Doctor of Philosophy in Family Studies


The Ph.D. in Family Studies prepares students for advanced career options in family and social services, family life education, public policy, research, and higher education.

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

Marketable Skills

Defined by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board's 60x30 Strategic Plan as, "Those skills valued by employers that can be applied in a variety of work settings, including interpersonal, cognitive, and applied skills areas. These skills can be either primary or complementary to a major and are acquired by students through education, including curricular, co-curricular, and extracurricular activities."

  1. Critically consume research literature​.
  2. Academic/scholarly writing skills​.
  3. Quantitative and qualitative research skills​.


All students must meet the University requirements as outlined in the Admission to the TWU Graduate School section of the catalog.

This academic program may have additional admission criteria that must also be completed as outlined on the program's website.

Degree Requirements

Total Semester Credit Hours Required

A minimum of 90 semester credit hours above the bachelor’s degree (60 hours beyond the master's degree), including 6 semester credit hours for dissertation. 30 of the 90 hours must be research courses. Consult with advisor for approved research courses.

Special Requirements

No grade below B is accepted towards any graduate degree in the Department of Human Development, Family Studies, and Counseling (HDFSC). If more than one grade below B is earned while enrolled in any HDFSC graduate program, the student will be dismissed from the program and will be ineligible to re-enroll in any program within the department for a period of 8 years.

Degree Plan

Students must submit a degree plan which follows the degree requirements listed below. The degree plan should be developed in collaboration with the student's advisor and committee, and it should be filed after the student has completed 18 hours of course work.

Required 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 Family Sciences
Research Methods in Family Sciences
Doctoral Core
HDFS 6003Advanced Study of the Lifespan (*)3
HDFS 6403Theory Building in Family Sciences3
HDFS 6443Research and Issues in Family Sciences3
HDFS 6593Practicum in Family Sciences (*)3
HDFS 6193Advanced Statistics for Family Sciences (Prerequisite: HDFS 5193 or equivalent master's level statistic course)3
HDFS 6203Frameworks and Ethics for Qualitative Research in Family Sciences3
HDFS 6433Grants Writing in Family Sciences3
HDFS 6693Advanced Quantitative Research Methods In Family Sciences (Prerequisites: A master's level research methods course and a graduate-level statistics course)3
HDFS 6793Advanced Qualitative Research Methods In Family Sciences (Prerequisite: HDFS 6203)3
HDFS 6893Multivariate Statistics (Prerequisites: HDFS 5193 or equivalent master's level statistics course, HDFS 6193 or equivalent doctoral level statistics course, and familiarity with SPSS )3
HDFS 6983Dissertation3
HDFS 6993Dissertation3
Professional Competencies
HDFS 6303Academic Life and Scholarship3
HDFS 6343Effective College Teaching Methods3
HDFS 6863Family Financial Counseling3
Content Specialization
Select 5 courses from the following15
Family Sexuality (*)
Family Changes and Diversity (*)
Communication in Marriage and Family (*)
Adolescent Development Within the Family
Gender Role Development
Parenting Education (*)
Family Crises
Families and Public Policy (*)
Family Economics (*)
Family of Origin
Total SCHs60

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

Research Tools

The Department of HDFSC requires students to complete 12 hours of research tools. The department has a list of courses that meet the research tool requirement, and these courses are part of the degree requirements listed below. They are also included in the 30 hours of research-focused coursework required by the Graduate School. 

Qualifying Exam

The Department of HDFSC administers a qualifying exam for each student prior to admission to candidacy. The student must complete the required research tools before being eligible to take the exam. Students should take the qualifying exam in their last or second-to-last semester of coursework. In no case may a student be excused from the qualifying exam, and students may not register for dissertation hours (HDFS 6983 and HDFS 6993) until they have successfully passed the exam and have been admitted to candidacy. The qualifying exam may only be repeated once. Students who fail two attempts at the qualifying exam will be dismissed from the program.

Dissertation and Final Examination

All students are required to complete a dissertation. Upon completion, the student will participate in an oral defense of the dissertation and the research upon which it is based. The student's advisory committee will determine the outcome of the exam. The final examination may only be repeated one time.