Frequently Asked Questions
When can I enter the program and when is the application deadline?
- The priority application date is March 15th for Fall semeter and September 15 for Spring semester. We will accept applications until June 1 and November 1, and if places are available, we will consider applications until those times.
What application materials should I submit when I apply?
- To begin the process, prospective students must complete an application with the Graduate School (which can be found at Graduate School Admissions), submit test scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), a statement of intent indicating why they are interested in working in this field, and three letters of recommendation from professionals familiar with the applicant's academic work and qualified to assess the applicant's readiness for graduate study.
What should I write about in my "statement of intent"?
- Introduce yourself and discuss why you are interested in the program. Also discuss how you believe this degree will help you to achieve your educational and career goals.
What factors does the Admissions Committee evaluate to decide if I am accepted to the program?
- Regular admission to the Graduate School for study in the master of science degree programs in the Department of Child and Family Studies requires a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution, a grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.25 (on a 4.0 scale) in the last 64 hours of coursework, and a 3.0 GPA in major. Some students are admitted on "Conditional" status if their scores on our evaluation form indicate they probably can do the work but scores are not quite high enough to allow for "Regular" status. The GRE (Analytical Writing and Verbal portions, only) is only one of the factors considered in admission, along with cumulative GPA and GPA from the last 60 hours of coursework. In addition, we evaluate the quality of the statement of intent and letters of recommendation. The letters of recommendation should offer clear support for the applicant's ability and potential for success in the program.
Can I take courses as a non-degree student?
- Students may take up to 9 hours of non-degree work with the department chair's approval. In order to enroll as a non-degree student, each student must be admitted to the university and all transcripts must be turned in to the Graduate School. In order to continue the program after the 9 hours of non-degree work, each student must submit GRE scores, three letters of recommendation and statement of intent. Students will be approved for this option if there are strong indications the student can do well in the courses. Non-degree hours may be transferred in for credit once accepted into program. Taking courses as a non-degree student does not guarantee admission to the program.
Do I need anything special for the program?
- Students will need a computer, broadband access to the Internet, and a Web camera and microphone.
What courses are offered during the program?
- Please check the departmental Web page for the most current information: Online Masters Courses.
How many classes would I take every semester?
- The program is designed for students who work and want to go to school part-time. We offer two courses a semester (fall, spring, and summer), with the goal of each student graduating in two years.
What can I expect when I start taking classes?
- The program is an online graduate program, which most students find to be very different from their face-to-face undergraduate program experience. First, the online experience requires more self-discipline, more attending to the syllabus, and more effort to connect with instructors and fellow graduate students. Second, graduate school is focused on one area and requires a lot more reading and project work. For every three-hour class a student takes, they should expect to spend a minimum of 9 to 12 hours weekly studying, attending online class meetings, and completing projects. For two 3-hour classes, you should expect to spend a minimum of 18 to 24 hours weekly. Finally, online classes usually require a great deal of writing, so plan to do a lot of writing on papers and projects.
Where do I complete my practicum and what do I do there?
- Students choose to complete either a supervised practicum or a thesis. The practicum experience is arranged on an individual basis with each student, and in some instances the practicum is completed at the student's current job site. Students are encouraged to expand their horizons beyond performing the same duties that are a part of their current position.
Will I have to take a comprehensive exam in order to graduate?
- Students are required to take a comprehensive examination during their final semester in the program. Students are expected to complete a written exam with a time limit to complete and return to the Comps Committee Coordinator. Depending on how adequately the student responds, the student may pass, fail, be asked to re-write sections of the exam (which will then be evaluated), and/or meet with the committee for an oral examination. The only exceptions to this process are those students who elect to complete a thesis, in which case they will be expected to sit for an oral examination.
Where can I find out more information about tuition?
- On the USM website: Graduate School, you can find information about admission, tuition, etc. Please know that out-of-state tuition is waived for students enrolled in the online master's program.
Whom should I ask to write my letters of recommendation?
- Ask professionals (e.g., professors, supervisors) who know your academic and/or professional work to write letters of recommendation for you. Letters of recommendation from former professors and other credentialed academics carry more weight. Have the letters sent to The University of Southern Mississippi Graduate School 118 College Drive #5024 Hattiesburg, MS 39406-0001.