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What can you do with a human development degree? 10 paths

What you can do with a human development degree

When you’re thinking about studying human development, a career in human services may be the first thing that comes to mind. However, this degree is well-suited for individuals interested in studying human behavior, understanding human development across all ages, and positively impacting people’s lives in a variety of settings. As a prospective student considering the field, you’ll inevitably encounter the question: What can you do with a human development degree?

If you haven’t decided on a career path, exploring your options and discovering the opportunities a human development degree can offer is beneficial. Here’s an overview of the human development field and the possible career paths of this master’s degree program.

What is human development?

Human development is a multidisciplinary field that encompasses the study of different stages of life, from birth to older adulthood. It’s taking a closer look at the processes of growth and change that occur across individuals’ lifespans. Human development graduates understand how to create and transform environments and communities that promote healthy development and lead to life-long wellness.

Silvia Sörensen Headshot“A human development program explores the psychological, social, cultural, and biological aspects of human growth and behavior in a variety of contexts, including the family, faith and recreational organizations, educational settings, and the community at large,” says Silvia Sörensen, program director of human development at the University of Rochester’s Warner School of Education and Human Development and a specialist in gerontology. “Our curriculum explores the interplay between mind, body, and society in determining developmental trajectories with a focus on contemporary topics, such as the harmful effects of chronic stress and discrimination on mental and physical health, the background conditions that foster the healthy development of infants, young children, and minority youth, active interventions that promote wellness in older populations, and research that promotes the development of thriving communities.”

If you want to understand how people learn and grow from early childhood to the end of life and how different factors can promote or hinder healthy human development, this is the right degree for you.

10 possible paths for human development graduates

Human development master’s programs bring together many aspects of lifespan development, including cultural, social, familial, and interpersonal factors. Therefore, as the human development field continues to grow, new opportunities are emerging in educational, clinical, and community settings—to name a few. To help you decide what to do with a human development degree, here are 10 paths that combine an education in human development with a passion for helping others:

  1. Human services
    One of the most popular career paths for human development is within the field of human services. This broad area encompasses opportunities for you to work in family outreach, administration, parenting education and workshops, and case management.
  2. Community education
    Another promising avenue for human development graduates lies in community education. With a deep understanding of how individuals learn and develop, you can pursue careers with youth development programs, adoption agencies, teen pregnancy services, welfare assistance, adult daycare, gerontology, and long-term care programs.
  3. Health care
    With a human development degree, you can play a pivotal role in healthcare settings in child life programs, patient and family support, hospital-based family support, nutrition education, prenatal and maternity services, long-term care, hospice, and case management.
  4. Early childhood education
    Human development graduates take their knowledge of human development and growth to early childhood education settings, working at daycare centers, head start programs, and child development organizations.
  5. Museums & libraries
    With a human development degree, you can work as an educator or a consultant in a non-traditional educational setting, such as a museum and or library, lending your expertise and knowledge of human development to exhibit design, education, and docent programs.
  6. Faith-based organizations
    A human development degree program also equips you to work in faith-based settings on parenting education and youth programs.
  7. Government and public policy
    This career path is for you if you are driven to influence policies that impact human development and well-being. Graduates work in government and public policy in the areas of family policy analysis, child welfare advocacy, cooperative extension, and parent coordination.
  8. Research
    As a human development graduate, you can contribute to and coordinate research projects in health, mental health, and education settings, lending your expertise to grant proposal writing, academic and government research, community-based research for non-profits, and program evaluation and assessment. Some curricula, like the Warner School’s curriculum, prepare you for ongoing education and PhD programs.
  9. International education and development
    Many international education and development agencies and programs work to help others and promote well-being. With a human development degree, you can pursue career opportunities with Peace Corps and NGO leadership, international human rights advocacy, immigration, and migrant family services.
  10. Media and Communications
    A human development degree opens up many career opportunities, including in media and communications. With your knowledge of human development, you can work in curriculum and resource development and various media and technology settings.

Depending on your interests, some human development programs offer opportunities to customize your program by offering concentrations in early childhood, developmental differences, family studies, gerontology, research, and program evaluation.

While human development graduates are well prepared for diverse roles and career trajectories, your educational journey can continue after your human development degree. Many graduates use their master’s degree as a stepping stone to a doctoral program based on their training in education and research and evidence of scholarship.

Take the first step toward a rewarding career

Still asking yourself, “What can I do with my human development degree?” Consider speaking with professionals in the field to gain a better understanding of what they do on a daily basis or contacting a human development faculty member who can discuss your career options with a master’s degree in human development.