Family Studies (M.S. to Ph.D., Ph.D. in Human Development)

Campus: Virginia Tech Blacksburg Campus

Instructions: Residential/On Campus 

The Family Studies focus area of the Human Development program provides a systematic approach to observing, understanding, and analyzing close relationships and families within their individual, social, and historical contexts.

Funding through Assistantships 

Teaching Apprentice Program

Intensive Research Opportunities 

World-Renowned Family Science Scholars

Our Doctoral Program in Family Studies

The Family Studies (FS) content area of the Human Development program provides a systematic approach to observing, understanding, and analyzing close relationships and families within their individual, social, and historical contexts. A major goal of the program is to prepare students for careers in the family field in teaching, research, and direct service.

Why Study Family Studies Here?

Students have opportunities for professional development and are encouraged to become actively involved by presenting at national and international professional societies in human development and family science. Faculty in the department offer students excellent mentorship and research opportunities, including opportunities to participate in laboratory-based and observational research as well as large secondary datasets.

What You'll Study

Student scholarship takes place not only in the classroom, but also through mentorship and research. Students may participate in wide-ranging faculty research projects using diverse methodologies and dealing with issues such as intimate relationships, work and family issues, divorce and remarriage, incarceration, intergenerational relationships, family diversity over the life course, human sexuality, feminist analysis of families and intersectionality, families and technology, family approaches to prevention of substance abuse, and family policy. Programs of study are individualized, permitting inclusion of significant coursework in specific subjects related to marriage and family relationships across the life course. Examples of courses that students may take include:

  • Human Sexuality
  • Marriage and Family Relationships
  • Family Processes
  • Theories of Human Development and Family Science
  • Sequence of statistics classes


Careers of Program Graduates

Numerous rewarding career opportunities are available for graduates the Human Development program. In academe, career options for graduates include teaching, research, and extension service. A wide range of career options also exists outside academe: Program development and evaluation, policy analysis and advocacy work, and administration and supervision in private and public human services agencies are just a few examples.

Professional Development & Research Support/Opportunities

The department provides students with a plethora of research opportunities, including experimental and observational research in laboratory settings, field research in the surrounding communities, and secondary data analysis. Graduate students are also encouraged to lead research projects and publish in scholarly journals. The department provides support for professional development to participate in conferences through travel grants. Additional professional development and research support resources are provided by the Graduate School at Virginia Tech.

Our Faculty 

  • Family diversity over the life course
  • Family gerontology
  • Feminist family studies 
  • LGBTQ families
  • Qualitative research methods
  • Criminal Justice and Families
  • Social Inequality and Family Processes
  • Diverse Contexts of Parenthood
  • Family policy
  • Family Diversity (racial, ethnic, and sexual minority development)
  • Black Feminist Theory, Intersectionality, Queer Theory, and Family Studies
  • Sexuality and sexual health (particularly, hip hop influences on adolescent sexuality)
  • Intimate violence
  • Feminist Qualitative Research Methods



Family Studies Research Highlights

Family Studies faculty employ theoretically rich research questions with rigorous analytic techniques, resulting in publications in top-tier academic journals and other academic sources including Family Relations, Journal of Marriage and Family, Family Process, Journal of Family Issues, as well as the Sourcebook of Family Theory and Research. Human Development and Family Science (HDFS) faculty across the focus areas of Adult Development and Aging, Child and Adolescent Development, Family Studies, and Marriage and Family Therapy often collaborate on research and service projects. Graduate students are often a part of research projects and subsequent publications through collaborations with HDFS faculty and faculty in other departments such as Sociology.

Research Centers

Students interested in applying to the Family Studies (Ph.D. in Human Development) degree should contact the Family Studies Area Coordinator, Dr. April Few-Demo, by email at

Visit our office at 366 Wallace Hall, 295 West Campus Dr, Blacksburg, VA 24061 

Domestic Application

*Fall: Janurary 5

International Application

*Fall:  Janurary 5

*Deadline for admission with full consideration for funding:  January 5


Cindy Smith
Director of Graduate Studies
303 Wallace Hall
295 West Campus Dr.
Blacksburg, VA 24061

April Few-Demo
Family Studies Area Coordinator
401A Wallace Hall (0416)
295 West Campus Dr.
Blacksburg, VA 24061

Human Development and Family Science
366 Wallace Hall (0416)
295 West Campus Dr
Blacksburg, VA 24061
Phone: 540-231-4794
FAX: 540-231-7012