Master of Science in HDFS

Students working in a research laboratory

MS students are enrolled in a Plan A Master’s program, meaning they complete a Master’s thesis. MS students work closely with a faculty mentor (committee chair) and at least two other committee members on the research for their thesis. Depending on student and faculty interest, availability of existing data, and a number of other factors, a student may develop his or her own independent research project under the oversight of faculty, and/or the student may work with faculty on existing studies. Therefore, understanding the research interests of our faculty may be of interest for prospective MS applicants.

HDFS specializations are studied in the context of current issues affecting individuals and families. Master’s level graduates qualify for careers in teaching, extension, administration, prevention and intervention programs, financial counseling, and agencies serving consumers, individuals, families, and children. Recipients of HDFS MS degree may also qualify for careers involving research. MS and MMFT graduates with the Marriage and Family Therapy specialty qualify for careers in therapy.

Financial Assistance

Course Requirements

Contact Information

RaNae Wamsley

RaNae Wamsley

Graduate Program Coordinator

Phone: 435-797-1501
Office Location: FL 205


Family Relations

Couples, Marriage, and Family Relationships

Areas of study include: couples, marital formation, marriage and family interaction, parenthood, the interface of marriage and family relationships with other social structures, family crises, and various forms of marriage and family. Examples of current research opportunities include marital adjustment in the early years of marriage, marital quality in diverse populations, and remarriage and stepfamily research.

Family Finance Issues

Areas of study include: family finance, financial coaching, housing, and economic issues related to aging.


Master’s degree graduates in this specialization are competitive for careers including:

  • Research for state and federal agencies
  • Program development
  • Family life education
  • Extension positions (family finance, financial counseling)
  • Teaching at colleges and universities
  • Administration for local, state, and federal government (agencies that advocate for individuals, families, children, and/or consumers.

Human Development Specializations

Infancy and Childhood

Areas of study include biological, psychological, and social development from birth through the school-age years. Examples of current research opportunities include infant attachment, social development and competence, language development, early parent-child interaction, and developmentally appropriate practice.

Youth and Adolescence

Areas of study include biological, psychological, and social development of youth and teens as they interact with their families, peers, the educational system, and social institutions pertaining to achieving maturity in a modern world. Examples of current research opportunities include parenting of early adolescents, substance abuse, social media, cognitive autonomy, social media, adolescent environments, and identity development.

Adult Development and Aging

Areas of study include biological, psychological, and social development of young, middle-aged, and older adults as they develop within the context of families, the work environment, social institutions, health, and the larger social structure. Examples of current research opportunities include health and well-being of family members caring for older adults, the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, quality of life for persons with dementia, how stress and other psychosocial factors influence psychological, physical, and cognitive health in older adults, intergenerational relations, and economic issues relevant to aging individuals.


Master’s degree graduates in this specialization are competitive for careers including:

  • Teaching/lecturer positions at colleges and universities
  • Administration and program development positions in preschools
  • Residential treatment centers
  • Rape prevention educators
  • After school programs
  • Program evaluation
  • Organize and manage volunteer programs (after school programs, mentors, big brothers/sisters)
  • Extension (4-H)
  • Senior centers
  • Assisted living facilities
  • Non-profit organizations benefiting older adults; division of aging services; and extension programs; and as health promotion educators.

Marriage and Family Therapy

A Master of Science with a Marriage and Family Therapy specialization means that a student participates in a Master’s thesis (Plan A). The MS and MMFT specializations complete the requirements to be a Marriage and Family Therapist. This specialization provides professional and research development for students who are primarily interested in marriage and family therapy as a career.

Students are provided with opportunities to achieve the basic academic and initial clinical practice requirements for Utah state licensure as marriage and family therapists and for clinical membership in the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. This degree program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education. Graduates in the MFT specialization are competitive for positions as therapists in state and private therapy agencies and in residential treatment facilities for adults and adolescents

This specialization requires additional application materials beyond what is required for other MS specializations and is only for students admitted into the MMFT program.

Clinical/research areas of focus are: medical family therapy/collaborative health care, play therapy, attachment-based therapy, and addictions and violence.