Information compiled by the GradSchools.com team - last updated December 2010
Studying in the field
Pursuing a graduate degree in human development will open more doors than you may initially imagine. Indeed, the course of study, which generally leads to an MS and potentially a PhD, is an excellent jumping-off point for a career in any number of fields, including psychology, human services, education, counseling, therapy and far too many others to list in their entirety (University of Wisconsin, Green Bay).
The breadth of potential careers that follow matriculation of a graduate program in human development is due to the wide applicability of the knowledge you will gain, and to the need for professionals in those fields in which it is relevant. That course work, then, covers a broad range of subjects, including physical growth and development, nutrition, epidemiology, public health, mental health of children and adolescents, and adult psychiatric disorders, among many others (Harvard Univesity). And all of these courses are designed to enhance the student's understanding of "the physical, mental and behavioral health and well-being of children and adolescents; basic developmental processes (including physical growth, nutrition and psychological development); and growing attention to the impact of early-life conditions on long-term health and functioning" (Harvard Univesity).
The course of study in a human development graduate program requires of the student an ability to focus on many specific-yet interrelated-topics at once, and to understand the big-picture ramifications of the educational experience as a whole. In fact, even before beginning a graduate program, it is a good idea to have a solid background in either development, psychology, the biological sciences or something similar. And while this may sound intimidating, in practice it does not have to be: as long as you have some prior understanding, and as long as you have the ability and willingness to work hard, you will succeed in this area of graduate studies.
Job opportunities in the field
A great number of job opportunities exist in this field, which is both a good and a bad thing. On the positive side, it means that you will have many options in terms of the specific aspect of the field in which you ultimately end up working. On the down side, it means that you will have a number of decisions to make.
Really, your best bet is to narrow down the potential areas of the field to your top few choices, and then research them in as much detail as possible. Because of the wide range of careers that can be pursued following graduation from a human development program, there is, expectedly, a tremendous range of salaries and work environments, as well. Therefore, it is important to make sure you are aware of all the options before choosing one over the others.
Just know that this is an expanding field that can open you up to a number of terrific opportunities.