Human Development and Family Studies

M.S. (specializations listed below)


Faculty: Professor McCurdy, chair.

Developmental Science: Professor J. Xiao, , director. Professors Clark, McCurdy, and Xiao; Associate Professor S. Adams; Assistant ProfessorsKim, Leedahl, Porto, Spivak, and St.-Eloi Cadely; Professors Emeriti Gray Anderson, B. Newman, and Rae.

Couple and Family Therapy: Professor Adams, director. Professor Sparks; Associate Professor Kisler; Professors Emeriti Maynard and Rae.

College Student Personnel: Associate Professor Branch, director. Associate Professor Vaccaro; Professor Emeritus Schaffran; Associate Professor Emeritus Knott.


This M.S. program is designed to immerse students in a specialized area of human development and family studies, while providing a strong emphasis on policy, research, and practical knowledge of the field. Graduates from this program are prepared for  positions in human service and education administration, research and policy organizations, and for advanced academic work at the Ph.D. level.

Admission requirements: 18 undergraduate credits from relevant disciplines, including human development and family studies, psychology, and sociology.  Majors in related fields (e.g., nursing, political science, education) may be admitted with the permission of the director of graduate studies.  Completion of an undergraduate level statistics course take prior to the beginning of the program in the first year of the program is required.  Two letters of recommendation are required with at least one from an academic reference.  Application deadline for fall admission is February 15.  Applications received after that date will be reviewed on a space-available basis.  Program requirements: a minimum of 36 credits of approved graduate courses that include a developmental seminar; a sequence in policy and research; and a professional seminar. In addition, students will select a minimum of 6 credits in a specialization, such as child development, early childhood education, adult development/gerontology, public policy/administration, family studies, and family financial counseling/education. Students complete a master’s thesis. Students will have the option of including up to 3 credits of a policy, administrative, or research internship as part of the program of study.

Master of Science specializing in Couple and Family Therapy

Admission requirements: GRE or MAT; at least 12 credits of relevant preparation, including courses in family relations, developmental theory, abnormal psychology, and introduction to counseling or equivalent courses. Two letters of recommendation should be from supervisors in a related field attesting to observed experience, emotional stability, and maturity. After initial screening, qualified applicants will be required to come to campus for a personal interview. The goal of the personal interview is to determine whether the applicant possesses the full range of academic qualifications, experiential background, clinical competency, and readiness to undertake the rigors of an academically and emotionally demanding clinical preparation program. Program faculty members will conduct the interviews. Selection for admission to this program is competitive and enrollment is limited. Diversity among the students in the program is a major program goal. The program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education. Review of applications begins January 15.

Program requirements: a minimum of 45 credits of approved graduate courses, including 12 credits of pratica and internship, a comprehensive examination, and a research project. This program involves intense clinical practice and requires a year-long clinical placement at approved agencies or the department’s Family Therapy Clinic.

Master of Science specializing in College Student Personnel

The College Student Personnel (CSP) program’s mission is to prepare reflective practitioners for professional careers in student affairs. Graduates seek primarily entry-level positions such as advisors, coordinators, and assistant directors/deans at institutions of higher education. Our vision is to engage one another in an extended community of co-learning relationships that inspire optimal development and promote growth in leadership, all based on creating and sustaining the best practices in CSP preparation and professional work. The program is designed in accordance with the guidelines established by the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education.

For students’ convenience, most courses are offered in the late afternoon or early evening in Kingston. Full- and part-time programs of study are available.

Admission requirements: Online submission of an application through the Graduate School website. Supporting materials must include two letters of recommendation (one preferably a faculty member from your undergraduate major and one student affairs professional), transcripts of all previous college course work, a current résumé, and a Personal Statement. For guidance on the Personal Statement, see The completed application package, including supporting materials, is due for fall admission by January 15; materials received after this date and prior to April 1 are reviewed on a space-available basis. After initial screening, selected applicants will be invited to interview with a faculty representative. Those invited to interview will receive information on applying for Graduate Assistantships or other direct links to practice in college student affairs settings.  Selection for admission to this program is competitive and enrollment is limited; preference is given to applicants with experience in college student affairs. Diversity among students is valued by the program and student affairs profession.

Program requirements: 42-credit program consisting of 33 credits in core HDF courses (551, 555, 556, 560, 567, 570, 572, 574, 576, 580, 581), either 6 internship credits (583 & 584) and 3 elective credits or 3 practicum credits (553) and 6 elective credits, and a comprehensive examination.

Certification Programs

Postbaccalaureate Early Childhood Education (ECE): If you wish to pursue a postbaccalaureate early childhood education teacher certification (preschool to grade 2) and do not have a human development and family studies background, you will need to take certain courses from the HDF undergraduate curriculum and should consult an HDF advisor. Students apply to URI’s Teacher Certification Program (nondegree status) administered through the Graduate School and must submit a candidate’s statement, official transcripts of all previous course work, and two letters of recommendation. Applicants must also complete the same ECE admission process as undergraduate students, including the portfolio, admission tests, and interview coordinated through the University’s Office of Teacher Education.