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Child and Family Studies


About the Program
The Child and Family Studies program prepares students to work with children, adults and families throughout the lifespan in a broad range of settings. The developmental orientation of the program provides students with a thorough understanding of all major life periods in multiple contexts. Courses explore topics including diversity in families, childhood and adolescence, family ties and aging, human sexuality, the impact of stress and trauma, and death and dying.

Integral to the curriculum are the internship and service-learning experiences expected of students. With more than 600 hours of required hands-on learning experiences, graduates have ample opportunity to explore career options, gain experience, develop marketable skills and apply classroom knowledge to real-world situations.

Child and Family Studies graduates work in many areas of human services, including child and family services, adolescent group homes, rehabilitation centers, community programs for developmentally disabled people, senior citizen centers, family planning facilities, mental health agencies, probation services, emergency shelters, adult foster care, hospice, hospitals and 4-H programs. The program, which leads to a Bachelor of Science in Child and Family Studies, also provides a strong foundation for pursuing graduate study. Students pursue graduate work in such areas as marriage and family therapy, counseling, social work, human development, family studies, and public/community health.

Students can choose one of three concentrations:

Child, Adult and Family Services
This concentration focuses on the nature of individual and family interactions; how individuals within the family contribute to and are shaped by family dynamics; and how the influences of school, peers, gender and poverty influence individual development and family functioning. By studying varied developmental pathways, including those involving stress and trauma, students have the opportunity to acquire the professional skills necessary to work with individuals, couples and families in a broad range of human services settings. These include human and social services agencies, as well as programs for children, adolescents and adults in all stages of life.

Child Life
Students learn skills to help normalize the hospitalization experience for children and families. Graduates qualify to become a Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS), as designated by the Child Life Council, the governing organization that oversees the profession. These specialists provide services that include preparing families for the stress of medical procedures, teaching coping skills to children having difficult health-care experiences, supporting a young patient’s siblings and parents, demonstrating therapeutic medical play, and planning and implementing activities to enhance a child’s growth and development. In addition to core courses in the Child and Family Studies program, students in this concentration take courses in child life, biology, psychology, early childhood education and health. Volunteer experiences and practicum placements in children’s hospitals are also a required element of this concentration.

Family Gerontology
This concentration focuses on typical changes, support needs and outcomes experienced by adults and their family members as they age, and the quality of their relationships across the life course. Students in this concentration also receive an undergraduate gerontology certificate, which prepares them for careers advocating for and helping older adults and their family members. Students in this concentration typically seek employment in settings where they work with mid-life to older adults, along with their family members.


Overview of Coursework
Students in all three concentrations of the Child and Family Studies program can expect to take courses covering the following topics:

  • Intimate and family relationships
  • Individuals and families over the lifespan
  • Human sexualities
  • Children, families and diversity
  • Dynamics in parent-child relations
  • Professional assessment and helping skills
  • Death, dying and bereavement
  • Children, families, stress and trauma
  • Children, families and poverty
  • Introduction to child development
  • Introduction to public health
  • Introduction to psychology
  • Research design and program evaluation
  • Statistics


Admission Requirements
Admission requirements for the Child and Family Studies program are the same as those established for admission to Ohio University in general. There are no special prerequisites needed to declare a major in the program. The major can be designated on the application when applying for admission to Ohio University. Current students can request to enter the major by visiting the Student Services Office of the College of Health Sciences and Professions at W370 Grover Center.


Program Contact
To learn more about the Child and Family Studies program, contact:
Dr. Jenny Chabot, CCLS
Department of Social and Public Health
Ohio University
W324 Grover Center
Athens, OH 45701-2979