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Online Masters Degree in Child and Family Services: Program Info

Get info about online programs in child and family services. Read about program requirements, course topics and degree levels, and check out career and continuing education options.

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Essential Information

Child and family services degree programs are available online at the master's level. These programs may be called child and family studies or marriage and family therapy. Students can specialize in several areas like education and youth development. These programs are available in fully-online formats, but internship or practicum requirements must be completed in person. A thesis is also required depending on your program. Depending on your career path, students may need to complete licensure requirements.

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Master's Degrees in Child and Family Services

Child and family services master's degree programs available online lead to Master of Science in Child and Family Studies, which focuses on education and prevention, or an M.S. in Marriage and Family Therapy, focusing on counseling and intervention. Specializations such as family and consumer sciences education, family financial planning and youth development are also offered. Integrating knowledge and ideas with practical applications, students learn skills and methods to improve families' personal satisfaction about themselves and their relationships with other family members.

Information and Requirements

A master's degree in child and family services consists of about 30-40 credit hours. The online materials are presented asynchronously, so students can study the archived lectures and turn in assignments at the most convenient time as long as certain deadlines are met. Students interact with their instructors and colleagues through online discussion forums, chat rooms and e-mails.

Common Child and Family Services Courses

The curriculum of the master's degree in child and family services is composed of core courses and specialization courses. Some credits also come from practicum, internship or thesis work.

Family Systems

How families operate over the course of the family life cycle is examined. Important transitional periods are highlighted as well as the importance of financial planning during times of trouble and strife. The unique dynamic of families with adolescent-aged children is emphasized through the study of current topics involving adolescents and their families.

Couple, Marriage and Family Therapy and Methods

The history, principles, ideas and methods of marriage and family therapy are studied in depth. The differences between therapy for an individual and therapy for a couple or family are identified. Therapeutic strategies and procedures are used to help heal familial bonds and relationships.

Program Design, Implementation and Assessment

Students learn effective ways of evaluating programs used to aid children and families. Theoretical and practical aspects of the creation and outcome appraisal of therapeutic family programs are examined. The cultivation of positive change through result-oriented community programs is highlighted.


Career Information

Completion of a master's degree program in child and family services opens the door to careers as social workers or teachers for middle school or high school, particularly in family and consumer science. A career as a marriage and family therapist is also attainable, though states may require extra counseling licensure.

The BLS reported that 294,080 child, family and school social workers earned an average yearly salary of $46,610, and the 32,070 marriage and family therapists averaged a yearly salary of $53,520 as of May 2015 (www.bls.gov). Middle school and secondary school teachers' (except special and career/technical education) average earnings were $58,760 and $60,440 per year, respectively.

The BLS predicted an occupational growth of 6% (as fast as average for all occupations) for child, family and school social workers, 15% (much faster than average) for marriage and family therapists, 6% (average) for middle school teachers and high school teachers (except special education and career/technical education) between 2014-2024.

Continuing Education Information

Though uncommon, doctorate-level instruction in child and family services is available through a Doctor of Philosophy in Marriage and Family Therapy. This advanced degree program is for those with ambitions of being a family therapy professor, clinician, manager or researcher.

There are several online master's degree programs available in child and family services, usually combining fully-online coursework with in-person internships. Courses cover such topics as family systems, family therapy and social program design.

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