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

master of arts

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, read more

Program overview

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 youth and community development 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.
  • We are the only institution in the U.S. that includes an optional co-curricular designation known as the WMU Signature. Pathways include: 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

  • Child-life specialists
  • Youth advocates
  • Parent educators
  • Specialists and supervisors in community-based social services


Cost & Funding

Helpful links

Graduate Advisor