Department of Family Studies & Community Development

The family is the fundamental unit in contemporary society. Family science is a discipline grounded in research that enhances knowledge and understanding of the family. Healthy family functioning strengthens individuals, groups, and society.

Our undergraduate and graduate programs foster a multidisciplinary and multicultural understanding of families, communities, and service systems. Through coursework and experiential learning opportunities, our students study individual and family development, dynamics within families, action-oriented and policy-relevant research, and the interactions between families and society. We encourage civic responsibility and professional development through required community engagement opportunities that broaden our students' communication and critical thinking skills.

Professional Certifications

The department is affiliated with the National Council on Family Relations, the only national program to certify family life educators. After completing required coursework, family and human services undergraduate students may apply for provisional certification as family life educators. Full certification may be obtained as soon as students document sufficient work experience in family life education.

The Certified Child Life Specialist credential, issued by the Association of Child Life Professionals, is the exclusive certification for the profession. The Introduction to Child Life Track in the family and human services major prepares students for certification and careers as child life specialists.

Beyond the Classroom

Family and human services students are required to participate in service learning and internship courses. FMST 387 Community Services for Families offers group-based experiential learning in the area of program development. Students work in small groups in the community for 30 to 60 hours while learning new skills and theories in the classroom. Internships are individually based experiential learning courses that require a combination of classroom and field-based hours. Student internships include a minimum of 120 field-based hours. Specific sites are selected from over 75 approved sites.

Five Year Programs

Earn a Combined Bachelor's and Master's Degree

Interested in earning an undergraduate and graduate degree in just five years? Learn more about our B.S./M.S. programs:

Learn more about our B.S./M.A. program:

About Our People

By the Numbers


We offer more than 75 approved internship sites for our students.


First and only graduate child life program in the mid-Atlantic area.


Two dual-degree programs. You can complete both a bachelor's and master's in 5 years.

News & Events

"Animal Clinic" will run at the University Child Care Center in April

 In April the Department of Family Studies and Community Development willl partner with the University Child Care Center to run an interactive and educational activity called the "Animal Clinic"that aims to help children understand healthcare at their developmental level. Five graduate students in the Child Life, Administration and Family Collaboration (M.S.) program will guide the children through various stations where they act out the role of a healthcare professional providing medical care to a stuffed animal. This invaluable partnership benefits both the children and the Child Life students in training.


To learn more about the collaboration, click here.

Spring 2018 Panel of Professionals 

The Department of Family Studies & Community Development hosts the Panel of Professionals event bi-annually. A diverse group of alumni with varying years of experience and careers discuss their exposure within the field and experiences with graduate school, and provide insightful advice for current junior and senior students embarking on their own journey into the field. 


Our Spring 2018 Panel of Professionals was held on Friday, March 9th from 2:00-4:00 PM in LA2210. Click to learn more about about our other workshops and conferences. 

Graduate Students Featured as Columnists in the ACLP Bulletin

Two graduate students in the Child Life, Administration and Family Collaboration (M.S.) program were featured as columnists in the Winter 2018 issue of the Association of Child Life Professionals (ACLP) bulletin.


In the Changing Perspectives column, Annemarie McGraw highlights the unique needs of children in a hospital setting who are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in her column "Acknowledging a Need for Autism-Specific Education." In the Beyond the Classroom column, Allyson Fiery advocates for the importance of having a child life specialist within the healthcare team in her column "The Significant Impact of Patient Advocacy and Family-Centered Care in a Healthcare Setting." If you have a ACLP membership, you can click here to read the full publications.