UC's New Four-Year Human Development Degree is First of Its Kind

Program Offers a More Business-Centric Approach to Human Service Professions
Friday, April 20, 2018

A new Bachelor of Science degree now offered by the University of Cincinnati is believed to be the first of its kind in the world.
The Human Development and Community Engagement (HDCE) Program is described as an interdisciplinary program that incorporates elements of social science, psychology and business. The program is aimed at providing socially conscious students the practical skills needed to achieve results in their chosen field. It is described as an alternative to more traditional, single-track programs such as social service and teaching.

“The problem with many human development-oriented programs is they lack a business component,” explained Kelli Jette, Ph.D., who developed the program. “Regardless of what field you go into, everything depends on money and good management, or ultimately it will fail. HDCE teaches grant writing, fiscal solvency, research, data collection and related skills. It is designed to offer students more professional options, after graduation.”

Jette, an educational psychology professor, said that UC first approached her with the idea for HDCE in 2014. In between teaching her existing classes in the School of Education, she went to work developing the new program, which involved obtaining the cooperation of several departments.


“HDCE is a unique program,” she said. “We tried to encompass UC’s urban initiative and promote a sense of stewardship among the many institutions serving the Greater Cincinnati area and beyond.”
Among the advantages offered by HDCE are:

  • Flexibility and transferability
  • An embedded minor that focuses on the individual’s area of interest 
  • Authentic real-world experiences in field placements
  • Classroom experiences tailored to the student’s field experience

Despite similarities to other types of social service and education programs, HDCE emphasizes strong theoretical foundations as well as practical and authentic learning experiences. For example, students will collaborate with community programs and nonprofit agencies in urban city centers that serve communities, families, and individuals. 

“If a student is passionate about working in domestic violence, we will place them in a relevant program,” Jette said. “If somebody wants to work with at-risk youth, we might place them with a Boys & Girls Club. If somebody wants to work in health care, we might find something for them at a local clinic. The idea is to foster their understanding of how nonprofit organizations and agencies function as businesses.”
The HDCE is a program of the University of Cincinnati’s School of Education, which is ranked 93rd among the Nation’s Top Schools for Education, 30th for Best Online Education Programs, and 20th for online programs for veterans, according to U.S.News & World Report rankings. The School of Education is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).


For more information about the Human Development and Community Engagement Program, visit http://cech.uc.edu/education/undergrad-programs/hdce.html.

For information about Kelli Jette, Ph.D., visit