Human Development & Family Studies (JD/MA or JD/MS)

Students completing the following course of study will be eligible to receive a JD degree from the School of Law and an MS or MA degree in Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS). This course of study may be completed in four years.  Normally, students require three years to complete the requirements for the JD degree and two years to complete the requirements for the Master’s degree.

A joint degree program administered through Human Development and Family Studies and the School of Law is available for those students who wish to earn simultaneously a Master of Arts (MA) or a Master of Sciences (MS) degree and Juris Doctorate (JD).

Application Procedure

Applicants to the Dual Degree Program must submit formal applications for admission to the School of Law and to the School of Human Development and Family Studies accompanied by a statement requesting permission to pursue the Dual Degree Program.  Students must meet the requirements for admission to both programs.  Contact the Department of Human Development and Family Studies, and the School of Law for further information on admissions requirements.  Both applications and the request must normally be submitted before a student has substantially completed the requirements of either program.  However, petitions requesting admission to the Dual Degree Program from students at more advanced stages in either program will be considered.

Degree Requirement Summary

The program meets the requirements for the JD with a total of 83 hours of law credit and 6 hours of HDFS credit.  The program meets the requirements for the MA/MS with 27 credit hours of courses in HDFS and 6 elective credit hours and 6 required credit hours at the School of Law.  These can be completed in four years, and summer courses are available in both programs if necessary or desirable.

Career Opportunities

JD/MS Family Studies students are sought after by law firms because they have a strong understanding of family systems and can integrate their knowledge of family interaction with their ability to apply laws governing divorce, custody, adoption, marriage, stepfamilies, and so forth.  Alternatively, knowledge of the legal system can be an advantage for the student who chooses a career in family studies. Having an understanding of the legal system as it applies to families gives them an opportunity to serve as skilled advocates on behalf of children and families.


The curriculum has been designed so that law and essentials in Human Development and Family Studies are addressed, followed by specialized courses at the upper levels.  Students in the dual-degree program will spend their first year at the law school taking the traditional first-year law school curriculum.  Students will spend their second year primarily taking HMI courses.  In addition, students will be able to enroll in one law school course in the fall and one or two law courses in the spring.  The law courses might include some of the required upper-level courses. In the two final years, students will split the time between the law school and the Department of Human Development and Family Studies.

School of Law Required Courses

1st Year

5010, 5015 Civil Procedure (5)
5020, 5025 Contracts (6)
5035 Criminal Law (4)
5050 Property (5)
5070 Torts (5)
5080 Legal Research and Writing (2)
5085 Advocacy and Research (2)
5095 Lawyering (2)

2nd Year

5220 Constitutional Law (4)
5260 Evidence (4)

2nd or 3rd Year

5240 Criminal Procedure (3)
5280 Professional Responsibility (3)

Law electives – 38 credits
HDFS electives – 6 credits

*Any student who does not achieve a 77.5 GPA in the fall semester will be required to take 5090, Legal Reasoning. Those students in Legal Reasoning will not take Advocacy & Research until their second year. This course is designed to assist students in meeting the graduation requirements.

Recommended Law School Electives

Students must take a total of 89 credit hours to graduate, at least 83 of which must be law school credit hours. In addition, all students in the Dual Degree Program must take Family Law for 3 hours of credit. It is recommended that at least 6 credit hours of electives should be taken from the following list:

5311 Adoption, Assisted Reproductive Techniques, & Guardianship (3)
5330 Advocacy, Family Violence & Public Policy (2)
5410 Children & the Law (3)
5415 Civil Rights (2-3)
5530 Elder Law (3)
5577 Family Law Dispute Resolution (1-3)
5580 Family Violence Clinic: Individual & Social Justice (3)
5595 Gender & the Law (2-3)
5615 Health Care Law & Policy (2-3)
5765 Mediation (2-3)
5770 Mediation Clinic (1-2)

Human Development & Family Studies

36 hours required for graduation

Requirements for the MS/MA degree in HDFS are met with 27 credit hours of courses in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies (12 required), 3 required and 6 elective credit hours within the School of Law, for a total of 36 credit hours.  While approval of a detailed program of study does not require approval from the School of Law, it is strongly recommended that dual degree students obtain academic counseling from a law faculty member.

HDFS Required Courses:

HDFS 8200 Research Methods (3)
HDFS 8220 Family Theories (3), or
HDFS 8210 Theories of Human Development (3)
HDFS 9090 Thesis (3-6), or
HDFS 8090 Project (3-6)
Statistics (7000 level or higher) (3)

HDFS Electives

Students must take a minimum of 9 hours of HDFS electives, at least 6 credit hours must be at the 8000 level:

HDFS 7257: Aging and the Family (3)
HDFS 7300: The Black Family (3)
HDFS 7610: Stress in Families (3)
HDFS 7620: Family Interaction (3)
HDFS 7630: The Process of Divorce (3)
HDFS 7640: Interpersonal Relationships (3)
HDFS 7720: Child and Family Advocacy (3)
HDFS 8012: Family Dynamics and Intervention (3)
HDFS 8087: Poverty (3)
HDFS 8300: Advanced Seminar on Multicultural Families (3)
HDFS 8420: Cognitive Development (3)
HDFS 8440: Social and Emotional Development (3)
HDFS 8450: Adolescence and Emerging Adulthood (3)
HDFS 8460: The Life Course Perspective (3)
HDFS 8470: Identity Development (3)
HDFS 8610: Remarriage and Stepfamilies (3)
HDFS 8620: Work and Family (3)
HDFS 8630: Gendered Relations in Families (3)
HDFS 8710: Children, Families and Public Policy (3)
* Or any advisor-approved HDFS graduate-level course.

Master’s Paper

Students are required to complete and defend a Master’s thesis for the MS or a Master’s Project for the MA in Human Development & Family Studies. This is normally undertaken in conjunction with HDFS 9090 or 8090.


  1. Students may enter the HDFS degree program in the fall, spring or summer semester.  Entry to the Law School is only in the fall.  Students may begin either program first.  However, during the first year of entering law school, only law classes will be taken.  Thereafter, law and HDFS classes may be intermingled.
  2. The School of Law cannot award credit for any class taken before matriculation at the School of Law.  Dual degree candidates must, therefore, enroll at the School of Law before taking the 6 credits of HDFS courses to be counted toward the JD degree.
  3. Dual degree candidates who subsequently decide to pursue only the MA/MS or the JD degree must complete the degree program in its entirety and subject to the same rules and requirements as students not pursuing a dual degree.
  4.  Law students who receive credit under the dual degree program for taking courses in the Human Development and Family Studies program may not receive credit for taking other classes outside the School of Law.
  5. Student honors and class ranks at the School of Law will be computed on classes enrolled in as law courses.  Academic Achievement Awards in the HDFS Program will be computed on classes enrolled in as HDFS classes.
  6. Students are required by the Graduate School to have a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 in all 7000-level and above Graduate School course work to be eligible to graduate with a masters in HDFS.  Grades for law courses applied as electives toward the HDFS degree must be at least “C” or better, but will not count in the graduate grade point average calculation.  Numerical law grades are converted to letter grades by the course professor.
  7. The Department of Human Development & Family Studies and the School of Law reserve the right to limit participation in the program, including dismissal.  Those interested in pursuing the Dual Degree Program are encouraged to discuss this possibility with advisors in both units and to submit applications for admission, at the earliest possible time.
  8. The listing of courses does not constitute a binding commitment that the courses will be offered during the student’s course of study or that the graduation requirements will remain unchanged.
  9. Students in the dual-degree program are subject to the same rules and regulations that apply to all students at the School of Law and the HDFS program.