Family and Human Development, PhD

The Doctor of Philosophy in Family and Human Development is a research intensive training program focused on social processes, family relationships, and human development. Doctoral candidates will have the opportunity to engage in research that aims to find solutions to major issues facing children, youth, and families in our society and promote their strengths and positive development. Doctoral candidates enjoy a flexible model of graduate training with many elective courses to choose from as well as optional specializations in diversity and inclusion science, measurement and statistical analysis, and social and emotional learning.

Our program offers training opportunities to conduct basic and translational research; strong support for cross-disciplinary collaborations; opportunities to engage in innovative research in local, national, and international communities; community partnerships with schools and agencies that serve children and families; and a strong emphasis on mentorship, professional opportunities to support students' development and career placement. As one of the leading programs in North America (ranked 6th in 2017), our Family and Human Development program offers world class training and prepares students for careers in higher education (e.g., tenure-track faculty, research professors, instructors) and research and evaluation in federal and state agencies and for-profit and non-profit settings.

6 years average to degree
26 research-active faculty members
Ranked 6th in North America

Degree Overview

The doctoral program in Family and Human Development at Arizona State University trains students to conduct high quality, impactful research to improve the lives of children, youth, and families. The program includes training in child development and family theory, research methods, and statistics, and flexibility in developing one's own area of expertise or choosing from one of three optional specializations.

How to apply

The Sanford School application process is completed online through ASU Graduate Education. Prospective students must submit the admission application form along with the fee and official transcripts. For the department's doctoral programs, students must submit supplemental application materials. View how to apply for more details.

"The FHD doctoral program strikes an incredible balance between fostering individual growth as well as building community and collaboration at various levels. Students are provided with strong mentorship, research and publication opportunities, and theoretical and methodological training according to their interests, while contributing to school and university initiatives. I have been able to pursue my own independent research agenda, while still being deeply grounded in the department with the support of my peers, primary advisors, and a wide range of other faculty mentors."
-Larissa Gaias


The Ph.D. program in Family and Human Development is designed to train researchers in developmental and family science. Students take core courses in family sciences, human development, research methodology, statistics, and diversity. The aims of the program are to train students to become researchers with an area of specialization in Family and Human Development. Graduate students are expected to develop competencies in research methods and in theoretical orientations relevant to their area of study.

A minimum of 85 hours is required.

Requirements and ElectivesHours
Core courses25
Elective courses42
Research (thesis)6

Courses and electives

Training in Family and Human Development involves coursework in theory, research methods, statistics, diversity, and areas related to students' own interests or specialization. The program of study is developed in collaboration with one's doctoral advisor/mentor. The program follows a mentorship model of training. Students work closely with faculty members to develop research skills through involvement in projects.

FAS 531: Theoretical Issues in Family Sciences
CDE 531: Theoretical Issues in Child Development
Diversity Course
FAS 500: Research Methods
Multiple Regression
2 Advanced Statistics Courses
FAS 503: Professional Development

14 courses

Optional specializations include Diversity and Inclusion Science, Measurement and Statistical Analysis, and Social and Emotional Development.

Student will work with their advisor to identify elective courses in the area of expertise that the student would like to develop.

FAS or CDE 592

Empirical Portfolio Project: Students who enter the program with their bachelor's degree will complete a portfolio project in the form of an empirical project to earn their master's in passing. The empirical portfolio project consists of original work on a specific research problem. The problem is decided upon by the student in consultation with the supervisory committee chair. After selection of a research problem, the student develops a research proposal and makes a formal presentation of it to the supervisory committee for critical review and formal acceptance (called the Portfolio Proposal Meeting). The portfolio project can be formatted as a traditional document (i.e., including an introduction, literature review, method, plan of analyses/results, and discussion) or as an empirical article in the format specified for empirical articles in the relevant current edition of the publication manual by the American Psychological Association.

Comprehensive Exam: The comprehensive exam fulfills a number of purposes. On one level, this exam allows students to independently demonstrate the breadth and depth of their knowledge, their ability to think critically, and their readiness to write their dissertation proposal to their supervisory committee. On another level, comprehensive exams should challenge students to utilize and integrate what they have learned in their coursework, and to independently develop a research plan that potentially will sustain their investigative efforts past their doctoral dissertation and into the early years of their career. There are two format options for the exam: students select either (a) grant application or (b) psychological bulletin article.

FAS or CDE 592

FAS or CDE 799

Dissertation: The doctoral dissertation must be the product of original scholarship and must make a significant contribution to knowledge in the field and demonstrate the student's mastery of systematic research methods. The dissertation should be completed using one of two formats: (a) traditional dissertation proposal; or (b) two or three original and distinct empirical articles. For the traditional dissertation option, the prospectus should include a pertinent review of the literature, statement of the problem, the purpose of the proposed study, description of the research design and methods, and discussion of the specific means by which the data will be analyzed (i.e., an introduction and literature review, method, and plan of analysis). For the empirical articles option, the prospectus should include an introduction that provides the broad theoretical rational, statement of the problem and how it will be divided into 2 or 3 studies, and integration of the 2 to 3 planned studies.