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A Dark Horse Winner

Assistant Professor Erin Ruth Baker, third from left at the table, shares ideas with her students in "Lifespan Development," one of the courses that make up the Human Development major. (Photo by Brian Busher)

ALBANY, N.Y. (March 6, 2018) — Back in Fall 2016, when the School of Education unveiled its first undergraduate major in some 40 years — the first ever in something other than teacher education — it anticipated interest from students in a range of academic fields, education-based and otherwise.

What it received was the type of clamor usually reserved for new offerings in cybersecurity, biomed engineering and computer game technology.

Based in the School’s Division of Educational Psychology and Methodology, the Bachelor of Science in Human Development enrolled 7 students when it opened in Fall 2016. But it was just getting started: Enrollments increased to 115 in Spring 2017, 240 in Fall 2017 and 288 this spring.

One of the chief attractions of the major is its applicability to future employment in a number of fields. All students take classes in human development, psychology, education, individual differences, research methods and statistics, a combination that draws interest from undergrads considering careers in nearly all areas of human services. But the major also provides excellent preparation for any of UAlbany’s graduate programs in education.

“It prepares students for excellence in a whole variety of fields — law, psychology, medicine, social work — anything involving human relations,” said Education Dean Robert Bangert-Drowns. “But for some students it can be a ‘Pre-Ed’ — a powerful preparation for many careers in education and mental health.”

Another student-centered appeal of the major to students, Bangert-Drowns said, is its attention to social justice: “With ‘Human Development,’ faculty and students are expressing dedication to enhancing learning and well-being in an inclusive society that promotes human potential across the lifespan.”

One of the program’s core instructors, Assistant Professor Erin Ruth Baker, said that, from the program’s beginning, courses in the major were greeted with respect and enthusiasm. “I’ve found that the students with whom I interact are mature, excited and passionate about learning,” she said.

“The large majority of them have very clear career goals, and plan to continue on to graduate school in fields such as medicine, psychology, etc. Many of these students matriculate into our combined BS/MS programs. Overall, they care about what they’re learning and take their education seriously.”

Upon admission to the program, students declare a concentration. The most popular ones this semester are Counseling Psychology, followed by Educational Psychology and Special Education. A fourth concentration focuses on Peer Assistance and Leadership.

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A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral, and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciences, business, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare, and sociology taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.