Family Science doctoral students develop a broad knowledge of family theory, research methodology, family programs and policy, ethnic minority families, and contemporary challenges confronting families. The program examines family processes and the dynamic interaction of families with the biological, psychological, social, political, and economic aspects of their communities.

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The Family Science Ph.D. program requires 51 graduate credit hours beyond the master’s degree, including 30 core credits (theory, issues, research methodology, statistics), 6 elective credits, 3 research internship credits, and 12 dissertation credits. All Ph.D. students must complete foundation coursework required for a master’s degree in Family Science. At the discretion of the Department’s Graduate Committee, students entering the Ph.D. program with a master’s degree in a related discipline may make up deficiencies in coursework through classes taken at the beginning of the program. Ph.D. students must also pass a qualifying examination and complete a dissertation and oral defenses.

Students admitted full-time to the Ph.D. program post-master’s can complete this program within three years. Students admitted to the Ph.D. program with only a baccalaureate degree must complete either a master’s degree in Family Science (available only to Ph.D. students) or a master’s degree in Couple and Family Therapy en route to the Ph.D.


  • Design and evaluate programmatic interventions to address social, behavioral, health, economic, and other family issues.
  • Demonstrate cultural competence in research, program planning and evaluation, and policy related to family health and well-being.
  • Analyze family health policy, evaluate health care policy issues and conduct a family impact study.
  • Design and implement a theory-based research project that addresses a significant family or family health issue and write an empirical manuscript for publication.


Courses Credits
FMSC 810 Theory in Family Systems and Family Health 3
FMSC 760 Legal Issues and Families 3
FMSC 606 Ethnic Families and Health Disparities OR
FMSC 745 Gender and Ethnicity in Family Therapy and Service Delivery
FMSC 660 Program Planning and Evaluation in Family Science 3
FMSC 750 Family and Health Policy 3
PUAF 722 Family Policy OR
PUAF 6985 Welfare Policy and Evaluation
FMSC 780 Qualitative Methods in Family and Health Research 3
EDMS 646 Quantitative Research Methods II 3
EDMS 651 Intermediate Statistics 3
FMSC 850 Maternal and Child Health Epidemiology 3
FMSC 689 Research Internship 3
Elective Course 3
Elective Course 3
FMSC 899 Doctoral Dissertation Research 12


The FMSC Department considers an empirical research internship to be an essential educational component in the preparation of doctoral level specialists in the family discipline. Therefore, the Department will require all Ph.D. students to complete empirical research in an internship course (FMSC 689) designed to enhance students’ research skills and productivity. The three-unit internship must be approved and supervised by an FMSC faculty member. A one-page abstract and an approval form should be submitted to the potential mentor and to the department Chair prior to beginning the internship. As the major requirement of the research internship, students will complete a scholarly article to be submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. The article must be based on a student-analyzed data set and use quantitative, qualitative, or mixed research methods. If a doctoral student plans to write a policy paper, the article must include analysis of empirical data related to that policy. Students must be the first author, but the article may have coauthors (e.g. faculty mentor). The following guidelines for research internship paper are effective Fall 2012.

  1. All students are to work under the direction of an FMSC faculty. Exceptions to work with another faculty in the university must be approved by the student’s advisor and the Director of Graduate Studies.
  2. Once a topic and mentor is chosen, a timeline for completion should be filed with the Department Chair’s Administrative Assistant. The Chair will meet with all students working on the research internship periodically throughout the year to track their progress.
  3. The student may work as part of a research team, but should be the first author of the paper and should be involved in all aspects of the research and manuscript development. It is the research mentor’s responsibility to see that the student has a full learning experience – including conceptualization, analysis, and writing – in the process of conducting and publishing research.
  4. While there may be multiple authors on the paper, authors should only be included if they meet APA or AMA standards for authorship and have contributed to the manuscript in some meaningful way, as determined by the student and mentor.
  5. The purpose of the research internship paper is to strengthen and expand students experience and skills as a researcher. Therefore, students may not use a revision of their thesis as their research internship paper.

Students must complete the research internship prior to taking the qualifying exam.