Table of Contents

Welcome

The Department of Human Development and Family Science (H.D.F.S.) would like to extend a warm welcome to our incoming and continuing graduate students. Over the past few years, the department has undergone tremendous growth and change in faculty, student body, and scholarship. H.D.F.S. is a community comprised of faculty, students, and staff who are committed to high quality research, teaching, and service. The program is well regarded nationally and internationally, and the faculty has worked hard to offer our students a high-quality program by conducting cutting-edge research and scholarship. 

Our graduate degree programs offer students a culturally diverse and educationally challenging environment that explores the lives and experiences of children, youth, and families across varied social, economic, and cultural contexts. We offer a Master of Science (M.S.) degree.  The Master of Science program is research-based, designed to prepare students to work in research settings and doctoral studies. The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) program is designed to train students for an academic or a research career. The doctoral curriculum engages students in the highest level of scholarship within their areas of interest. 

Students in all degree programs will investigate the diverse factors that foster and impede the healthy development of children and families. Many of our students are actively involved with faculty on research projects in the United States and across the world including China, Cypress, India, Turkey, Trinidad, and Tobago. This research includes topics such as early child development, early childhood education, school readiness, work-family issues among information technology workers, adolescent adjustment, and many others. 

In addition to training students to become strong researchers, we are also committed to providing them with opportunities for teaching and service. Our commitment stems from our recognition that graduate teaching should be an integral part of the graduate experience. H.D.F.S. is a long-standing participant in the Future Professoriate Program offered by the Syracuse University Graduate School. This opportunity is open to all doctoral students and relevant for those who are interested in a faculty career. 

Syracuse University is replete with opportunities for academic advancement. Students should take advantage of the wide range of courses offered in related disciplines to advance their theoretical, substantive, and research skills. The interdisciplinary focus of the David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics also provides opportunities for students to participate in a variety of scholarly endeavors. It is our hope that you will take full advantage of the many opportunities available to you. 

Once again, it is a great pleasure to welcome you to the department and hope that your academic experience will be enriching and fruitful. Best wishes on the upcoming academic year! 

This handbook describes the tasks and deadlines that are necessary for you to earn your graduate degree. The information noted in this version of the H.D.F.S. Graduate Handbook applies to all students admitted fall 2024. Students are held to the program requirements for the year in which they matriculate. All graduate students should refer to the handbook for answers to questions regarding graduate policies and procedures. Throughout this handbook, there will be areas that direct you to various webpages within the Syracuse University website. You should always refer to the Syracuse University Website for current information regarding all areas addressed in this handbook, as websites, webpages, and links may change. 

Admission 

Applications for Human Development and Family Science (H.D.F.S.) graduate programs are typically accepted for the fall semester only. All prospective graduate students are advised to become familiar with and follow the Graduate School admission procedures as outlined by visiting the Graduate School website. International students should also visit the Graduate School website which provides additional information and instructions regarding admissions procedures. All applicants must submit an: 

  • Application 
  • Non-refundable application fee 
  • Official transcripts of earlier academic degrees 
  • GRE scores (may be waived for M.A./M.S./Ph.D.) 
  • TOEFL and financial statement (if applicable) 
  • Three letters of recommendation (preferably from faculty members) 
  • Personal statement reflective of career goals and objectives (including research and teaching interests). 

Students seeking admission to the Department of Human Development and Family Science must meet the general admissions requirements of the Graduate School. While no single factor determines entry to the program, competitive applicants typically have a minimum of: 

  • GPA of 3.00 or higher (undergraduate and/or master’s degree) 
  • GRE score of 144 Quantitative score, 153 Verbal score (exam taken on or after August 1st, 2011). Please note, that while the GRE scores may be waived, if submitted, the GRE exam must have been taken within the last five years) 
  • TOEFL scores of 577 (paper test) and 90 for the Internet based (IBT) test (For international students whose primary language is not English) 

Admission decisions are made by the H.D.F.S. faculty and are based on the student’s academic background (i.e., GPA, GRE scores), experience (e.g., research activity, related work experience), letters of recommendation, and areas of interests. It is not uncommon for successful applicants to have well beyond the minimum requirements. 

Internal Application for Admissions 

Current Syracuse University graduate students who wish to apply to a Human Development and Family Science (H.D.F.S.) graduate degree program are eligible to apply through the internal admission process. This includes graduate students who: 

  • Are currently enrolled in another graduate program 
  • Have completed a graduate program and would like to apply the following fall semester 
  • Have completed a H.D.F.S. Master’s degree and would like to apply to the doctoral program 

Graduate students who are in one of the above categories should complete the Application along with obtaining the necessary signatures. Applicants must also provide all official degree transcript/s, a statement of research interests, and three letters of recommendation. Forms must be completed and turned into the department administrative assistant. Internal applicants are subject to the same admission requirements as those applying from outside the university. 

Note: Students who received a graduate degree from Syracuse University more than 12 months prior to their application to the Human Development and Family Science graduate program should go to the Syracuse University Admissions webpage for instructions. 

Enrollment

Full and Part-Time Enrollment 

Students may pursue their graduate degree on a full or part-time basis. Students must enroll in a minimum of nine credit hours a semester for full-time status. Students enrolled in six credit hours or less a semester are considered part- time. 

Non-Matriculated Enrollment 

Individuals who are not formally admitted into a Human Development and Family Science (H.D.F.S.) graduate degree program, but wish to enroll in H.D.F.S. courses may do so as a non-matriculated student. Non-matriculated students may take up to a maximum of nine credit hours of coursework, beyond which they must apply to be formally admitted into a graduate degree program. Students who have completed coursework on a non-matriculated basis, prior to their admission into the graduate program, may petition to have the courses applied towards their degree requirements. 

Academic Advising

Faculty Advisors for Master's Students

Master's students are assigned a faculty advisor who will oversee their progress across the program. The advisor provides guidance in course scheduling, departmental procedures, and represents the student in the annual evaluation. The advisor also consults with the student on their project or thesis. Students are expected to meet regularly with their advisor.  Refer to the Mentorship section in this handbook for details on collaborating with faculty advisors, including insights into faculty advisor (mentor) and student (mentee) relationships and expectations.

Faculty Advisors for Doctoral Students 

Doctoral students are assigned a first-year faculty advisor based on their interests and lab openings. All students are required to choose a permanent advisor by the end of their second semester. Given that new students will be exposed only to a portion of the H.D.F.S. faculty during their first year, they are expected to meet with faculty members to discuss research activities, as well as their own research interests and professional goals. Choosing a permanent faculty advisor is an important decision that students should make only after careful consideration. A student’s interests should align with their advisor’s areas of expertise. The selection of a permanent advisor involves a significant commitment on the part of the faculty and therefore requires their explicit agreement. Students should be aware of their permanent advisor’s expectations and approach to graduate training. Students are expected to meet regularly with their advisors. Once a faculty member has agreed to accept a student as a permanent advisee, the student must notify the department administrative assistant in writing, to confirm this arrangement before the end of their first year.  Refer to the Mentorship section in this handbook for details on collaborating with faculty advisors, including insights into faculty advisor (mentor) and student (mentee) relationships and expectations.  

Transfer Credits 

Graduate courses completed at a previous institution may be petitioned to apply to H.D.F.S. graduate degree requirements. Courses in research methodology, statistics, and H.D.F.S. or related disciplines are eligible for consideration. Courses with a grade of B- or lower, taken Pass/Fail, or completed more than five years prior to the student’s entry into the program will not be considered. Grades from other institutions are not included in the Syracuse University (Grade Point Average) G.P.A. 

Maximum Credits: Master’s and doctoral students are limited to a maximum of 6 and 30 transfer credits respectively. 

Procedure: Admitted students who plan to transfer in credits must consult with the Graduate Director during the spring/summer prior to entering the program to identify CORE courses (students are recommended to review the required courses for their programs in the sections below). These CORE courses may be petitioned immediately for transfer to avoid duplication. The petition process requires that students provide a syllabus for each course, which will be reviewed along with the transcript (which should already be on file as part of the graduate school application). It is also possible that students with prior graduate-level statistics can test out of the introductory statistics course (HFS 621); the course must be replaced with another approved statistics course. These requests must be made in collaboration with faculty advisors and the Graduate Director before classes begin in the fall. 

The HDFS Graduate Director along with student advisor will review transcript when student matriculates for possible courses to transfer in - this will be done before students enroll in their first semester. Contact the department administrative assistant for all required forms. 

Annual Review 

Each spring semester the department assesses the graduate program. This assessment process includes gathering data from our students via an annual review. The annual review is designed to facilitate students’ progress by providing timely feedback regarding their overall performance. The process allows graduate students and faculty to discuss student achievements and to address programmatic questions or concerns. The online Annual Review form allows students to highlight information regarding their academic progress and accomplishments (career goal, honors and awards, conference presentations, publications, research experience, teaching experience) and to share their plans for upcoming year.

  • In preparation for the review, all graduate students are required to complete the Annual Review for Graduate Students form, and attach your current Curriculum Vitae (C.V). 
    Note that you will be able to attach your C.V. at the end of the online form. Both of these documents will be forwarded to your advisor.  
  • NOTE: The deadline for completion is on or before April 15th

Annual Review Process: 

    • Students complete the online Annual Review form and attach their C.V. by April 15th.
    • Faculty advisors contact students to schedule a meeting to discuss their annual review and evaluation by May 1st.
    • A summary of the evaluation will be sent to the student and placed in the student’s file. 
    • The faculty will also share information about the student’s progress at the department’s annual graduate assessment meeting in early May.

Academic Standards

Minimum Requirements 

To maintain good standing, all H.D.F.S. graduate students are required to: 

  • Maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0, including courses taken outside the department (e.g., anthropology, education, psychology, sociology, etc.). 
  • Earn a B or better in all required courses. 

Incompletes 

Students are discouraged from taking an incomplete grade in any course. In the event that a student must file for an “Incomplete,” the Syracuse University Request for Incomplete Grade form must be submitted to the department chair for approval. Students who do not abide by the terms of the Incomplete will receive an “F.” Any graduate student with an incomplete may not be eligible for graduate assistantships. 

Probation 

Students who fail to meet the minimum requirements are subject to academic probation. To return to good standing students who fall below cumulative G.P.A. of 3.0, have one semester to reestablish their G.P.A. Students who earn a B- or lower in a required course must retake the course the next semester it is offered.  

Dismissal 

Students are subject to dismal under the following conditions: 

  • They fail to return to good standing under the condition outlined above. 
  • They do not make satisfactory progress towards their degree (see below). 
  • Unable to successfully complete the comprehensive exam in two attempts. 
  • Found to be in violation of Syracuse University’s Academic Integrity Policy Website (e.g., plagiarism)

Satisfactory progress 

Students are also subject to dismissal if they fail to complete degree requirements in the required timeframe. Students who are dismissed from the program will not be readmitted to the program. 

  • Master’s degree — Full-time students must complete all coursework within three years from the time that they register for the first course applied in their master’s degree program. Part-time students must work with their advisor to complete a course timeline that must be approved by the Graduate Committee to become effective. All students must complete their master’s thesis or project within two years of finishing their coursework. 
  • Doctoral degree — The maximum time allowed to reach candidacy status (the completion of all required coursework and comprehensive exam) is eight years from the term a student matriculates into the doctoral program. Doctoral candidates must complete their dissertations within five years of passing their comprehensive examinations. 

Program Extensions 

In the event that a graduate student cannot complete their degree within the allotted time, they may apply for a one-time 6-month extension. To request an extension, students should consult their advisor and submit a formal request to the graduate director. The request should be in the form of a memorandum stating the reason for the extension and must include a detailed plan with a timeline outlining how the remaining work will be completed within the 6-month extension period. Please note that extensions are granted only under the most extenuating circumstances (e.g., major illness). The department chair in consultation with the graduate committee makes the final decision. Note that students who are granted an extension are required to register for GRD 991 and pay the associated fees (review the following section on Exceeding Time to Degree Requirements). 

Exceeding Time to Degree Requirements 

For details, refer to Syracuse University Academic Rules & Regulations-Graduate School

If the student exceeds the eight-year degree completion limit, the student must submit a petition for an extension to the Graduate School by the second semester of their eighth year, supported by the department and advisor. This petition must provide evidence of academic progress on the dissertation and include a detailed plan for its completion within one year. Students with an approved petition must register for GRD 991, paying for at least one credit hour per semester; failing to register for GRD 991 in a given term will result in withdrawal from the program. Petitions to extend the eight-year time-to-degree requirement will not be approved for more than one year at a time. Extensions beyond one year are granted only under significant extenuating circumstances and require approval from both the program and the Graduate School. Doctoral students admitted before Fall 2023, who are already in or past their eighth year, must develop a realistic detailed plan for dissertation completion. This plan should be endorsed by both the department and the academic advisor. Upon agreement by the department and advisor, the student should petition the Graduate School Dean for an approval of a formalized timeline for degree completion. Subsequent extension requests are evaluated on a case-by-case basis and necessitate GRD 991 registration. Students beyond their eighth year who do not adhere to these terms will be withdrawn from the program.

Masters students have 7 years to complete their degree but there are no financial implications if they do not. 

H.D.F.S. Degree Programs 

Master of Science (M.S.) 

The Master of Science degree (M.S.) in human development and family science is a 30-credit degree program that aims to promote an understanding of human development across the lifespan. With an emphasis on the importance of social-cultural context, students gain broad knowledge of the study of childhood and family systems across various cultural and societal contexts. All M.S. students must complete the core course and elective course requirements. Courses and training emphasize multicultural perspectives in child and family relationships and diverse research methodologies and scholarship, spanning across the lifespan.

Students can personalize their education by selecting courses from additional HFS offerings as well as courses from various departments, including anthropology, biology, marriage and family therapy, psychology, education, sociology, social science, nutrition, special education, or women’s studies.

Students are required to complete either a master’s thesis or a master’s project (refer to the HDFS graduate handbook for details). M.S. programs prepare students to pursue careers in research, health services, and community agencies. Students completing a M.S. thesis can apply to the HDFS doctoral program. 

Substantive, Research Methodology, and Theory Requirements (15 credits): 

  • HFS 621 Statistical Concepts I 
  • HFS 631 Research Methods for Human Development and Family Science I 
  • HFS 667 Child and Family in Cross Cultural Perspectives

Additionally, choose 2 out of 3 of the following courses:

  • HFS 637 Theories, Interpretations, and Applications in Child Development 
  • HFS 643 Aging in the Context of Family Life
  • HFS 648 Family Theories: Interpretation and Application 

Elective Course Requirements (12 credits): 

At least 12 credits of elective coursework must be selected from the H.D.F.S. Department or related programs (e.g., Psychology, Education, Policy Studies, Sociology, Anthropology). Graduate courses are indicated by their course number (500 or above). Students should consult with their faculty advisor prior to selecting courses. Elective courses should be consistent with the student’s academic interests and goals, and form a coherent program of study. For a complete list of available courses, please consult the Syracuse University Course Catalog

Independent Study:

M.S. students may take up to 3 credits as “Independent Study.” An independent study may include research projects, literature reviews, or other scholarly activities beyond those involved in standard coursework. All independent studies are conducted under the supervision of a faculty member. Students must complete the “Independent Study Form.” The independent study must be completed in the semester when it is undertaken. 

Master’s Project (3 credits, HFS 996):

This practical/applied option requires students to undertake an applied project or internship in real-world settings.

In addition to their coursework, M.A. students must complete a “master’s project.” Students are expected to work in service or agency settings on projects approved by their faculty committees. Students must communicate with the HDFS Internship Coordinator 4-6 weeks prior to the start of the semester to secure a placement agency. Applied work can include assisting an agency to plan and/or implement a program for families/children at a human service agency or related program on the local, national, or international level. Projects have been conducted in agencies such as the Children’s Defense Fund, Head Start, and local childcare programs. 

Master’s Project Committee and Proposal: All projects must be approved by the student’s Master’s project committee. The committee is comprised of your advisor (who will serve as committee chair) and one other faculty member from the Department of Human Development and Family Science. Only H.D.F.S. tenured and tenure track faculty, and Professors of Practice may chair a Master’s project committee. H.D.F.S. Internship Coordinators may serve as a committee member, but they may not serve as committee chair. Students are required to schedule three (3) meetings per semester with the HDFS Internship Coordinator to discuss progress, issues and other matters related to their practicum placement.

The proposal must be submitted to the committee for evaluation. The committee will determine if the proposal is of sufficient quality to progress to the proposal defense. At the time of the proposal defense, the student will present the proposed project and address any questions or concerns raised by the committee. The committee will determine whether the proposal is coherent, well developed, of sufficient importance, and feasible within a given timeframe. Students whose project proposals are deemed “unsatisfactory” will be required to re-defend their proposal. 

Students must submit their proposal to their committee members no less than 4 weeks prior to the date of the proposal defense. The proposal should include: 

  • A description of the project 
  • Importance of the project 
  • Procedures to be used to conduct the project
  • Letter from the site supervisor agreeing for the student to complete the project at the site
  • Timeline for completion 

Master’s Project Defense:

When the project is completed, the student must provide a written report to his/her faculty advisor who will ascertain the quality of the project and provide feedback. After the faculty advisor has given his/her approval of the document, the student should submit a copy of the project to the other members of the committee (3-4 weeks). After all committee members have approved the document, the student can set the final defense date. M.A. students are not required to complete a Request for Examination form. Students should follow the American Psychological Association (A.P.A.) guidelines. Students are responsible for properly tracking their practicum hours (90 per semester) via the timesheets provided by the HDFS Internship Coordinator.

  • Defenses may be scheduled during the fall and spring semesters only. 

The final oral defense of a project may be waived if any of the following conditions are met. 

  • Student has written up the specific project for a scientific journal and it has been published or is in press (as primary author) 
  • Student has presented on the specific project at a national conference (as primary author) 
  • Student’s grant proposal based on the project has been funded (as primary investigator) 

Following successful completion of the Master’s defense, the faculty advisor will send a memo of completion to the Graduate School. A final copy of the project must be provided to the H.D.F.S. Department. 


Master’s Thesis (3 credits, HFS 997):

This theoretical/research-based option requires students to undertake a scholarly thesis with data analyses and is particularly suitable for those interested in a research career or a Ph.D. program.

Master’s Thesis Committee and Proposal:

All theses must be approved by the student’s Master’s thesis committee. The committee is comprised of your advisor (who will serve as committee chair) and two additional faculty members from the Department of Human Development and Family Science. Only H.D.F.S. tenured and tenure track faculty, and Professors of Practice may chair a Master’s thesis committee. H.D.F.S. Internship Coordinators may serve as a committee member, but they may not serve as committee chair.  The student may select one faculty member from outside of the department if the expertise of this individual is related to the student’s thesis.

The proposal must be submitted to the committee for evaluation. The committee will determine if the proposal is of sufficient quality to progress to the proposal defense. At the time of the proposal defense the student will present the proposed thesis and address any questions or concerns raised by the committee. The committee will determine whether the proposal is coherent, well developed, of sufficient importance, and feasible within a given timeframe. Students whose thesis proposals are deemed “unsatisfactory” will be required to re-defend their proposal. 

Students must submit their proposal to their committee members no less than 4 weeks prior to the date of the proposal defense. The proposal should include: 

  • Introduction 
  • Importance of the study 
  • Literature review 
  • Research questions and/or hypotheses 
  • Proposed methodology (proposed sample, measures, and analytical techniques) 

Institutional Review Board Approval:

Students must consult the Institutional Review Board (I.R.B.) to determine if their proposal requires I.R.B. approval at the Office of Research Integrity and Protections website

Final Defense of Thesis:

After the faculty advisor has given his/her approval, the thesis is to be submitted to the thesis committee members for their feedback and suggestions. Committee members should be given at least four weeks to provide feedback. At the end of this period, committee members may require students to make changes to the thesis. Only after all committee members have given their approval should a thesis defense date be scheduled. Students should include a faculty member (other than the 3 committee members) to chair the committee. At the Masters level the chair can be from within the Human Development and Family Science Department or from other departments/colleges throughout the University. This person will act as the representative of the Graduate School and will moderate the thesis defense.  Read up on the procedures for graduate students defending theses or dissertations found at the Graduate School graduation requirements page.  All M.S. students must complete a Request for Examination form, at least three weeks prior to your defense date.

Defenses may only be scheduled during the fall and spring semesters. All thesis defenses are open to the public and students are expected to provide the departmental administrative assistant with an abstract of their thesis two weeks prior to the defense. One copy of the thesis should be made available in the departmental office for public reading two weeks prior to the defense. 

Note: All H.D.F.S. faculty are eligible to serve as committee members (tenure, tenure track, professors of practice, full-time instructors), however only tenure track and tenured faculty may chair a thesis committee. 

All students must follow the graduate school guidelines for formatting their thesis found at the Graduate School Guidelines for Doctoral Dissertations & Master's Theses. In addition, students should follow the American Psychological Association (APA) guidelines. 

Sample Course Schedule M.S. Program: 

Fall Year 1

  • HFS 621 Statistical Concepts I

  • HFS 637 Theories, Interpretations, and Applications

  • HFS 648 Family Theories: Interpretation and Application

Spring Year 1

  • HFS 631 Research Methods for Child and Family Studies I

  • HFS 667 Child and Family in Cross Cultural Perspectives

  • HFS Elective

Fall Year 2

  • Elective

  • Elective

  • Elective

Spring Year 2

  • HFS 996 Master’s Project 

or

  • HFS 997 Master’s Thesis

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) 

The Ph.D. program is designed to advance students learning in the theory, literature, and research within the field of Human Development and Family Science. Doctoral students are expected to demonstrate a higher level of scientific analysis of the literature and demonstrate the ability to carry out advanced research. The program is designed to move students learning beyond the basic theoretical and analytical level achieved at the Master’s level towards achieving in-depth learning in an area of specialization. 

Students who have completed a M.S. in H.D.F.S. or related disciplines are eligible to apply to the Ph.D. program. Those who have a M.A. in H.D.F.S. or related disciplines and have not completed a thesis in their program may be required to take additional courses and/or conduct a research project prior to taking their comprehensive examinations. Students in this category must discuss their situation with their faculty advisor and the graduate director. 

Doctoral degree consists of 72 graduate credits (60 course credits and 12 dissertation credits) 

Core Requirements (24 credits)

  • HFS 621 Statistical Concepts I 
  • HFS 622 Statistical Concepts II 
  • HFS 631 Research Methods for Child and Family Studies I 
  • HFS 637 Theories, Interpretations, and Applications in Child Development 
  • HFS 648 Family Theories: Interpretation and Application 
  • HFS 667 Child and Family in Cross Cultural Perspectives 
  • HFS 732 Research Methods for Child and Family Studies II 

Students must also select an additional research methods course (advanced statistics, qualitative research) in preparation for their doctoral research, 3 credit(s) located on the H.D.F.S. website at Approved list of courses

Elective Course Requirements (36 credits)

At least 15 credit hours of content must be selected from within the H.D.F.S. Department. The remaining 21 credits can be completed in H.D.F.S. or in other programs such as Psychology, Education, Policy Studies, Sociology, Anthropology, or African-American Studies. Students should consult with faculty advisors prior to selecting courses both inside and outside of the department. Courses should be selected that match with the students’ academic interests and goals. Students may choose courses at or above the 600 level. All students must complete a two-semester sequence in statistics and research methods. For a complete list of available graduate courses, please consult the 2023-2024 Graduate Course Catalog. In addition to the list of courses in the catalog, faculty members regularly offer courses within their areas of specialization and research interests.

Independent Study (6 credits)

Ph.D. students may take up to 6 credits as “Independent Study”. Activities undertaken may include research projects, internships, reviews of literature, etc. Students should complete the “Independent Study Form” in which they must state in detail how the independent study will be completed. The independent study must be completed in the semester when it is undertaken. As this is a supervised project, the faculty member and student must meet regularly to ascertain student progress.

Sample Course Schedule Ph.D. Program:

Fall Year 1

  • HFS 621 Statistical Concepts I
  • HFS 637 Theories, Interpretations, and Applications
  • HFS 667 Child and Family in Cross Cultural Perspectives (or HFS Elective)

Spring Year 1

  • HFS 622 Statistical Concepts II
  • HFS 631 Research Methods for Child and Family Studies I
  • HFS 648 Family Theories: Interpretation and Application

Summer Year 1

  • Elective/HFS Directed Elective
  • Elective

Fall Year 2

  • HFS 667 Child and Family in Cross Cultural Perspectives (or HFS Elective)
  • HFS 732 Research Methods for Child and Family Studies II
  • Elective/ Methods or Stats Course

Spring Year 2

  • Elective/ Methods or Stats Course
  • HFS Directed Elective
  • Elective/ HFS Directed Elective

Summer Year 2

  • Elective/ HFS Directed Elective
  • Elective

Fall Year 3

  • Elective/ HFS Directed Elective
  • Elective/ HFS Directed Elective
  • Elective

Spring Year 3

  • Elective
  • Thesis Credits (6)

Summer Year 3

  • Thesis Credits (6)

Comprehensive Examination

The Comprehensive Exam is designed to assess student’s knowledge, skills, and ability in conducting research in Human Development and Family Science, in preparation for the dissertation. There are several options for the form this exam can take that are designed to fit with students’ differing interests and career goals. Doctoral students must successfully complete the exam, which represents the successful completion of a qualifying project, before they can advance to candidacy. Students enrolled in the M.S. and who have continued on to the Ph.D. program must have submitted their Master’s thesis prior to sitting for the comprehensive examinations. After completing coursework, students should take the comprehensive exam by the fall semester of their 4th year in the program at the latest. If successful in passing the comprehensive exam, they should defend their dissertation proposals in the spring/summer of that same year (year 4) in the program at the latest. If successful in defending their dissertation proposals, they can proceed to write their dissertations and defend the final dissertation in year 5 at the latest.

By the end of the semester students have completed their coursework, students, in consultation with their advisor, should form their comprehensive exam committee, which will consist of three faculty members including the student’s advisor. It is expected that this committee will continue to serve as the student’s dissertation committee upon successful completion of the comprehensive exam.  In consultation with the committee, students will determine the topic and format of their comprehensive exam as well as a timeline for completion. Upon completion of the project, they will submit to their committee for approval and feedback. Projects resulting from the comprehensive exam should not be submitted to external organizations (e.g., journal, IRB, grant agency) before receiving from the committee, unless they have received prior approval (e.g., approval to use a prior paper as the comprehensive exam. All projects can have coauthors or collaborators, but the student must be the primary author and be responsible for the research questions, analysis, writing, etc. The literature review paper and research paper options could become the first paper of a three-paper dissertation, whereas the data collection protocol and grant submission options will inform the topic and methods for the dissertation.

Comprehensive Exam Options:

Literature review paper option - The student will write a publishable quality review paper on a topic relevant to their dissertation topic. It need not be a structured or systematic review, but provide a comprehensive review of the literature, including discussion of relevant theories, research findings, methodologies, and areas for future research. The student will submit the final paper to their committee for review.

Research paper option - The student will write a publishable quality research paper (qualitative or quantitative) to be submitted to a journal. The student will be responsible for conceptualizing the research questions, analyzing the data, and drafting all sections of the paper; however, they may have other coauthors who can provide feedback. The student will submit the final paper to their committee for review prior to journal submission. However, in cases where a student has already published or submitted a paper while in the HDFS program, it can be approved for the comprehensive exam by the committee if the advisor and other collaborators attest that the student completed the vast majority of work on the paper. Papers should be written as full-length reports to a target journal and incorporate relevant theory.

Grant proposal option - The student will write a proposal for an external dissertation grant (e.g., NIH F31 or comparable foundation grant). Grants may differ in funding amount, etc, but the submission must be of a length and scope that will demonstrate the skills necessary for the dissertation. The students will follow all grant submission guidelines for writing and then submit the manuscript to their committee for review. Students may then submit their proposal to the funding organization if eligible, though submission is not required to complete the comprehensive exam. Students who are choosing to submit their proposal must submit the draft proposal to their comprehensive exam committee for feedback at least one month prior to the grant submission deadline.

The Assessment Committee will evaluate the quality of the student’s review and will render a decision of whether the student’s review satisfactorily met the standards of the Department (i.e., “pass” or “not pass”).  The comprehensive examination will be scored using a standard evaluation rubric.  The Committee’s evaluation will be completed within one month of the submission of the review. The Committee’s evaluation of the review shall be submitted to the Director of Graduate Studies. The Graduate Director will inform the student of the committee’s decision on the quality of her/his work within 3 weeks of the receipt of the evaluation. Should the committee have concerns about the quality of the student’s work, the student will have one opportunity to improve the quality of her/his work. The resubmission must be completed within a period within a period of 6 months following the committee’s request for revision of the review. Students whose work is deemed not satisfactory on their second attempt will be dismissed from the Program.

Upon successful completion of the requirements for the Doctoral Examination students will advance to the status of “doctoral candidate.”

Doctoral Candidacy

Once a doctoral student has completed all coursework and passed the comprehensive examination, they advance to the status of “doctoral candidate.” This indicates that you have completed all the degree requirements with the exception of the dissertation. Doctoral candidates have five years to complete their dissertation from the date they passed the comprehensive examination. 

Dissertation

Dissertation Committee:

The dissertation committee consists of a minimum of four members. The oral defense chair is a voting committee member who must be a Syracuse University tenured/tenure track faculty member from outside HDFS. In addition to the oral defense chair, the dissertation committee has a minimum of three core members, among whom a minimum of two members must be tenured or tenure-track HDFS faculty including the dissertation advisor. A non-HDFS member of a three-member committee should be tenure track or tenured faculty and employed at Syracuse University. If either or both of these conditions are not met, this member can be added by petition to the committee by the HDFS graduate director with approval of the dissertation advisor.

Additional committee members beyond the required three core members can include: Syracuse University non-tenure track faculty members with a PhD or comparable doctorate and/or an individual with similar credentials who is external to the University, assuming the individual has appropriate subject matter expertise. Students appointing additional members must consult with their dissertation advisor and receive approval from the HDFS graduate director. Additional committee members are voting members. To pass the exam, a majority of committee member votes must be favorable. The student is entitled to an explanation from the committee concerning the outcome of the defense. 

To form the committee, the doctoral candidate confers with their dissertation advisor to identify appropriate committee members. Once committee members are identified, and with HDFS and Graduate School approval, an oral defense examination may be scheduled.

Dissertation Format: Students have the choice of either a traditional one-paper thesis or a three-paper model.

Traditional One-Paper Thesis Option

Dissertation Proposal:

The dissertation is the culmination of a program of advanced study leading to the doctoral degree. It should embody the result of original research that constitutes a significant contribution to the body of knowledge in child development or family studies. It is expected to possess a unity of theme, provide evidence of originality and critical judgment, and exhibit credible literary quality worthy of publication. Prior to beginning their dissertation, doctoral candidates must receive approval from their dissertation committee (see below).

The dissertation proposal should be developed in close consultation with the faculty advisor. After the advisor has given his/her approval, the student should convene a dissertation proposal defense. 

Committee members should be given 3-4 weeks to read the document prior to the proposal defense date. Committee members may request additional time if they have suggestions or concerns that the candidate may need to address prior to the defense. At the defense, the student will be expected to present key aspects of the proposed study, as well as respond to committee member questions. The student should be prepared to justify the relevance of the proposed research and the soundness of the methodology. Students whose dissertation proposals are deemed “unsatisfactory” will be asked to address any areas of concern and re-defend their proposal.

Using the format below, the candidate must submit a proposal describing their study: 

Introduction:

The introductory paragraphs of the proposal should provide an orientation to the study. They establish the overall area of concern, arouse interest, and communicate information essential to the readers’ comprehension of the material to follow. The section includes a description of the problem to be investigated, a statement of the purpose of the study, and an indication of the research question(s) and/or hypotheses to be addressed. 

Review of Literature:

This section of the proposal establishes the foundation for the study by providing the link between existing knowledge, previous investigations or contemporary practice. It answers two questions: (1) what is already known and (2) how is this particular study designed to move beyond the extant research in the field. The literature review contains only those studies that provide a framework and foundation for the proposed investigation. These studies are discussed in sufficient detail to make their relevance clear. Pay particular attention to: 

  1. Substantive knowledge in the area and critical analysis of the literature 
  2. Issues of methodology and interpretations 
  3. Conceptual and theoretical formulations 

If appropriate, include a description of how the project is related to the theoretical models in the field or how it contributes to the formation of new theory. If this section is lengthy, consideration should be given to having a separate section under the heading “Theoretical Model”, in the proposal. The use of subheadings is encouraged. It is also recommended that the review section conclude with a brief summary of the literature reviewed and provide an overview of the important points that lend credence to the rationale of the proposed study. 

Methodology:

The method section includes a detailed discussion of the research design and the procedures used to accomplish the study. The section should include: 

1. Identification and description of the target population and the sampling method 

2. Presentation of instruments and techniques for measurement 

3. Explanation of design for the collection of data 

4. Presentation of procedures for data collection 

5. Description of the pilot study (if appropriate) 

6. Presentation of plans for the analysis of data 

Appendices:

Appendices are optional. Students may want to include copies of survey documents or other original materials in appendices. It is recommended that the student consult with their faculty advisor about what documents to include.  

Institutional Review Board Approval:

The University and the faculty are ethically and legally responsible for the well-being and protection of all human subjects involved in research, classroom activities, or demonstrations (as required by Public law 93-348). Thus, approval by the Institutional Review Board (I.R.B.) is mandatory before any research involving human subjects may be conducted (see I.R.B. website for exceptions). Therefore, any dissertation that involves human subjects must obtain I.R.B. approval. Application forms and instructions can be found at the Office of Research Integrity and Protections website.


Three-Paper Dissertation Option

The three-paper dissertation requires students to demonstrate all the knowledge and skills in research required of a more traditional dissertation format. However, rather than a document with multiple chapters (e.g., Introduction, Theoretical Theory, Method, etc.), it will include three publishable-quality papers, which are framed by an overall Introduction and Conclusion that contextualize the three papers within the larger topic area. The three papers should aim to answer distinct yet related research questions in the same general topic area, with subsequent papers building on the insights of previous ones. The papers can be viewed as the start of a larger program of research on a given topic.

The three papers will constitute new works where the student is the first author and completes the majority of the work (as in a traditional dissertation). These papers may be new, unpublished works; however, students may include three published or submitted papers with the approval of their dissertation committee (e.g., two published/one submitted). They will be written with particular journals in mind and reflect the length guidelines of the journals. The papers may be based on primary data collection or secondary data, may include one or multiple data sources, and can use quantitative, qualitative or mixed methods approaches, as deemed appropriate through consultation with the advisor and committee. At least two of the papers should be data-based (quantitative or qualitative), and the third can either be data-based or a review paper, with committee permission. Manuscripts in the dissertation may have coauthors, but the student should be the first and primary author on all manuscripts. Submitted or published papers with coauthors may be included in the dissertation if agreed upon by the committee and must a) be related to the overall topic of the dissertation, b) completed while the student was in the doctoral program, and c) have all coauthors confirm the students’ primary role on the paper.

The three-paper option may be not appropriate for all students and all dissertation projects and should be proposed only with a) the approval of the student’s academic advisor and b) the approval of the dissertation committee. Students should discuss this option with their advisor and receive approval from their advisor and committee to propose a three-paper dissertation before beginning work on the dissertation proposal. Students will follow all departmental and graduate school guidelines in the completion of their dissertation.

Three-Paper Dissertation Proposal Format
  1. Overarching Introduction. The introductory section should provide an introduction to the general topic area. It should state the importance of studying the topic, backed by theoretical or conceptual model(s) and a brief review of relevant literature. After introducing the topic, this section should then summarize the proposed papers, describing how they are important to the study of the general topic area. The student will then include a reference section for the overarching introduction.
  2. Proposed Paper 1. This section will propose a publishable-quality paper 1 in the topic area, written with a target journal in mind. It will typically include the following sections:

    1. Introduction. This section will typically include a) theoretical or conceptual model, b) literature review, c) research aims or hypotheses.

    2. Proposed methods. This section will include information about the participants, 
      procedures, and methods used in the study. For primary data collection projects, this will include information about how participants will be recruited, target number of participants, and the proposed procedures and measures. For secondary analysis projects, this section will include a description of the data and procedures used to collect it, and descriptive information about the sample and/or analytic sample to be used in the paper. In addition, this section should describe the proposed analyses for the paper.
    3. References for Paper 1.
  3. Proposed Paper 2. This section will propose a publishable-quality paper 2 in the topic area, written with a target journal in mind. This should be tailored to the research questions for Paper 2. It will typically include the following sections:
    1.  Introduction. This section will typically include a) theoretical or conceptual model, b) literature review, c) research aims or hypotheses.
    2.  Proposed methods. This section will include information about the participants, 
      procedures, and methods used in the study. For primary data collection projects, this will include information about how participants will be recruited, target number of participants, and the proposed procedures and measures. For secondary analysis projects, this section will include a description of the data and procedures used to collect it, and descriptive information about the sample and/or analytic sample to be used in the paper. In addition, this section should describe the proposed analyses for the paper.
    3. References for Paper 2.
  4. Proposed Paper 3. This section will propose a publishable-quality paper 3 in the topic area, written with a target journal in mind. This should be tailored to the research questions for Paper 3. It will typically include the following sections:
    1.  Introduction. This section will typically include a) theoretical or conceptual model, b) literature review, c) research aims or hypotheses.
    2.  Proposed methods. This section will include information about the participants, 
      procedures, and methods used in the study. For primary data collection projects, this will include information about how participants will be recruited, target number of participants, and the proposed procedures and measures. For secondary analysis projects, this section will include a description of the data and procedures used to collect it, and descriptive information about the sample and/or analytic sample to be used in the paper. In addition, this section should describe the proposed analyses for the paper.
    3. References for Paper 3.

Note: While the theoretical models, literature review, etc. for the three papers may overlap, each one should be tailored to the particular research questions being asked in each particular study.  

Three-Paper Dissertation Format

  1. Abstract (for the dissertation as a whole)
  2. Overarching Introduction. The introductory section should provide an introduction to the general topic area. It should state the importance of studying the topic, backed by theoretical or conceptual model(s) and a brief review of relevant literature. After Introducing the topic, this section should then summarize the papers, describing how they are important to the study of the general topic area. The student will then include a reference section for the overarching introduction.
  3. Paper 1. This section will be a publishable-quality paper 1 in the topic area, written with a target journal in mind. This paper 1 should be specifically tailored to address its unique research questions, clearly distinguishing it from other papers in the dissertation. It will typically include the following sections, depending on what is appropriate for the journal:

    1. Introduction. This section will typically include a) theoretical or conceptual model, b) literature review, c) research aims or hypotheses.

    2. Methods. This section will include information about the participants, procedures, and methods used in the study.
    3. Results. This section will discuss the results for paper 1, with appropriate reporting of statistics, tables and figures.
    4. Discussion. This section will contextualize the results of paper 1, linking it to the theoretical models and prior literature, providing potential explanations for findings, and discussing the implications of the findings.
    5. References for Paper 1.
  4. Paper 2. This section will propose a publishable-quality paper 2 in the topic area, written with a target journal in mind. This should be tailored to the research questions for Paper 2. It will typically include the following sections:
    1. Introduction. This section will typically include a) theoretical or conceptual model, b) literature review, c) research aims or hypotheses.

    2. Methods. This section will include information about the participants, procedures, and methods used in the study.
    3. Results. This section will discuss the results for paper 2, with appropriate reporting of statistics, tables and figures.
    4. Discussion. This section will contextualize the results of paper 2, linking it to the theoretical models and prior literature, providing potential explanations for findings, and discussing the implications of the findings.
    5. References for Paper 2.
  5. Paper 3. This section will propose a publishable-quality paper 3 in the topic area, written with a target journal in mind. This should be tailored to the research questions for Paper 3. It will typically include the following sections:
    1. Introduction. This section will typically include a) theoretical or conceptual model, b) literature review, c) research aims or hypotheses.
    2. Methods. This section will include information about the participants, procedures, and methods used in the study.
    3. Results. This section will discuss the results for paper 3, with appropriate reporting of statistics, tables and figures.
    4. Discussion. This section will contextualize the results of paper 3, linking it to the theoretical models and prior literature, providing potential explanations for findings, and discussing the implications of the findings.
    5. References for Paper 3.
  6. Overarching Conclusion. This section will discuss the results across the three papers. It will analyze how the three studies support or do not support the theoretical models or prior literature, discuss notable findings, and discuss the implications of the findings as a whole. The student will then include a reference section for the overarching discussion.

Additional Clarification for the Three-Paper Dissertation Format

Students may choose to write a 3-paper dissertation in which 3 manuscripts are prepared. For each manuscript, all committee members must agree on the focus and aims, the target journal, timeline for submission, and any planned co-authorship. The manuscripts must be distinct from each other, but the student must be able to logically tie them together toward a focused program of research. At least two of the manuscripts must be data-based and report new and original findings. The third manuscript can either be empirical or a critical review of the topic (ending in next directions for field). If choosing a review paper that stems from one’s preliminary examination, the concept would be expected to have been substantially further developed. 
     
The manuscripts can have co-authors, but the student should be the first author on all manuscripts. Students are required to complete the below table to indicate their percent effort, and that of co- authors, on each manuscript in the categories of conceptualization, analysis, and writing. Co-authors must attest that the student did the majority of the work and most of the writing. Manuscripts do not need to be submitted to the selected journals prior to graduation but should be formatted according to the journal guidelines. All three manuscripts can be already submitted, reviewed, or published at the time of the dissertation defense, at the discretion of the committee, as long as: 1) they are substantive to the dissertation, 2) the work was completed while the student was enrolled in the PhD program, 3) the student is the first author of the manuscript, and 4) all co-authors confirm that the student did the majority of the work. If manuscripts already accepted for publication are to be included, the student must obtain written permission from the copyright holder (the journal) to include the material in the dissertation deposited with the Graduate School. Committee members should expect that journal page restrictions will limit the amount of detail that can be provided in the manuscripts. Instruments, tables, and other relevant documents may be submitted as appendices, but a limit of no more than 30 pages of appendices is recommended.

Table. Authorship Contributions Across Manuscripts: Percentage Effort Distribution

Manuscript Title

Author’s Role

Conceptualization (%)

Analysis (%)

Writing (%)

Manuscript 1





  Student Name

First Author

X %

X %

X %

  Co-Author 1 Name

Co-Author

X %

X %

X %

  Co-Author 2 Name

Co-Author

X %

X %

X %

Manuscript 2





  Student Name

First Author

X %

X %

X %

  Co-Author 1 Name

Co-Author

X %

X %

X %

  Co-Author 2 Name

Co-Author

X %

X %

X %

Manuscript 3





  Student Name

First Author

X %

X %

X %

  Co-Author 1 Name

Co-Author

X %

X %

X %

  Co-Author 2 Name

Co-Author

X %

X %

X %

 
Dissertation Defense:

Once a preliminary draft of the dissertation is completed, it must be submitted to the faculty advisor who will provide feedback and suggestions for improvement. After the advisor has given his/her approval, the dissertation should be submitted to the entire core committee. The committee members must be given 3-4 weeks to provide feedback (additional time may be required). Students are expected to revise their manuscript based on the committee’s suggestions and concerns. Once completed, students are expected to submit a memo to the committee detailing where and how the concerns have been addressed in the document. Committee members may take 3-4 weeks to review the revised manuscript. Only after all committee members have given their approval should the dissertation defense be scheduled. 

Prior to the defense, the candidate must select two additional faculty members to serve as “readers.” Readers can be faculty members from the department or university. In addition, the student must identify a faculty member who will chair the defense. This person will act as the representative of the graduate school and will moderate the defense. The chair must be a faculty member (tenure track or tenured) who is not a member of the H.D.F.S. faculty. 

All Ph.D. students must complete a Request for Examination form found at the Graduate School website and pay attention to the deadlines for filing this form. The Request for Examination requires the signature of the student’s dissertation advisor and department chair. In addition, the form lists the names of committee members (dissertation committee and two readers), the time, place, and date of the defense. The Graduate Director will only sign the form after receiving approval from the committee members. The Graduate School will send confirmation of the defense to all committee members. Candidates should be familiar with the procedures for defending the dissertation, information can be found by visiting the Graduate School website

Dissertation defenses can only be scheduled in the fall and spring semesters. All defenses are open to the public. Students are expected to provide the department administrative assistant with an abstract of their thesis two weeks prior to the defense. A copy of the dissertation should be submitted to the department one week prior to the defense. 

At the time of the defense, the candidate typically presents an overview of the study indicating the importance, the key findings, and implications future research and/or policy (20-25 minutes). A question and answer period directly follows (approximately 60-90 minutes). 

Upon completion of the oral examination, the committee will vote on the quality and the originality of the dissertation, and the student’s performance at the examination. The outcome of the committee deliberations will be one of the following results: 

  • Pass (no revisions) 
  • Pass with minor revisions (generally editorial) 
  • Pass with major revisions (additional analyses, reorganization of manuscript) 
  • Not Pass

Certificates of Advanced Study

Students have the opportunity to take courses in other departments based on their academic and professional interests. Syracuse University offers a number of advanced post baccalaureate certificates across the various colleges that can be taken in conjunction with their H.D.F.S. degree. 

Master of Philosophy (M.Phil.) 

The Master of Philosophy (M.Phil.) in Human Development and Family Science is an intermediate degree between the master’s and the doctor of philosophy and is awarded by the Graduate School upon the recommendation of the academic unit. A M.Phil. may be conferred upon a student who has satisfactorily completed all Ph.D. requirements with the exception of the dissertation. The following requirements apply:

  1. The student must be enrolled in the Ph.D. program of Human Development and Family Science;
  2. The student must have reached all but dissertation (A.B.D.) status in Human Development and Family Science, in accordance with program requirements, and such designation must appear on the student's advising transcript;
  3. The student must complete a diploma request to receive an M.Phil. Degree. For further information and documentation required, please contact the H.D.F.S. Graduate Director; 
  4. This is a terminal degree - once it is awarded, students will not be able to return to complete the Ph.D. within Human Development and Family Science.

Departmental Rules and Regulations

Degree in Progress 

Students are required to enroll every semester (fall and spring) from the time of matriculation into the program until degree conferral, failure to do so will result in the loss of their “full-time status,” university-related privileges, and being dropped from the H.D.F.S. program. Students who have completed their graduate coursework are expected to register for GRD 998 (0 credits) and complete the Certification of Full-Time Status Form (every semester they enroll in GRD 998). In addition, students must complete the H.D.F.S. Department Form “Continuing Credits” indicating their progress towards their thesis or dissertation. An email reminder along with the forms will be sent to those students who meet this criteria. 

Petitions 

Students who wish to claim an exemption to a standing policy and/or procedure may file a petition with the department stating their request and rationale. All petitions will be reviewed by the department chair, and/or the graduate committee for approval. You can access a downloadable PDF Petition to Faculty form by visiting Answers.syr.edu. 

Leave of Absence 

Students requesting a leave from the University for personal or health reasons prior to completing their degree requirements must file an Official Leave of Absence which can be obtained from the department administrative assistant. The form must be submitted whether or not they intend to return. 

To take a leave of absence: 

  1. A graduate student must complete the official withdrawal/leave of absence form. 
  2. The department chair of the student’s primary program must sign the form. 
  3. The student must hand deliver the form to the Office of Student Assistance, 306 Steel Hall. (In the case where a student is unable to do so, the department chair may send the form to the Office of Student Assistance.) 

To return from the leave of absence: 

  1. A graduate student must complete a petition to be readmitted to their program. 
  2. The department chair must sign the petition. 
  3. The student must send the petition to the Office of Student Assistance, 306 Steele Hall. 

Grievance 

If a student believes s/he has been treated unfairly or inappropriately by the faculty, s/he should state this in writing to the department Chair or Director and request to meet with the faculty. For more information on Grievance Procedures Policy visit Falk College Academic Grievances website and Syracuse University Policies website

Assistantships, Fellowships and Awards

Graduate Assistantships 

Graduate assistantships are available to accepted Ph.D. students who will receive funding for their first four years.  New doctoral students requesting an assistantship should indicate their request on the graduate school application for admission, and do not need to file a separate application for an assistantship. The assignments are made by the Department Chair based on course enrollments and funding with input from students and faculty.

Two types of graduate assistantships for Ph.D. students are available: 

  • Teaching Assistantships (T.A.). T.A.s are assigned to a faculty supervisor and assist the faculty member with their classes. These assignments are more common, particularly across the early years of the student’s program. 
  • Research Assistantships (R.A.). R.A.s are awarded by graduate assistantships and may also be awarded by individual professors based on their available research funding or other department funding availabilities. The positions may be full or part-time and are based on funding and the needs of the department.

Additional Funding Opportunities

Department R.A.s may be available during the summer through faculty grants. Non-international students may also have the opportunity to work an additional 5 hours per week during the academic year. These opportunities vary by semester and are paid as hourly wages. These opportunities are shared with students by the sponsoring faculty as they become available.  

Requirements

Ph.D. Students may be awarded full-time or part-time assistantships; the type of assignment (i.e., RA/TA) is specified in the yearly contract. Students receiving a full-time assistantship work 20 hours per week and receive a stipend and tuition scholarships of 24 (9/9/6) credits every year (fall, spring, summer). Students receiving a full-time assistantship cannot be employed elsewhere. Students who receive a part- time assistantship work 10 hours per week and receive a reduced stipend; they also receive 12 (6/6) tuition scholarships credits every year (fall, spring). Note that all Graduate Assistantships begin two weeks prior to the start of the fall semester and continue through May Commencement; students are expected to be on campus during these times. Special arrangements require a note from the supervising faculty to the Graduate Director outlining the changes to the plan. Refer to the yearly contract for details of the requirements and expectations. 

T.A. Orientation

All teaching assistants (T.A.s) are required to participate in the All-University T.A. Orientation Program, information can be found by visiting the Graduate School website and viewing the All-University T.A. Orientation Program web page. The orientation is held two weeks prior to the start of the fall semester. Students will be informed by email from the Graduate School regarding dates and times they are required to attend orientation. 

Vacations & Holidays (Graduate School Policy)

It is expected that your assistantship responsibilities will revolve around the student academic calendar, unless otherwise communicated by the sponsoring department. Graduate assistants are generally not required to perform service on days in which student classes are not in session. In cases where the nature of the agreed upon responsibilities requires a graduate assistant to perform assistantship services outside of the academic calendar (for example, to attend to critical laboratory functions), your mentor and/or department supervising professor or faculty member will talk with you about the expectations. Graduate assistants are encouraged to take time off during these time periods. However, alternate dates for time off may be requested and are subject to approval by the graduate assistant’s supervising professor or faculty member. 

Teaching Assistant Responsibilities

Teaching assistants (T.A.s) hold a vital role in providing support to both faculty and students. The following outlines some typical responsibilities for teaching assistants in H.D.F.S. though the list is not exhaustive. 

  • Assist with faculty instruction (this typically includes independently teaching one class period per semester or leading part of class on a few planned occasions per semester under the guidance of the faculty instructor). Note that these teaching sessions should be supervised by the faculty instructor, who should provide feedback after the class.
  • Assist the faculty instructor in preparing and organizing materials for lessons.

All course materials, including assignments, rubrics, and presentations, must be acknowledged and respected. While instructors and teaching assistants create these materials for educational purposes within the course, sharing them beyond requires proper attribution and permission to ensure contributors are acknowledged. Clear communication and expectations between instructors and teaching assistants regarding material use and sharing are encouraged.

  • Help set up and maintain classroom equipment and resources.
  • Hold office hours for at least one hour a week and by appointment.
  • Attend class and assist with note taking. 
  • Provide one-on-one or small group support to students who need extra assistance with assignments or concepts.
  • Assist in managing course related online platforms and communication tools.
  • Help with administrative tasks, such as organizing resources, recording keeping, and attendance tracking.
  • Grade assignments, quizzes, exams, and projects according to established guidelines and rubrics and provide feedback to students on their performance.  
  • Maintain accurate records of student grades and participation.
  • Be available to answer student questions and provide clarification on course content.
  • Assist students during office hours, online chat sessions, or via email or online platforms.
  • Help facilitate group activities and discussions.
  • While adapting to new tasks as a T.A. is important, and some degree of variation in TA experiences is expected, it's essential to note that T.A.s are not required to unexpectedly cover class sessions for faculty without prior preparation, notice, or arrangement (requiring at least three week’s advance notice) or teach an excessive number of class sessions (three or more). T.A.s are not Co-Instructors. In case of any concerns, students are encouraged to initially contact the H.D.F.S Graduate Program Director. Subsequently, the graduate director will inform the department chair to address and resolve specific cases. 

Research Assistant Responsibilities

Research Assistants (R.A.s) play an important role in faculty member’s research labs and gain experience in multiple aspects of the research process including data collection, analysis, manuscript writing and publication, and conference presentations. Graduate R.A.s may also have the opportunity to mentor other students as they join the projects.  The following outlines some typical responsibilities for research assistants in H.D.F.S., though the list is not exhaustive. 

  • Assist with faculty active research projects (e.g., data collection, data preparation, data analyses). 
  • Contribute to manuscripts and publications (e.g., literature review, writing, editing, preparation for journal submission).
  • Collaborate on abstract submissions for conferences.
  • Co-present at conferences.
  • Mentor new graduate students and undergraduate students who join the research lab (e.g., orient them to the data/lab, help with literature reviews).
  • Coordinate the lab meetings (e.g., help set the schedule, present updates on your progress).
  • Attend regular meetings with your faculty mentor across the semester to discuss goal setting and progress.
  • In case of any concerns, students are encouraged to initially contact the H.D.F.S Graduate Program Director. Subsequently, the graduate director will inform the department chair to address and resolve specific cases.

Faculty Advisor and Graduate Student Mentoring Relationships 

At H.D.F.S., our commitment is to foster a supportive and enriching academic environment for our graduate students. As a graduate student, you will engage in mentoring relationships that provide guidance, encouragement, and valuable insights throughout your journey. Mentoring enhances your academic experience, personal growth, and professional development. Graduate students may have multiple mentors, including faculty advisor, professors, senior graduate students, and professionals in relevant fields. This section outlines the practices of faculty advisor (mentor) and graduate student (mentee) mentoring practices. 

  • When you enter the program, you'll be assigned a faculty advisor (mentor). These assignments were made based on alignment with student research interests and academic goals. 
  • Faculty advisors provide academic guidance, facilitate research discussions, offer constructive feedback, and assist with professional networking.
  • Actively engage with faculty advisors, seek advice, share academic and career aspirations, and learn from mentors' experiences.
  • Both mentors and mentees should regularly meet to discuss academic progress, research developments, and challenges. Regularly reach out to faculty advisors to schedule meetings and communicate via emails and in other forms of communication. 
  • Effective communication is pivotal for successful mentoring. Set up a meeting schedule to discuss research progress, goals, and challenges. Meetings typically occur monthly, adjusted as per mentor and mentee dynamics. Both parties should clarify expectations, goals, and desired outcomes.
  • Students and faculty mentors should discuss expectations around feedback and come up with a plan that is appropriate based on their needs and the nature of the document (e.g., abstract review versus manuscript review). This plan should include clear communication around the required submission deadlines and the expected time needed for faculty review. Note that certain activities (e.g., comprehensive exams, proposal defenses, final defenses) already have specified deadlines and review periods and may require special scheduling with the Graduate School.
  • While we all strive to stay on top of work, there are instances where we (faculty and students) may appear unresponsive. If students are anticipating feedback and it is delayed, it is appropriate to send a follow-up reminder to faculty and/or stop by their office.
  • As you progress, some mentoring relationships will evolve into professional connections. Express gratitude and communicate if transitioning from a specific mentoring (faculty advisor and advisee) connection.
  • If you are unable to reach your faculty advisor (in a reasonable amount of time) or have concerns about mentoring relationship (faculty advisor-advisee) that are not being resolved, contact the H.D.F.S. graduate program director. The graduate director may approach the H.D.F.S. department chair to address some of these concerns.

Additional Graduate Student Resource

The Office of the University Ombuds, now student-focused, also offers a confidential resource for program-related concerns and other issues.

University Fellowship

The department may nominate graduate students with exceptional credentials for the University Fellowship. The awardee may receive a one-year, two-year or a three-year fellowship, which will include a stipend and tuition credits. 

Dean Edith Smith Endowed Dissertation Grant

The Dean Edith Smith Dissertation Grant has been established to provide financial support to facilitate the scholarship of doctoral students in the Department of Human Development and Family Science. The grant is designed to increase the flow of talented graduate students into academic careers and support H.D.F.S. students who show potential for excellence. 

Graduate Travel Awards

Funds for travel and other related expenses are available for students presenting their work at national conferences from the Graduate Student Organization (G.S.O.), for more information and guidelines visit the G.S.O. travel grant web page. A copy of any documentation and required forms submitted to the G.S.O. should be provided to the H.D.F.S. Department. The H.D.F.S. department may also have travel funds available for graduate students presenting their work at national conferences. For more information contact the department administrative assistant. 

Financial Assistance

Please visit the Syracuse University Financial Aid website. Financial Aid is located in 200 Bowne Hall, Syracuse, NY 13244 (315) 443-1513.

Graduate Student Resources

Syracuse University Graduate Student Handbook

Barnes Center at The Arch Counseling

Professional and Career Development Resources

Professional Development

The opportunity to participate in various professional development programs is available to graduate students to enrich their educational experience at Syracuse University. Become familiar with the various educational programs available by visiting the Graduate School website. All doctoral students who have been G.T.A.'s. for at least a semester are eligible to participate in the program. Participating in the Future Professoriate Program (F.P.P.) prepares students to teach at the collegiate level as well as prepare for a career in academia, more information can be found at the Future Professoriate Program web page.

Future Professoriate Program (F.P.P.)

Students participating in the Future Professoriate Program are required to produce a portfolio at the end of their FPP experience that addresses the areas of research, teaching, and service. Participating in the Future Professoriate Program allows students to become eligible to independently teach classes as an instructor. The department endeavors to arrange for students in FPP to teach one course independently in their fifth year of the program. Independent teaching by a graduate student participating in the Future Professoriate Program is done in close supervision of a faculty mentor (usually the student's advisor) who will provide feedback and support. If students are interested in participating in the Future Professoriate Program, they should contact the department administrative assistant. For more information, review the section on Independent Mentored Teaching provided below. The University also requires that F.P.P. participants to attend additional seminars/events related to teaching research, and service. Information concerning federal grants available to doctoral candidates can be obtained through the Office of Sponsored Programs, 211 Lyman Hall, more information can be found at the Office of Sponsored Programs website.

Independent Mentored Teaching

Doctoral students are eligible for independent teaching opportunities within HDFS. The Department Chair, in discussion with the FPP Primary Faculty Liaison (PFL) and the graduate director, will make the course assignment based upon the availability of the courses for eligible students to teach.   The department makes efforts to organize opportunities for students in FPP to teach one course independently in their fifth year of the program. Nonetheless, there may arise circumstances in which independent teaching assignments for doctoral students may not be feasible. In such situations, priority will be given to students who have completed the FPP program, as an independent mentored teaching experience is required for FPP certification.  All graduate students who are teaching independently will be assigned a Faculty Teaching Mentor. The Department Chair, in discussion with PFL and/or the graduate director, will coordinate the assignment of the faculty teaching mentor and the mentoring process. The goal of this partnership is to provide guidance to students as they create course materials as well as on-going support across the semester as they instruct. The expectations for the participant-mentor relationship include:

  • Faculty may share course syllabi with the mentee to help with syllabus construction, but the preparation of lectures, course materials, class activities and assignments, exams, and grading rubrics are the responsibility of the mentee. We encourage students to join FPP early in their graduate career, as many of these topics are covered in the FPP workshops.
  • The faculty and mentee will meet at least once before the course begins to review the syllabus and discuss additional matters related to course preparation. This consultation should also include a review of university policies including student confidentiality and FERPA, sexual harassment, Nonattendance, religious observances, Office of Disability Services, and academic integrity. Departmental recommendations regarding class cancellations, successful learning environments, and other instructional issues should also be discussed.
  • The faculty and mentee will meet once a month to discuss the course. The monthly check-in meetings will be arranged by the faculty in consultation with the mentee. The mentee is encouraged to share written reflections on their teaching and/or course materials (e.g., handouts, exams, assignments) for discussion with their Faculty Teaching Mentor during these meetings. These meetings may also be used to address course challenges, but the mentee may request additional consultations with the Faculty Teaching Mentor as questions or issues arise across the semester.
  • The faculty will observe the mentee in the classroom once during the semester. The mentee should initiate and share possible dates with the faculty mentor and the faculty mentor will confirm the observation date. The faculty can use the Instructional Observation Form provided by FPP (see pages 11-12 of the FPP handbook) or provide their own written comments on the observation. This documentation can be incorporated into the mentee’s teaching portfolio. Note that the Department Chair will also be conducting an independent teaching observation during the semester.

Computer Resources

Among the first things you will want to do when you arrive at Syracuse University is get your personal computer and other devices up and running on the University’s high-speed wireless (AirOrangeX) and wired (Ethernet) networks. Information about preparing your computer and connecting it to the Syracuse University network can be found on the Syracuse University Information Technology Services (I.T.S.) website. The site also includes a handy checklist of computing things you should do before you get here, and information about computer requirements and purchasing recommendations, managing your NetID and password, public computer labs, campus online services and resources, and more. 

If you need help with your computer or University online services 

You can get assistance from I.T.S. in several ways: 

Library

The mission of the Syracuse University Library is to assist the educational and research efforts of faculty, students, and staff of Syracuse University by acquiring, organizing, providing access to, preserving and providing assistance in using the materials they require for scholarship and research. The library offers its collections and services to users in an environment that actively supports learning, teaching, and research. 

The library also serves as a major academic resource in the region, state, and nation. Within its available resources, and through cooperative resource sharing agreements, the library has a responsibility to make available selected materials needed by the external scholarly, professional, and business communities.

Students in the Department of Human Development and Family Science may use any of the libraries located on the Syracuse University campus as well as the Environmental Science and Forestry (E.S.F.) library. A valid Syracuse University Identification (S.U.I.D.) card is needed to gain access to the library and to check out books from the circulation desk. H.D.F.S. students may find that they will predominantly use the E.S. Bird Library on Waverly Avenue and the Science and Technology Library located in Carnegie Hall on the main academic quad. 

The Human Development and Family Science Department works closely with librarian, Anita Kuiken who assists in developing library resources for the Department. She can assist both students and faculty in need of specific research materials. Ms. Kuiken can be reached at 315-443-9766 or akuiken@syr.edu

Visit the Syracuse University Libraries website for more information about available library resources. 

Graduate Student Organization

Students in the Department of Human Development and Family Science are eligible to participate in the university Graduate Student Organization. The Graduate Student Organization (G.S.O.) is open to all graduate students at Syracuse University. Students are automatically billed for G.S.O. membership as part of their mandatory fees. The G.S.O. office is located in Room 303 Lyman Hall or visit the G.S.O. website for more information. 

H.D.F.S. Faculty and Professional Staff

The list of H.D.F.S. faculty members and professional staff, a brief description of their academic backgrounds, research interests, and contact information are presented below. Further information about their academic careers is available on the departmental website.

View a listing of H.D.F.S. faculty and professional staff.

View a listing of administrative staff.

 




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