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Child Development & Family Science

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Child Development & Family Science
Michaelsen 100
(509) 963-2766

Academic Programs in Child Development and Family Science


 Two adults and 3 small children playing with toys.

A rapidly changing society has presented new and difficult challenges to family life.  The programs in Child Development and Family Science prepare individuals with the knowledge, skills, and perspective they will need to work effectively with families and children to meet these challenges. 

All students who major in a Child Development and Family Science program will complete a multi-quarter practicum experience and engage in faculty-mentored research.

Undergraduate Programs

Major in Child Develoment and Family Science

The Child Development and Family Science program emphasizes skills in interpersonal communication, oral presentation, leadership, problem-solving, and conflict resolution. Students choose to specialize in either Family Science, Child Life, or Child Development.

Family Science is the interdisciplinary study of families and close interpersonal relationships. We focus on understanding the dynamics of families in a changing society, as well as the impact that family interaction has on individual development and well-being. Family Science emphasizes a systems perspective in helping families build healthy relationships and preventing problems before they occur. Graduates are prepared to work in community social service agencies, to provide family life education, or to pursue graduate school in family science, social work, marriage and family therapy, or other related fields. 
Two adults and one child playing on the floor

Students in the Child Life specialization learn skills to work with children and their families in diverse settings, and particularly in times of crisis. Child Life specialists are child development experts who help children and families cope in medical settings such as hospitals. They provide education about medical diagnoses and treatments and promote coping through procedural support, play, and therapeutic activities. Graduates of the child life specialization are prepared to pursue child life graduate studies, internships, and certification as Certified Child Life Specialists. 

Child Development is the study of how children grow physically, emotionally, socially, and cognitively from conception to adulthood. Students in the specialization apply child development theory to the practice of helping children across diverse settings, including child welfare and social service organizations. Child Development students take several applied skills courses taught by clinicians. In these courses, students develop therapeutic skills and are well-prepared to work with children and families in many settings following graduation. 

Declaring a Major 

Students wishing to declare a major in Child Development and Family Science must be incoming first-year or transfer students or have a cumulative GPA of 2.8 (Note: The Child Life specialization requires a 3.0 GPA). Child Develoment and Family Science majors must maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.7 or higher to remain in the major and must earn a “C” or higher in all courses used to satisfy the major.  

Complete the Major Application Form and send it to Dr. Amy Claridge.

Minor in Family Science or Child Development

Many professions involve direct or indirect contact with children and families. For instance, counselors, psychologists, social service workers, teachers, nutritionists, public health officials, attorneys, law enforcement officers, and others may interact with children or with parents in their practice. Students pursuing careers where they will have contact with children and families will be more successful if they have basic understanding of child development and family processes and should consider a minor in Family Science or Child Development. To apply for a minor, please complete the application form and contact Dr. Amy Claridge. 

Graduate Program

The graduate program in Child Development and Family Science aims to prepare students to work in leadership and administrative positions in family and social service agencies or in pediatric medical settings as Child Life Specialists. Students in the Child Development and Family Science Master's program have multiple opportunities for service learning through collaborative research projects, program design, and supervised internships. Learn more about the Family and Child Life graduate program.

For information about the Child Develoment and Family Science program, contact Dr. Amy Claridge.

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