HDL Focus Areas, Credentials & Minors

Our Human Development and Learning (HDL) students have the ability to create their own focus areas of study, or work within existing focus areas such as early childhood learning, disability and human development, social work, and more that fully address their academic interests and future career plans.

By taking courses in a variety of departments inside and outside the College of Education, HDL students can customize their program of study to address complex, interdisciplinary topics that deal with current issues in human development and learning across the age spectrum. Students receive expert guidance from academic advisors as well as HDL program faculty in the College's Educational Psychology department.

HDL focus areas that lead to credentials

Early Childhood Focus Area

The Early Childhood Education focus area  is offered to students who are interested in working with young children and leads to the Illinois Gateways Level 5 Early Childhood credential (see below). The coursework is a combination of required coursework for the Human Development and Learning degree in the College of Education as well as additional Educational Psychology (EPSY) courses required for the credential.

Youth Development Focus Area (starting January 2020)

The Youth Development focus area is designed for students who want to become professionals that work with youth in urban contexts. Coursework leads to the Illinois Gateways School Age and Youth Development Credential (see below), and prepares students to create spaces, programs and organizations that develop young people’s emotional, physical, social and intellectual selves, as well as help young people find their voice and place in society.

What are Illinois Gateway Credentials?

Gateways Credentials are symbols of professional achievement that validate knowledge, skills and experience, as well as an individual achievement that you can be proud of. These credentials are awarded and recognized by the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) Bureau of Child Care and Development. They can be used to help with employment decisions in early learning programs.
  • Early Childhood Credential

    For early care and education professionals who have formal education, training, and experience with children (ages 0-8), either in the form of supervised observation or direct work experience. Learn more on the ILGateways website.

  • Youth Development Credential

    A new type of credential specifically for professionals working with school-age youth ages 5-18. Learn more in the ILGateways website.

HDL focus areas that lead to minors

Disability and Human Development Focus Area

Students can choose an area of focus under the framework of Disability Studies by following the minor track in Disability and Human Development. Students will be allowed to complete the minor area of study in Disability and Human Development if they meet the transfer-eligibility criteria at the time of application (minimum GPA 2.50/4.00). A minimum of 2.50/4.00 is required for the minor field.

Law and Society Focus Area

The focus area of Law and Society is a track following the Law and Society minor program. This program is designed to assist students in developing knowledge that would be of value in the pursuit of law school and in careers related to law. The minor gives students interested in law a formal preparatory course of study that provides a helpful degree of direction, discipline and focus.

Social Justice Focus Area

Students can choose an area of focus under the framework of Social Justice by following the minor track in Social Justice. Students will be allowed to complete the minor area of study if they meet the transfer-eligibility criteria at the time of application (minimum GPA 2.50/4.00). A minimum of 2.50/4.00 GPA is required for the minor field. A focus area in Social Justice is designed for students who are interested in gaining experience working with community-based organizations and opportunities to combine their experiences with new skills and strategies for future careers in organizing, non-profits or simply applying a social justice lens to any professional fields.

Focused area based on other UIC minors

HDL students frequently minor in other UIC programs related to human development and support services such as Kinesiology, Museum Studies, and Urban Studies.

Career-oriented HDL focus areas (without minor or credential)

Art Museum Educators

The art museum educator focus area was developed by students interested in working through numerous programs and resources to increase art awareness and appreciation for students of all ages in informal settings.

Child Life Specialist

Child life specialist focus area was developed by students interested in training to eventually become child development experts who work to ensure that life remains as normal as possible for children in health care settings and other challenging environments.

Pre-Law Focus Area

The Pre-Law focus area could aid a student in developing knowledge in areas that are beneficial to pursuing legal education. In addition to foundational courses, UIC also offers courses and programs that are related to the study of law.

Social Work

The social work focus area can prepare students to enter a MSW program upon completing their undergraduate degree. Social work promotes or restores the relationships between people and their environment in order to improve quality of life for individuals, families, communities or organizations.

Zoo Educator

The zoo educator focus area was developed for students with an interest in teaching visitors about the animals kept at the zoo and promoting conservation efforts. Students will focus on developing knowledge of animals, developing programs and instructional products and working with youth.