PhD in Human Environmental Sciences with Emphasis in Human Development and Family Studies

Admission Contact Information
Ashlie Lester
411 Gentry
Columbia, MO 65211

The Department of Human Development and Family Science emphasis in the Human Environmental Sciences PhD degree prepares students for careers in research, college or university teaching, or leadership positions in public and private human service institutions.

Admission Criteria

Fall deadline: December 15
Spring deadline: November 1

Minimum TOEFL scores:

Internet-based test (iBT) Paper-based test (PBT)
61 Effective July 1, 2015 must have score of 80 500 Effective July 1, 2015 must have score of 550
  • Minimum GRE scores:
When did you take the GRE? Verbal + Quantitative Analytical
Prior to August 1, 2011 50th percentile 50th percentile
On or After August 1, 2011 50th percentile 50th percentile

Some exceptions are made.

  • Minimum GPA: 3.0 for last 60 hours

Required Application Materials

Submit via the apply yourself system

  •  Application form
  • 3 letters of recommendation from people who can speak to applicant’s potential to do graduate work (e.g., professors, advisors).
  • GRE score (and TOEFL score for international applicants)
  • Personal statement
  • Résumé or Curriculum Vitae
  • Official Transcripts

Plan of Study

Students selecting the doctoral degree work with members of their doctoral committee to create an individualized plan of study tailored to their specific research interests. Over the course of their degree program all doctoral students are required to enroll in six credit hours of research practicum, three credit hours of teaching practicum, and complete coursework in theory, research methods, statistics, and their collateral area. In addition, all doctoral students complete a minimum of 12 credit hours of research for their dissertation. A sample plan of study can be found on the HDFS website (

Qualifying Process for Doctoral Students

To be officially admitted to the HDFS doctoral program, students generally must have completed a master’s degree in HDFS or a related field, although exceptions are granted.

Satisfactory Progress

Satisfactory progress is based on the student maintaining a sufficient GPA according to the student’s program or funding guidelines and completing all degree forms and milestones according to departmental timelines. For a detailed description of the department’s description of a satisfactory rate of academic progress, please refer to the HDFS Graduate Handbook found on the HDFS website (

PHD Comprehensive Matriculation Exam

The comprehensive exam consists of two parts. Part I involves an in-house written and oral examination over

  1. theory, methods, and statistics,
  2. the student’s area of specialization and core content, and
  3. the student’s collateral area.

The advisor is responsible for collecting questions from all five committee members, constructing the exam, and getting approval for the final version of the exam from available committee members. It is expected that the written exam will take the student no longer than 8 hours (e.g., two half-days or one full day) to complete. The written exam will be assessed by the committee and the student will meet with the committee for an oral defense of the written exam. If this part of the exam is passed the student moves to Part II of the comprehensive exam, which involves writing a grant pre-proposal and, if approved, a full grant proposal as outlined in the HDFS Graduate Handbook. For a detailed description of the comprehensive exam timeline please refer to the Handbook found on the HDFS website (

Admission to Candidacy

After students pass Parts I and II of the comprehensive examination, they complete the D3 form to apply to the Division of Graduate Studies for admission to doctoral candidacy. Following admission to candidacy, students complete a prospectus for the dissertation project. The prospectus includes a pertinent review of the literature, statement of the problem, the purpose of the proposed study, description of the research design, and discussion of the specific means by which the data will be analyzed. Subsequently, the dissertation committee will meet to evaluate, request revisions to, and approve the student’s dissertation prospectus.

Time Limits on Degree Completion

A graduate degree represents current knowledge of the field as of the date the degree is granted. Limitations have therefore been set regarding the number of years to finish the degree. Doctoral students have 6 years in which to complete degree requirements. The clock starts the semester that the first class beyond the master’s degree is taken. The comprehensive exam must be completed no later than by the end of the fourth year of study. HDFS doctoral students have only three years after passing the comprehensive examination to complete the doctoral degree.

Petitions for Extension

On petition of the candidate, an extension of 1 year may be granted by the HDFS graduate faculty. The student may petition for no more than two one-year extensions. Therefore, a doctoral student may have no more than 5 years, including two one-year extensions, to complete the doctoral degree after passing the comprehensive exam. On petition of the candidate and the candidate’s department, an extension of this time limit may be granted by the Graduate School.