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 social science insights and methods to examine individual and family relationships within various contexts and cultures. You will learn to:

  • integrate family theory, research, and practice
  • produce scholarly research
  • develop effective and innovative teaching skills
  • engage in meaningful community collaborations

Your program of study will encompass research and coursework across the breadth of family social science, including intersectional influences of race, class, culture, sexual orientation, and gender on relationships; finances; effects of trauma; technology, child adjustment; intimate relationships, and dating, marriage, and divorce. 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 faculty mentoring 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). You must have a clinical master's degree, preferably a MFT degree, to be considered for this specialization.

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.

Career options

A Ph.D. in Family Social Science will prepare you for careers in academia, policy think tanks, foundations, non-profit organizations, government agencies, health care systems and more. A Ph.D. with a Couple & Family Therapy Specialization will allow you to compete for academic positions that require a degree from a COAAMFT-approved doctoral program in order to train students seeking the MFT degree.

What do alumni say about their degree?

"My educational experience in CEHD at the University of Minnesota was transformative."

ashley landers

Ashley Landers, PhD (2016) is an assistant professor at The Ohio State University. She was honored as a 2022 CEHD Alumni Award of Excellence.

Program requirements

Each Ph.D. specialization has different requirements:

  • Family Science Specialization checklist (PDF).
  • Couple & Family Therapy Specialization checklist (PDF).
  • M.A/Ph.D option checklist (PDF).

View all program requirements in the University catalog.

View the University's Academic Calendar.

Application deadline

Completed applications are due December 1.

Begin your application

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:

  • Evidence of strong academic preparation and the ability and desire to perform graduate level scholarship, including research.
  • Alignment 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.

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