College of Education and Human Development

Family Social Science

Ph.D. in Family Science Specialization

A nationally renowned program

The Family Social Science doctoral program offers you a unique program of study using the insights and methods of the social sciences to examine how families work within various contexts and cultures. You will learn to:

  • integrate family theory, research, and practice
  • produce scholarly research
  • develop effective and innovative teaching skills

Your program of study will include research and coursework across the breadth of family social science, including child adjustment in families; families and culture; families and financial decisions; family formation and intergenerational studies; families, loss, and trauma; and intimate family relationships. Faculty are nationally and internationally recognized leaders and researchers committed to your success. To learn more, explore their research projects, or watch videos of faculty members discussing their work.

The Family Science Specialization includes coursework, research engagement, and intense mentoring from faculty to prepare you to contribute to the broader field of Family Science.

If you're interested in pursuing a doctoral degree but have not yet earned a master's degree, you may apply for the joint M.A./Ph.D. in Family Science program. You'll enter as a master's candidate and following the completion of your master's thesis, will be evaluated to continue into the doctoral program.

FSoS also offers a Ph.D. specialization in Couple & Family Therapy (also known as Marriage & Family Therapy).

The online Graduate Program Handbook has details and timelines that will help you launch your career and build a foundation for your personal and professional success.

Doctoral students are funded 100 percent through fellowships, assistantships, or a combination of both, as well as travel grants, during the current academic year.

Career options

A Ph.D. in Family Social Science will prepare you to pursue a career in academia or clinical administration and leadership, as well as opportunities in policy-related firms, government agencies, independent research institutions, school systems, and health care organizations.

Program options

The Ph.D. in Family Social Science program offers you the following options:

  • Family Science Specialization checklist (PDF).
  • Couple & Family Therapy Specialization checklist (PDF).
  • Master's/Ph.D option checklist (PDF).

View current departmental course offerings.

View the University's Academic Calendar.

How to apply

Completed applications are due December 1.

Begin your application and learn more about the Department's specific application requirements for this program on the How to apply page.

How to

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 the Assistantships, Fellowships, & Other Funding page 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.
  • Fit 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.

Inquiry form