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Ph.D. - Family Social Science

Family Science Specialization

The mission of the doctoral degree in family social science is to educate and mentor leaders in the field of family science.

Family social science includes several components:

Child Adjustment in Family Context

Faculty working and researching in this area include

Families and Culture

Faculty working and researching in this area include

Families and Financial Decisions

Faculty working and researching in this area include

Family Formation and Intergenerational Studies

Faculty working and researching in this area include

Families, Loss, and Trauma

Faculty working and researching in this area include

Intimate Family Relationships

Faculty working and researching in this area include

Students gain a broad knowledge of family theory, families across the lifespan, family research methods, and are able to engage in independent research related to families. Visit our Graduate Students page to learn more about what our students accomplish.

Students with doctoral degrees in family social science typically seek positions in

  • Academic research, teaching, and community engagement
  • Developing and evaluating private and government policies and practices impacting family well-being
  • Family-focused grant and program development managers

Students may enter the doctoral degree in family social science after receiving a bachelor's or master's degree. Students entering with a bachelor's degree will be expected to fulfill the requirements for a master's degree in the process of working toward the doctoral degree. However, admittance into the M.A./Ph.D. program does not guarantee automatic progression into the doctoral degree. During the semester the student is planning to defend and submit the master’s thesis, s/he will be expected to submit an online application, as well as identify his or her adviser for the Ph.D. program. The department faculty will make a decision to approve or not approve the student’s continuation into the Ph.D. program based on the the student's demonstrated skills, timely progress within the master's degree, and overall fit within the doctoral program.

The degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) is conferred in recognition of the breadth and depth of scholarly knowledge and of demonstrated ability to investigate problems independently, rather than simply completing specific courses within a stated period of time.

The student's program of study must be rationally unified: courses must contribute to an organized program of study and research. To attain doctoral level knowledge, a student must go far beyond coursework and credits and be committed to learning and researching independently and collaboratively, striving constantly for breadth, seeking the greatest depth of knowledge, and developing competencies in critical thinking.


View current departmental course offerings.


Admission to the Department of Family Social Science (FSoS) is based on a review of multiple sources of information with no single factor determining an applicant's success or failure.

Admission Criteria

  • Evidence of strong academic preparation and the ability and desire to perform graduate level scholarship, including research.
  • Fit of applicant's professional goals with FSoS faculty scholarship and with the overall FSoS mission: enhancing the well-being of diverse families in a changing world.
  • Unique contributions applicant would make to FSoS values, including social relevance, collaboration, inclusiveness, excellence, innovation, and diversity.

No applicant to the FSoS program looks exactly the same, however over time we have noticed successful applicants tend to

Application Procedures

Complete applications are due December 1st.
Faculty are not obligated to review incomplete applications.

Learn more about application procedures and instructions.

After Applying

The number of graduate applicants admitted into the program varies from year to year, depending on applicant qualifications (academic preparation, fit, and unique contributions), the availability of faculty advisers, and available financial support.

A typical incoming graduate student cohort includes 9-12 students (a few M.A. degree-seeking students and a majority of Ph.D. degree-seeking students).

Ph.D. and M.A./Ph.D. applicants who pass an initial review by faculty will be invited to an on-campus interview February 5 - 6, 2017.

Students must inform the Department of Family Social Science of their final decision to attend or not attend by April 15th.



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

Visit Assistantships, Fellowships, & 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.

If you have any additional questions, please e-mail