Family Studies and Human Development

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Invest In Others By Investing In Yourself

The Master of Arts in Family Studies is a non-clinical program within the Department of Marriage and Family Therapy. Here, students are put on an advanced educational track in early childhood, human development, interpersonal relations, and family studies. The program’s nationally and internationally recognized faculty will teach you everything from basic developmental and behavioral characteristics of the individual within the context of the family system, to conditions that influence human growth and development. Graduates of the program may enter a variety of non-clinical human services vocations and/or pursue further advanced degrees in human and family development.

Application Deadlines for the Family Studies and Marriage and Family Therapy programs are October 1 and January 15.

A Greater Calling Deserves A Greater Education

Course Offerings

Comprehensive Examination in Family Studies
Behavioral Statistics
Research in Psychology
Program Evaluation

(Each student's program will be designed to include these courses)

Lifespan Human Development
Introduction to Marriage and Family Therapy
Foundations of Marital and Family Therapy
Interventions in Structural and Strategic Family Therapy
Divorce, Single-parenting and Remarriage
Advanced Interventions in Family Therapy
Multicultural Issues in Counseling
Human Sexuality and Sexual Dysfunction
Introduction to Substance Abuse and Addictions
Contemporary Families: Culture, Religion, Childbearing and Community
Ethical, Legal and Professional Issues in Family Therapy
Research in Marriage and Family Therapy
Special Topics in Family Therapy
Parents and Families of Children with Disabilities

Other family studies elective courses also may be taken.


Applicants for the M.A. in Family Studies must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university (or the international equivalent) and give promise of meeting the standards set by the School.

More About Family Studies

Message from the Director

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Message from the Director


Welcome to the Family Studies Program!

Family Studies involves the study of human behavior from a developmental and family systems perspective. The curriculum explores how individuals develop over the life span from conception through aging, and how they function within the context of the family system and other environmental influences.

The curriculum is appropriate for those who wish to pursue doctoral/advanced studies in related areas, particularly to become educators and researchers. Doctoral/advanced studies can be in areas such as human and family development, early childhood, adolescence, marriage and geriatrics.

As a Family Studies graduate, you may elect to pursue a career in:

  • Social and human services as a case manager, family support worker, advocate, researcher, grant writer, and administrator. These jobs are available in universities, schools, non-profit organizations, hospitals, home health and long-term care agencies, and the government sector.
  • Community service, including becoming a parent and family life educator, grant writer, crisis and hotline worker, program administrator or director. These jobs are available in community centers, cooperative extensions, churches and faith-based organizations, family support centers, parenting education programs, and job programs.
  • Policy and family law as a family policy analyst, researcher, lobbyist or advocate, legislator, and politician. Employment in these areas might include working with domestic violence organizations, legal aid agencies, government offices, international organizations, human rights organizations, and non-profit organizations.

As you explore our webpage further, please contact me by email if you have any questions or would like to schedule a time to meet with me.

Nicole O'Brien, PhD
Associate Professor and Director of Marriage and Family Therapy/Family Studies

Diversity and Inclusive Excellence

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Diversity and Inclusive Excellence

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As a Jesuit, Catholic university, Fairfield is dedicated to diversity and inclusion; to radical hospitality in service of racial, social, and economic justice.

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Career & Professional Development

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Career & Professional Development

Upon completion of the M.A. in Family Studies, graduates are qualified to seek paid positions in the mental health field. Family Studies graduates may seek employment in a wide variety of non-clinical areas of social service delivery, including:

  • Research
  • Family policy and family law
  • Parenting and family life education
  • Health and well-being
  • Prevention
  • Program evaluation

The program also prepares the candidate to pursue doctoral studies in related areas to become educators and researchers.

Learn more about how the University's Career Center can support your post-graduate goals, and how Fairfield's tight-knit alumni network can build career and mentoring opportunities that last a lifetime.

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Our caring and committed faculty offer a rigorous course of study, with a broad range of courses that integrate critical reflection and extensive field experience.

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Frequently Asked Questions

When you are ready to apply, you can create an online application. Please plan to spend about 10 - 15 minutes completing the application. You can create the application and return to the platform in the future to submit it if you require additional time. You should be prepared to answer a series of questions pertaining to your biographical information, program of interest, and educational/ work background. Additionally, you will be required to enter the names and contact information for two references. As part of the application process, you will be required to submit all official college transcripts (sent directly from your institutions), two recommendations (submitted directly from your references who will receive a unique email link), a personal statement, and resume. Please note, you may submit the online application prior to submitting the required supplemental materials. For any questions about the online application please contact Fairfield University Graduate Admission.

The master's degree in Family Studies is appropriate for those who wish to seek employment in the non-clinical areas of social service delivery, research, family policy and family law, parenting and family life education, health and well-being, prevention and program evaluation.

The curriculum is designed to prepare the candidate to pursue doctoral studies in related areas to become educators and researchers. Graduates of the program may pursue further advanced degrees in human and family development, including early childhood, adolescence, marriage, and geriatrics.

We develop individual plans of study with each student, taking into account your personal circumstances. Except during the summer semester, didactic courses are taught on weekday evenings between 4:55-9:15 p.m. or as a Friday / Saturday weekend class.

Anywhere from 2.5 to 3 years; it all depends on how many courses you want to take a semester. Full-time students can complete the program in 2 to 2.5 years.

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