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Family and Consumer Sciences

College of Education and Professional Studies

Academic Programs in Child Development and Family Science


A rapidly changing society has presented new and difficult challenges to family life.  The progams in the Department of 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 Family and Child Life program will complete a multi-quarter practicum experience and engage in faculty-mentored research.


Major in Family and Child Life

The Family and Child Life Major 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. Learn more about the Family Science Major and Minor Here!

  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. Learn more about the Child Life Major Here!

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. Learn more about the Child Development Major, Minor, or Certificate Here!

Students wishing to declare a major in Family and Child Life 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). Family and child life 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 family and child life major.

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. 


The graduate program in Family and Child Life 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 Family and Child Life Master's program have multiple opportunities for service learning through collaborative research projects, program design, and supervised internship. Learn more about the Family and Child Life graduate program here!

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

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