Family Studies

If you desire a position in a public or private human service organization or program related to children, families and individuals, you should consider majoring in interdisciplinary family studies at Western Michigan University. Recent graduates hold positions with Healthy Families, Planned Parenthood, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Senior Services and other nonprofit organizations, as well as in state government, family courts, correctional facilities, rehabilitation centers and preschools. 

The child and family development program offers flexibility, allowing you to complete the coursework for your major in person at the main Kalamazoo campus, online, or a hybrid mix of in person and online. This is not a teachable major. If you are seeking a teaching certification see the Teaching, Learning and Educational Studies page.

As a family studies student at WMU, you will study:

  • How families work.
  • The inter-relationship of families and society.
  • Human growth and development across the life span.
  • The physiological and psychological aspects of human sexuality.
  • The impact of resource management on daily life.
  • The importance and value of education for parenting.
  • The effect of policy and legislation on families.
  • Ethical considerations in professional conduct.
  • How to teach and develop curriculum for varied settings.

Beyond the classroom

If you decide to major in family studies at WMU, you will extend your academic work with on-the-job training in a child care, human service or nonprofit organization. You will independently locate a site that fits with your long-term career goals, and your program will be supervised by WMU faculty in cooperation with management personnel in the field.

The Family Studies student organization provides opportunities for you to interact with peers, hone leadership skills and serve the community. During meetings and service projects, you will network and learn about career paths and job opportunities.

After you graduate


WMU's family studies program has been approved by the National Council on Family Relations and graduates may choose to become Certified Family Life Educators—CFLE. This certification enhances employment opportunities and verifies professional credibility for educators who work with families.

Recent WMU graduates with degrees in family studies are working as:

  • Activities directors
  • Executives and directors
  • Extension agents
  • Family assistance specialists
  • Family educators
  • Family life educators
  • Family service field associates
  • Home visitors
  • Juvenile court workers
  • Military child and youth specialists
  • Parent educators
  • Parent involvement specialists
  • Program or service facilitators
  • Senior services coordinators
  • Substance abuse assessment specialists
  • Volunteer directors

Among the organizations they work for are:

  • Administration on Children, Youth and Families
  • Adoption and foster care agencies
  • Community health centers
  • Correctional facilities
  • Courts
  • Even Start, Head Start and Early On programs
  • Faith and religious organizations
  • Military family support programs
  • Nonprofit organizations
  • Nursing homes
  • Preschools
  • Rehabilitation centers
  • Scout and youth organizations
  • State and federal government

Career Outcomes

Where is this program offered?

Other programs of interest