Family studies programs focus on human and child development, marriage and parenting, family communications and interventional methods. There are 3 basic professional certifications: the Certified Family Life Educator (CFLE) by the National Council on Family Relations, the Child Life Certification (CLC) from the Child Life Council and child protection designations. The CFLE is provisional until a graduate has had two years of working experience. CLC holders are trained to aid children and families who have or are experiencing difficult or traumatic events. Child protection credentials are only offered by some states.
Colleges and vocational schools also have certificate programs that are 2 units to 6 or more courses long and cover mentor training, family therapy, life management and supervision techniques. Entry qualifiers differ by institution; some mandate a bachelor's degree, while others only have a minimum age limit. Bachelor's-level degrees are either conferred as a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) or a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Family Studies. Lecture topics include counseling approaches, interventions and strategies, family life-span and environmental frameworks.
Bachelor's degree applicants must have a high school diploma and appropriate standardized test scores. Master's students learn about services development and implementation and gain research skills through completing a thesis project. Enrollment necessitates a bachelor's degree. Stipulations for a child protection certification or credentials from a vocational institution or college vary.
Certificates in Family Studies
Certification coursework is specific to the level and concentration focus of the designation. Some programs have more classes on the professional aspect of serving families; others are central on psychological needs and counseling approaches. Commonalities across the board are:
- Child development
- Cultural diversity
- Communication skills
- Family systems
- Family communications
Bachelor's Degree in Family Studies
Many bachelor's programs have curricula approved by the National Council on Family Relations (NCFR). Specialized subjects include:
- Parent-child relationships
- Child and adult development
- Human sexuality
- Social science research
Master's Degree in Family Studies
Master's-level coursework contents depend on the goals of the program. Typical topics discussed are:
- Human development
- Family systems
- Social services and policy
- Community development and education
- Research seminar
Popular Career Options
Graduates are eligible for a multitude of positions in various settings. Some individuals work as vocational counselors, case managers, recreation directors and community educators. Master's degree holders can seek employment as assistant professors, licensed therapists, and research associates. Doctoral graduates have access to full professorships and research leadership positions. Popular entry-level career roles include:
- Community organizer
- Family support worker
- Parent mentor
Continuing Education Information
Individuals can continue their education in advanced degree programs for administration, counseling, case management, research or grant writing.
Individuals seeking a career in family therapy would need to complete a certificate, bachelor's, or master's degree program in family studies. These programs prepare students for the professional certifications needed for this career.