Get Your Questions Answered
What is Human Development and Family Studies? How is it different from Psychology or Social Work?
Human Development and Family Studies is the scientific study of lifespan development and familial and social relationships. Psychology focuses primarily on the study of individuals and Social Work involves the application of addressing social issues within communities. HDFS is interdisciplinary in that it integrates knowledge from psychology, social work, and other related fields like sociology, cultural anthropology, prevention science, and education to better understand human development and relational dynamics throughout the life course. Our program has a uniquely applied focus – we leverage evidence from scientific studies to improve the development of individuals, families, and communities.
When are applications due?
Applications are due on Jan. 2 each year for fall semester admission. Applications are only accepted once a year.
I’ve missed the deadline. Is there any chance you can review my application for admission this fall?
We only admit graduate students in the fall semester of each year, so only applications that have been received by the Jan. 2 deadline will be reviewed for fall admission.
Do you accept part-time students into the program?
No. The program is a cohort model whereby all students begin in fall semester and are registered as full-time students.
Is the Graduate Record Examination required? (GRE requirement is waived for 2022 applications, but you may submit if you choose to.)
Note: the GRE requirement has been waived for 2022 applications. Submitting your GRE scores is optional – you may submit them if you choose to but it is not required.
Which part of the application is weighed more?
We use an index score when looking at applications. We look at academic performance, GRE, relevant classes, clinical experience, and research experience. Your statement and reference letters are extremely important. This is why we suggest you get your friends and professors to read over your applications.
What should my personal statement say?
When we read your personal statement, we look to see if you are a good match with our program. Please, do your research on what our program has to offer and how you can fit. Look at our faculty research interests to see if your interests align with our interests. If there is no fit, it will not be beneficial to our program.
Who should I ask to write letters of recommendation?
A minimum of three letters of recommendation are required from previous instructors (e.g., professors) or supervisors who are able to comment on your abilities and potential for graduate study. You may provide contact information for up to five recommenders. Your recommenders will be notified and prompted to supply a recommendation letter through the application system.
Academic references should be prepared to discuss your academic knowledge and skills, aptitude for graduate study, ability for independent research, and classroom performance related to characteristics such as integrity, leadership, problem-solving, and teamwork. If you are applying to the M.S. with MFT specialization, you may also want to get a letter from someone who supervised your clinical work to speak to your readiness for clinical work in the program.
Letters should not come from friends or family members. Writing any portion of the recommendations yourself, either in whole or in part, may result in rejection or dismissal.
What should my reference letters state?
Be sure that whoever is writing your reference letters illustrates your growth and motivation. We want to see that you have been visibly growing in your field and that you have been handling more complex tasks.
What pre-requisites/courses are required to apply for the program?
For all graduate programs, applicants are required to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree in HDFS or related field (e.g., psychology) and complete at least one research methods/statistics course with a grade of A or B, prior to the graduate program start date. Additional coursework in research methods/statistics is highly recommended. Prospective students may apply even if they need any additional coursework and should include in their application how they plan to complete these courses prior to admission. If an applicant is accepted to the program who does not have all of the required courses completed, acceptance will be contingent on the successful completion of needed coursework.
Can I still apply if I have not completed the pre-requisite courses?
Yes, you can still apply. We review prerequisites as part of the application process but they will not impact admissions decisions. Students who are granted admission to the program who have not met the criteria for prerequisites will receive a conditional acceptance contingent on the successful completion of the pre-requisite courses.
Where can I take courses to fulfill the research methods/statistics requirements?
Many of our students take the required courses as part of their undergraduate degree. Other students can take these courses at CSU, a community college, or other 4-year college or university. The format of the courses may be on campus or on-line. Please check course registration deadlines if you plan to take these pre-requisites prior to admission in the fall semester.
My degree is not in Human Development and Family Studies or a related field. Can I still apply?
Yes, but you will need to show that you have relevant experience and knowledge in HDFS or a related field, and have completed the requisite coursework required for admission to the graduate program. For those interested in applying to the M.S. with a specialization in MFT, you should also show that you have relevant clinical experience. It may be helpful to highlight these experiences in your resume or curriculum vitae, statement of purpose, and/or writing sample, as well as to request that your references discuss your relevant research and clinical qualifications, background, and experiences in their letters of recommendation.
Do I need field experience to get into graduate school?
Yes. The best way to get accepted into our graduate programs is to acquire some experience in the field you are applying for. We recommend that you:
- Volunteer in a program related to your interest.
- Involve yourself in a professor’s project or program that will give you the necessary exposure and experience.
- Get to know your professors because you will need letters of recommendation. Impress your professors and develop a good relationship.
How much experience do I need?
We will be looking to see that you have stayed in one place and have increased your responsibilities during your time there.
Is it necessary to have research experience to be accepted into the program?
Although not required, competitive applications to our Ph.D. program often demonstrate a strong record of relevant research experiences (e.g., working as a research assistant or lab manager in a faculty lab, conducting independent research such as completing a research-based honors or Master’s thesis, completing a research internship, etc.). Colorado State University is a tier-one research institution, and HDFS faculty and graduate students are actively involved in nationally and internationally recognized programs of research. Graduate students in all of our HDFS programs are trained as critical consumers of research, as these skills are essential for informing clinical and scientific practices. Applicants should show strong interest in scientific and research training and discuss how this training aligns with their educational and career goals.
How do I check that my application is complete?
You can make sure that your application has been received in full by logging into your Slate account (the CSU Graduate Admissions portal) and checking the status of your application. Please note that you are encouraged to submit your application as early as possible, even if it is not complete. You may update your application until the graduate application deadline. The Slate system will let you know if your application is complete and all relevant documents have been submitted successfully. Incomplete applications will not be reviewed! If you have further questions about checking on the status of your application, you may call the CSU Graduate Admissions office at (970) 491-6909 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
How competitive is the graduate admissions process?
The number and pool of applicants vary from year to year. However, commensurate with a tier-one research institution, admission to the graduate programs in HDFS is competitive. Applications will be evaluated based on prior academic performance and aptitude for graduate study, relevant research experiences (and clinical experiences for applicants to the M.S. with specialization in MFT program), and fit with the program with respect to educational, research, and career interests/goals. Strong applications are able to highlight how the applicant fulfills these criteria.
How Do I Pay for Graduate School?
Graduate Teaching assistantships are a great opportunity to get experience teaching while paying for graduate school. Learn more about how to apply for a GTA position on the Graduate School website.
Graduate Research Assistantships help you pay for graduate school by doing research. GRA positions are dependent on funding and availability. Learn more about GRA positions on the Graduate School website.
A number of scholarships are available to graduate students. Most scholarships have a single application form making it easy to apply. The College of Health and Human Sciences scholarships webpage for application instructions.
The Office of Financial Aid site will help you find additional financial support to reach your graduate school goals.
The department awards two fellowships every year and they are also available for first-year students. No additional form is needed.
Can I contact current graduate students and faculty?
Yes! We recommend that you contact our current graduate students and faculty. Feel free to ask them any questions regarding our graduate programs.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS M.S. with Marriage and Family Therapy Specialization
What is supervision like in your MFT program? / How do my supervisors observed and give me feedback?
Both our Center for Family and Couple Therapy and our Center for Trauma and Resilience at CSU utilize one-way mirrors for a supervisor to observe during all practicum sessions. Practicum students will also attend case planning to discuss their cases prior to seeing clients and they will take a break midway during each session to consult with the supervisor. During Campus Connections and internship credits, students attend case planning supervision each week. Supervisors for the three centers are on call and are always available during emergencies.
Can Marriage and Family Therapists work with individual clients?
Yes! MFT course work prepares students for work with individuals, families, and couples. Licensed marriage and family therapists can work effectively with individuals, couples, and families while looking at their presenting issues through a systemic lens.
What is the difference between the various licensure and counseling related degrees?
To decide which degree is the best fit for you and which license you want to work toward; we recommend doing the following:
- Research various websites for the National Boards of the profession you are considering. For MFT, visit the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy website. This may give you an idea of which professional home you find to be the best fit.
- Interview professionals from various backgrounds and who hold a variety of licenses.
- Look at the state licensing board websites for the license and state(s) in which you are interested.
Do I need clinical experience in the field to get into the program?
Yes, for clinical programs you will need some exposure to a clinical environment. Clinical experience means working in some capacity with clinical and/or vulnerable populations. This can be working or volunteering at a safe house, residential treatment center, supervised visit agency, homeless shelter, child welfare agency, suicide hotline, hospice, parenting classes, after school program with at-risk children/youth, etc. It is not simply working with people such as babysitting or being a camp counselor (unless the camp is working with a vulnerable population). The best clinical experiences are those with intensive training. Clinical experiences can be described in your personal statement, resume or CV, and your letters of recommendation.
Can I contact current graduate students and faculty? / Do I need to identify and connect with faculty member prior to applying?
Yes! We recommend that you contact our current graduate students and faculty. Feel free to ask them any questions regarding our graduate programs. This will help you get information on the program and find faculty with similar research interests. Further, students in our three graduate programs are required to work with their faculty adviser (mentor) to complete a research-based thesis project. In the application, prospective students are asked to describe what research topics interest them and to identify faculty adviser(s) who may be a suitable mentor(s) on the project. Applicants should demonstrate that their proposed research interests align with the interests and expertise of their proposed faculty adviser(s).
Which part of the application is weighed more?
We use an index score when looking at applications. We look at academic performance, relevant classes, clinical experience, and research experience. Your statement and reference letters are extremely important. This is why we suggest you get your friends and professors to read over your applications.
What should my personal statement state?
When we read your personal statement, we look to see if you are a good match with our program. Please, do your research on what our program has to offer and how you can fit. Look at our faculty research interests to see if your interests align with our interests.
What should my reference letters state?
Be sure that whoever is writing your reference letters can illustrate your growth and motivation. We want to see that you have been visibly growing in your field and that you have been handling more complex tasks. Having references discuss clinical or research experience can also help your application. Anyone that can speak to your experiences with diversity, equity, and inclusion would also help your application.
Do I need to demonstrate experiences with diversity and inclusion in my application?
To be competitive in the application process it is important to talk about your experiences in the area of diversity and inclusion. This may include courses you have taken with an emphasis on Diversity and Social Justice and experiences you have had (i.e. Peace Corp, Teach for America, City Year, volunteering or internships at places that serve marginalized people, study abroad). In the Marriage and Family Therapy program you will be working with a diverse population and learning about diversity and social justice. Diversity and inclusion experiences can be described in your personal statement, resume or CV, and your letters of recommendation.
Who will I be taking my therapy specific courses with?
Students in the MFT master’s program take various courses that are taught by various members in the HDFS department. All therapy related courses, however, are taught by members of the MFTC (Marriage and Family Therapy Committee). The MFTC consists of Toni Zimmerman, Shawn Whitney, Stephanie Seng, Shelley Haddock, and Kelley Quirk
Who can I do research with during my time in the Marriage and Family Therapy Program?
MFT students can do research with anyone who has a lab in the HDFS department. Prospective students can identify potential faculty they would be interested in working with on the Research Faculty page.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS M.S. with Specialization in Prevention Science
How long does it take to complete the M.S. program with specialization in Prevention Science?
The program is designed to be completed in two academic years. Students typically enroll as full-time students for fall and spring semesters; summer sessions often involve research and related academic activities as part of the student’s course of study.
What courses are required to complete the M.S. program with specialization in Prevention Science?
Core coursework covers issues in human development and family studies, family theory, research methods, development across the lifespan, prevention science, risk and resilience, program planning/implementation/evaluation, and grant writing, as well as dedicated thesis course credit. More information on the M.S. Prevention Science specialization can be found on the website.
Do M.S. Prevention Science students go on to complete a Ph.D.?
Engagement in the M.S. in prevention science coursework often enables students to determine if pursuing a Ph.D. is right for them. Students do not automatically transition into the Ph.D. program in Applied Developmental Science. However, interested students for whom it is the right fit are encouraged to apply to the doctoral program. They will typically apply to the ADS program during their second year of the M.S. in Prevention Science program.
What types of jobs do students pursue after graduating with an M.S. in Prevention Science?
Some students decide to pursue a Ph.D. in ADS or a related field. Other students pursue continued education in other areas, including health and medical fields, behavioral/mental health, public health, psychology, or others. Other students have become employed in nonprofit and for-profit organizations serving youth, families, and adults in the capacity of program developers, evaluators, and specialists in delivering education and interventions. See examples of careers in Prevention Science on the website.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS Ph.D. Program in Applied Developmental Science
How do I identify research faculty who may serve as advisors/mentors in the Ph.D. program?
Our faculty are committed to ensuring excellent training and professional growth for our students. Prospective ADS students can find HDFS faculty bios and research interest areas on the CSU HDFS website or search by departmental thematic research areas or laboratories. If you are interested in working with specific faculty members, please contact them directly to learn more about their research programs and funding opportunities. Students accepted to the program will have additional opportunities to discuss their research interests with faculty and find an appropriate mentor.
Students are accepted to the HDFS program, meaning they are not admitted by an individual faculty member to work in his or her lab. Rather, students have the opportunity to select one or more faculty mentors that meets their training needs. Students may also change mentors if their interests or training needs change.
When accepted, students are matched with a “temporary” mentor. By the end of the first year, students will formally select a research mentor.
How long does it take to complete the Ph.D. program?
The program typically takes four to six years to complete. Students entering with a research-based Master’s thesis and who test out of certain courses may complete the program in less time.
What type of training is involved in the Ph.D. program?
The Ph.D. program is a 76 credit-hour degree, which involves graduate coursework in advanced research methodology and specialized topics; competency projects in research/writing and teaching/professional presentations; as well as a dissertation project.
What kinds of jobs do your Ph.D.s normally get after graduation? What are my career opportunities in this field?
Our graduates have gone on to various exciting careers, including: university faculty members; research scientists in academic centers or government agencies; and program evaluators and policy analysts with nonprofit organizations. ADS students develop research skills in applied research methodology, advanced data analysis, program development, implementation and evaluation, scientific writing and presentation skills, and critical thinking and problem-solving in a real-world context that facilitate access to and success in diverse career positions.