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College of Health and Human Sciences

New online master's degree program to help students serve families, communities

Friday, September 28, 2012

The School of Family Studies and Human Services will offer a new online program of study this spring: Master of Science in family and community services.

The  program will enable professionals who are place bound and working full time to acquire advanced study without relocating geographically. It will be offered through the Division of Continuing Education. Enrollment starts soon.

"This degree program is highly appropriate for people who have undergraduate degrees in family studies, social work and related fields," said Maurice MacDonald, the faculty chair of the new program and director of FSHS. "People who want to supplement what they know from other areas or who want to get a degree focusing on this area will find it very convenient."

The new online program is sponsored by the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance, or GP-IDEA. The alliance is a partnership of 20 public universities that collaboratively provide high-quality, online academic programs.

USDA, Defense asked for program

The U.S. departments of Agriculture and Defense requested that the alliance develop the new master's program to meet the educational needs of military service members and their spouses, said MacDonald, who worked with Virginia Moxley, dean of the College of Human Ecology, to develop the program.

The new master's degree is an interinstitutional degree that will be offered online and through instructional support provided by Kansas State University, Iowa State University, Michigan State University, the University of Missouri, the University of Nebraska, North Carolina State University, Oklahoma State University and South Dakota State University. Graduate faculty members at these universities developed the program curriculum.

"Because we are pulling strings from a lot of areas, this program is going to have some highly developed course material with the expertise of people who teach in those areas," MacDonald said. "We think it will be a success."

Program to serve military, extension agents

By offering the program online, students have the opportunity to advance their education while remaining engaged in military services, while being on hold because of spousal deployment or while engaging in other human services careers.

"I think of the family and consumer sciences cooperative extension agents throughout Kansas and other states who deliver community-based programs to strengthen individuals and families. This opportunity will allow them to obtain a master's degree that is relevant to their job responsibilities," said Charlotte Shoup Olsen, program coordinator and professor and extension specialist in FSHS.

Courses are designed to provide students with a foundation for understanding family resources, dynamics and interpersonal relationships that influence individual development. Courses emphasize the development of theories and practices to lead, manage and evaluate the delivery of programs to support families. The program also includes two courses focused on individualized study or practicum in coordination with the student's community.

"The courses are intended to help people understand in-depth family and individual development in community context," MacDonald said.

No thesis required

To graduate from the program, students are required to complete 36 credit hours, including 10 core courses and two elective courses. While the program does not require a master's thesis or project, it does involve an oral examination of a written case study that is developed in two capstone elective courses that apply core course content for theories, research, design, implementation, evaluation and management skills.

The undergraduate Bachelor of Science degree program in family studies and human services enrolls 400 students and graduates around 160 students each year.

For more information about the new program, visit http://www.dce.k-state.edu/humanecology/fcs. Interested students can contact Charlotte Shoup Olsen, the Kansas State University program coordinator, at 785-532-5773 or colsen@k-state.edu.

Prepared by University communications and marketing

This article was posted on Friday, September 28, 2012, and is filed under Applied Human Sciences, College News, Great Plains IDEA.