MFCS - Youth Development

The Master of Family and Consumer Sciences with Youth Development specialization is the only online degree available focusing solely on the skills to serve today’s young people. Students become immersed in a strengths-based curriculum and learn a methodology that supports youth, enabling them to grow socially, emotionally, and cognitively.

This 36-credit web-based program has its roots in positive youth development. Rather than focusing solely on corrective measures, a positive youth development approach equips individuals in the second decade of life with the skillset necessary for a successful transition into adulthood.

The following online graduate certificates are available as a part of this program:

  • Youth Development Specialist Graduate Certificate
  • Youth Program Management and Evaluation Graduate Certificate

MFCS Youth Development Brochure » 

About the program

Why study youth development?

An MFCS with Youth Development specialization or graduate certificate in youth development will benefit:

  • Elementary, middle, and high school educators
  • Extension educators
  • Military youth specialists
  • Any service providers or practitioners working directly with youth

Increasing demand

There is an increasing demand for employees of youth-serving organizations to obtain graduate degrees, certificates, and/or licensure. The Youth Development program offered as part of the Great Plains IDEA is a recognized leader in professional development and advanced degrees in youth development.

Examples of organizations looking for professionals who understand and address the unique needs of young people include:

  • 4-H
  • Boys and Girls Clubs of America
  • Non-profits
  • Faith-based groups
  • Community recreation
  • Juvenile justice facilities
  • Middle and high school programs
  • Extension services
  • Military youth programs

Financial and professional benefits

Generally, professionals with a master’s degree can demand a higher wage than those holding a graduate certificate. The graduate certificate can be used for continuing education credits or a career ladder opportunity. A graduate certificate can also be used to supplement a master’s degree in another field.

Online program

This online program is offered by the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance (GP-IDEA), a consortium of universities that have come together to offer fully online degree programs. Each university brings a unique strength to the multi-institution academic programs.

Curriculum

MFCS - Youth Development

 Courses are offered on a rotating basis, with all courses offered at least once every other year (fall, spring, and summer). Refer to the complete course list and schedule for details.

MFCS - Youth Development requirements

The Master of Family and Consumer Sciences with Youth Development specialization consists of:

  • 10 required courses, equaling 28 credit hours
  • 8 credits of electives

Core courses

Requirements include:

  • 9 courses at 3 credit hours each
  • A professional development seminar that is 1 credit hour

The following are the courses offered:

  • Foundations of Youth Development (professional development seminar)
  • Community Youth Development
  • Adolescents and Their Families
  • Program Design, Evaluation, and Implementation
  • Topics in Contemporary Youth Issues
  • Youth Professionals as Consumers of Research
  • Youth Policy
  • Administration and Program Management
  • Youth in Cultural Contexts
  • Youth Development

Electives

The 8 elective hours consist of:

  • A practicum (1-3 credits)
  • Independent study (1-3 credits)
  • Coursework

Practicum and independent study: Project hours for supervised practice and experience in area related to youth development are coordinated with the major professor.  Student full-time work experiences cannot be substituted for supervised practice or experiences. These practicum and independent study projects are tailored to the needs of the individual student and determined in cooperation with the POS committee.

Youth Program Management and Evaluation graduate certificate

Youth Program Management and Evaluation Graduate Certificate

This certificate  provides graduate students the ability to systematically acquire knowledge and skills needed to competently evaluate programs for youth from a positive development framework. It provides service providers with the ability to scientifically evaluate programs they provide to youth and their families.

Strengths-based curriculum

The graduate certificates use a strengths-based curriculum to provide human and family service workers with research and professional skills that support youth to make them socially, emotionally, and cognitively competent adults.

Curriculum consists of:

  • 1 required course — YOUTH 501: Foundations of Youth Development (1 credit)
  • 12 credits taken from the list below:
  • Program Design, Implementation and Evaluation (3 credits)
  • Program Administration (3 credits)
  • Youth Professionals as Consumers of Research (3 credits)
  • Youth Policy (3 credits)
  • Topics in Contemporary Youth Issues (3 credits)

Youth Development Specialist graduate certificate

Youth Development Specialist Graduate Certificate

This certificate provides graduate students the ability to systematically acquire knowledge, skills, and training in best practices related to youth development. This certificate focuses on developmental issues of youth from a positive developmental framework. It is meant to provide service providers with an understanding of the developmental tasks and contemporary issues of youth.

Strengths-based curriculum

The graduate certificates use a strengths-based curriculum to provide human and family service workers with research and professional skills that support youth to make them socially, emotionally, and cognitively competent adults.

Curriculum consists of:

  • 1 required course - YOUTH 501: Foundations of Youth Development (1 credit)
  • 12 credits taken from the list below:
  • Youth Development (3 credits)
  • Community Youth Development (3 credits)
  • Adolescents and Their Families (3 credits)
  • Youth Policy (3 credits)
  • Youth in Cultural Contexts (3 credits)
  • Topics in Contemporary Youth Issues (3 credits)

Course descriptions

YOUTH 501: Foundations of Youth Development (1 credit)

Online only. This course will examine the fundamentals of youth development and the youth development profession. Through this introduction to the field, students will explore the ethical, professional, and historical elements of youth development as it has evolved toward professionalization.

YOUTH 510: Adolescents and Their Families (3 credits)

Online only. This course will cover adolescent development as it is related to and intertwined with family development; reciprocal influences between adolescents and their families are examined. Working with youth vis à vis the family system will be highlighted.

YOUTH 520: Community Youth Development (3 credits)

Online only. This course focuses on the national emphasis of a strength-based or asset approach to community youth development, encompassing individual development (i.e., positive youth development) and adolescent interrelationships with environments. Emphasis is placed upon research, theory, and practice applied in communities throughout the U.S. Students will explore existing models, read theoretical and applied literature, and examine current community efforts as a basis for understanding community youth development.

YOUTH 530: Youth in Cultural Contexts (3 credits)

Online only. This course will examine the cultural context factors that affect youth from a holistic perspective within and outside the family unit. The course will provide an understanding of the cultural heritage of differing family structures and types. Students will explore the social and educational processes experienced by youth through in-depth reading, writing, discussion, critical listening, viewing of contemporary videos, and informal interviews with youth. Students will be encouraged to think critically about society and culture, gain further knowledge of how ethnic groups fit historically into society, and examine the results of how history has shaped the current cultural climate of the U.S.

YOUTH 540: Youth Professionals as Consumers of Research (3 credits)

Online only. This course will help youth development professionals understand and evaluate research reports to reduce anxiety about applying research results and theories to practice. Specific emphasis will be on research and theory reports related to youth development.

YOUTH 550: Youth Policy (3 credits)

Online only. This course examines various federal and state policies designed specifically for youth. Students will examine how and why policies for youth are constructed. A guiding question that will be used to evaluate existing state and national policies is whether they contribute to, or act as, barriers to desired developmental outcomes.

YOUTH 585: Program Design, Evaluation and Implementation (3 credits)

Online only. This course will discuss the theoretical, methodological, and pragmatic issues involved in conducting programs and scholarship. Included in the course is an overview of the program development process and outcome evaluation of children and family programs. Modes of outcome scholarship and their implications for community-based programs are discussed. Students will develop knowledge through participating in a community-based project involving the practical application of program design and evaluation methods.

YOUTH 570: Contemporary Youth Issues (3 credits)

Online only. This course will present issues faced by youth today and associated risk and resiliency factors. A different topic will be presented each year, with the course rotating among participating universities. Past topics have included Youth Violence, Youth and Appearance, Adolescent Health, Global Perspectives and Volunteerism. The course may be taken more than once, as long as the content is different each time

YOUTH 580; Administration and Program Management (3 credits)

Online only. This course will introduce students to the development, administration and management of youth-serving organizations.

YOUTH 589: Grant Development & Management (3 credits)

Online only. Basic Grant Development and Management will introduce students to the grant-getting process and provide an overview of what happens after a project is funded. The following topics will be covered: researching funding sources, generating cutting edge ideas, assessing needs, planning a project, establishing credibility, formulating a sustainable budget, designing an evaluation plan, managing the funded project, and disseminating project results.

YOUTH 634: Youth Development (3 credits)

Online only. This course will introduce students to the developmental period of adolescence. The theory and research of positive youth development will be the lens through which this developmental period is examined. The course will emphasize how the developmental tasks of this life stage are influenced by (and influence) family and home, school, peers, and other contextual forces. The course will help students recognize and become familiar with the major issues and transitions adolescents face as they successfully navigate this developmental stage by critically examining the theoretical and research literature.

YOUTH 691: Internship

Repeatable. F.S.SS. Prereq: Permission of instructor. Satisfactory-fail only.

Supervised practice and experience in the following specified areas:

  • College Teaching
  • Research
  • Professional Experience

YOUTH 690: Advanced Topics

Repeatable. F.S.SS. Prereq: Permission of instructor.

YOUTH 599: Creative Component

Repeatable. Satisfactory-fail only.

YOUTH 699: Research

Repeatable. Satisfactory-fail only.

Non-degree status

Students may take up to nine graduate credits hours as a non-degree seeking student before being formally admitted to the program. No more than nine credits earned in non-degree status can be used on the program of study for a degree.

Final exam requirements (paper and oral exam)

Creative component

A creative component is completed as the final project/exam for this degree.

A minimum of 5 credits of independent work is required on the programs of study (POS). Examples of creative components include:

  • Special report
  • Policy brief
  • Integrated field experience
  • Annotated bibliography
  • Research project
  • Design, webinars, blogs, or other creative endeavors

The final project is tailored to the needs of the individual student and determined in cooperation with the POS committee. The student presents the agreed-upon project to the committee in a 60- to 90-minute final oral examination meeting via a video conference call.

Oral examination

The student presents and defends the creative component during the final oral examination. Because this is a distance degree program, students will not need to travel to campus to fulfill this requirement. This oral examination is generally completed via conference call or video conferencing.

What do students have to say?

Check out some of the comments from a 2012 survey of graduates of the GP-IDEA MFCS programs.

Feedback from ISU MFCS/GP-IDEA graduates

“I have the same position, but an increased salary as a result of my degree.”
 
“I was able to enter a tenure-track position on completion of my masters, changing my academic rank from Adjunct Instructor to Assistant Professor.”
 
“This program has allowed several doors to open for me. I am a professor at the local junior college, and I have my own youth development summer program for 100 children in the local area involving agriculture and where their food comes from.”
 
“This degree program played a significant role in my ability to make a case to be promoted to senior staff status within my organization. My promotion was approved and I will receive an additional $2,500 raise this fall and new title. “
 
“I fully support this program and what it does for working professionals.”
 
“I have taken many skills from this program and developed my own YD program in my area. My program has been very successful and have a wait list every summer. This summer will be five years I have been directing my own summer program.” 
 
“This was an excellent program. Thank you!”
 
“I have repeatedly recommended this program to colleagues. I appreciate the rigor, flexibility and general course quality.”
 
“Thanks to all the professors that have worked so hard to put this program together. My education is still on the forefront of where youth development programs are in our society. I was one of the first 6 students to graduate from this program.”

 

  • Contact Information

    MFCS graduate program information

    (Questions about admission, registration, etc.)

    Karen Smidt
    310 MacKay Hall
    Iowa State University
    Ames, IA 50011-1120
    Phone: 515-294-5397
    Fax: 515-294-5385
    gpideainfo@iastate.edu

    Academic issues

    (Questions related to academic progress, such as advice on courses, timing of courses, career path, etc.)

    Brenda Lohman
    2356 Palmer
    Ames, IA 50011-4380
    515-294-6230
    blohman@iastate.edu

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