New PhD in Family Studies Approved

The College of Education and Human Services will offer a new PhD in Family Studies beginning in Fall 2013.  

Family Studies 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 Ph.D. in Family Studies 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 Ph.D. in Family Studies 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 Studies and contributes to the knowledge base of diverse family forms;
  • Develop an in-depth understanding of an area of Family Studies 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.

Students will come to the program from a variety of fields, including education, early intervention, social work, human services, psychology, and nursing.  Family Studies 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 Ph.D. 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
  • African American families and first-generation college students

Students admitted to the program must possess a bachelor’s or master’s degree in a related field and a strong record in previous academic work. The application deadline for the Fall 2013 cohort will be February 1, 2013. 

For more information, please send an email to