Skip to main content

BS, Family Science

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

Health Happens in Families

The Family Science major focuses on the study of families, their health and well being, and the social determinants that affect family life and health. The major offers excellent training in scientific methods to understand family systems, their interactions with broader societal structures, and strategies to enhance their health, well-being, and functioning. Students learn to describe, explain, and improve the quality of family life, health and well-being through education, applied research, policy analysis, human services program management and internships.


Perfect for those interested in

  • Child and family development 
  • Health of culturally diverse families 
  • Changing family structures/lifestyles
  • Poverty and social services
  • Family law 
  • Crises and impacts of trauma  
  • Violence prevention
  • Family health and well-being
  • Sexual and reproductive health 
  • Mental health


Career Paths

  • Human resources
  • Family counseling 
  • Program management
  • Public policy analysis
  • Education
  • Social work 
  • Public health
  • Behavioral health
  • Law
  • Nursing
  • Medicine
  • Pharmacy
  • Dentistry


Program Overview

The vision of our Department of Family Science in the School of Public Health is that families are the foundation of society and the public’s health. We seek  to promote the physical, mental, and social wellbeing of all families in order to eliminate the burden of disease and health disparities, and to foster resilience and social justice.

The curriculum focuses on individual and family development over the life span, examining social, cultural, economic, and historical trends that affect family functioning, physical and mental health. Each student also completes a 120-hour (minimum) internship course, providing an opportunity to apply coursework in a professional position.  Our students can also avail themselves of opportunities to work with our faculty on research projects.

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 69 credits of its majors.

  • 57 credits of major required courses which includes a three credit internship
  • 12 credits of major electives

Required coursework examines changing family forms/lifestyles, culturally diverse families, child/family development, maternal and child health, sexual and reproductive health, family law, family economics, inequality, work and family issues, family crises and trauma, research methods, and the delivery of human services to families.  We offer excellent training in scientific methods to understand family development, behavior, and strengths, and solve family problems, and improve health. Students learn to describe, explain, and improve the quality of family life and health through education, applied research, policy analysis, and human services program management.

The Family Science internship is a practical experience designed to integrate department and other coursework with a real-time work experience. In addition to 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

Our students can also avail themselves of opportunities to work with our faculty on research projects in topics ranging from infant and maternal mortality, racial socialization and Black families; the role of Latino parents in promoting nutrition of their children, vaccine hesitancy, LBGTQ youth and their families, the impact of immigration and re-unification on families, reproductive health, the role of fathers in family life, and more.  



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

Major Requirements

Course Title Course Description
FMSC110 Families in 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.
FMSC260 Couples, Marriage and Families: Intimate Relationships Across the Life Course Covers the different aspects of couple relationships and family life. This includes common problems in couple relationships, and resources to strengthen couple and family relationships. You will also learn about stages of relationships, theories of love and family, policy related to couples and family formation, and how research is conducted with couples and families. Together, we will discuss and explore issues that couples and families face in modern times and will consider how many of these issues have changed due to policy, technology, attitudes, and a variety of other societal factors that impact relationships in the 21st century. You will also learn important methods of strengthening current and future relationships.
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 in Family Science Introduction to the methods of the social and behavioral sciences employed in family science. The role of theory, the 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 Health The objective of this gateway course is to help you understand and apply basic theories and empirical data on family health. The course is designed to provide you with skills to think critically about theories including: Life Course Theory, the Bio-Ecological and Social-Ecological Models, and Systems Theory. We will ask questions about the distinct qualities and intersections of contexts and characteristics that impact the functioning of families. We will apply theory and research to topical issues in family health that are impacted by social structures such as conflict, crisis, migration, incarceration and inequalities.
FMSC332 Children in 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.
FMSC340 Mental Health and Healing in Families Using an interdisciplinary approach to study mental health, mental wellness, and substance use, we will answer questions such as: How has our understanding and treatment of mental health changed throughout history? What are the current prevalence patterns and risk factors associated with mental health conditions? What is the prevention to postvention continuum? What is the role of relationships, families, and communities in addressing mental health? How do we diagnose and treat various mental health disorders using the best available research? And, what are the various mental health disciplines and how do they differ? This course is designed to examine mental health issues across the life course. We will explore the influence of social contexts, including racism and additional forms of othering, on mental health and wellness, and introduce the health systems that support mental health prevention and treatment.
FMSC374 Working with Diverse Families This course will focus on the “doing” and modeling of skills required in navigating diverse social environments with families. These skills are necessary to engage in authentic work as family scientists, public health professionals, and family health practitioners. Using an intersectional framework, we will examine cultural, ethnic, and linguistic diversity for families impacted by challenges to equity and privilege. The course material emphasizes deep knowledge and skill building towards cultural sensitivity, including history, values, language, religion, and communication with families across multiple racial and ethnic backgrounds. Students will also explore differences emerging from experiences of poverty, sexual orientation and gender identity, and disability. The goal of the course is to support students in developing a family/professional alliance for health and well-being.
FMSC381 Family Inequalities 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.
FMSC431 Family Crisis: Emergencies and Interventions Examines the stressors in life that may lead families into a state of crisis or emergency and what can be done to help families when the need arises. Both internal stressors, such as substance abuse, finances, divorce, illness or parent-child conflict, and external stressors, such as community violence and natural disasters, are examined. Using theories and techniques for intervention and enhancement, the course examines factors involved in stressors turning into a family crisis and how factors such as emergency preparedness, social support and public policy can be a source of family resilience or protect families from negative outcomes.
FMSC432 Adulthood and Aging in Families heory, research, history, and programming related to adult development and aging in the intergenerational context of family.
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.
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 Designed for students interested in studying the law, public health, and family science, this course provides students with a general overview of family law and the impact on healthy families. The course also includes the study of cutting-edge issues such as marriage equality, assisted reproduction and ethical issues that may arise.

Major Electives

Course Title Course Description
FMSC123 Personal Financial Literacy: From Distress to Success Exploring strategic thinking, career, education, financial planning during college years as the foundation for success in living a meaningful life. While introducing relevant institutions and tools & techniques that are critical for financial planning, this course applies value-based goal setting and strategic planning that inform individuals' paths for a successful career, educational attainment, and optimum (mental, physical and financial) wellbeing throughout their life cycle. The course particularly emphasizes the individual's responsibility of living in an institution rich society, where, continuous learning, understanding institutions, rational decision-making, valuing relationships and networking, early career development, record keeping, budgeting, generating income and wealth, purposeful spending, saving and investing, tax planning, appropriate use of loans, risk taking and insurance, and retirement planning are well rewarded and ensure the optimum use of college years and the rest of life-course.
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.
FMSC265 Teaching Menstrual Health : Dispelling Myths and Misconceptions Provides a platform to teach UMD undergraduate students and BHU Bachelor of Education students about the intersections of gender, culture, and health. We will explore how menstruation is addressed in different cultures and uncover myths and misconceptions that impact individuals, their families and communities. Furthermore, the course emphasizes the health cost (physical and mental) of not educating youth about this vital process and discusses the need for an intervention. The course provides essential skills to participating students for the development of an intervention. Key concepts include: theoretical understanding of menstrual health and its impact on girls and women's lives from cross cultural perspectives, the importance of deconstructing myths and misconceptions and the importance of educating both girls and boys; cultural taboos and patriarchal power relations that contribute to myths, misconceptions and practices; public health interventions addressing the cost of ignoring adolescent health issues including menstrual health; the impact of providing agency to young girls and boys to challenge the status-quo; and links between knowledge about menstruation, human rights, gender equality and the SDGs.
FMSC270 Sex, Drugs, and Social Media: Adolescent Health and Development This course will ask: How can families, schools, communities, and society help adolescents to navigate contemporary stressors and develop into physically and mentally healthy adults? To do this, we will use research, and an understanding of adolescent development, to explore and analyze issues affecting the health and behavior of American adolescents. Such issues include (but are not limited to) sex education, the role of social media in mental health, substance use, policing in schools, dating violence, suicide prevention, access to sexual and reproductive health care, and school start times. We will consider how adolescent well-being is shaped by social contexts, including the role of parents and family members, peers, schools, communities, social media, and culture. We will examine policies and programs that affect adolescents, how effective they are at promoting adolescent health, and how they might be improved to better support healthy adolescent development.
FMSC286 Assisted Reproduction Law and Policy in the US and Brazil In this Global Classroom, U.S. students will work synchronously online with their international partners in Brazil to critically think about cutting-edge ethical, legal, policy and scientific issues in the field of Assisted Reproduction Technologies (ART) in the two countries. This course looks at conventional families created in unconventional ways to examine such topics as sperm and egg donation, in vitro fertilization, surrogacy, reproductive organ transplants and more - while considering the social, cultural, racial, religious, economic, or socioeconomic contexts that influence each. Students will work with their foreign peers in small groups to compare ART in each country and then create proposed legislation for either the U.S. or Brazil which their international group will present online to their colleges and submit to the country's legislators. In so doing, students will be challenged to think critically and see their place in creating actionable change in a global society.
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 Investigates mediation as a forum of peaceful intervention. It is designed to provide students with an introduction and basic understanding of the essential principles of mediation and opportunities to put those principles to work. In so doing, students will obtain an in-depth knowledge of a practical "hands on" approach to divorce mediation as the conduct mediation skill builders and facilitate a successful mediation. Students will learn major mediation interventions and how such interventions may help establish a new dynamic among family members in their communications and relationships. To assist in understanding, we will discuss family law issues and ethics. The course also includes a focus on negotiation theory and skills and students will conduct a negotiation. We will use multi-media presentations, real life mediation observation, lecture and class discussion, role-play, and academic review and critic to reach the course goals and objectives.
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.
FMSC485 Family Therapy he fundamental theoretical concepts and clinical procedures of marital and family therapy including premarital and divorce therapy issues.
FMSC498P Child and Family Policy Impact

The Family Science major prepares students for a wide range of careers in the human services, health professions, family counseling, business (especially human resources), program management, public policy analysis, education, law, social services 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, nursing, public health, education, and sociology.  

The following list gives you a general idea of areas in which Family Science graduates work and where they can look for jobs. Also please check out this comprehensive Career Guide for Family Science majors.

Human Service Professionals

Develop, administer, and evaluate social service programs and conduct casework for individuals and families. Graduates work as family service specialists, administrative staff, counselors, child life specialists, elder care workers, probation officers, researchers, and policy analysts. Job settings include social service/mental health centers, government agencies, youth organizations, teen parent programs, hospitals, schools, consumer credit agencies, and senior centers.

Work/Family Specialists

Design and manage support programs for employees, including child care, elder care, leave/disability programs, flexible work policies, and health and wellness programs. Positions are located in personnel or human resource departments of major corporations and in government agencies, including the military services.

Family Life/Parenting Educators

Prepare, present, and evaluate educational programs designed to enhance family well being, such as parent education, military relocation support, substance abuse education, and relationship enhancement. Positions are located in Cooperative Extension, the military services, and a variety of other public and private agencies.

Health Care Professions

Engage in the planning and delivery of health care in ambulatory or in-patient settings.  Our majors have been accepted into graduate programs in nursing, dentistry, medicine, and social work.  

Public Health

Work in a local or state health department, a non-profit health organization or a health care system to develop, deliver and evaluate health promotion programs to individuals, families and communities.  Conduct research to understand how families influence attitudes and behaviors that shape our health and well-being. 

Family Policy Analysts

Develop policy initiatives in such areas as child care, child abuse, youth services and aging, and analyze the impact of policies on families. Policy analysts work for local, state, and federal government and public interest or advocacy groups.

CASA career guide