience.
Careers this concentration prepares for: Professor, research scientist
Couples and Family Therapy: Doctoral students can gain clinical experience through a couples and family therapy concentration. Students build clinical and research skills, apply research designs, and accumulate supervision experience. The concentration also fosters scientific and grant proposal writing abilities.
Careers this concentration prepares for: Research scientist, clinician, professor
Statistical Analysis: In a statistical analysis concentration, doctoral students study the statistical methodologies used in human development and family studies. In addition, doctoral students evaluate and create measurement methods, including statistical modeling. The specialization prepares graduates for research and analysis positions in family and human development.
Careers this concentration prepares for: Research scientist, professor, academic dean
Curriculum for an Online Doctoral Degree in Human and Family Development
- Adult Development: This course coveries theories on adult development, with a focus on the most influential theorists. Doctoral students also survey the most recent research and learn how to apply these theories in clinical settings.
- Advanced Human Development: Doctoral students study advanced theories and research on development throughout the life span, from prenatal development to gerontology. The course may allow students to focus on their dissertation topic.
- Theories in Human Development: Students survey research on psychoanalysis, behaviorism, and cognitive theories of human development. The course examines the differences between theories, the role of developmental stages, and influential theorists.
- Quantitative Research Methods: This course develops advanced skills in quantitative research, including mixed methods, structured data collection, experimental design, and data analysis. Students learn to develop a research method by following ethical procedures and Institutional Review Board guidelines.
- Dissertation: Doctoral students complete a dissertation under the supervision of a faculty adviser. The dissertation, based on original research, must contribute to the field. Doctoral students defend the dissertation in order to graduate.
Online Doctorate in Human and Family Development Careers
As the terminal degree in human and family development, a doctorate leads to careers in academia, research, and management. While many doctoral students pursue careers as professors, they can also work as research scientists for private organizations, government agencies, or universities. A Ph.D. can also lead to careers in higher education administration.
Human and Family Development Professor: Professors of human development and family studies teach undergraduate and graduate courses in their field. They design syllabi, write lectures, create tests, and educate students in a college or university setting. In addition, many professors also conduct research and publish their findings in scholarly journals. Tenure-track positions in this field require a doctorate.
Median Annual Salary: $76,000
Projected Growth Rate: 15%
Research Scientist: Research scientists with a degree in human development and family studies design and conduct studies to understand human development, physiology, and neurological development. They may also develop programs to improve health and wellbeing, and many write research grant proposals to receive government or private funding. Many research scientists work in an academic setting.
Median Annual Salary: $82,090
Projected Growth Rate: 13%
Academic Dean: Academic deans run a program or division at a college or university. They may also hold the title director or provost. Deans oversee faculty research and help develop academic policies and manage budgets. Many also play a role in hiring and tenure decisions. A doctorate in human and family development prepares graduates to work as the dean of health sciences or in administrative positions in a medical school.
Median Annual Salary: $92,360
Projected Growth Rate: 10%