Program and Admissions FAQs

The Graduate School at the University of Connecticut

Thank you for your interest in the Department of Human Development and Family Sciences (HDFS) graduate programs.

The HDFS graduate programs are part of the Department of Human Development and Family Sciences. Each Department at the University has its own guidelines and specific requirements. It must be noted that all graduate programs fall within the Graduate School at the University of Connecticut, which has basic overarching requirements for all graduate students, regardless of specific program. If you are considering a graduate degree at UConn, please be sure to familiarize yourself with the Graduate School website, in addition to your Department of interest.

Admissions Decision Criteria

How much do you consider GPA in graduate admissions?

For our M.A. program, we expect a cumulative GPA of 3.0 for your entire undergraduate record, or a GPA of at least 3.0 for the third year and outstanding work in your final undergraduate year (3.5 or better). For our Ph.D. program, we expect a cumulative GPA of 3.5 for your undergraduate record or graduate work with a minimum GPA of 3.0 or better (9 or more credits). Students who have degrees, or coursework and experiences in a related field generally stand out as more prepared for graduate work in HDFS.

Students are admitted into the Ph.D. program based on clear evidence of their scholarly potential. How is scholarly potential demonstrated?

Admittance may be attained via one of three routes:

  1. Students with a master’s degree commonly demonstrate scholarly potential by submitting the research thesis from their master’s degree within HDFS or a related field of study.
  2. It is also possible for an applicant who has completed a master’s program without a thesis to demonstrate scholarly work equivalent to a research thesis, such as a (co-)authored published journal article with letters from mentors attesting to the quality of the applicant’s contribution to the work.
  3. Students who apply directly from a bachelor’s degree can demonstrate substantial scholarly potential through products such as high-level research-focused courses, national conference presentation(s) of an undergraduate research project, letters from faculty with whom the student did undergraduate research, a research-based undergraduate Honor’s thesis, or post-BA employment as a research assistant.

What degrees do HDFS graduate students earn prior to entering the program?

HDFS graduate students enter the program with bachelor’s and master’s degrees from a range of disciplines, including:

  • HDFS
  • Psychology
  • Sociology
  • Education
  • Nursing
  • Rehabilitation
  • Parent education
  • Social work
  • Counseling
  • Marriage and family therapy
  • Public health
  • Early intervention services
  • Positive youth development

Department Fee Payment Process

Fee Payment Process

  • If you are interested in having your fee paid for by the department due to extenuating circumstances please review and complete the process below no later than December 12 at 11:59PM EST time:
    • Send your Personal Statement and CV to, and indicate a maximum of three faculty advisors you would be interested in working with if you were to be accepted into the program.
      • We suggest reaching out to your desired faculty advisor(s) to introduce yourself and learn more about their work if you have not already done so.
    • The faculty advisors you indicate an interest in will then look over your CV and Personal Statement, and provide feedback to our department heads.
      • After the department heads’ review, should the decision to waive your application fee be supported, the Department will pay for your application through the application portal, Grad Slate.
    • Regardless of outcome, we will notify you on our decision before the December 15 admissions deadline.
      • *Please note, we will do our best to give you an answer as early as possible*


Faculty Interests

I am interested in a particular subject area for my graduate studies. Which faculty member(s) in your Department are focused on these types of issues?

Faculty in the HDFS Department come from a variety of backgrounds and have a wide range of expertise and research interests. Applicants with questions about specific faculty interests should visit our “areas of research specialization” pages. Each specialization page includes links to faculty doing research in that area.



What funding is available for graduate students?

HDFS graduate students are most typically funded by research and/or teaching assistantships. Some students receive university fellowships and scholarships. Other students receive external fellowships. Please visit the funding page for more information!

Does your program provide financial support to graduate students?

Students admitted to the doctoral program for full-time studies receive financial support from the Department. This support generally covers up to 4 years and includes an assistantship, tuition waiver, and an option of health insurance benefits. Please visit Financial Support and Funding Opportunities for more information.

What about Master’s students?

Some funding may be available at the M.A. level, contingent on Department and/or individual faculty needs and opportunities. For further details concerning Departmental and UConn funding sources, please refer to the most current version of the HDFS Graduate Handbook.


Who is eligible for assistantship funding?

Graduate School degree-seeking students who meet the criteria listed below are eligible:

  • Regular (not Provisional) status (taking 6 or more credits per semester),
  • Maintain a cumulative average of at least B (3.00) in any course work taken,
  • Eligible to register for courses (i.e., must not have more than three viable grades of Incomplete on his or her academic record),
  • Enrolled in a graduate degree program scheduled to extend through the entire period of the appointment or reappointment,
  • Be a full-time student, counting course work and/or its equivalent together with assistantship duties throughout the period.

International Students

What additional application materials are needed if I am an international student?

In addition to the application materials stated above, if you are not a native speaker of English, you may be required to submit evidence of your proficiency in the English language. TOEFL and IELTS scores are only valid for two years (from original test date to submission of UConn application). You may use the results from one of the following standardized tests to satisfy this requirement:

  1. Receiving minimum scores of 79 (Internet-based test - iBT), 550 (Old Paper-based test - PBT) or 22/30 on each of the Listening, Reading, and Writing sections (“New” Paper-based test- PBT) or higher on the TOEFL test.
  2. Receiving a minimum score of 6.5 or higher on the IELTS test.
  3. Receiving a minimum score of 53 or higher on the PTE test, or
  4. Qualifying for a Score Waiver.pdf (please click on link to review policy).


Please note we do not accept TOEFL Institutional Testing Program (TOEFL ITP) results, unless they are from UConn.

If you are not a native speaker of English, and you plan to obtain a teaching assistantship, you must satisfy UConn's English Proficiency Policy before being allowed to instruct a class.  For more information, please contact International Teaching Assistant Services.

Please visit the Graduate School website for more information.


Where can I find information about the HDFS graduate program guidelines?

One place to look for Department guidelines is the current version of HDFS Graduate Handbook. The Handbook provides extensive detail on the structuring of the HDFS graduate program, and is a useful resource for both prospective and continuing HDFS graduate students.

Where can I find additional information on University graduate school policies, course descriptions, and/or graduate courses outside of the HDFS Department?

Students can refer to the University of Connecticut Graduate School Catalog for University-wide requirements for all UConn graduate students, as well as descriptions of the graduate courses UConn currently offers.

Does the HDFS graduate program accept transfer credits?

The Department will consider transfer credits for courses not credited to another degree and will also entertain requests for waivers of required courses that are comparable to completed courses.

HDFS Graduate Program

What is it like to be an HDFS graduate student at UConn?

As a student in the UConn HDFS graduate program, you are part of a small community of individuals dedicated to conducting cutting edge research, learning how to translate research to real world settings, and learning as much as possible. This environment creates the opportunity for connection and collaboration with other students and faculty. You have a diverse group of people in the HDFS department within reach, all willing to help you succeed. It is an inclusive and supportive experience, which promotes excellent learning environments and opportunities, both inside the classroom and in real world experiences.

What are the major strengths of the UConn HDFS Department?

Among the numerous strengths of the UConn HDFS graduate program is that it is multidisciplinary—with faculty members from a variety of backgrounds, disciplines, and experiences. Further, while large enough to offer this diversity in faculty expertise, the program is still small enough that students are privy to individualized mentoring. Our student-centered advising model allows students to tailor their plan of study to meet their research interests and specific career goals in academic and/or applied settings. Armed with quantitative and qualitative tools to address research questions with a range of techniques, students are trained to do research at the intersection of advancing basic scientific knowledge and developing knowledge that can be directly applied to real world settings. Our research works to understand individual and family development, and to see this knowledge used to improve the human condition.FAQ

What is unique about HDFS?

HDFS at UConn is unique for a variety of reasons. Importantly, the program is multidisciplinary, with faculty hailing from a range of disciplines and researching individuals and families across the lifespan and multiple contextual settings. The program also stresses diversity and culture, with graduate courses and many faculty’s programs of research considering diversity on a number of dimensions, such as gender identity, sexual identity and orientation, race and ethnicity, culture, disability/abilities, religion, economic status, disparities, and local community functioning and norms. Further, at the core of all of our training and research in HDFS at UConn is an interest in identifying processes and mechanisms for individuals’ and families’ health and wellbeing across the lifespan. To do so, our program teaches and employs both quantitative and qualitative methods and applied/translational science while offering individualized mentoring that enables students to tailor their graduate program to meet their research interests and diverse career goals in academic and applied settings.

What are graduate classes like?

Graduate courses are typically very small. They include comprehensive readings, assignments, and projects that provide valuable knowledge and skills. Classes tend to be highly interactive and discussion-based, allowing each student to connect to the material in a way that best fits individual research goals and interests. This design also provides an excellent opportunity for collaboration with classmates and faculty that may help to open up new perspectives on topics.FAQ

What is a typical class size?

Class sizes in HDFS depend on the class but are generally small, with most containing fewer than 15 students.

How do students get involved in research projects?

Graduate students participate in a range of research projects in the HDFS department and other departments and centers. By the time they graduate, most students have worked with multiple mentors. Learn more about the various research opportunities within the department by visiting faculty members' pages.

Can I contact current students?

Absolutely! A list of current students, including their areas of study and advisors, can be found on the Community of Graduate Students page.

What is the program’s advising model?

Our department offers individualized mentoring by way of student-centered advising model. Students can tailor their graduate plan of study to meet their research interests and specific career goals in academic and/or applied settings, often collaborating with faculty members other than their primary advisor, including their Masters or dissertation committee members to garner additional experience and expertise.FAQ

What courses do students take?

Students craft an individualized plan of study to take courses from the 5 areas of specialization, methodology and statistics, and professional development. Many students take one or more courses from other departments. Students who complete a concurrent certificate program take specified courses to meet that certificate’s requirements. Learn more about all of the HDFS courses we offer in the Graduate School catalog.FAQ

Do students have opportunities to publish or present at conferences during grad school?

Yes! Our students frequently publish in top developmental, family, health, and other journals. They are also required to present their work at national and international conferences. See lists of students’ publications and presentations for specific examples.

Do students have opportunities to teach classes?

Many students serve as teaching assistants during their graduate training. In addition, students with interest in teaching their own classes usually have the opportunity to teach one or more courses during graduate school. The HDFS department and UConn provide formalized training, and the department provides individualized mentoring to prepare and support you in this experience.FAQ


What is daily life like for an HDFS graduate student at UConn?

Daily life as an HDFS graduate student would typically consist of attending a few classes, working on course assignments, completing assistantship tasks, working on a research project, or grading papers from TA courses. Daily life will depend on your year in the program, your assistantship assignments, your classes, etc.

Graduate Student Life

What is it like to be at UConn?

In addition to the faculty and students in the department, HDFS graduate students have access to a number of resources within and outside the department. The department houses several centers: the Center for Applied Research in Human Development, the Center for the Study of Culture, Health, and Human Development, the Rohner Center for the Study of Interpersonal Acceptance and Rejection, and the Child Development Laboratories (a model early childhood care and education program and early childhood teacher preparation site). The University of Connecticut is ranked the best public university in New England and among the Top 20 public universities in the U.S. Faculty and students collaborate with researchers from around the university, including in Psychological Sciences, UConn Health, and Sociology, and are involved in centers across the University, including the Institute for Collaboration on Health, Intervention, and Policy (InCHIP), and the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity.

What is it like to live in Storrs?

UConn consists of five campuses, with the graduate program housed in the largest campus in Storrs, CT. Storrs is a relatively rural area with an affordable cost of living, access to excellent biking and hiking, and a range of restaurants and stores. Many students live in larger towns and cities within a half hour of campus, such as Manchester, Vernon, and Hartford. From Storrs, several larger urban areas are easily accessible, including Hartford, Boston, Providence, and New York City, as well as the ocean and mountains.

For more information on housing, please visit the webpages for Campus Housing for Graduate Students or Off-Campus Housing.