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PhD in Family Science and Human Development

Director: David Schwarzer, PhD
Office: University Hall, Room 3194
Phone: 973-655-4446

Sign up to learn more about the PhD in Family Science and Human Development – Applications for Fall 2020 are due by February 1, 2020


Family Science and Human Development is a multi- and interdisciplinary field, drawing on a range of social science disciplines including sociology, social work, education, gerontology, and community and developmental psychology. The PhD in Family Science and Human Development program considers family life within larger socio-cultural contexts and explores how issues of power, privilege and social justice interact to differentially impact family configurations. The program’s unique strengths include:

  • Individually focused areas of study sustained throughout the coursework.
  • Integrating theory, research and practice with a focus on the local context.
  • Preparation of scholars and practitioners as advocates for positive change for family well-being.

The PhD in Family Science and Human Development program prepares students to:

  • Bring an interdisciplinary, critical lens to the analysis of challenges and issues that impact the well-being of families across the life course.
  • Conduct research that furthers the field of Family Science and Human Development and contributes to the knowledge base of diverse family forms.
  • Develop an in-depth understanding of an area of Family Science and Human Development of their own choosing through focused study.
  • Be effective advocates in their chosen areas of expertise for policies, practices and interventions that would support the development and well-being of families across the life course.

Due to the multi- and interdisciplinary nature of the program, our students come from a variety of fields, including family studies, human development, education, social work, human services, psychology, disability and rehabilitation services, gerontology and sociology. Family Science and Human Development professionals focus on the strengths and challenges of the family unit, examining a diverse range of family issues and seeking solutions to family problems. The applied, multidisciplinary focus of the discipline makes PhD graduates very attractive to employers in higher education, government, and nonprofit and private sectors. Graduates of the program will be prepared to pursue a wide range of professional opportunities as faculty members in colleges and universities, program administrators, researchers and evaluators, and policymakers, and positions in organizations focusing on children, youth, adults, older adults and families.

Students admitted to the program will have the opportunity to work with faculty members pursuing research in a wide variety of areas related to families, including:

  • Cultural and social issues affecting parenting and families.
  • Sibling relationships.
  • Relational aggression and bullying among adolescents.
  • Intimate partner violence.
  • Immigrant families.
  • Transition to young adulthood.
  • Aging family relationships and intergenerational dynamics.
  • Substance abuse, depression and suicide among young people.
  • LGBT-headed families.
  • Parenting.
  • Family stress.
  • African American families and first-generation college students.
  • Evaluation research.
  • Remarriage and step-family dynamics.

For more information on our faculty members and their areas of research, please click here: Faculty Member Bios

Program Requirements

Admission Information

Admissions criteria to be considered for the doctoral program include a master’s degree in a related field and a strong record in previous academic work.

Students entering with a family studies master’s degree will complete a minimum of 48 semester hours. Students entering with a “related field” master’s degree may be required to complete up to nine additional credits of prerequisite coursework to provide proper preparation for doctoral study in the field of family studies. The number of extra credits will be determined by the Doctoral Program Director in conjunction with the PhD Admissions Committee based upon each student’s master’s degree coursework.

Following completion of the 48 semester hours of coursework and the successful advancement to doctoral candidacy, students must complete a minimum of 12 semester hours of dissertation research. Upon successful completion and defense of the dissertation, students will be awarded a PhD.

Application Requirements:

The application deadline for the Fall 2020 cohort will be February 1st, 2020. To apply online, please visit The Graduate School website.

Applicants must submit the following by the February 1st, 2020 deadline:

  • Application.
  • Transcripts.
  • GRE scores (no more than five years old).
  • Resume.
  • Three letters of reference:  At least one from a former university instructor.
  • Statement of Purpose: Please submit a personal statement of no more than three pages (double-spaced) that addresses the following:
    1. How your prior experiences have prepared you to enter a PhD program.
    2. Why you are interested in Montclair State’s Family Science and Human Development PhD program.
    3. How your educational/research experiences at Montclair State University will contribute to your professional and career plans.
    4. Indicate up to three faculty members in Family Science and Human Development with whom you are interested in working and explain why (Faculty Member Bios).
    5. Your long-term professional and career plans.
  • Scholarly Writing Sample Please submit a document you wrote alone or took the lead in writing. For example: a literature review; an honor’s thesis; or a manuscript published, accepted for publication, or submitted for publication. If you do not have a scientific writing sample, please write a 3-4 page (double-spaced) literature review, incorporating citations from the scientific literature, on a topic related to family studies that you are interested in pursuing as part of your graduate studies.