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Undergraduate Catalog 2016-2017

Family Science (FMSC)

School of Public Health
1142 School of Public Health, Bldg. 255, 301-405-3672
Chair: E. Anderson (Prof & Chair)
Director: C. Werlinich (Instructor, FMSC & Director, Center for Healthy Families)
Professors: N. Epstein, S. Hofferth, S. Koblinsky, S. Quinn (Prof, FMSC & Assoc Dean, SPHL)
Associate Professors: J. Kim (Assoc Prof & Family Finance Specialist, Maryland Extension), L. Leslie, M. Mokhtari, K. Roy, E. Shenassa, M. Smith Bynum, J. Wallen
Assistant Professors: M. Jones, A. Lewin, M. Mittal, J. Steinberg
Lecturers: L. Hoskins, W. Knight, K.Van Putten-Gardner, C. Schull, K. Tripp, R. Zeiger
Affiliate Professors: R. Dagher (Asst Prof, HLSA), X. He (Asst Prof, EPIB), E. Maring (Research Asst Prof, Director of Global Health Initiatives, Applied Environmental Health, MIAEH)
Adjunct Associate Professors: K. Schoendorf (Adjunct Assoc Prof)
Adjunct Assistant Professors: K. Grantz (Adjunct Asst Prof)
Professors Emeriti: B. Braun (Prof Emeritus), N. Gaylin (Prof Emeritus), N. Myricks (Prof Emeritus), S. Randolph (Assoc Prof Emeritus), R. Rubin (Assoc Prof Emeritus), J. Wallen (Assoc Prof)
Visiting Faculty: F. Goldscheider (College Park Professor), S. Kessel (Professor of the Practice)

The Major

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, strengths and challenges. Students learn to describe, explain, and improve the quality of family life through education, applied research, policy analysis, and human services program management.   Majors acquire skills in writing, speaking, and computing across the Family Science curriculum and complete an empirical research project prior to graduation.

The Family Science major prepares students for careers in social work, human services, family therapy, family life education, public health, policy analysis, and family mediation. A wide variety of employment opportunities exist for Family Science graduates in direct service and management positions in government, non-profit, and private agencies. The major also provides excellent preparation for graduate study in family science, marriage and family therapy, social work, law, public health, psychology, human resource management, and other social science disciplines.  

Courses offered by this department may be found under the following acronym:  FMSC.

Program Learning Outcomes

  1. Students will evaluate policy and programmatic interventions to address social and behavioral factors that influence family well-being.
  2. Students will demonstrate the principles of cultural competence that shape the experiences and disparities of vulnerable families and populations.
  3. Students will present a research project that addresses a significant issue of family well-being.
  4. Student will demonstrate basic knowledge of family theories and apply the knowledge to diverse contexts.
  5. Students will analyze and critique the range of social structures and systems such as health, legal, and economic that affect family well-being.


Academic Programs and Departmental Facilities

Our Department's excellent facilities create an ideal environment for the work of our students and faculty. Our classrooms are equipped with wireless internet and high tech equipment. All department facilities are accessible to persons with disabilities. The main office is located in 1142 School of Public Health Building. It is open year-round (except university holidays), Monday through Friday, from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. Students are encouraged to come to the main office for information about the Family Science undergraduate programs, department courses, and ways to get involved in departmental research and student activities. All faculty offices are located in the 1142 School of Public Health office suite, facilitating faculty interaction and collaboration. Please come to the main office in 1142 School of Public Health if you are looking for a faculty member.

Admission to the Major

Students who wish to change or declare a major in Family Science can only do so through a 'Change of Major Workshop.'

To register for a workshop, visit https://sph.umd.edu/content/become-sph-major .  Change of Major workshops are held in the SPH building (room 1142). Students must register in advance in order to attend a 'Change of Major Workshop'.

Requirements for the Major

 Required Courses - Major subject area 
  A grade of C- or better is required in these courses.  
FMSC302Research Methods 3
FMSC330Family Theories and Patterns 3
FMSC332 Children in Families  3
FMSC381Poverty, Affluence, and Families 3
FMSC383Delivery of Human Services to Families 3
FMSC432 Adult Development and Aging in Families  3
FMSC477Internship and Analysis in Family Science 3
FMSC487Legal Aspects of Family Problems 3
 Required Courses - Department Electives 
 A grade of "C-" or better is required in these courses. 
 Six additional FMSC departmental credits*+ 6
   * With the exception of independent study (FMSC399, FMSC498) and field work (FMSC386, FMSC387). 
   + FMSC105 and FMSC298F cannot be used to meet this requirement unless they are taken before the student completes 60 credits.
 Additional Courses Required of all majors 
  All students must earn a grade of "C-" or better in all courses applied toward completion of the major.  
PSYC100Introduction to Psychology
 One from: 3-4 
FMSC290Family Economics  
ECON200Principles of Microeconomics  
ECON201Principles of Macroeconomics  
 One from:
EDMS451Introduction to Educational Statistics  
STAT100Elementary Statistics and Probability  
 One from:
SOCY100Introduction to Sociology  
SOCY105Introduction to Contemporary Social Problems  
 One from:
COMM100Foundations of Speech Communication  
COMM107Speech Communication: Principles and Practices  
COMM125Introduction to Interpersonal Communication 



The Family Science Department provides a multi-tier advising system that will help you design and carry out a program of study best suited to your interests and needs. Several advisors are available, depending on your need: the Family Science Undergraduate Coordinator, Faculty Advisors, and the Director of Student Services in the School of Public Health.

For general questions and consultation about degree requirements, the Department Undergraduate Director, Zainab Okolo, is available in the main office (1142KK School of Public Health) as a first point of contact. The Undergraduate Coordinator also conducts orientations for students in the major.

For more information, or to schedule an appointment with the Undergraduate Coordinator, visit http://sph.umd.edu/department/fmsc/advising .

Undergraduate Research Experiences

The Department has an active Undergraduate Research Assistant Program, which enables students to learn from and work with world-class scholars on family issues. Family Science undergraduates volunteer to assist Department faculty with their ongoing research projects on such topics as:

  • Child care
  • Fathering
  • Work and family issues
  • Family and community violence
  • Homeless families
  • Interracial marriages
  • Family financial education
  • AIDS education
  • Adolescent depression
  • Couple relationships
  • Military families
  • Marital standards in China

Undergraduate students who participate in Family Science research may also participate in the University's Undergraduate Research Assistance Program, which provides a transcript notation documenting their research experience. This notation particularly benefits those students who apply to graduate school. The Department also participates in several other undergraduate research programs, such as the Senior Summer Scholars Program and the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program.

You may also set an appointment with Undergraduate Coordinator Zainab Okolo to answer questions and help connect you with current undergraduate research projects in Family Science.

Please visit our department website for more information about current undergraduate research opportunities.


All Family Science majors are required to complete an internship experience during their senior year.  The internship program is designed to integrate department and other coursework with a real-time work experience.  In addition to a 120-hour semester-long 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 plus a minimum of six additional credits of FMSC coursework.

Each approved internship must have a significant focus on the family unit, incorporating the needs and concerns of the family in addition to those of the individual. Interns will be expected to utilize Family Science theories and concepts throughout the accompanying seminar to evaluate their internship experience; therefore, it is essential that the internship responsibilities relate directly to family.

Students who need help deciding on an internship have access to the FMSC Internship Database, which contains listings of organizations that have requested our students along with those where Family Science students have completed internships.

Students can pick up internship contracts in the main office, 1142 School of Public Health Building, or online at http://sph.umd.edu/sites/default/files//files/Internshippacket_10_10_11_update.pdf

There are strict deadlines for turning in completed contracts:

Spring Internship contract: Due December 1

Summer & Fall Internship contracts: Due the preceding May 1

Honors Program

The FMSC Honors Program is designed to provide academically talented students with a more advanced and enriching educational experience in Family Sciences.  The Honors Program gives students an opportunity to participate in scholarly independent study, interact with FMSC faculty, and examine a range of intellectual topics in greater depth than is possible in the traditional Family Science program. Students enroll in special Honors courses, Honors option work in regular courses, and independent research. The program culminates with the presentation of a Senior Honors thesis. Students are recognized at graduation for their superior achievement in Family Science. 

Any FMSC major who meets the following criteria is eligible for the Honors Program:  

  • An overall GPA of 3.0 with at least 45 credits completed
  • Completion of two 200-level or higher FMSC courses with grades of "B" or above
    • FMSC290 with a grade of "B" or better and an additional three credits in FMSC OR
    • ECON200 with a grade of "B" or better and an additional 6 credits in FMSC
  • A GPA of 3.3 in all FMSC courses

Students meeting the criteria and wishing to participate in the Honors Program must apply three semesters (not including summer) prior to graduation. 

Students must maintain a 3.0 overall GPA and a 3.3 FMSC GPA to remain in the program. If a student falls below either of these standards, he or she will have one semester to meet the standard or be dropped from the program.

Completion of the FMSC Honors Program Requires:

  • Six credits of FMSC Honors courses (either Honors section or Honors option)
  • Six credits of Honors thesis under the direction of an FMSC faculty advisor, culminating in a thesis and satisfactory oral defense of the thesis to a committee of at least two full-time UMCP faculty (including the advisor)

Application forms are available on the FMSC web site or from the FMSC Honors Program Coordinator, Dr. Mia Smith Bynum.

Student Societies and Professional Organizations

Maryland Council on Family Relations (MCFR) is a student chapter of the National Council on Family Relations, a professional organization for family researchers, educators, and practitioners. The organization provides an opportunity for students to explore family issues, meet fellow students, and prepare for careers in teaching, research, policy analysis, or direct service to families. MCFR is open to all undergraduate and graduate Family Science students. For more information, please contact the MCFR Faculty Advisor, Kevin Roy

Phi Upsilon Omicron is a nationally recognized honor society focused toward observing academic excellence, enhancing qualities of leadership by providing opportunities for service, and encouraging lifelong learning and commitment in order to advance family and consumer sciences and related areas.  Members participate in monthly community service activities on campus and in the surrounding Metropolitan DC areas.  They also conduct informative workshops for members and other Family Science students on academic skills development, stress management, graduate school, and potential career paths with a Family Science degree.  The Gamma Lambda Chapter has a local alumni chapter which provides our members with many resources.  Other membership benefits include networking opportunities through regional and national meetings, scholarship and fellowship awards, honor cords at graduation, and leadership opportunities at the chapter, regional, and national levels. For more information please contact the FMSC Undergraduate Coordinator, Zainab Okolo.

Scholarships and Financial Assistance

Our Department’s goal is to provide an affordable education to the most talented undergraduate and graduate students who are pursuing degrees in family studies. Scholarships often make the difference in whether or not a student is able to remain at the University of Maryland.

For information about the current state and federal scholarship and financial aid opportunities, visit http://sph.umd.edu/department/fmsc/tuition-and-financial-support-0 .

The Department of Family Science has several endowed scholarships that enable us to provide some assistance to the best and brightest students in our Family Science Program. Awards are announced early Spring semester and recipients are announced by May of each year. For more information visit  http://sph.umd.edu/department/fmsc/department-family-science-scholarships

The Office of Student Financial Aid (OSFA) administers all types of federal, state and institutional financial assistance programs and, in cooperation with other university offices, participates in the awarding of scholarships to deserving students. For information, visit: www.financialaid.umd.edu .

Awards and Recognition

Annually, the Department selects outstanding undergraduates based upon academic and service performance who are recognized at the annual Dean's Scholars Awards Banquet each spring.

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