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Human Development Studies (M.Ed.)

Department of Human and Organizational Development
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Program Overview

The Master's (M.Ed.) in Human Development Studies (HDS) - Organizational Specialization is designed to prepare you for a successful career focused on finding solutions to human problems in public, private, and non-profit organizations, agencies, and communities. The HOD/HDC/HDS philosophy emphasizes the importance of connecting academic knowledge and theories to personal and professional practice.

From personal relationships to group dynamics to entire organizational structuresthe principles of effective human development studies can be applied in many ways. In this innovative program, you’ll develop your skills to drive and manage change working with diverse populations in a wide range of settings, and set yourself apart as an effective leader focused on equity and systemic change who can effectively lead organizations into the future.

Compared with other master's degree programs that focus on organizational change or human capital management, Human Development Studies (HDS) is a rigorous and integrated program that will help you acquire a strong theoretical grounding in human development, counseling paradigms, and change strategies.

Courses offered in the Human Development Studies program are designed to foster close working relationships with faculty and a personalized approach resulting in productive classroom experiences.

Specializations

The Human Development Studies program offers one curriculum track:

  • Organizational Specialization: This track prepares individuals to work as professionals in schools, agencies, businesses, and community organizations providing human development services to help individuals across the lifespan navigate developmental academic, career, and personal/social challenges. This training will also prepare graduates to continue their academic training in doctoral programs related to human development and services. This track may be pursued on campus or through digital learning. The requirements for this track encompass a 30 semester hour curriculum focusing on human development theory, diversity, research and evaluation, as well as wellness, communication skills, and nonprofit management and grant writing.

Program at a Glance

Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Human Development Studies

Department of Human and Organization Development

Program Director: Bradley T. Erford
For More Information: HDS-info@vanderbilt.edu
Admission Term: Spring and Fall
Credit Hours: 30
Priority Application Deadline: December 31* for fall entrance; August 31* for spring entrance

* We will continue to accept applications after this date, but applications will be evaluated for admission and scholarships on a space-and-funds-available basis.

Careers in Human Development Studies

There are several possible career paths for our Human Development Studies alumni:

Organizational Specialization students may enter positions in public, private, and non-profit organizations, agencies, and communities.

Possible job titles include:

  • Organizational Development Specialist
  • Professional Development Manager
  • Coach
  • Consultant
  • Trainer
  • Strategic Design Specialist
  • Organizational Development Analyst
The job outlook for organizational specialists is expected to grow 10% through 2026.

One major factor for growth is the constant need for workplace training, education, and change management.

Program Curriculum

HDS is a rigorous and integrated program that will help you acquire a strong theoretical grounding in human development, counseling paradigms, and change strategies.

Organizational Specialization

This 30-credit hour curriculum can be completed in less than two years or in a single year if summer course availability exists. Course placement within the schedule is flexible. Students can begin the program in the fall, spring, or summer semesters. The program is designed as a non-cohort model with no prerequisite course sequences to accommodate rolling admissions. Some flexibility in Peabody summer course start-stop dates may be needed to accommodate multiple tracks. 

Required Courses: 24 credit hours

Electives: 6 hours are required.

To qualify for graduation, degree candidate must:

  • Meet all curriculum requirements
  • Carry a minimum 3.0 grade point average
  • Be free of debt to Vanderbilt University
Program Curriculum

Faculty

All core and affiliated faculty are engaged in a variety of interdisciplinary teaching and professional activities.

Nicole A. Cobb
  • Associate Professor of the Practice and Associate Department Chair, Department of Human and Organizational Development
Kelly J. Duncan
  • Core Faculty, Human Development Counseling
  • Lecturer, Department of Human and Organizational Development
Bradley T. Erford
  • Program Director, Core Faculty, Professor, Human Development Counseling
Gina Frieden
  • Core Faculty, Human Development Counseling
  • Assistant Professor of the Practice, Department of Human and Organizational Development
Maury Nation
  • Core Faculty, Human Development Counseling
  • Professor, Department of Human and Organizational Development
Heather L. Smith
  • Core Faculty, Human Development Counseling
  • Assistant Professor of the Practice, Department of Human and Organizational Development