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BS, Family Science

BCH Poster Session Students of the School of Public Health at the University of Maryland

Families are the foundation of society and the public’s health

The Family Science degree program focuses on the study of families and the challenges they face in contemporary society. Students in the program engage in a curriculum dedicated to individual and family development over the lifespan, examining social, cultural, economic, health, and historical trends that affect family functioning. The program teaches students how to improve the quality of family life through education, applied research, policy analysis, and human services program management. 

Perfect for those interested in

  • Child and family development 
  • Culturally diverse families 
  • Changing family structures/lifestyles
  • Poverty and social services
  • Family law 
  • Crises and impacts of trauma  
  • Violence prevention


Career Paths

  • Human resources
  • Family counseling 
  • Program management
  • Public policy analysis
  • Education
  • Social work 
  • Graduate study/research 


Program Overview

The Family Science major focuses on the study of families and the problems they face in contemporary society. The major offers excellent training in scientific methods to understand family development, behavior, and strengths and to solve family problems. Students learn to describe, explain, and improve the quality of family life through education, applied research, policy analysis, and human services program management

Students of color

Upon graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Family Science, students will be able to:

  • Evaluate policy and programmatic interventions to address social and behavioral factors that influence family well-being.
  • Explain the principles of cultural competence that shape the experiences and disparities of vulnerable families and populations.
  • Design, implement, and present a research project that addresses a significant issue of family well-being.
  • Demonstrate basic knowledge of family theories and apply the knowledge to diverse contexts.
  • Analyze and critique the range of social structures and systems such as health, legal, and economic that affect family well-being.

The Bachelor of Science degree in Family Science requires a minimum of 120 credits. In addition to the University’s General Education Program, the Family Science program requires 51 credits of its majors.

18 credits of supporting sequence courses

27 credits of major required courses which includes a 3 credit internship

6 credits of major electives

The Family Science internship is a practical experience designed to integrate department and other coursework with a real-time work experience. In addition to a field placement, students are required to attend a weekly capstone seminar, FMSC477. Students in the seminar integrate classroom theory with their field placement and share work-related activities, broadening their exposure to work in the discipline of Family Science and their knowledge of specific career opportunities for FMSC graduates. The internship course is open to all FMSC majors who have completed FMSC330 and FMSC383.  All Family Science majors are required to complete an internship worth 120 hours of field experience during their senior year.

Students are responsible for investigating, selecting, and securing their own internship placement. Your internship placement must be consistent with the FMSC major and your future career goals. The undergraduate academic advisor can offer assistance during the search process, and a database of available internship sites is provided. Students are not limited to the internship database, however all new field placements must be approved before a student can begin their hours.


Explore all FMSC major requirements on the UMD Catalog
View Family Science course offerings by semester

Major Requirements

Course Title Course Description
FMSC290 Family Economics Application of economic methodology to study families under various economic situations. Examination of how decisions about marriage, divorce, fertility, consumption and time use are influenced by labor/housing markets, tax structure, social welfare benefits and other economic considerations.
FMSC302 Research Methods Introduction to the methods of the social and behavioral sciences employed in family science. The role of theory, development of hypotheses, measurement, design, and data analysis.
FMSC310 Maternal, Child and Family Health Overview of the major issues in Maternal, Child, and Family Health in the U.S. and the world. The course will cover the social, political, environmental, and economic factors that shape the health of women, children, and families throughout the life course. It will employ the core disciplines of public health -- 1) epidemiology/biostatistics, 2) environmental health, 3) health policy and administration, and 4) social and behavioral health -- to examine these factors. The course introduces specific issues and interventions and places these issues and interventions within their broad sociohistorical context.
FMSC330 Family Theories and Patterns Theory and research on the family, including a cross-cultural analysis of family patterns.
FMSC332 Children and Families A family life education approach to the study of children and families. Emphasis on the interaction of children with parents, siblings, extended kin, and the community.
FMSC381 Poverty, Affluence and Families Social, political, cultural, and economic factors influencing income and wealth in American families.
FMSC383 Delivery of Human Services to Families Processes of service delivery with special emphasis upon relationships among managers, service providers and clients. The impact of human service systems on families.
FMSC432 Adulthood and Aging Theory, research, history, and programming related to adult development and aging in the intergenerational context of family.
FMSC477 Internship and Analysis in Family Science A supervised internship and a seminar requiring analysis. Opportunities to integrate theory and practice including 120 hours of contracted field experience.
FMSC487 Legal Aspects of Family Problems Laws and legal procedures, with emphasis on adoption, marriage, divorce, annulment, and property rights, and how they affect family life.

Major Electives

Course Title Course Description
FMSC110 Families and Global Health Students will explore, define, and study global health, social determinants of health, health inequalities, gender inequality, family violence, and maternal and child health using a global perspective.
FMSC170 Modern Families Examination of current trends and controversial issues in family life, including issues of marriage, reproductive technologies, adoption, child custody, remarriage, and marital violence.
FMSC186 Family Law and Ethics in Assisted Reproduction For students interested in studying the law, public health and/or family science, this course examines the cutting-edge law and ethics of assisted reproduction including the technologies of sperm and egg donation, in vitro fertilization, surrogacy, and reproductive organ transplants, and the impact on families.
FMSC190 Man Up! Where are the Fathers? An examination of changing fatherhood roles, health, and inequality in diverse families. Focus will be on masculinities and disparities among men by race and class; provider role expectations; and trauma and violence faced by men in contemporary society.
FMSC260 Couple Relationships Couple relationships and their alternatives in contemporary dating, courtship and marriage.
FMSC341 Personal and Family Finance Individual and family financial strategies with emphasis on financial planning, savings, investments, insurance, income taxes, housing, and use of credit. Planning, analyzing, and controlling financial resources to resolve personal/family financial problems and to attain financial security.
FMSC382 Family Mediation and Negotiation Introduction to family mediation as an approach to helping families deal effectively with the issues associated with separation and divorce. Theory, practice, and techniques of negotiation, with an emphasis on custody, property division, and constructive restructuring of family relationships.
FMSC420 African American Families History, structure, and diversity of African American families, including strengths and challenges. Theoretical perspectives and skills for examining and advancing research on African American families.
FMSC431 Family Crisis and Intervention Family crises such as divorce, disability, substance abuse, financial problems, intrafamilial abuse, and death. Theories and techniques for intervention and enhancement of family coping strategies.
FMSC460 Violence in Families Theories of child, spouse, and elder-abuse in the family setting. Emphasis on historical, psychological, sociological and legal trends relating to physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. Introduction to methods for prevention and remediation.
FMSC485 Family Therapy The fundamental theoretical concepts and clinical procedures of marital and family therapy including pre-marital and divorce therapy issues.

The undergraduate major in Family Science offers three career specialty tracks:

Family Health, Counseling and Therapy

Students in the Family Health, Counseling and Therapy track often prepare to serve as professionals or paraprofessionals in the fields of counseling and therapy. The family science major provides a foundation for a graduate degree in marriage and family therapy, social work or psychology. Building from their strong research-oriented knowledge of the family, students in the Introduction to Family Therapy class begin to learn the skills and techniques of family counseling. The track’s offerings vary from communication skills to the basics of family economics and are grounded in research. Experiential learning includes internships and the opportunity for faculty research with family therapists and psychologists.

Trauma, Crisis, and Family Health Management

From wildfires and hurricanes to substance abuse and divorce, families are harmed by external and internal traumatic events.  Family scientists help the public respond quickly to families in crisis.  Students in the Trauma, Crisis and the Family Health Management track prepare to serve as family health crisis managers. Building from their strong research-oriented knowledge of the family, students learn the skills and techniques needed to identify, assess, understand, and cope with crisis situations. Students learn to deal with threats before, during, and after they occur in order to obtain successful, healthy outcomes. They have crisis strategies in place to ensure a quick and appropriate response. They know how to maintain clear lines of reporting and communication. Our students can assess positive resolutions to promote family and public health.

Family Health, Policy, and Law

From health care reform to the definition of marriage, family issues are front and center in public policy and the law. Family Science establishes a foundation to understand family systems and their needs. Through the Family Health, Policy and Law track, students will study the structure, goals, and application of policy to the family and the intersection with family law issues.  In the Legal Aspects of Family Problems class students learn the principles of the legal system such as issues of the family, marriage and divorce, parenting and children’s’ rights. Students will examine how the political process creates programs that work to change society and families and evaluate the existing family services and laws. The optional Family Mediation class teaches the practice and principles of joint problem-solving and negotiations skills in a family context. In the Family Health, Policy, and Law track students are encouraged to think creatively and originally as they tackle policy and legal issues on every aspect of family life.  Students will also develop skills in problem analysis, legal research, writing, and presentation that will help them succeed in this rapidly growing field of public policy.


**Family Science offers a variety of career options. Using our tracks, students are prepared for specific career paths. Completion of a track, however is not required for graduation.

Students must notify the Family Science undergraduate academic advisor that they intend to complete a career specialty track. Completed tracks are acknowledged by a letter from the Family Science Chair upon the student’s graduation. Tracks can be noted on a student’s resume, however they do not appear on a student’s transcript.

In order to complete a career specialty track in Family Science, students are required to earn 12 credits in a specialization area. At least 6 of those credits must be Family Science courses and the remaining 6 credits may be selected from the list provided in the career specialty chart. Exceptions for courses not currently approved for a track can be made depending on availability of approved courses and the unapproved courses’ relevance to the track theme.

Students must earn a grade of C- or above in all courses being used to complete a track. Additional questions can be forwarded to Kendyl Oliver