Earn Your Online Child and Family Studies Masters Degree at Southern Miss!
Are you interested in working with families in diverse settings? 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? If so, the online Child and Family Studies Masters program from The University of Southern Mississippi is for you!
Our Online Child and Family Studies Masters degree is now offered fully online. The discipline of Child and Family Studies is an interdisciplinary field that deals with the family in relation to the self and society. It includes academic research, family life education, early childhood development, human and social services, child development, and public health. Ultimately, Child and Family professionals are dedicated to promoting a better quality of life for all families
The 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.
Looking for an undergraduate degree first? Check out our fully online Child and Family Studies BS here!
Check out some of the jobs our graduates landed after earning this degree.
Your future starts at Southern Miss!
- 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
(37 hours non-thesis option; 37 hours thesis option)
Students must take 18 hours of 600 level or higher courses.
Theories in Child Development
Critical Issues in Child Development
Orientation to Child and Family Studies MS Program
Program Evaluation and Assessment
Parenting Across the Lifespan
Advanced Family Theories
Adolescence and the Family System
Child and Family Life Education
Intimate Relationship Development
Seminar in Child Development
Adulthood and Aging in the Family System
Thesis (1-6 hrs. for a total of 6 hrs.)
Practicum in Child Development
Practicum in Child and Family Studies (3-9 hrs.)
Practice of Family Research
Educational Research: Interpretation and Applications
Please note that the above information is meant to be a guide and is not official. For further information regarding courses for this degree, see the University Bulletin. Please be aware that not all course choices listed in the University Bulletin are available online. However, sufficient online options are available to complete this degree.
Frequently Asked Questions
Additional course fees for the online Child and Family Studies Masters may apply. Fees range between $20 – $60.
Online Child and Family Studies Masters 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.
The prospective student must complete the graduate school admission application online and pay the application fee at http://apps.usm.edu/graduate-school/grad-school-apps/.
All application materials are submitted online to the graduate school, http://www.usm.edu/graduate-school/apply-graduate-school. Prospective students for the online Child and Family Studies Masters program 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
This is a 2-3 page essay telling us about yourself and why you are interested in the online Child and Family Studies Masters 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 online Child and Family Studies Masters 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.
Students may take up to 7 hours of non-degree CFSMS coursework with approval from the graduate school, program director, and department chair. In order to enroll as a non-degree student, each student must be admitted to the university and all transcripts must be turned in to the graduate school. There is a separate application for non-degree enrollment on the graduate school website. Although the graduate school may initially approve non-degree enrollment, students must still contact the Child and Family Studies department for permission to enroll in courses. Students will be approved for non-degree enrollment if there are strong indications the student can do well in the courses and provided there is space in the requested course(s). In order to continue the program after the 7 hours of non-degree work, each student must submit complete applications for admission to the program. With satisfactory grades, non-degree coursework may be applied as credit toward your degree, once accepted into program. Taking courses as a non-degree student does not guarantee admission to the program.
Students for the online Child and Family Studies Masters will need a computer, broadband access to the Internet, and a Web camera and microphone.
The online Child and Family Studies Masters 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.
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.
Online Child and Family Studies Masters 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.
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.
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.
The online Child and Family Studies Masters 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.
We would love to have you visit our campus and our department, but it is not a requirement. The online Child and Family Studies Masters program is fully online, start to finish!
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
Please visit our programs page here: https://online.usm.edu/programs/
Other classes that aren’t listed may count towards your degree once your transcript has been evaluated and posted.
No, online Child and Family Studies Masters students pay resident tuition. For information about pricing, click here.
If yes, visit online.usm.edu/military 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.
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: https://www.childlife.org/Certification/CertificationEligibility/index.cfm. Read more about pathways to becoming a Child Life Specialist here: https://www.childlife.org/Certification/Getting%20Certified/index.cfm
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: https://www.usm.edu/graduate-school/apply-graduate-school
The following items are required and must be submitted to the Graduate School for admission consideration:
- Online application
- Application fee (Please note that your application cannot be reviewed until the application fee is paid.)
- Transcripts from all colleges/universities attended
- GRE scores
- 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
- 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
- Resume identifying relevant academic and work experiences
Students who meet the requirements for regular admission to the online Child and Family Studies Masters 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.