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, helping people who need it the most. If you are looking for a degree where you can utilize your passion for helping diverse individuals, families and communities 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 on the premise that our students’ success is dependent on our faculty’s involvement in their scholastic and personal development. We foster a closely-knit, dedicated community of students, each of whom is mentored by professors who care. We walk alongside you from your first class to your last, supporting you each step of the way, including valuable experiences such as partnering in undergraduate research projects and service-learning activities. 

A major focus of our program is making sure that our students gain valuable experience in the community and around the globe. We emphasize experiential education in both our online and face-to-face programs. We help our students to find sites for service learning that allow them to work with diverse populations in a variety of contexts, including global sites through our study abroad programs. Many of our courses have service-learning requirements built into the curriculum. We find that the experience of working with diverse people helps our students to develop a global perspective that will serve them well in any career.

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:

University of Colorado Denver


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. Most of our graduates go on to find work in “helping fields,” which include nonprofits, social work, counseling and mental health, child and adult care, and health settings such as hospitals and clinics. 

This online program is offered through the School of Education & Human Development at CU Denver. Our online students may choose a degree focus from two different course concentration areas: Family Diversity or Human Development and Learning. 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 30 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 Alvarez | 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 2000 — Introduction to Family and Community Services
Through ecological systems theories, this course is designed to provide students with an introduction to family and community services within community and educational environments.
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.