Major & Minor

Family and Human Development

Family & Human Development is a social science focused on understanding healthy relationships and interactions with the aim of empowering families, couples, and individuals to build healthy, strong, and lasting relationships.

Family eating breakfast

About the Family and Human Development Major

At Southern Virginia University, family and human development (FHD) majors learn from dedicated professors in small classes that provide greater opportunities for engagement with peers and professors, critical analysis, and personal application of the course material. This enables FHD professors to tailor assignments to your individual needs, interests, and career goals.

Many FHD graduates go on to complete graduate programs in fields such as clinical social work, counseling psychology, marriage and family therapy, and educational psychology.

Southern Virginia’s FHD program focuses on the many aspects of individuals, couples, and families and how they affect one another. You will study relationships, identify family and individual strengths within relationships, and find ways to prevent family dysfunction using research and evidence from rigorous scientific research drawn from multiple disciplines, as well as distinct FHD methodologies and theories. You will also study topics such as developmental psychology, psychology of the family, sociology of marriage and family, social work, and personal and family finance.

Learning Outcomes

What you’ll learn in the Family & Human Development major:

  1. Basic knowledge of families in society, internal family dynamics, and family life education.
  2. Basic knowledge of child and adolescent development and parent education and guidance.
  3. Ability to locate, understand, evaluate, and write about family and human development research.
  4. Ability to create and deliver effective research-based outreach education products and presentations in family life education settings.

Career Opportunities

There is a wide array of potential careers with a family & human development degree, including jobs in social work, childcare, education, nursing and more depending on your personal and professional goals.

  • Social Worker
  • Therapist
  • Early Childhood Specialist
  • Family Life Educators
  • Crisis Counselor
  • Teacher
  • Caseworker

Getting Started in the Family and Human Development Major

Follow these simple steps below to get a head start in the
Family & Human Development Major today.


Begin by taking Introduction to Research Methods (FHD 290) or Introduction to Social Work (FHD 220) in your first year

Contact Your Advisor

Get in touch with New Tab, Opens Bio of: Professor Ariel Rodriguez to discuss your interests and goals


Turn in a completed PDFDeclare Major Form to the Registrar’s Office

Questions? Contact the Registrar at

Family & Human Development Faculty

Professor Michael Gibbons

Michael Gibbons

Assistant Professor of Psychology

Professor Ariel Rodruigez

Ariel Rodriguez

Professor of Family & Human Development; Family & Human Development Program Coordinator

Professor Karen Marie Walker

Karen Walker

Professor of Family and Human Development; Director of Educational Research and Development

“Almost no other group has the level and range of influence on a person’s life over time then family. Because of that, we need experts who have studied and understand how healthy families and relationships function and develop, and then use that understanding to strengthen families, couples, and individuals in all relationships, which is what FHD majors do.”

—Ariel Rodriguez, Professor of Family & Human Development