Although everyone wants to make a living doing a job they enjoy, some people want more than just a job. They want to make a difference in the world. If you are looking for a degree where you can utilize your passion for helping diverse families and individuals in community, school, and social service settings and your skills as a critical thinker, an online Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Relations (HDFR) may be the perfect match. Through this fully online program, you will be trained to serve culturally and linguistically diverse families and individuals from a strengths-based perspective in a variety of contexts. 

Whether you are starting college for the first time, transferring from another institution or returning to the university setting after years away, you will find a community in the HDFR program. Our program is designed like a small liberal arts experience that encourages diverse thought, but is reasonably priced. Our faculty mentor you, support you, and help you think about the world in new ways. The schooling experience is grounded in respecting diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice. 

A major focus of our program is making sure that our students gain valuable experience in the community and around the globe. Our students build their credentials by completing local and international service-learning and internships in nonprofit organizations, school and family liaison programs, after school programs, environmental and conservation outreach organizations, and human service agencies as part of their degree program. We offer study-abroad opportunities in Spain with program faculty and fellow HDFR students. These experiences help our students develop a global perspective that will serve them well in any career. We are one of the few Certified Family Life Educator approved program in the United States, according to the National Council on Family
Relations (NCFR), that offers bilingual classes.

This program is also the first bilingual (Spanish) Human Development and Family Relations program in the country. While you can take your courses entirely in English, we also offer you the opportunity to take some of your online courses in Spanish/English bilingual format. The bilingual courses are uniquely constructed so that you do not need to speak Spanish in order to participate. This exposure to another language can provide you with both the competencies you need to truly be an advocate for Spanish language speakers in your community, as well as a competitive edge over graduates of other programs as it relates to gainful employment and graduate school applications.

Program at a Glance

Degree Program:

Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Relations

Offered By:

School of Education and Human Development


Cost Per Credit:


* To get this rate, students must elect College Opportunity Fund (COF)

Cost Per Credit:


Credit Hours:


Program Details

The online BS in Human Development and Family Relations (HDFR) program is designed for students who want to serve culturally and linguistically diverse families and individuals, whether that’s in the public or private sector. Our alumni continue to law school for child and family law or immigration law, medical family therapy, social work, family therapy, school psychology, counseling education, higher education, or other graduate studies. You may also go into non-profit organizations, government
organizations or private industry.

This online program is offered through the School of Education & Human Development at CU Denver.  Students who are starting from scratch, without any transfer credits, can complete their degree in four years, or eight semesters, if they take classes full-time. However, we also welcome part-time students who are looking to complete the degree at their own pace. If you are a transfer student, this degree is especially transfer-friendly. We make it easy to bring in up to 27 credit hours from another field into this program. 

Our students benefit from our proven and tested mentoring system where every student is personally mentored and coached by at least one faculty member during their time with us. We make sure you understand the course material, figure out how to apply it to your professional goals and grow as both a scholar and an individual. 

We view diverse individuals and families through a global, strengths-based lens. Our courses aren’t just preparatory courses for professional life. They are classes that can change your perspective to an intentional, outward focus, allowing you to develop transferable life skills as a community member and a global citizen. 

Carolina Lechuga Contreras (HDFR '21)

I feel like I’m surrounded by people who want to put themselves in other people’s shoes. I was telling one of my classmates that I had a paper to write and that I was stressed about it. She said, ‘Girl, you got this!’ I felt so supported.

– Carolina Lechuga Contreras | Human Development and Family Relations, ’21


Admission requirements and deadlines vary based on the program. In addition, you will have different requirements depending on if you are a first-time student, a transfer student or an international student. 

Learn more about the admissions process by filling out the form above or contacting the CU Denver Enrollment Team today.


You can approach the BS in Human Development and Family Relations in a few different ways. Full-time students can complete the program in four years, or eight semesters. Transfer students from other accredited institutions can finish in less time, depending on the number of approved credits that you transfer to the University of Colorado Denver.

You can take courses full-time or part-time, depending on your schedule and needs. Choosing your own pace is part of what makes the program flexible. Since the HDFR program is available entirely online, you can complete every requirement online without ever having to come to campus. Of course, online students are welcome to participate in service activities in conjunction with our face-to-face students, as well as travel with our study abroad program. 

After graduation, you’ll find that you are qualified and competitive to find work in a relevant field, or you may apply to graduate schools.

Career Outlook

Graduates of the Human Development and Family Relations program are uniquely qualified for a variety of career opportunities. In an increasingly global society, our program prepares individuals to work with diverse people in fields such as healthcare, education, and helping professions, which are areas of employment where you work directly with individuals, families, schools, and communities, potentially in diverse or underserved contexts. Many of our graduates pursue further education by enrolling in law school or master’s programs in areas such as counseling, social work, school counseling, family therapy, school psychology, and student affairs in higher education and other fields. 

Because you can apply this degree to so many different careers, the career outlook is very much dependent on your personal goals, interests and passions. The demand for bilingual workers has more than doubled in the past several years, which makes our Spanish concentration an asset to you as a job candidate when your graduate.

Human Development and Family Relations Associate Professor Jorge Chavez

I enjoy teaching in HDFR because we approach the study of individual development and families in complex ways. I am a firm believer that we can’t think about development as if it occurs in a bubble. Within HDFR, we examine how development is influenced by the presence and absence of social relationships (family, peers, community), shaped by life events (trauma, major life transitions), and framed by a broader ecological context (school, community). We provide an understanding of this complexity to our students so that they are able to engage and work with diverse families in an increasingly complex world.

— Jorge Chavez | Associate Professor, BS in Human Development and Family Relations


Courses at CU Denver are offered three times a year — fall, spring and summer. Not all courses are available every semester. For most programs, courses last 15 weeks, plus one week for finals. This is a big commitment, but we believe the extra time you spend dedicated to your studies pays off! 

The Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Relations is an interdisciplinary degree that requires approximately 90 major credits, plus general education requirements, for a total of 120 credits.

Example Courses
HDFR 2080 — Sex, Human Development, and Family Systems
Students will become familiar with human sexuality across the life span through behavioral science and ecological perspectives. Different determinants of sexuality including behavioral, biological, developmental and cultural will be examined Implications for working with individuals, families, and couples through a behavioral science context will be explored.
HDFR 2200 — Love, Family, and Human Development
This course provides an introduction to understanding love, intimate relationships, and family relations through an ecological systems perspective. The course provides an exploration of contemporary diverse family systems and their relationships across the life span.
HDFR 3020 — Black and Latino Children in Families and Schools
This course will use ecological systems theory perspectives as a foundation for students to develop their understanding about Black and Latino children as members of family systems, school systems, and community systems within cultural contexts.
HDFR 4260 — Family Systems and Social Justice
Relying on ecological systems theories, this course will introduce students to families and family systems. Students will investigate how families experience (in)justice in the areas of access to education, community services, and employment.