Human development and family sciences, the sixth-most popular major at Oregon State University, is now offered online through OSU’s Extended Campus, allowing students from across Oregon to complete a bachelor’s degree without setting foot on the Corvallis campus.

Human development and family services joins 10 other accredited majors that can be completed through Extended Campus, including political science and natural resources.

Alexis Walker, who chairs the Human Development and Family Sciences Department within the College of Health and Human Sciences, said providing an online version of the program gives more flexibility for students and ties in with OSU’s mission as a land grant university.

“If you go around this state, people will say to you, ‘Can I study that here and not leave my community?’” she said. “It’s our responsibility to get them to have access.”

Walker said a majority of the department majors are women, which fits well with the Extended Campus demographic.

All major coursework, as well as most baccalaureate core classes required for the program, can be completed online. Walker said the only bacc-core class not available through OSU’s Extended Campus — Interpersonal Communications — can be taken online through Linn-Benton Community College.

About 800 students major in human development and family sciences at OSU. The major has options of study in child development and in human services; only the general program is available online.

Walker said the major is a gateway into graduate programs in teaching, psychology and social work, as well as jobs with community and state agencies.

Admitting that she was at first skeptical of online courses, Walker has become a champion for OSU’s Extended Campus and feels online instruction has been successful in her department.

“Sometimes (online courses) can even be more engaging for people,” she said.

Human development and family services faculty recently approved coursework for an online minor; Walker hopes it will go into effect by the fall term.

Contact reporter Gail Cole at 541-758-9510 or

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