Jun 17, 2024  
2020-2021 Graduate Catalog 
2020-2021 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Child and Family Studies Major, PhD

Our graduate programs are based on the model of the empirically-based professional or social scientist. Graduate students learn to conduct research on child development, family studies, and educational environments in accordance with established standards of scientific inquiry and evaluation. Child and family studies graduate programs seek to produce researchers, scholars, and educators who are capable of independent investigation of family and developmental processes. Students also receive training in how to conduct scientifically-based assessments of prevention, intervention and educational strategies. Many opportunities exist in child and family studies for graduate students to become involved in research on children, youth, and families. The central premise of graduate programs in child and family studies is the idea that scientific inquiry provides the most effective means to improve the welfare of children, youth and families.

A cornerstone idea for child and family studies graduate programs is development in context, or the perspective that human development is best understood in terms of interconnections among families, neighborhoods, schools, communities, cultures, and international environments. A more specific focus within this development in context perspective is an emphasis on children, youth, and families at risk. Together, these two themes, development in context and children, youth, and families at risk, are the foundations upon which our graduate curriculum options are structured.

The department supports a doctoral program that features the integration of human development, family studies, and early childhood education, and which focuses specifically on the themes of development and learning in context, cross-cultural/contextual issues, and children and families at risk. It prepares students for teaching and research positions as well as those in policy, practice, and community outreach, recognizing that a rigorous research background is required for all of them. The program is flexible, allowing students to develop individualized programs in which they can focus on a selected area of study.

Campus Code

Knoxville Campus

Admissions Standards/Procedures

  • Complete and submit formal online application to the Graduate Admissions Office, along with the application fee.
  • For the department, a completed file for review includes
    • A departmental application
    • Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores for the general section
    • Completion of three Graduate Rating Forms by individuals who can attest to the applicant’s potential for graduate education
  • Admission to the graduate program is contingent upon
    • Faculty evaluation of GRE scores
      • Not Applicable for Teacher Licensure (PreK-3) concentration
    • Undergraduate/graduate GPA
    • Rating forms
    • Work experience
    • The match between student’s goals and department’s foci
  • Prerequisites to the doctoral program are a master’s degree from a regionally accredited institution or equivalent, completion of the 12 credit hour foundation core in the child and family studies master’s program, 3 credit hours of computationally-based, graduate-level statistics, and completion of a thesis as part of the master’s degree.
  • Exceptional applicants with only an undergraduate degree may be considered by the CFS Graduate Committee for direct admittance to the Ph.D. program if they wish. Such applicants must have undergraduate research experience relevant to Child and Family Studies, focused research interests, and a strong academic record.
    • Students who are admitted without a master’s degree will complete requirements for the thesis-based MS degree as part of their program of study. If in good standing after completing the MS program requirements, and under the recommendation of their MS committee, these students will proceed directly into the PhD program.

Credit Hours Required

A minimum 73 graduate credit hours beyond the baccalaureate degree.

Required Courses

  • Core Courses (9 credit hours)
  • Child and Family Studies (CFS) Specialization (15 credit hours)
    • At least 6 credit hours must be at the 600-level
    • Can include courses from MS degree
  • Statistics/Analytic Courses (9 credit hours)
    • 6 hours of graduate-level statistics plus one additional analytic courses (quantitative or qualitative) chosen in consultation with the major professor
  • Research Methods (6 credit hours)
  • Electives outside of Child and Family Studies (6 credit hours) chosen in consultation with the major professor and guidance committee
    • Can include additional Methods/Analytic courses
  • CFS 572  (1 credit hour) Professional Semiar 1
  • CFS 672  (3 credit hours) Professional Seminar 2
  • CFS 600  (24 credit hours)

Non-Course Requirements

  • Doctoral candidates work closely with their dissertation chair to complete a dissertation proposal, conduct the research, prepare the dissertation, and defend the work. See the CFS Graduate Student Handbook for more detailed information.