Study the creative process of growth and change across the human lifespan

Why human development at Eckerd College?

Students majoring in human development will benefit from the holistic and applied study of human growth and development. By developing a strong foundation of self-knowledge and understanding of others across the lifespan, students learn how to help people reach their fullest potential whether in a human service agency, non-profit organization, education, counseling, advocacy, or private practice settings.

Congratulations to our latest recipients of the Dr. April Allen Buck Endowed Research Scholarship: Jack Dempsey ’22 and Delaney Arteaga Pelaez ’23

The program

Human Development is an interdisciplinary major, integrating aspects of psychology, education, sociology, anthropology, gerontology, communication, ethics, and other disciplines. Human development students study the process of growth and change within individuals and groups from an interdisciplinary perspective. Integrating aspects of psychology, education, sociology, anthropology, gerontology, communication, ethics, and other disciplines you will learn about yourself and others and how to help individuals reach their full potential across their lifespans.

You will take eight core courses and three additional courses in an area to prepare you for your career goals or future graduate degree program. For example, courses in adolescent development, juvenile delinquency, or even sociology and women and gender studies would prepare you to work with teenagers in a residential youth home or wilderness camp. Taking courses in family studies and early childhood development could prepare you for work in a preschool or social service non-profit serving families. Courses in human development paired with biology and communication could prepare you for work as a speech language pathologist or occupational therapist. Courses in adult development and cultural diversity could prepare you for work as an aging specialist in a nursing home, while courses in counseling, professional ethics, and social work could prepare you for work in the field of community or private mental health services.

Career choices

Given the interdisciplinary nature of the Human Development major, graduates develop a strong foundation for entering work in the helping professions and many types of careers where working effectively with people is essential. Armed with well-rounded skills, Human Development majors go on to employment in a wide variety of fields, including:

Social work or family studies

  • Case management for youth, families, or older adults in federal, state, or local government agencies
  • Teach preschool as an early childhood educator
  • Foster care management or administration
  • Hospital-based services as a child life specialist
  • Speech language pathologist or occupational therapist for children or older adults
  • Leisure and recreation or activity director in a teen wilderness program or nursing home


  • Licensed mental health professional for individuals or groups
  • Creative arts therapist using the expressive arts (music, art, dance, theatre, meditation)
  • Animal assisted therapy for older adults with Alzheimer’s disease
  • Pre-marital, couples, or family conflict resolution counseling as a marriage and family therapy
  • Student support services as a school or career counselor in K-12 or college institutions
  • Rehabilitation counselor in residential drug and alcohol treatment facilities

Public health

  • Program specialist for a national non-profit or advocacy organization
  • Outreach for individuals with disabilities
  • Health policy and management
  • Program manager for an inclusive healthcare organization
  • Domestic or international humanitarian services related to human rights, family planning, or world health
  • Environmental health specialist with the Centers for Disease Control or EPA


  • Graduate study in a variety of fields, including counseling, education, and social work
  • With an advanced degree, research in Human Development and Family Studies or Developmental Psychology, or teaching at a college or university

Unique features

  • Interactive study, hands-on coursework, and many applied research and volunteer opportunities to help you focus on healthy human development as a creative and scientific process
  • Robust internship and practicum opportunities at local organizations providing services, support, and advocacy to individuals at many stages of life
  • Customize the major to meet your future goals by selecting an area of emphasis, such as child and adolescent development, creative arts therapy, global, family studies, health and wellness, or older adulthood
  • Pursue your Certified Family Life Educator Credential following graduation if you are interested in empowering families with knowledge and skills to enhance their well-being and strengthen their interpersonal relationships

Program Details

Students majoring in human development are prepared for graduate programs in counseling, counseling psychology, social work, marriage and family therapy, education, or related allied therapy fields and for entry level positions in human services. By developing a strong foundation of self-knowledge and understanding of others across the lifespan, students learn how to help people reach their fullest potential whether in business, government, education, private practice, or human service agency settings.

Human Development graduates are expected to possess:

  • Knowledge of key theories of lifespan human development
  • An understanding of professional ethical principles and personal responsibility in the helping professions
  • An understanding of cultural competency standards, knowledge, and theory
  • Skills in presenting ideas and information effectively, both orally and interpersonally
  • Research skills in writing and evaluating empirical information

These competencies are demonstrated through satisfactory completion of the required courses and Senior comprehensive paper.

Core courses in the major include the following. All courses require a grade of C- or better to qualify for graduation in the major. Students must pass HD327 with a grade of C- or better to enroll in Human Development comps.

  • Introduction to Human Development
  • Statistical Methods
  • Counseling Strategies: Theory and Practice
  • Cultural Diversity: Theory and Practice
  • Research Methods in Human Development
  • Ethical Issues in Human Development
  • Senior Seminar in Human Development
  • Internship in Human Development
  • Comprehensive Examinations

In addition to these eight core courses, a minimum of three (3) other HD courses of the students’ choice are required, plus HD comps (Winter Term of senior year). Students should work with their mentor to select the HD electives that best prepare them for their graduate school and career goals.

To minor in human development, a student must complete HD 101S Introduction to Human Development and four additional courses in Human Development. Courses used for the minor require a grade of C- or better.