New graduate program in Family Life and Youth Development serves high-demand market

As of fall 2010, courses have begun in a new distance-based graduate program in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at N.C. State University. The master’s degree program in Family Life and Youth Development (FYD) in the CALS Department of 4-H Youth Development and Family & Consumer Sciences was approved in May 2010 by UNC administration. It replaces a former graduate program in human development and family studies that was administered jointly by N.C. State and UNC-G.

The new program offers two distance-based graduate study paths leading to master’s degrees in Family Life and Youth Development.  The Master of Science (M.S.) FYD degree requires 36 credit hours culminating in a final oral examination and thesis approved by the student’s graduate committee. The Master of Family Life and Youth Development degree (M.R.) requires 30 hours of course work and a culminating capstone experience project.

“Our new graduate programs offer quality educational experiences using state-of-the-art distance education technologies, facilitated by faculty experts in their field and accessible to any student in the world,” said Dr. Dale Safrit, FYD director of graduate programs. “The value-added aspect is the flexibility provided to the individual student based on his or her graduate education needs and objectives.”

For example, Safrit said, some students may already have a master’s degree and are looking for a single distance course for personal or professional-development purposes. Meanwhile, others may be seeking university certification in a concentration area for resume enhancement and/or professional advancement.

“And still others seek the traditional Master of Science degree as a stepping stone to a future doctoral program,” he said.

The program is based upon a foundation of theory and application in four focus areas: foundations of family life and youth development, professional development and leadership, research and methodical inquiry, and a content-area concentration.

Content areas include youth development leadership, family life and parent education, volunteer management and administration, administration and leadership of youth and family programs, family life coaching, and gerontology.

The M.S. program also requires that students take graduate courses in research methods and statistics as preparation for thesis completion and defense.

Most FYD courses are taught asynchronously (that is, students accessing the courses 24/7) via the Internet.  There often are three to five synchronous class meetings (students and instructor meeting at the same time) using Elluminate webinar software. These classes are also recorded for students who are unable to participate synchronously. However, the program’s supervised professional experience and thesis hours are not distance courses.

The new FYD graduate program is filling a niche, according to Dr. Marshall Stewart, head of the 4-H Youth Development and Family & Consumer Sciences Department.

“Professionals in careers that provide leadership and service for youth and family programs in governmental and non-profit sectors have a high need for graduate degrees and certificate programs,” Stewart said. “Based on the number of requests we receive daily for more information about our program, we clearly have identified a new high-demand market for N.C. State University graduate education. This is an exciting opportunity for the department and the university.”

For more information about the FYD program, go to — Terri Leith

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