About Us

Program Overview

Are you interested in working with families in diverse settings? If so, are you willing to learn and apply the skills necessary to promote quality of life and to serve as an effective advocate for families across their lifespans?

The University of Southern Mississippi is here to help you reach that goal. The online Master of Science Degree in Child and Family Studies is now offered fully online. It is designed for working professionals who struggle to fit traditional classroom learning into their busy schedules. Here is a video of one of our graduates sharing how the CFS MS program fit into her busy lifestyle. This convenient and affordable online degree will advance and improve the careers of professionals who already create positive changes in organizations, agencies, and educational settings. Join Online at Southern Miss – your life, plus college.

We offer a 37 hour non-thesis option or a 37 hour thesis option. The program is structured for students who work and want to go to school part-time. The first semester students take seven (7) hours and then six (6) hour every semester after that. If you follow this format, you will finish in two calendar years.

Students must take 18 hours of 600 level or higher courses.



What is Child and Family Studies?

The discipline of Child and Family Studies is an interdisciplinary field that deals with the family in relation to the self and society. It includes academic research, family life education, human and social services, child development, and public health. Ultimately, Child and Family professionals are dedicated to promoting a better quality of life for all families. Graduates of our online masters program are employed in a wide range of careers and settings.

What Types of Careers Do Graduates Pursue?

 Career Resources


Military-Friendly Program

At The University of Southern Mississippi, we recognize the significant sacrifices and service of student-veterans and their families. That’s why we’re dedicated to providing you the support you need to excel in the classroom and succeed in civilian life. The 100% online master’s program in Child and Family Studies is a great fit for spouses and adult children of military personnel who need the flexibility of a classroom without walls. Visit https://www.usm.edu/military-veterans for more information about how USM supports active and veteran military members and their families.

We pride ourselves in offering the best values and services to those who deserve it the most: our veterans, service members, and families.

  •  Affordable
  •  Accredited
  •  Flexible
  •  Military-Friendly School
  •  In-state tuition
  •  Numerous scholarship opportunities


To Apply

  • We admit 20-25 students each Fall semester. The priority deadline for Fall admission is April 15th, but we will continue to review applications until June 30th as long as there are still seats available. To apply, visit the Graduate School website.
  • The Child and Family Studies Master’s program integrates several criteria to be evaluated for admission to the program. The following criteria are considered collectively in order to develop a comprehensive understanding of the applicant’s strengths:

    • Grade Point Average (GPA) from college transcripts
    • Graduate Record Examination (GRE) (http://www.ets.org/gre/) scores for the verbal reasoning and analytical writing sections - the GRE is a required part of your application.
    • Resume identifying relevant academic and work experiences
    • Personal letter of intent: This is a 2-3 page essay telling us about yourself, your educational training and experiences in working with children and families, your decision to pursue a master’s degree in child and family studies, and your professional goals.
    • Three professional references.  We prefer at least two from former professors and no more than one from an employer. If you have been out of school for many years, please let the program director know and we will discuss other possibilities for reference letters. Please ask your referees to address such things as:  academic abilities and potential for graduate work; writing skills; leadership; motivation and work ethic; emotional stability and maturity; respect for diversity; and interpersonal skills. The USM Graduate School has a completely online format so follow their instructions for submitting materials.
  • In some instances, students learn of our program after the fall application period has passed, they have not yet taken the GRE for program admission consideration, or they would like to experience the program on a trial basis before seeking regular admission. In these cases you can apply for admissions as a non-degree seeking student. With satisfactory grades, courses taken as a non-degree seeking student will count toward the degree if the student is ultimately accepted into the CFS MS program. Fall non-degree students will need to apply for admission to the CFS MS program for the next Spring semester; Spring and Summer non-degree students will need to apply for admission to the CFS MS program for the next Fall cohort. Although taking non-degree coursework can be beneficial, it does not guarantee program admission.


Contact Information

  • For information about the program, please contact the Program Coordinator, Dr. Lindsay Wright, at lindsay.wright@usm.edu or call (601)266-6436.
  • For general information about being a graduate student, visit the Graduate School website.