Human Development and Family Science

Ph.D. in Human Sciences (major in HDFS)

In the Human Development and Family Science (HDFS) Ph.D. program, we train students to become the next generation of scholars, university faculty, and researchers. Our graduates have successfully obtained positions of their choice in some of the nation’s leading academic institutions.

The HDFS curriculum addresses relational and family process in contemporary families, such as cohabiting couples, families of divorce and remarriage, military families, and foster families. Faculty are noted for their study of children’s friendships, couple dynamics, intimate partner violence, parenting practices, racial socialization, among other topics.

M.S. / Ph.D. Option

Students can enroll in the Ph.D. program in Health and Human Sciences with a concentration in Human Development and Family Science directly following the completion of a bachelor’s degree. In this degree program students earn a M.S. in Human Development & Family Science as they progress toward a Ph.D. in Human Sciences with a concentration in Human Development and Family Science.


Fall Semester December 1

This program admits only in the fall semester. All application materials must be received by the deadline posted and only complete applications will be reviewed.  Applications are not deferred; if you decide to apply for a different term or major, you will need to start a new application.

Admission to the graduate program is term specific. Therefore, if you are unable to attend the term in which you were admitted, you will need to reapply for a future term.

If you meet the below requirements, we encourage you to apply to the program.

  1. An upper-division undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. The same scale applies for graduate-level work.
  2. A competitive Graduate Record Examination General Test (GRE®) score; recommended score of above the 50th percentile (approximately 150) in both verbal and quantitative sections with a 4.0 or higher on the writing section. Please note that it can take up to ten (10) days after sitting for the GRE for an official score report to be sent to the university.
  3. International students: Applicants must submit an official English Proficiency Score Report.  A TOEFL iBT® score of at least 80 (iBT) or 550 (paper-delivered) or an IELTSTM Academic score of at least 6.5 is required. The department recommends 600 (paper-based) or 100 (internet-based) TOEFL for a competitive application to the doctoral program.  Our department does not accept other English proficiency examinations.

Attainment of these minimum requirements does not guarantee admission to the program. Admission decisions are based on assessments of all aspects of the student’s application materials. The department reserves the right to increase standards if warranted by enrollment limitations and by the number and quality of applicants. Financial aid is a separate process from the admission to a graduate program

You may apply directly to the Human Development and Family Science Doctoral Program following a related bachelor’s program and earn your master’s on your way to the Ph.D. Please see details about this  MS/PhD option.

All items below must be on file, and the fee paid, before an application is considered complete and ready for review. We encourage you to complete your application early.

  1. Apply Online; Once you have Current Content with the info below:
    • Pay the application fee.
    • Complete the Faculty Preference Form. Please select three faulty members, in order of preference, with whom you would like to work with throughout your graduate program.
    • Upload a personal statement outlining your research interests, career goals, and why Florida State University is a good fit for you. We strongly encourage applicants to familiarize themselves with the research interests of the faculty in their area so the statement can specifically address those faculty members. The statement should include how your background and prior training make you a good candidate and should include your top three (3) choices of faculty members with whom you would like to work. If you are applying to the Human Development and Family Science Doctoral Program directly following a related bachelor’s program, please see info on the Human Development and Family Science in-flight master’s degree.
    • Upload a resume or vita.
    • Upload contact information for three recommenders. The recommenders should be professionals you have worked with who are familiar with your academic performance and can speak directly about your qualification for this degree. Academic recommendations are preferred, but relevant professional recommendations will be accepted. No personal recommendations or letters from peers will be accepted.
    • Upload a writing sample. Please submit a writing sample that represents your best scholarly work. Examples include a thesis, a research-based paper, published article, or a paper submitted as a course assignment.
  2.  Submit official test scores (GRE® and, if required, TOEFL iBT®) school reporting code for test scores is 5219; no department code is required. International Students: Submit an official English Proficiency Score Report:
    • TOEFL test scores electronically from to the FSU Office of Graduate Admissions. The university’s reporting code for test scores is 5219; no department code is required.
    • IELTS Academic test scores in physical (paper) form directly from to the FSU Office of Graduate Admissions at:Florida State University
      Office of Graduate Admissions
      222 S. Copeland Street, 314 Westcott Bldg.
      Tallahassee, FL 32306-1410
  3. Submit official transcripts to the FSU Office of Admissions. We require transcripts from EVERY post-secondary institution you attended (even if those courses are posted to another institution’s transcript). Please have official transcript sent directly to the Office of Admissions.
    • Send electronic transcripts to:
    • Send paper transcripts to:
      Florida State University
      Office of Admissions
      A2500 University Center
      282 Champions Way
      Tallahassee FL 32306-2400

Doctoral students have access to the entire departmental faculty as part of their education and professional development. Students select their major professor and supervisory committee based on areas of scholarly interest and expertise. The doctoral supervisory committee provides mentorship throughout the doctoral experience. Doctoral students have access to computer laboratories, statistical software, and on-campus and remote access library resources.

For students admitted to a Doctoral program after completing a Master’s degree, a preliminary examination must be completed within 3 years but no longer than 5 years from beginning coursework.

When students complete coursework, they then complete a preliminary examination. Upon successful completion of the exam, the student enters into “candidacy,” where original research is undertaken, culminating in a dissertation. Although some students complete their dissertation within a year, others take longer. The period of candidacy is limited to 5 years.

We make every attempt to provide financial support to full-time enrolled students through Teaching Assistantships and Research Assistantships. Students typically provide 20 hours of service to the department through these assignments.

Tallahassee is a beautiful and exciting place to live. Tallahassee is the largest city in the Big Bend Region and one of the fastest growing cities in Florida. The area is surrounded by national forests, natural springs, and wildlife preserves. The Gulf of Mexico is only a 45 minute drive from campus and within 2 hours, you can be on some of the most pristine beaches of the Emerald Coast. The area is famous for its abundance of live oak trees that extend over roadways to form picturesque canopy roads. There are cultural and recreational activities for everyone: ACC sports and nationally recognized music, theatre, dance and film events.


For questions about the program:

Dr. Thomas Ledermann

For questions about the application process:

CHS Office of Graduate Studies