Our human development and family studies programs integrate research-based knowledge with human-based values. 

Application Deadlines for Fall 2017:

January 5, 2017


Available Programs

For students interested in the Ph.D., our doctoral programs in all areas of study are offered on the Blacksburg campus. Our master’s program in Marriage and Family Therapy is located at the National Capital Region in Falls Church, VA.

With sufficient qualifications, students with a master's degree from other institutions are admitted directly into the Ph.D. program. Students with a bachelor’s degree interested in Adult Development and Aging, Child and Adolescent Development, and Family Studies are admitted to the doctoral track and complete a master’s degree in route to the Ph.D. The completion of the master's thesis prepares students for entry into the Ph.D. program in Human Development. 

Students with a bachelor’s degree who are interested in Marriage and Family Therapy should apply to our program at the National Capital Region. Upon completion of the master’s degree, students interested in the Ph.D. can apply to our doctoral program located on the Blacksburg campus. Marriage and Family Therapy is the only area where we offer a stand-alone master’s degree.

We offer concentrations in the following areas: Adult Development and AgingChild and Adolescent DevelopmentFamily Studies, and Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT).

Steps to Apply

Steps to Apply

Application Deadline for Fall 2017: January 5, 2017

Start Your Application

  • Complete the online Application for Graduate Admission:
    • select human development from the alphabetical list of degree programs
      • select your program option from adult development and aging, child and adolescent development, marriage and family therapy, and family studies
    • upload statement of academic and professional goals
    • upload required writing sample
    • submit the names and contact information of three individuals who will provide letters of recommendation
    • upload resume/CV
    • pay applicaiton fee ($75)
  • Submit transcripts from all colleges or universities where you completed undergraduate or graduate coursework or degrees.
  • Send GRE scores. Virginia Tech's code is #005859. 
  • Send TOEFL scores (for applicants who are not native speakers of English)

Additional Notes

  • Our application deadline is August 1st, but international students should apply by April 1 for consideration. 
  • Some applicants will be selected for interviews.
  • For Marriage and Family Therapy applicants (master's and doctoral), in-person interviews are conducted at a specific required time to be announced for selected students in the spring.
  • Interviews for applicants to the other program areas (Adult Development and AgingChild and Adolescent Development, and Family Studies) will be held via online video conferencing (e.g., Skype, Google hangouts, etc.).




Details about Assistantships

The Department promotes professional development and provides financial assistance through Graduate Assistantships. Assistantships involve:

  • helping with teaching/research
  • serving as instructor of record for undergraduate courses, for students with a master's degree who complete a teaching apprenticeship
  • working in the Child Development Center for Learning and Research, Adult Day Services program, Family Therapy Center, or another research lab
  • administrative work in the Department or Dean's offices

Eligibility for an assistantship includes:

  • holding "Regular" full-time student status as defined by the Graduate School
  • maintaining a quality credit average of 3.0 or higher
  • making satisfactory progress toward completion of degree requirements
  • receiving satisfactory assistantship performance evaluations

Although assistantships are normally made for the academic year, the Department may reassign a student to a different responsibility at any time, depending upon Departmental need, the student's performance, or unanticipated circumstances. If the student demonstrates inability to carry out the work required by an assistantship, the position may be withdrawn at the discretion of the Department Head.

Other opporutnities for graduate teaching assistantships or graduate research assistantships are available across the university.

Duration of Funding

Students entering with a Bachelor's degree usually complete their Master's and Ph.D. in five years and will receive five years of funding. Students entering with a Master's degree usually complete their Ph.D. in three years and will receive three years of funding. Details regarding funding packages are typically included in acceptance letters.

Benefits of Assistantships

Assistantships provide these benefits:

  • tuition waiver
  • stipend
  • health insurance program (see the Graduate School benefits page for details)


You can find details on benefits and fees under "financial matters" at the Graduate School website: www.grads.vt.edu.

Graduate teaching assistants receive a stipend for teaching undergraduate courses, usually public speaking. Other campus-wide opportunities are avaialble. See additional assistantship information avaialble through the Graduate School.

Students pay non-academic fees. Students are advised to apply for Virginia residency as soon as possible (after one year in residence). 


Applying for Funding

To apply for an assistantship as an incoming student, give special attention to questions 15-23 on the Supplementary Departmental Graduate Application, which are used in determining awards and assignments. You must also complete the Graduate School Application for Assistantships, Scholarships, and Department Placement.

All graduate students may apply for financial aid. For more information regarding GA stipends and benefits, please visit the Graduate School Website

Travel Support

Graduate students are encouraged to seek funding for their work from other resources. Students should also consider applying for scholarships that offer research funding. 

Human Development Graduate Student Association

This organization enhances the professional, academic, and social well-being of our graduate students. Member are eligible to vote in all elections, attend and participate in meetings, and attend all related events.

Human Development Graduate Student Association at Virginia Tech


Director of Graduate Studies
Dr. Cindy Smith

Human Development office
(540) 231-4794

General Application Questions
Andrea Green

Additional Graduate Program Information:

Adult Development and Aging Program

Dr. Pamela Teaster

Child and Adolescent Development Program
Dr. Cindy Smith

Family Studies Program
Dr. Joyce Arditti

Marriage and Family Therapy Doctoral Program
Dr. Scott Johnson

Marriage and Family Therapy Masters Program
Dr. Eric McCollum