2023-2024 Graduate Course Catalog 
    Jun 21, 2024  
2023-2024 Graduate Course Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Human Development and Family Science, PhD


Eunjoo Jung, Graduate Program Co-Director

Rachel Razza, Chair, Graduate Program Co-Director
144D White Hall


The Ph.D. program consists of 72 credits, including completion of a dissertation. The doctoral (PhD) program provides in-depth studies of familial, societal, and cultural factors that shape child development and family relationships. A primary focus is on scientific inquiry and research methodology employed in disciplines such as education, psychology, social sciences, and women’s studies. It trains professionals for careers in academia, research, and human development and family service agencies.

Courses and training emphasize multicultural perspectives in child and family relationships and diverse research methodologies and scholarship. In addition, doctoral students have the opportunity to obtain university teaching instruction and experience through participation in Syracuse University’s Future Professorate Program.


Students seeking admission to the Department of Human Development and Family Science must meet the general admissions requirements of the Graduate School. Although no single factor determines entry to the program, competitive applicants typically have a minimum of: 1) GPA of 3.00 or higher (undergraduate and/or graduate work); 2) GRE scores of 144 Quantitative, 153 Verbal (please note, the GRE exam must be taken within the last five years). For international students whose primary language is not English, TOEFL scores of 577 (paper test) or 100 for the internet based (IBT) test are desirable.

Financial Support

Falk College academic programs offer a limited number of graduate assistantships and tuition scholarships. Graduate admissions officers in each graduate program allocate this financial aid based largely on merit. Graduate assistantships in the form of research assistantships and teaching assistantships are awarded on a competitive basis from among applications received by February 1; assistantships are usually not available at any other time of the year.

Research assistants are required to assist their sponsoring faculty to perform research. Teaching assistants are required to assist with undergraduate/graduate instruction. Recipients of assistantships receive a stipend in addition to a tuition scholarship.

Syracuse University fellowships are awarded competitively from applications received by January 1 on an all-University basis. Doctoral fellows receive a stipend, plus a tuition scholarship of 30 credits for the academic year. Fellows devote full time to their studies and are not assigned duties.

To apply for University fellowships or College assistantships, indicate your interest on the application for admission.


The Department of Human Development and Family Science is located on the first floor of the Falk Complex. The Complex includes both MacNaughton and White Halls, is located on the western portion of the Syracuse University campus. The renovated complex includes a centralized Falk Admissions center that offers prospective students the chance to see Falk College in action on a daily basis, and an expanded Student Services space conducive to providing programming that helps students be successful. In addition to administrative and academic program offices and classrooms, the Falk Complex also offers students dedicated study/collaborative space, computer labs and comforts like a café and student lounge.

Transfer Credits

Subject to departmental approval, a maximum of up to 30 credits of master’s level coursework (in Human Development and Family Science or related disciplines at Syracuse University or other universities) may be applied to your Ph.D. program. Courses in research methodology, statistics, and major or substantive areas of study within Human Development and Family Science or related disciplines are eligible to be considered.

Part-Time Study

Part-time students are not admitted into the Ph.D. program.

Satisfactory Progress

To maintain good standing, all graduate students are required to:

  • Earn a B or better in all required courses.
  • Maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0, including courses taken outside the department (e.g., anthropology, education, psychology, sociology, etc.).

Student Learning Outcomes

1. Apply knowledge of theoretical and conceptual frameworks that guide research in the child and family studies area and assess the applied aspects of research findings

2. Develop a significant research proposal in a specific topic area, collect and analyze data, and interpret the relevant findings

3. Students will collect and analyze data and interpret the relevant findings

4. Students will produce original research

5. Practice the requisite skills for professional careers in the field (e.g., college/university level faculty, research agencies, foundations, policy positions)

Core course requirements (24 credits)

Elective Credits (36 credits)

In addition to completing the core requirements, students are required to take additional supporting courses distributed as follows:

  • 15 credits of HFS electives
  • 21 credits of directed electives

Students should consult with their faculty advisor prior to selecting elective courses. Students may choose courses at or above the 600 level. All students must complete a two-semester sequence in statistics and research methods.

Comprehensive Examination

After completing required coursework (57 of the 60 required course-based credits), and prior to their dissertation, doctoral students must complete the comprehensive examination. These examinations are intended to advance learning by requiring students to integrate substantive knowledge within the broad field of Human Development and Family Science. Students are expected to synthesize, critically analyze, and evaluate the literature in the field and also articulate this scientific information in the written defense examination. Formal acceptance as a Ph.D. candidate is contingent upon successful completion of the written examination. Comprehensive examinations are scheduled twice each year.

Dissertation (12 credits)

Students are expected to take 12 dissertation credits. The dissertation is a final requirement of the Ph.D. program wherein students are expected to undertake original research that makes a significant contribution to the body of knowledge in child and family studies (students complete 12 dissertation credits). Students are expected to present a dissertation proposal to a committee of three faculty members. Only after approval of the dissertation proposal are students allowed to undertake the proposed research project. Upon completion of the dissertation, an oral defense is scheduled before a dissertation committee. The dissertation must meet additional requirements specified by the department and the Graduate School.

Distribution of Credits:

Core Requirements 24

HFS Electives 15

Directed Electives 21

Dissertation 12

Total 72