Family and Human Development, MS


The Online Master's in Family and Human Development requires a total of 30 credit hours, including 4 core courses (CDE 531, FAS 598 Diversity, FAS 500, and CDE 501), 3 Structured Topic Courses (offerings may vary over time), and 3 capstone courses (FAS 586, FAS 587, and FAS 588).

Each course in the Family and Human Development MS program is designed and taught by experienced faculty who are trained in the area and have considerable expertise in delivering high-quality online education.

Fall and Spring courses are 7.5 weeks long and summer courses are 6 weeks long.

The table below indicates when the FHD MS courses are offered. Note that most courses are offered just one time per year.

Course Number/NameWhen Course is Offered
CDE 531 Theoretical Issues in Child Development (3 hours)Fall A
FAS 598 Structured Topic (e.g., Leadership and Social Justice, 3 hours)Fall A
FAS 500 Research Methods (3 hours)Fall B
FAS/CDE 598 Structured Topic (e.g., Marriage and Family Relationships, and Family Health, 3 hours)Spring A
CDE 501 Social Science Statistics (3 hours)Spring B
FAS 598 Diversity and Society (3 hours)Summer A
FAS 598 Parenting (3 hours)Summer A
Culminating Experience (9 hours)
          FAS 586 Capstone Project I (3 hours)Fall B, Spring B, Summer A
          FAS 587 Capstone Project II (3 hours)Spring A, Summer B
          FAS 588 Capstone Project III (3 hours)Fall B, Spring B, Summer B

View brief descriptions of FHD MS courses

Sample Course Plan

Below is an example of a course plan for a student beginning the program in Fall. Students can choose to follow an accelerated course plan (2-3 courses per semester) or an extended course plan (1 course per session). Course availability and financial aid requirements can influence a course plan; therefore, it is important that students work closely with the Sanford School program advisor to develop and follow an appropriate course plan. Structured course topics (courses for which topics may vary) are indicated by * in the course plan below. If you are a current student with course plan questions, please e-mail If you are a prospective student with course plan questions, please e-mail

Sample course plan:

Fall AFall BSpring ASpring BSummer ASummer B
Year 1CDE 531FAS 500
FAS 586
FAS/CDE 598*CDE 501FAS 598 Diversity
FAS 598*
FAS 587
Year 2FAS 598*FAS 588

Capstone Courses and Culminating Experience

The Online Master's degree in FHD includes three capstone courses that must be taken in sequence, ending with a non-thesis, applied culminating experience. Each part of the Capstone experience allows for some customization to fit individual students' professional and academic needs and interests. Ultimately, this culminating experience will provide students with a deeper understanding of family and human development, as well as professional competencies and insights.

The capstone experience consists of the following parts:

  • Capstone Project Part I: Professional Development. Capstone Project I allows students to explore and begin to specify their professional goals and means of obtaining those goals. This process of professional exploration and goal specification will help ensure that, together, the student and student's capstone instructor can craft personalized Capstone Projects and experiences that maximize the student's potential of obtaining their goals.
  • Capstone Project Part II: Exploration/Specialization. Capstone Project II allows students to delve into their area(s) of interest, developing a greater depth and understanding of topics that influence children, youth, and families, and that further the student's academic and professional goals. Students develop and enhance their writing, research, and presentation skills through various assignments.
  • Capstone Project Part III: Application. Capstone Project III is the culminating experience for the master's program and is taken in a student's last session of the program. This is the point at which students apply what they have learned through their coursework. Once again, the emphasis is on a personalized and useful experience for the students. In consultation with a capstone instructor, the student will fashion a field experience plan that allows the student to gain real-world experience related to family and human development. Activities that fulfill the field experience requirement are vast and varied, often limited only by a student's creativity.