Family development professionals often assist families with life and dynamic management. Those interested in this career field often pursue a bachelor's or master's degree in the area. At the undergraduate level, students are introduced to family communication and human development concepts. They are also able to choose courses based on their individual goals. Applicants must have a high school diploma or General Education Development (GED) equivalent and submit American College Testing (ACT) or Scholastic Aptitude Testing (SAT) scores to be considered for admission.
Master's courses discuss family structure and interaction within various environments, communities and cultures. Concentration options are offered. Completion of a research-intensive thesis project is required for graduation. Prospective students must have a bachelor's degree, acceptable Graduate Records Exam (GRE) scores, letters of recommendation and a written statement of purpose. Some institutions mandate a minimum number of related preliminary courses.
Bachelor of Science in Child and Family Development
In a four-year family development degree program students learn about issues and topics related to public policy and family dynamics and growth. They may also learn about conflict management within a family unit. This curriculum typically combines general education requirements in the humanities and sciences with core classes covering topics like:
- Family life education and global ecology
- Child development
- Family relationships in later life
- Family crises and resiliency
- Culture, gender and families
- Child abuse
Master of Science in Family Development
Master's-level family development programs are generally two years in length, and courses are research-focused and progressive. Most students create their own concentration based on what topic they wish to research and then choose courses that fit in that category. Such classes could include advanced family life theory and other subjects such as:
- Family relationships
- Families across a lifespan
- Child-adult relationships
- Families in diverse societies
- Family advocacy
Popular Career Options
Graduates often find employment with social services agencies, child care and assisted-living facilities, religious institutions and community organizations. Some popular job titles are:
- Elderly activity director
- Social services case manager or director
- Mental health worker
- Family life educator
- Family case manager
- Adult education instructor
Continuing Education Information
Students may choose to continue their education by enrolling in doctoral programs, which can lead to post-secondary teaching or facility supervisor positions. The voluntary Certified Family Life Educator (CFLE) designation is conferred by the National Council on Family Relations and is nationally-recognized. Candidates must pass the associated exam to receive the certification.
Students interested in family structures, interactions and development may be interested in pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Child and Family Development and a Master of Science in Family Development degree. These programs may prepare students for careers in social services, child care and assisted living.