Doctor of Philosophy in Family Studies

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All degree plans are developed in consultation with the student's advisory committee and are based on current departmental requirements as well as individual student needs and objectives.  No grade below B is accepted toward the doctoral degrees described below.

Total Semester Credit Hours Required

A minimum of 90 semester credit hours above the bachelor’s degree, including 6 semester credit hours for dissertation. (Proficiency in statistics is required as part of the program, including completion of a 6000-level statistics course.) 30 of 90 hours must be research courses. Consult with advisor for appropriate/approved research courses.


Two-thirds of the total semester credit hours will determine the major.

Note: The specific course requirements and total semester credit hours are developed in cooperation with and approved in a meeting of the student’s graduate advisory committee. The department chair also approves individual doctoral degree plans based on current departmental requirements.  If a grade of C or below is earned two times while in any Family Sciences doctoral program, the student will be dismissed from the program.

Research Tools

The Department of Family Sciences requirement is currently consistent with the university requirements as described in the Graduate School General Requirements section of this catalog. Check with the department for any possible additions in acceptable courses to meet the research tool requirement. These requirements of 12 student credit hours are a part of the 90 semester credit hours minimum described above and are included in the 30 hours of research courses required.

Qualifying Exam

A student seeking the doctoral degree in Family Studies must take a 4-part First Year Program Examination in Family Studies before completing 18 semester credit hours. An acceptable passing score for each section is required.  Only one re-take is allowed.

Professional Seminars

All doctoral students in Family Studies are required to attend at least 3 professional seminars each calendar year. 

Comprehensive Exam

All students are required to complete all course work on the degree plan prior to taking comprehensive examinations.  A student should enroll for the first semester of dissertation (FS 6983) during the semester when the  comprehensive examination is taken.

Family Studies students will take a 2-day written comprehensive exam focusing on 5 areas: 1) Human Development Theories 2) Family Theories, 3) Quantitative Methodology, 4) Qualitative Methodology, and the 5) Content Specialization (Family Studies). An oral exam and/or debriefing will follow successful completion of the written exam. The written and oral examination may be repeated one time.

Final Examination

A comprehensive oral examination will include a defense of the dissertation and the research on which it is based, as well as questions concerning the major. The final examination may only be repeated one time.

Certified Family Life Educator

The Ph.D. in Family Studies has been approved by the National Council on Family Relations as meeting the Standards and Criteria required for the Professional Certified Family Life Educator (CFLE) designation.  Courses noted with an asterisk (*) must be completed in order to qualify for the abbreviated CFLE application process.

Committee Requirements

Dissertation Committee

All dissertation committees are comprised of a minimum of three graduate faculty members.  At least two of the committee members must represent the major discipline (component). The committee chair must have full graduate faculty standing.  Additional committee voting members must have associate or full graduate faculty standing. 

External committee members may be requested by the committee chair by submitting a CV and request to the Dean of the Graduate School for approval.  They serve in addition to the required three member committee as an ex-officio committee member.

Degree Plan Committee

All degree plan committees are composed of five graduate faculty members. 

Doctor of Philosophy in Family Studies Plan of Study (90 semester credit hours, including relevant master's coursework)

Master's degree in Family Studies or a related field and coursework equivalent to the following:
Lifespan Human Development (*)
Theories of the Family (*)
Statistics for Research in Family Sciences
Research Methods in Family Sciences
Doctoral Core (12 hours)
FS 6003Advanced Study of the Lifespan (*)3
FS 6403Theory Building in Family Sciences3
FS 6443Research and Issues in Family Sciences3
FS 6593Practicum in Family Sciences (*) offered in Spring3
Research (21 hours)
FS 6193Advanced Statistics for Family Sciences (Prerequisite: FS 5193 or equivalent master's level statistic course)3
FS 6433Grants Writing in Family Sciences3
FS 6693Advanced Quantitative Research Methods In Family Sciences (Prerequisites: A master's level research methods course and a graduate-level statistics course)3
FS 6793Advanced Qualitative Research Methods In Family Sciences (Prerequisite: A master's level research methods course)3
FS 6893Multivariate Statistics (Prerequisites: FS 5193 or equivalent master's level statistics course, FS 6193 or equivalent doctoral level statistics course, and familiarity with SPSS )3
FS 6983Dissertation3
FS 6993Dissertation3
Professional Competencies (12 hours)
FS 6303Academic Life and Scholarship3
FS 6343Effective College Teaching Methods3
FS 6683Professional Seminar in Family Sciences3
FS 6863Family Financial Counseling3
Content Specialization (21 hours)
Select 21 semester credit hours from the following:21
Family Sexuality (*)
Families as Consumers
Family Changes and Diversity (*)
Communication in Marriage and Family (*)
Adolescents in the Family
Gender Role Development
Parenting Education (*)
Family Crises
Aging in Families and Society
Leadership and Staff Development in Family Sciences Programs
Housing and Families
Time Management for Families
Families and Public Policy (*)
Family Economics (*)
Teaching Family Sciences (*)
Family of Origin

No more than 42 semester credit hours of online coursework will count toward the doctoral degree.