Youth and Community Development Track—Master of Arts in Family and Consumer Sciences

Youth and community development track

Admissions requirements

  • Bachelor's degree with GPA of 3.0 or higher in last two years of undergraduate work.
  • Resume detailing previous education and experience over the past ten years.
  • 500-750 word personal statement explaining applicant’s interest and experience.
  • Three professional letters of reference.

Student success

  • "It [the program] allowed me the flexibility as a single parent to work, attend classes and meet the needs of my sons,”"Mark Ybarra, alumni feature

Program description

This program is offered in-person.

The Master of Arts in Family and Consumer Sciences (Youth and Community Development track) is an advanced course of professional development for leaders in informal learning environments and the out-of-school time sector. It is based on theoretical perspectives in childhood, adolescent, and family development and organizational change, and grounded in an ethic of community engagement and social action. It prepares change agents to transform communities through an intentional investment in youth with interdisciplinary coursework and community-based experiences.

The Youth and Community Development track is a 32-credit hour program. Students will work closely with graduate faculty to develop a plan of study that fits with personal career and academic goals. Students will complete a practicum or internship.

Engaging youth in prosocial activity has long been a priority, as schools and neighborhoods create overlapping systems of support to encourage healthy youth and communities. Youth-serving settings, including informal learning environments and out-of-school time programs, are of increasing interest as successful ways to build assets and to maximize youth potential. This program joins the larger movement to elevate and professionalize the field of youth development and encourages thriving communities by building capacity and developing new leaders in youth-serving settings.

The Youth and Community Development track is situated at the intersection of developmental theory, social action and justice, and organizational leadership and change. This program is rooted in community psychology and the prevention sciences to provide a foundation for studying setting-level interventions and developmental needs. This program invites students to critically examine root causes and how individuals and organizations can address social inequalities. Students will study organizational change to develop understandings and competencies in transformational leadership to promote human flourishing.

Why this program at Western Michigan University

  • Prepares graduate for leadership roles in a variety of settings
  • Option of Accelerated Graduate Degree Program for current WMU undergraduate students
  • Students are encouraged to pursue additional educational opportunities through one of our many excellent study abroad programs, such as Education and Human Development in India.
  • All WMU programs offer an optional WMU Signature Designation, which helps students degrees stand out through an integrative learning project in one of several pathways including: Teaching & Student Success, Leadership, Health & Wellbeing, Diversity, Inclusion, Equity & Justice, and more! 

Who should apply

Individuals passionate about youth and the community and prepared to study developmental theory, social action and justice, and organizational leadership and change.

Career opportunities

Our graduates are employed as:

  • Childlife Specialists
  • Youth advocates
  • Parent educators
  • Specialists and supervisors in community-based social services


  1. The Youth and Community Development track includes a minimum of 32 credit hours, half of which must be in courses at the 6000-level or higher, and at least two hours of FCS 7100 Independent Research.
  2. Schedule an advising appointment with the Graduate Advisor soon after notification of admission.
  3. Youth and Community Development Coursework. (Family Science Graduate Advisor/Coordinator approval of course selection is required. Courses are three credit hours unless otherwise noted.)

          FCS 6410 Advances in Youth and Community Development

         FCS 6420 Building Capacity/Quality in Youth and Community Development

         FCS 5680 Gender, Culture, and Families

         FCS 6010 Basic Research Methods

         ED 5950 Experiential Education & Place-Based

         ES 5850 Social Justice & Community Organizing

         FCS 6220 Practicum (2-6 cr hr)

     Choose One: (3 – 6 credit hours)

        FCS 7100 Independent Research (2-6 cr hr)

        FCS 7000 Master’s Thesis (6 cr hr)

     Choose Elective Courses: Choose from course work in Family Science, Public Affairs and Administration, Organizational Change Leadership, Workforce Education and Development, or Youth and Community Development. Master’s Thesis credit or additional credits in FCS 6220 and/or FCS 7100 may be taken in lieu of an elective course.

Download the rotation of graduate courses to plan your schedule.

Faculty Contact

For more information and to schedule an advising appointment contact: