What is Family Science?

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.

Bachelor of Science Curriculum

Our Department awards a Bachelor of Science degree in Family Science. Students in our major study families, the challenges they face, and ways to help them succeed in today's society. The curriculum focuses on individual and family development over the life span, examining social, cultural, economic, and historical trends that affect family functioning. Required coursework examines: changing family forms/lifestyles, culturally diverse families, child/family development, inter-generational relations, family law, family economics, poverty, work and family issues, family crises, research methods, and the delivery of human services to families. Each student also completes a 120-hour internship course, providing an opportunity to apply coursework in a professional position. Additional information can be found here.


The Family Science major prepares students for a wide range of careers in the human services, family counseling, business (especially human resources), program management, public policy analysis, education, and related fields. The undergraduate major also provides excellent preparation for graduate school. Every year, our graduating seniors are accepted for graduate programs in areas such as family science, marriage and family therapy, law, social work, psychology, public policy, public health, education, and sociology. More information can be found here. 


The Family Science Department is committed to teaching excellence. Faculty members have received numerous teaching and mentoring awards from the State of Maryland, the University, the School of Public Health, the Panhellenic Association, and other student and university parent groups. Faculty members actively participate in research and grant activities. They provide leadership and service to many agencies, including the Maryland legislature, Head Start, the county courts, social services, mental health bureaus, financial institutions, and Cooperative Extension.


The Department is proud of the rich ethnic and gender diversity of its faculty, staff, and students. The Department is a campus leader in promoting sensitivity to gender, class, religious, and cultural issues. Faculty address diversity issues both inside and outside the classroom. Family Science was named the "Outstanding Academic Unit" by the University's President's Commission on Ethnic Minority Issues for the third time in 2004.

Undergraduate Research

Many Family Science students are active in the Department's Undergraduate Research Program where they conduct research with nationally-recognized family scholars. For example, last year, 8 undergraduates assisted in a study of family violence, analyzing the communication patterns of couples discussing a topic of disagreement. Another student examined the impact of positive parenting and family routines on homeless children's social and emotional development. Still another undergraduate researcher evaluated the impact of a cultural values curriculum on the behavior of Jewish youth participating in a summer program. Family Science students also participate in other University undergraduate research programs such as the Maryland Summer Scholars Program, the University Undergraduate Research Assistant Program, and the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program.

Honors Program

The Department's Honors Program offers academically talented students a more advanced and challenging educational experience related to the study of families. The program provides opportunities for involvement in scholarly independent study, intensive interaction with faculty, and examination of a range of family topics in greater depth than is possible in the normal program of study. Students enroll in special Honors courses, Honors option work in regular courses, and independent research. The program culminates with the presentation of a Senior Honors thesis. Students are recognized at graduation for their superior achievement in Family Science. Additional information can be found here and by contacting:

Dr. Mia Smith Bynum
Chair, Family Science Honors Program 
1142W School of Public Health