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PhD Program

The Department of Human Development and Family Studies offers a PhD in Human Environmental Sciences, with an emphasis area in Human Development and Family Studies. The PhD program can lead to careers in research, college or university teaching, or to leadership positions in public and private institutions.

Newly admitted doctoral students must select a committee before the end of their second semester or first 15 hours of coursework to design their programs of study. Doctoral students typically complete about 30 credit hours of methods courses and 9 credit hours in a collateral area of their choosing in addition to core coursework. Doctoral committees must include at least four faculty members. At least three must be from HDFS and one must be a Doctoral Faculty member from another MU doctoral program. (Ask the Department Chair or the Director of Graduate Studies for a list of Doctoral Faculty.) Important additional information is available in the Graduate Handbook.

students in classroom with instructor

Doctoral students must build into their program of study six credit hours of research practice (HDFS 9210). These practica can be taken in 2-3 credit hour units. To plan for your practica keep in mind that you will need to work a total of 240 hours for the six credits. All six credits of research practice should not be taken under the supervision of only one faculty member. For example, a student could enroll in three practica of two credit hours each under the supervision of three different HDFS faculty members. (In exceptional cases a maximum of 3 hours could be taken under the co-supervision of an HDFS faculty member and a faculty member in another department. This arrangement must be approved in advance). The purpose of the research practica is to provide doctoral students with experiences that will prepare them to successfully plan and execute their dissertation research as well as broaden their research expertise. A contract must be agreed upon and signed by the student and the practice supervisor. This contract will define the practice expectations. Doctoral students are also required to complete 3 hours of teaching practicum (HDFS 9100). This practicum will involve a supervised teaching experience and will include exposure to direct teaching, curriculum development, teaching strategies, and evaluation of student learning. The teaching practicum must be preceded by shadowing the course the student plans to teach. The practica are independent of a class and are not to be used in completing the dissertation.

Students who are admitted directly into the PhD program with only a Bachelor's degree are required to complete a master's degree. Until the master’s degree has been conferred by the University, the student is considered a master’s level student.

Most doctoral Students are funded with a departmental assistantship, receive a monthly stipend, tuition waiver, discount at the bookstore, and a stipend towards health insurance.

Funded summer teaching opportunities are available for PhD students, often via online instruction.

For additional information about our PhD program, please contact Ashlie Lester at

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