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.
Concentrations (Required) and Options Available
General-Emphasis — Thesis, Coursework only with comprehensive exams
Early Childhood Education Integrated PreK-3 — Coursework only with comprehensive exams
- 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
- The GRE is not required for applicants to the MS- Teacher Licensure Pre-K-3 concentration
- 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 for admission to the master’s program are 9 credit hours of upper-division undergraduate social science.
General-Emphasis concentration, Thesis or Coursework Only With Comprehensive Exam Options
Credit Hours Required
37 graduate credit hours
Child and Family Studies Foundation Courses (12 credit hours)
- Students must select a master’s committee chair and file a plan of study with the department head after 12 credit hours.
- Thesis Option: A minimum of two semesters is required for Master’s level research and thesis completion. The thesis is a written account of original research conducted by the Master’s student under the direction of their major professor and faculty committee. It serves as the culminating experience for thesis students.
- Coursework Only with Comprehensive Exams Option: Evaluation of core knowledge is achieved through a comprehensive examination of required coursework that allows the student to integrate knowledge across courses, including research methods and statistics. The comprehensive examination should be taken during the final semester of required coursework, typically before the start of the third year of doctoral work and prior to the dissertation proposal meeting.
Early Childhood Education Integrated PreK-3 concentration, Coursework Only With Comprehensive Exam Option
The child and family studies major can provide the graduate preparation needed for a student who would like to be licensed to teach Early Childhood Education Integrated PreK-3 (children from birth to grade 3 in private and public-school systems) in the State of Tennessee. The Early Childhood Education Integrated PreK-3 track is a concentration designed with an emphasis on an inclusive, unified, and integrated curriculum in which early childhood and special education content are purposefully blended into courses/clinical experiences in the early childhood and elementary classroom. The overarching goal of the program is to prepare candidates to teach all children from an integrated lens through which early childhood and special education are no longer viewed as separate. The program objectives center on preparing candidates who understand children and families in a cultural context to meet a diverse set of needs (i.e., racial, linguistic, economic, and ability) across a range of early childhood settings. The strength of the program includes a series of integrated early childhood and special education clinical experiences that happen “early and often,” from which candidates benefit from hands-on practical experiences that use an embedded instruction approach with principles of universal design in the early childhood and elementary classroom (birth to grade 3). The PreK-3 teacher candidates’ graduate level clinical experience consists of a full academic year (fall and spring semesters) internship in public school settings under the guidance and supervision of a professional team that has knowledge of an integrated and blended program design.
Credit Hours Required
33 graduate credit hours
Graduate Progression Requirements: Early Childhood Education Integrated PreK-3 Teacher Licensure
The teacher-licensure Early Childhood Education Integrated PreK-3 concentration is designed for students seeking the Child and Family Studies Major for the Master of Science (MS) degree along with initial teacher licensure in integrated early childhood education (PreK through Grade 3). At the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, students interested in the MS with a major in child and family studies must apply for admission to graduate study through the procedures outlined below. Application for admission to teacher licensure (PreK-3) is a part of the application process to the graduate program and is described in the Undergraduate Catalog. Admission to teacher-licensure (PreK-3) is concurrent with admission to the child and family studies master’s program. The teacher-licensure (PreK-3) concentration requires 33 credit hours of graduate coursework, a practice-based review of research, and the edTPA (Teacher Performance Assessment).
Upon attainment of junior status (i.e., 60 hours), students will complete an additional admission process to the Early Childhood Education Integrated PreK-3 teacher education graduate portion of the program (see details in the Teacher Education section of this catalog) and simultaneously make application for admission to the Master of Science (MS) for the child and family studies major (see the Graduate Catalog for details). Acceptance into the graduate portion of Early Childhood Education Integrated PreK-3 early childhood education teacher licensure program is contingent upon acceptance into the department’s master’s program. Students interested in this option should work closely with their advisor to ensure that they understand and meet the Teacher Education program requirements and the requirements for graduate study and that they strictly follow the application process.
Post-Baccalaureate Professional Year
Students must apply to and be admitted by the Graduate School prior to registration.
Term 9 - total graduate credit hours = 12
Term 10 - total graduate credit hours = 9
Summer Pre-or Post-Internship - total graduate credit hours = 12
- Required Comprehensive Exam: a practice-based review of research.