Meet Your Major

Human development and human services is the study of the physical, psychological and social-emotional development of individuals across the lifespan.

Students in this program will examine how environmental factors both influence — and are influenced by — the individual. Various influences, such as relationships close to us (family members, friends and peers) as well as those that are more distant from us (culture, religion, government, and the media) affect individual development. Furthermore, individual characteristics, such as age, race, gender and social class, affect one’s experiences in these different domains.

Examining development from infancy to late adulthood provides a greater understanding of how people change, but also how factors remain stable over time. Because individuals intersect with people of varying ages in their personal and professional lives, such as children, parents, grandparents, teachers and colleagues, it is useful to understand development at all ages.

Merrimack College Panel shots

What You’ll Study

Students majoring in human development and human services will:

  • Understand factors that contribute to stability and change across the lifespan.
  • Understand how individuals, families and communities influence one another.
  • Learn to be a critical consumers of information to guide decisions in their future career.
  • Learn how to apply this knowledge to improve the lives of individuals, families and communities.

Hands-on Learning

Students will have opportunities to apply what they are learning in the classroom through a series of field experiences. In fact, 100% of human development and human services majors participate in at least one field experience or practicum. These often include opportunities to shadow a professionals in the human-development and human-services sector.

Career Options

Majors will be prepared to work in a wide range of human-service fields, including mental-health counseling, school and guidance counseling, speech and language pathology, youth services and child advocacy, and social work. Examples include:

  • Community organizations such as the YMCA and the Boys and Girls Club
  • Childcare and education centers and preschools
  • Drug and alcohol treatment centers and hospitals
  • Child and domestic-abuse centers
  • Human resources departments of large companies

Before entering the work force, some students choose to pursue graduate studies in areas such as child life, social work, community engagement, counseling, speech and language pathology, K-12 education, higher education, psychology, business and law.

What You’ll Take

Human development and human services majors take a combination of required and elective courses to satisfy the 48-credit course requirement for the department out of the total 124 credits required for a diploma.

Required Foundational Courses (complete all)

BIO 1106

Human Biology

HDE 1000

Introduction to Human Development

HDE 1020

Introduction to Human Services

HDE 2130

Diversity, Social Justice and Ethics

HDE 3000

Research Methods and Applied Statistics in Human Development

EDU 4220

Differentiation and Inclusion (2 cr)

EDU 4221

Positive Learning Environments (2 cr)

Developmental Progressions and Processes (choose three)

EDU 2210

Child Growth and Development

HDE 1050

Applied Infancy Development

HDE 2230

Applied Adolescent Development

HDE 2240

Adult Development

Electives (choose two)

CRM 2000

Youth, Deviance and Crime

EDU 2110

Foundations and Principles of Education

EDU 3210

Psychology of Learning and Assessment

EDU 4500

Language Acquisition and Literacy Development

HDE 3620

Diversity in Practice with Families and Communities

HDE 4260

Foundations of Counseling Across Professions

PSY 3340

Developmental Psychopathology

SOC 3450

Sociology of the Family 

SOC 3650

Sociology of Immigration

Experiential Learning

Requirement 1:

HDE 2010

Explorations in Human Services Context (Sophomore year)


Requirement 2: Students can focus on research or choose field experience to build on to their academic foundation.


Senior Thesis: Directed Research

HDE 4850

Human Development: Field Experience (4 cr)

HDE 4851

Human Development Capstone: Field Experience (8 cr)