Lifespan Development & Educational Sciences

Kent State University’s School of Lifespan Development and Educational Sciences offers three Bachelor Degrees: American Sign Language to English Interpreting; Human Development and Family Studies; and Special Education.

Undergraduate Programs

American Sign Language/English Interpreting

We also offer the baccalaureate degree in ASL/English Interpreting that prepares students to work with children and adults who have hearing loss or are deaf. The interpreting courses and instructors prepare students to interpret in educational and community settings. Graduates receive licensure from the state of Ohio to interpret in pre-K-12.Students also receive instruction and practice necessary to interpret in community settings, including medical and mental health venues, social service offices, job sites, and universities to name a few.

Human Development And Family Studies (HDFS)

The Human Development and Family Studies Program offers an interdisciplinary approach to individual and family development across the lifespan. All students complete an internship or practicum as part of their academic requirements. We prepare graduates for professional careers that focus on helping diverse individuals and families to flourish in a global society, which can include children, youth, and adults in social and human service settings. We do this by providing excellent teaching, research, and community outreach intended to strengthen families and promote optimal development from birth through late life. Each student selects one of below five concentrations:

Case Management for Individuals and Families:

Provides training for performing assessment, advocacy and case management in a variety of social services settings such as county departments of job and family services, rehabilitation centers, juvenile court and area agencies on aging.

Child and Youth Development:

Prepares students for working with children and youth in nonschool settings, such as: residential treatment, group care, community youth services, foster care and after-school programs. The curriculum is aligned with professional competencies established by the Child and Youth Care Certification Board Inc. and prepares students for provisional certification as child and youth care professionals.

Family Life Education:

Prepares students for providing educational programming to parents, couples and families in settings such as domestic violence and homeless shelters, social services agencies, Head Start and Help Me Grow programs. The curriculum was developed using the standards set by the National Council on Family Relations to enable graduates to apply to become Certified Family Life Educators (CFLE). The CFLE designation provides documentation of the high-quality of the academic and professional preparation that graduates of the Human Development and Family Studies Program receive.


A concentration in gerontology prepares graduates for professional positions in the diverse field of aging. The gerontology curriculum is designed to provide students with a solid understanding of typical age-related changes and how those changes affect a person physiologically, psychologically and socially.

Nursing Home Administration:

The nursing home administration program at Kent State is focused on preparing you to become a successful professional in the field of long-term health care. The job market for graduates is very strong due to the rapidly increasing number of aging Americans. The number of older adults living in nursing homes assisted living and retirement communities is predicted to double in the next 10 years.

Human Services Technology:

This concentration is available only to students who have completed the associate degree in human services technology at Kent State University at Salem.

Special Education

The Special Education Program is dedicated to preparing tomorrow’s teachers of exceptional learners. The program consists of three teacher licensure areas for ages 5 through 21:

Deaf Education:

The Deaf Education program provides students with the coursework and field experiences necessary to be licensed in the field of special education in the area of deaf education. Students pursuing this program will be prepared to teach learners ages 3-21 who have been identified with a hearing loss (deaf or hard of hearing). Please contact Dr. Pam Luft or Dr. Karen Kritzer for more information.

Mild Moderate:

The Mild/Moderate Educational Needs concentration prepares prospective special educators to become licensed by the State of Ohio to teach students with mild/moderate disabilities in any grade, K-12. Students with mild/moderate disabilities are primarily distinguished from students with more severe disabilities by greater participation in the general academic curriculum. Mild/moderate disabilities include (but are not limited to) learning disabilities, emotional and behavioral disorders, ADHD, mild intellectual disabilities, and (when appropriate) autism spectrum disorder. Additionally, the Mild/Moderate concentration prepares you to meet highly qualified teacher (HQT) requirements for all core academic subject areas (grades K-6), as well as Reading and English/Language Arts (grades 7-12). Students interested in obtaining HQT status in additional 7-12 academic areas (Math, Science, Social Studies) will work with their Faculty Advisor to set a program of study that includes courses specific to HQT requirements for the specific content area.

Moderate Intensive:

The Moderate/Intensive Educational Needs concentration is designed to provide coursework and field experiences necessary to become licensed through the State of Ohio to teach students who require intensive and ongoing special education support. Most often, these will be students with intellectual disabilities, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), multiple disabilities and complex health impairments. The Moderate/Intensive concentration prepares you to meet highly qualified teacher (HQT) requirements for all core academic subject areas (grades K-6), as well as Reading and English/Language Arts (grades 7-12). In addition to working in schools or educational settings, some M/I graduates secure employment in center-based or community employment or residential agencies, providing services to individuals with disabilities.

The National Center on Personnel Studies in Special Education reports a critical national shortage of special education teachers, administrators, and related personnel. More than 50,000 teachers are needed to solve this shortage, with 98 percent of the nation’s largest school districts reporting shortages.
Jobs await you in Ohio and across the country.


Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

The ASD minor is an interdisciplinary program between Special Education and Speech Pathology & Audiology. This minor prepares students for understanding and addressing the needs of individuals with ASD across the spectrum and across the lifespan, in varied contexts including general and special education classrooms and community settings. This minor is particularly relevant for students majoring in special education, speech pathology and audiology, pre-occupational and physical therapy, psychology, human development and family studies, and other related disciplines. The ASD minor includes 5 courses.

Early Intervention (EI)

The EI minor is primarily intended for individuals interested in working with young children from birth to age three who have or are at risk for developmental delays and disabilities across a variety of settings.  Students who complete the EI minor are eligible to apply for the state-issued Early Intervention certificate from the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities and apply for Developmental Specialist positions in agencies that provide EI Services. The EI minor includes 7 courses.


A minor in Gerontology provides students with knowledge of the aging process, and how these changes affect individuals psychologically, physiologically and socially. By 2050 it is estimated that one in five people will be over the age of 65, meaning there will be an increase in demand for individuals with an understanding of the aging process. This minor allows students to acquire knowledge in Gerontology and aging, which will enhance their ability to work with the aging population.

Mild/Moderate Special Education (MMSE)

The MMSE minor provides essential knowledge for students aspiring to teach, work with, or understand the five to seven million school-age children with mild to moderate disabilities and their families. Mild to moderate disabilities include learning disabilities (e.g., dyslexia, dyscalculia), ADHD, emotional or behavioral disorders, mild intellectual disabilities, and (in some cases) autism spectrum disorder. Through high-quality learning experiences, MMSE minors will gain unique knowledge and skills related to K-12 special education; effective differentiated instruction and behavior management within inclusive settings; interprofessional teaming and collaboration; school-family partnerships; and the academic, social, and emotional characteristics and needs of students with mild to moderate disabilities. The MMSE minor includes 6 courses.

Nonprofit Studies

Nonprofit organizations play an increasingly important role in society at the local, national and international levels. Those organizations need employees who are prepared to meet the needs of the diverse population being served. Through this program of study, students pursuing an undergraduate degree in any academic area are able to gain knowledge and skills which will enhance their employability. The minor can be completed entirely online, with the exception of a three-credit hour internship which must be completed at a nonprofit organization.