College of Education and Human Development

Family Social Science

MA/PhD in family social science

A path to a doctoral degree

If you want to pursue a doctoral degree but have not yet earned a master’s degree, the family social science master’s degree, plan A (requiring a master’s capstone thesis), is your pathway to a doctoral degree. Like the traditional master’s program in family social science, the program uses the insights and methods of the social sciences to examine individual, family, and human development over the lifespan and how families work within various contexts and cultures. You will study:

  • conceptual theoretical frameworks
  • research and evaluation methodologies
  • implementation and translational research
  • community collaborations and system change initiatives

Once you have completed your master’s thesis and final oral examination, you will evaluated by faculty to continue into the PhD program.

Interested in a coursework-based master's degree? Learn more about an MEd in family education.

What students have said in the Student Experience in the Research University (SERU) survey

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Master's degree students who reported being satisfied or very satisfied with the knowledge they gained in their program.

Career options

An MA/PhD degree in family social science will prepare you for careers in academia, policy think tanks, foundations, non-profit organizations, government agencies, health care systems and more.

Program requirements

The MA/PhD in family social science program requires at least 30 credits, including at least 20 course credits, of which 6 credits are outside the department in a related field, and 10 thesis credits. The final exam is oral.
In addition, you will complete a capstone thesis (Plan A). For more information view the capstone thesis checklist [PDF].

A minimum 3.5 GPA is required for students to remain in good academic standing.

Application deadline

  • MA/PhD applications are due December 1

The number of graduate applicants admitted into the program varies from year to year.

Begin your application

Learn about the requirements and deadlines for your doctoral degree application.

If you have any questions, please e-mail

Financing your education

Visit OneStop Student Services: Finances for information on tuition, fees, and financial aid.

Visit assistantships, fellowships, and other funding for more information on funding opportunities through FSoS, CEHD, and UMN.

More information regarding assistantships and benefits can be found on the Office of Human Resources website.


Admission to the Department of Family Social Science (FSoS) is based on a review of multiple sources of information:

  • Evidence of strong academic preparation and the ability and desire to perform graduate level scholarship, including research.
  • Alignment of applicant's professional goals with FSoS faculty scholarship and with the department's mission.
  • Unique contributions applicant would make to FSoS values, including social relevance, collaboration, inclusiveness, excellence, innovation, and diversity.

The program of study for the master's degree is planned by the student and the faculty adviser, approved by the director of graduate studies, and then filed with the graduate school.

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