Virginia Tech Magazine
College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences

Life Lessons

As part of earning her human development degree in 2016, Carneshia Johnson did field study work in the Child Development Center for Learning and Research.
CHILD’S PLAY
As part of earning her human development degree in 2016, Carneshia Johnson did field study work in the Child Development Center for Learning and Research.

USA Today has ranked Virginia Tech as the nation’s second best for pursuing a major in human development and family studies.

The university’s human development major focuses on child and adolescent development, adult development and aging, disabilities studies, human services, and family studies.

“Our program emphasizes the knowledge and skills that make a difference in people’s lives,” says Anisa Zvonkovic, head of the Department of Human Development. “We apply science to daily living, to help people thrive. Rather than focusing on their limitations, we help them achieve the best lives possible.”

The program focuses on experiential learning, especially in four Virginia Tech centers that serve as living laboratories: Adult Day Services, the Child Development Center for Learning and Research, and the Family Therapy Center, all in Blacksburg, and the Center for Family Services, in Falls Church, Virginia.

“Hands-on learning helps students figure out what careers will make them happy,” Zvonkovic says. “Our students also gain valuable experiences through internships and field studies at schools, community services agencies, nonprofit organizations, and research centers.”

The human development program has long held a national reputation for excellence. Last year, USA Today named it first in the country.

“Human development makes a huge difference across the entire human lifespan,” Zvonkovic says. “It emphasizes the value of nurturing another generation, whether an earlier one or a later one. It also focuses on discovering the best strategies for helping people in the context of their age, abilities, and living environments. Through their learning and research, our students demonstrate the university’s motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), and they go on to make Virginia Tech proud.”