The University of Southern Mississippi

Find Your Degree

Still Looking?

Please contact us so we can help!
Call today: (601) 266-5938

Get Child and Family Studies degree from Online at Southern Miss!

Child and Family Studies MS
Program Overview

Are you interested in working with families in diverse settings? If so, are you willing to learn and apply the skills necessary to promote quality of life and to serve as an effective advocate for families across their lifespans?

The University of Southern Mississippi is here to help you reach that goal. Our online Master of Science Degree in Child and Family Studies is now offered fully online. This Child and Family Studies degree is designed for working professionals who struggle to fit traditional classroom learning into their busy schedules. This convenient and affordable online degree will advance and improve the careers of professionals who already create positive changes in organizations, agencies, and educational settings. Join Online at Southern Miss – your life, plus college.


Your Future

Check out some of the jobs our graduates landed after earning this degree.

  • Certified Family Life Educator
  • Early Childhood Educator
  • Preschool Teacher/Director
  • Substance Abuse Specialist
  • Sexual Health Educator
  • Foster Care Coordinator
  • Elementary, Middle, and High School Educator
  • Nonprofit Program Manager
  • Family Program Administrator
  • Child Life Specialist
  • College Instructor
  • Resource Specialist
  • Developmental Play Specialist

Your future starts at Southern Miss!


Admissions requirements are found in the Southern Miss graduate bulletin. Please see the Southern Miss website, Office of Graduate Studies page, for University admission details and Child and Family studies page for online master’s program details.

Apply online here:

The following items are required and must be submitted to the Graduate School for admission consideration:

1.  Online application

2.  Application fee (Please note that your application cannot be reviewed until the application fee is paid.)

3.  Transcripts from all colleges/universities attended

4.  GRE scores

5. Three professional references:  We prefer at least two from former professors and no more than one from an employer. If you have been out of school for several years, please contact the department to discuss other possibilities for reference letters. Please ask your recommenders to address such things as:  academic abilities and potential for graduate work; writing skills; leadership; motivation and work ethic; emotional stability and maturity; respect for diversity; and interpersonal skills

6.  Letter of intent/statement of purpose: This is a 2-3 page essay telling us about yourself, your educational training and experiences in working with children and families, your decision to pursue a master’s degree in child and family studies, and your professional goals

7.  Resume identifying relevant academic and work experiences

Students who meet the requirements for regular admission to the Child and Family Studies online master’s program usually have a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution of higher learning in child and family studies or a related field of study. They have typically earned an overall grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale), as well as a 3.25 GPA in the last 60 hours of coursework.


Degree Requirements

(37 hours non-thesis option; 37 hours thesis option)

Students must take 18 hours of 600 level or higher courses.

  • FAM 500 – Orientation to Child and Family Studies MS Program 1 hr.
  • CD 650 – Theories in Child and Family Studies 3 hrs.
  • FAM 650 – Individual and Family Life Cycle Development 3 hrs.
  • FAM 603 – Parenting Across the Lifespan 3 hrs.
  • FAM 633 – Adolescence and the Family System 3 hrs.
  • FAM 652 – Marriage Education 3 hrs.
  • FAM 675 – Practice of Family Research 3 hrs.
  • FAM 605 – Family Advocacy 3 hrs.
  • CD 652 – Advanced Child Development 3 hrs.
  • FAM 640 – Family Life Education 3 hrs.
  • FAM 653 – Adulthood and Aging in the Family System 3 hrs. or
  • CD 654 Seminar in Child Development 3 hrs
  • FAM 601 – Program Evaluation and Assessment 3 hrs.
  • FAM 690 – Practicum in Child and Family Studies 3-9 hrs. (3 hrs. required) or
  • CD 698 – Thesis 1-6 hrs. for a total of 6 hrs. or
  • FAM 698 – Thesis 1-6 hrs. for a total of 6 hrs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Additional course fees may apply.  Fees range between $20 – $60.

Students are admitted to the program in the fall semester and progress through a specific sequence of courses as a cohort.  For full consideration, you are strongly urged to complete your entire application by the priority deadline of April 15 but we will continue to accept applications until slots are filled or June 30.

All application materials are submitted online to the Graduate School, Prospective students must complete the application form on the website, pay the application fee, and then submit the following materials:

  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE) test scores
  • Official transcripts from any post-secondary schools attended
  • Three letters of recommendation
    • Preference is given to letters written by faculty members who are familiar with the applicant’s academic abilities and are qualified to assess readiness for graduate study. We also accept letters from supervisors or employers. Recommendation letters should be professionals who can comment on the applicant’s verbal and written abilities, motivation, self-reliance, maturity, and ability to work with others.
  • A two to three page statement of purpose
  • Resume

This is a 2-3 page essay telling us about yourself and why you are interested in the program, your educational training and experiences working with children and families, your decision to pursue a master’s degree in child and family studies, and your professional goals.

Regular admission to the Graduate School for study in the master of science degree programs in the Department of Child and Family Studies requires acceptable scores on the Graduate Record Examination; a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution with an overall grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.00 (on a 4.0 scale) and a 3.25 on the last 60 hours of coursework; strong letters of recommendation by professionals qualified to evaluate your potential for success in the graduate program; a strong statement of purpose, and relevant work experience.

All application materials are considered collectively to determine an applicant’s strengths and potential areas of concern. Our goal is to have a cohort of students who are strong academically but will also provide diverse perspectives to the program.

Do I need anything special for the program?

Students will need a computer, broadband access to the Internet, and a Web camera and microphone.

What courses are offered during the program?

The program is designed for students who work and want to go to school part-time. We offer two courses a semester (fall, spring, and summer), with the goal of each student graduating in two years.

What can I expect when I start taking classes?

Courses in the online CFSMS program involve extensive reading, writing, and scholarly discussions related to lifespan development and family relationships from systemic and bioecological perspectives. Class activities may be asynchronous or synchronous involving class discussion boards, instant messaging, and/or video chats. During their second year in the program, students choose to complete either a supervised practicum or a thesis. The practicum experience is arranged on an individual basis with each student, and in some instances the practicum can be completed at the student’s current job site; however, the practicum must be a new professional experience. Students who plan to continue their education in doctoral study are encouraged to complete a thesis (1-6 credit hours), which involves independent research under the guidance of their faculty thesis chair and committee.

Will I have to take a comprehensive exam in order to graduate?

Students are required to take a comprehensive examination during their final semester in the program. Students are expected to complete the exam within a specific time limit and return to the Comps Committee Coordinator. Depending on adequacy of the student’s responses, the student may pass, fail, be asked to re-write sections of the exam (which will then be evaluated), and/or meet with the committee for an oral examination. The only exceptions to this process are those students who elect to complete a thesis, in which case they will be expected to sit for an oral examination. A failed comprehensive examination cannot be retaken until its next regular administration and a student may repeat the examination only once.


What are the costs, and how do I find out about financial aid?

For pricing information, click here.  For financial aid information, click here.  For detailed tuition information, click here.

Whom should I ask to write my letters of recommendation?

Ask professionals (e.g., professors, supervisors) who know your academic and/or professional work to write letters of recommendation for you. Letters of recommendation from former professors and other credentialed academics carry more weight and are strongly encouraged. Your recommenders should upload their letters to your Graduate Application online (they will receive an email with instructions when you enter their names and email addresses into your application). If they are unable to attach their letters online, they should mail them to: The University of Southern Mississippi Graduate School 118 College Drive #5024 Hattiesburg, MS 39406-0001.

Does your program accept students on a conditional basis?

Any student who does not qualify for regular admission may be considered for admission on a conditional basis; provided, however, such a student possesses a grade point average of at least 2.50 (calculated on a 4.0 scale) with a GPA of at least 2.75 on the last 60 hours of coursework. After considering all of the applicant’s materials as a whole, conditional admission can be granted only upon the recommendation of the faculty review committee, department chair, the college dean, and the dean of the Graduate School.

Any student on conditional admission must make a 3.0 in FAM 500: Orientation in CFS (1 hr.) as well as in the first six (6) hours in coursework above 600 in the CFSMS Online Program (FAM 650; CD 650) in order to be reclassified as a regularly admitted student the next semester. If first-semester grades of a conditionally admitted student are too low to obtain the required 3.0 for the first nine (9) hours of coursework, they will not be able to continue. All requirements must be met or the student will not be allowed to progress in the program.

How many courses will I take every semester and how long will it take me to finish?

The program is structured for students who work and want to go to school part-time. The first semester students take seven (7) hours and then six (6) hours every semester after that. If you follow this format, you will finish in two calendar years.

If admitted to the program, will I ever need to come to campus?

We would love to have you visit our campus and our department but it is not a requirement. The program is fully online, start to finish!


What types of careers to graduates of this program obtain?

Graduates of this program have access to a wide range of professional opportunities including, but not limited to, the following:

• Certified Family Life Educator

• Early Childhood Educator

• Preschool Teacher/Director

• Intervention Specialist

• Therapeutic Childcare Specialist

• Substance Abuse Specialist

• Sexual Health Educator

• Foster Care Coordinator

• Elementary, Middle and High School Educator

• Nonprofit Program Manager

• Family Program Administrator

• Child Life Specialist

• College Instructor

• Resource Specialist

• Developmental Play Specialist

What other online degrees are offered by Online at Southern Miss?

Please visit our programs page here:

Will other classes besides the ones listed in degree requirements count towards my degree?

Other classes that aren’t listed may count towards your degree once your transcript has been evaluated and posted.


Do online students pay out-of-state tuition?

No, online students pay resident tuition. For information about pricing, click here.

Are you a military veteran or service member?

If yes, visit for more information on how Southern Miss can serve you and your needs.   We will help you with funding and scholarship information, admissions, and course enrollment.


Is this a certified child life program?

Our program is not a “Child Life” program; however, our coursework currently addresses some of the requirements set forth by the Child Life Council and we do have a number of students currently working (or preparing to work) in Child Life as part of our program. It is up to each student to make sure their degree plan/curriculum fulfills their individual needs with the Child Life Council (we do not advise for child life as we are not a child life program). It is important to note that the CLC eligibility requirements will be changing after 2019: Read more about pathways to becoming a Child Life Specialist here: