The HDFS doctoral degree program prepares students for research, teaching, and administrative positions in colleges and universities and for research-related positions in government, policy-related research organizations, and other public and private settings. The program emphasizes research and theory and their interplay with individual development, family relationships, and institutions outside the family. Development of the individual is considered within the contexts of the family, peer group, community, and culture. The family is studied as a system of relationships, with attention to roles, communication, conflict resolution and negotiation, and family members’ perceptions of each other and of their family. Public policies, mass media, and care settings outside the family are among the community influences considered in relation to the development of individuals and families. The program emphasizes the investigation of social processes that contribute to competence and optimal development in individuals from birth to maturity and how such competence is reflected in interpersonal relationships and family interactions.
More information about the graduate program, including coursework and degree requirements, can be found in the HDFS Graduate Handbook:
More information about life in Austin can be found here


The half-day preschool and infant/toddler programs of the Priscilla Pond Flawn University Child and Family Laboratory provide a setting for research by faculty members and graduate students, a facility for student observation and training, and a model program for children and their families. They also provide opportunities for family involvement in the classroom, parent education programs, parent conferences, and family research. 
The program has extensive facilities for observing and recording social interaction. The Marital and Family Interaction Laboratory is available for recording husband-wife and family interaction in a comfortable setting. The laboratory consists of a naturalistic living room connected to well-equipped control rooms that enable interactions to be recorded unobtrusively. The facility is augmented by numerous other one-way observation and coding rooms that enable recorded data to be analyzed using state-of-the-art computer-video analysis systems.
The research conducted by HDFS faculty and graduate students is also enhanced through the resources provided by the Population Research Center, including opportunities for pre-doctoral fellowships funded by an NICHD Training Grant (for which HDFS faculty member Elizabeth Gershoff is Co-PI). More information about the faculty and opportunities at the Population Research Center is available at [link to the Population Research Center page]
Graduate students also have the opportunity to expand their training through programs provided by the UT Austin Graduate School. Our students most commonly pursue this advanced training and coursework via the Graduate Portfolio in Applied Statistical Modeling and the Graduate Portfolio in Aging & Health.


Graduate Coordinator
Administrative Associate
SEA 1.432A
(512) 475-8065
Graduate Advisor
Dr. Elizabeth Gershoff
(512) 471-4800