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Family Studies Certification Programs with Course Overviews

Find out about degree programs in family studies, as well as professional certifications in this field. Learn details about educational prerequisites and coursework for each type of program. Also find out about continuing education and career options.

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Essential Information

Family studies programs are available at the undergraduate and graduate certificate levels; students can also pursue bachelor's and master's degrees in the field. In general, these programs tend to focus on human and child development, marriage and parenting, family communications and interventional methods. In some cases, these programs may prepare you for voluntary certifications offered by some national organizations.

Certifications in Family Studies

There are three basic certifications in areas related to family studies. The first is a Certified Family Life Educator (CFLE) through the National Council on Family Relations. This certification is an indication to employers and customers that the professional is qualified to educate clients and others in areas of family life. This certification requires at least a bachelor's degree and is provisional until the program graduate has two years of experience.

The second certification is a Child Life Certification from the Child Life Council. Those with this certification are trained to aid children and their families who are experiencing difficult or traumatic events. A bachelor's degree is required for this certification.

The third type of certification is a program in child protection that some states offer. Requirements vary from state to state.

Certificates in Family Studies

Colleges and vocational schools offer undergraduate certificate programs in family studies. Programs range from family mentor training requiring two units, to early childhood development or family studies programs requiring 24 or more credits, which break down to six or more courses. Post-baccalaureate certificate programs in parent education or family support, family therapy, or supervision techniques are also available.

Education Prerequisites

Because family studies certificate programs vary so much, so do the education prerequisites. Career training certificates for entry-level programs may only require applicants to be a legal adult. Graduate-level certificate programs generally require applicants to have obtained a bachelor's degree.

Program Coursework

Coursework is specific to the level and focus of the family studies certificate. Some certificate programs have more courses on the professional aspect of serving families; others focus on psychological needs and counseling approaches. Basic courses for either approach can include:

  • Child development
  • Cultural diversity
  • Communication skills
  • Family systems
  • Family communications
  • Marriage
  • Parenting
  • Life management

Popular Career Options

Students with a certificate in family studies and no degree have possible entry-level careers that include:

  • Activity or recreation director
  • Advocate
  • Community organizer
  • Family support worker
  • Parent mentor

Continuing Education Information

Students may continue on to earn associate, bachelor's, and master's degrees in family studies or related topics like counseling or social work. Higher degrees add job opportunities in administration, counseling, case management, research or grant writing.

Bachelor's Degree in Family Studies

A student may work toward either a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science in Family Studies, and the content is much the same for both. Family studies degree programs prepare graduates for careers helping families improve their lives, both as a unit and as individuals in the unit. The family studies bachelor's degree curriculum provides knowledge of and strategies for working with changes to the needs and features of a family over time and within different environmental frameworks.

Education Prerequisites

There are no special education prerequisites for pursuing a family studies degree other than those required for entrance into the college. However, having taken social studies and psychology courses benefits prospective students. Working or volunteering in an institution, such as a hospital or homeless shelter, is also good preparation.

Program Coursework

Similar family studies curricula across programs is more common than in other fields, because many programs are approved by the National Council on Family Relations (NCFR). Specialized courses include:

  • Marriage
  • Parenting
  • Parent-child relationships
  • Child development
  • Adult development
  • Aging
  • Human sexuality
  • Social science research
  • Interventions

Popular Career Options

Many schools state that the bachelor's degree program is just the foundation for graduate studies, which lead to the most job opportunities. However, a bachelor's degree can open doors to the following careers:

  • Vocational counselor
  • Preschool teacher or supervisor
  • Recreation worker in nursing homes
  • Case manager
  • Director of volunteer services
  • Community educator

Continuing Education Information

Many students are content with the prospects of a bachelor's degree and perhaps the CFLE, but others choose to earn a master's degree because of the additional career options available.

Master's Degree in Family Studies

Students in a master's degree program in family studies focus on developing and implementing services like counseling to support families, or on research. Those with the services focus often choose to also earn one of the certifications discussed earlier.

Education Prerequisites

All master's degree programs require a baccalaureate degree. Master's degree program applicants may already hold certifications, but this is not a requirement. Some university programs offer an incidental master's degree on the way to earning a Ph.D.

Program Coursework

The coursework offered for a master's degree program in family studies depends on the goals of the program. A thesis is usually required, and courses may include:

  • Human development
  • Family systems
  • Social services and policy
  • Community development
  • Community education
  • Research seminar

Popular Career Options

Jobs available to graduates with master's degrees in family studies are the same as those with a bachelor's degree, plus the following additions:

  • Assistant professor
  • Licensed therapist
  • Research associate

Continuing Education Information

Students may go on to earn a Ph.D. in Family Studies. The doctorate gives graduates opportunities to reach full professorships and research leadership positions.

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