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BS, Family Science

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

Health Happens in Families

In the Family Science major, students 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, and their physical and mental health.

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
  • Midwives
  • Advocacy for children, youth, and families
  • Healthy aging


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 three credit internship
  • 6 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
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 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