Graduate Student Majors in Family Science

Submitted by Mary Kate Morgan

After reading the blog post, What Can I Do With This Major?, I began to think about why I chose the career path I have, and who advised me about the steps to get to this career. Majoring in family science can be intimidating if you do not know exactly what you want to do when you graduate.  But with the guidance, guest speakers, and in depth overview of specific careers in the family science field like Dr. Baugh provided in her course, students can get a better idea of what they can do with the major.  Dr. Baugh’s post about the course she designed to help students learn more about the career paths in family science caused me to reflect on how I made my decision to further my education, and I became interested in seeing if there were any courses or programs to help graduate students.

The Department of Family Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park, created a program with similar goals as Dr. Baugh’s course. The department took the objective of the course a bit further for graduate level students by developing a Preparing Future Faculty and Family Professionals program (PFFFP) “to enrich the graduate education and professional development of its doctoral students” (Koblinsky, Kuvalanka, & McClintock- Comea, 2006, p. 30). This department first developed this program in 2003 by modeling it after the national Preparing Future Faculty program, and after evaluating the first year of this program the Family Studies Department expanded the program to address the interests of PhD students who were seeking both academic and nonacademic careers (Koblinsky, Kuvalanka, & McClintock- Comea, 2006). The University of Maryland set up five major goals for this program that include goals such as “to inform PhD students about the work required in faculty positions at diverse academic institutions”, “to educate students about the responsibilities and demands of nonacademic careers in family science”, and “to prepare students to secure positions in the types of institutions and agencies where they want to work” (Koblinsky, Kuvalanka, & McClintock- Comea, 2006, p. 30). The article also highlights how the program implemented inclusive pedagogical practices. The PFFFP makes sure to give the students the chance to experience the “traditional triad of faculty responsibilities”- teaching, research, and service (p. 31).

While the PFFFP program focuses a lot on preparing graduate students for faculty positions, it also introduces students to nonacademic career paths by examining family science careers in government, nonprofit agencies, and the private sector (Koblinsky, Kuvalanka, & McClintock- Comea, 2006). The program has come up with steps for the students to take in order to develop a plan to continue their professional development and address identified gaps. In table 2 of this article the five goals that were previously discussed are explained in more detail with corresponding method/delivery, faculty/student feedback, and recommendations which is a great resource for those interesting in revising their graduate programs.

This article provided research, goals, and reasons for why the PFFFP program worked for this family science program, and I feel this resource could be a guide to other programs that find their graduate students questioning “what’s next?” after graduation.

For more information read:

Koblinsky, S. A., Kuvalanka, K. A., & McClintock-Comeaux, M. (2006). Preparing future faculty and family professionals. Family Relations, 55(1), 29-43.

Image credit: Question Mark by Marco Bellucci CC BY 2.0





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