One of the hidden gem majors at UIUC–which people are seldom familiar with when I tell them what I study–is Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS). Within the college of ACES, the #4 HDFS program in the country belongs to UIUC.

The HDFS program includes classes spanning from learning about the biology and psychology of the human body to the intricate relationships within diverse contexts of family systems. There are application courses where you can observe and teach in the Child Development Laboratory. There are courses specifically designed towards obtaining an internship or creating an independent study. Plus, do not forget about the ample research opportunities with distinguished faculty in the field to help jumpstart a career in academia. 

In addition to the variety of courses, there are several Registered Student Organizations in the program. These RSOs bring students together to discuss issues in HDFS, recruit new students to the program, and attend annual conferences. Some of these programs, such as HDFS Ambassadors, are application-based, while others like the Illinois Student Council on Family Relationships is a group that anyone can join!

I asked some of my friends who are either current seniors in HDFS or who are recent graduates from the program to share some of their favorite memories and experiences in their time in this amazing major. 

Kate Hayek, Class of 2020

“My favorite parts of being an HDFS major were the intimate relationships you made with peers due to the small classes sizes, which I really enjoyed. I appreciated how each instructor was invested in their students. Academic Advisor Barbara Anderson also played a huge role in why I enjoyed my undergrad so much. She was a great resource and supporter, I couldn’t have done it without her. 

“I learned about the Child Development Lab through HDFS as well, which contributed to my experience working with children and helped me make the decision to pursue my Masters in Early Childhood Special Education. When I think back to my undergrad, I have many positive memories and I have my HDFS family to thank for that.”

Litzully Falcon, Class of 2021

“I love being part of HDFS because it really affirmed how much I want to be in the medical field. Being in the pre-med track has allowed me to not only combine my HDFS classes with things like Biology and Chemistry, and even have an internship at Carle Hospital; HDFS has allowed me to wake up everyday being excited to become a doctor one day.”

Maddie Yoo, Class of 2021

“Being part of HDFS has allowed me to join many different research opportunities. I most recently have been working with Dr. Kelly Tu on her study in the ADAPT Lab to examine stressors in late adolescent years. This has been just one of the many amazing experiences in HDFS, and I could not imagine being in any other program at UIUC.

“HDFS has an impact on every single person that has the pleasure to be a part of it. It is such a small and diverse community and it is such a great environment to spend your four years in.”



Class of 2021
I am majoring in Human Development & Family Studies with a minor in Leadership. I was born and raised in Champaign, IL with a love for all things Fighting Illini. I get to show that love by working as a student-manager for the women’s volleyball team on campus!

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