Master of Science (M.S.) Major in Family and Child Studies (Child Life Specialist Concentration Thesis Option)

Major Program

The graduate program provides students with the knowledge and expertise to attain professional positions and advancement opportunities in programs serving families and children. 

Application Requirements

The items listed below are required for admission consideration for applicable semesters of entry during the current academic year. Submission instructions, additional details, and changes to admission requirements for semesters other than the current academic year can be found on The Graduate College's website. International students should review the International Admission Documents webpage for additional requirements.

  • completed online ApplyTexas application
  • $40 nonrefundable application fee
  • $50 nonrefundable international evaluation fee (if applicable)
  • baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited university
  • official transcripts required from each institution where course credit was granted
  • minimum 3.0 GPA in your last 60 hours of undergraduate course work (plus any completed graduate courses)
  • background course work
  • official GRE scores required with a preferred minimum of 285 (verbal and quantitative sections combined) with no less than 145 in the verbal section and 140 in the quantitative section
  • resume/CV
  • statement of purpose (approximately 500 words)
  • three letters of recommendation

TOEFL or IELTS Scores

Non-native English speakers who do not qualify for an English proficiency waiver:

  • official TOEFL iBT scores required with a 78 overall
  • official IELTS (academic) scores required with a 6.5 overall and
    • minimum individual module scores of 6.0

This program does not offer admission if the scores above are not met.

Degree Requirements

The Master of Science (M.S.) degree in Family and Child Studies with a concentration in child life specialist requires 37 semester credit hours, including a thesis. Students who do not have the appropriate background course work may be required to complete leveling courses

Course Requirements

Required Courses
FCD 5100Introduction to Family and Child Studies1
FCD 5341Advanced Child Development3
FCD 5351Advanced Theory in Family and Child Studies3
FCD 5352Seminar: Issues in Family and Child Studies3
FCS 5310Research Methods in FCS3
Concentration
FCD 5343Hospitalized Child: Child Life Specialist3
FCD 5345Advanced Methods in Child Life3
FCD 5659Internship in Child Life 16
Electives
Choose 6 hours from the following:6
Counseling Diverse Populations
Loss and Grief Recovery Counseling
Developmental Issues in Counseling Children, Adolescents, and Adults
Child and Adolescent Counseling Methods
Grief and Bereavement in Children, Adolescents, and Parents
Program Evaluation in Family and Child Studies
Advanced Program Administration
Practicum in Family and Child Studies I
Healthcare Organization and Delivery
Seminar in Medical Sociology
Seminar in Multi-Cultural Relations
Human Behavior in Individual and Family Social Environments
Social Work Intervention in Child Abuse & Neglect
Thesis
FCD 5399AThesis3
Choose a minimum of 3 hours from the following:3
Thesis
Thesis
Thesis
Thesis
Thesis
Total Hours37

Comprehensive Examination Requirements

All candidates for graduate degrees must pass one or more comprehensive examinations.

If a student elects to follow the thesis option for the degree, a committee to direct the written thesis will be established. The thesis must demonstrate the student’s capability for research and independent thought. Preparation of the thesis must be in conformity with the Graduate College Guide to Preparing and Submitting a Thesis or Dissertation.

Thesis Proposal

The student must submit an official Thesis Proposal Form and proposal to his or her thesis committee. Thesis proposals vary by department and discipline. Please see your department for proposal guidelines and requirements. After signing the form and obtaining committee members’ signatures, the graduate advisor’s signature if required by the program and the department chair’s signature, the student must submit the Thesis Proposal Form with one copy of the proposal attached to the dean of The Graduate College for approval before proceeding with research on the thesis. If the thesis research involves human subjects, the student must obtain exemption or approval from the Texas State Institutional Review Board prior to submitting the proposal form to The Graduate College. The IRB approval letter should be included with the proposal form. If the thesis research involves vertebrate animals, the proposal form must include the Texas State IACUC approval code. It is recommended that the thesis proposal form be submitted to the dean of The Graduate College by the end of the student’s enrollment in 5399A. Failure to submit the thesis proposal in a timely fashion may result in delayed graduation.

Thesis Committee

The thesis committee must be composed of a minimum of three approved graduate faculty members.

Thesis Enrollment and Credit

The completion of a minimum of six hours of thesis enrollment is required. For a student's initial thesis course enrollment, the student will need to register for thesis course number 5399A.  After that, the student will enroll in thesis B courses, in each subsequent semester until the thesis is defended with the department and approved by The Graduate College. Preliminary discussions regarding the selection of a topic and assignment to a research supervisor will not require enrollment for the thesis course.

Students must be enrolled in thesis credits if they are receiving supervision and/or are using university resources related to their thesis work.  The number of thesis credit hours students enroll in must reflect the amount of work being done on the thesis that semester.  It is the responsibility of the committee chair to ensure that students are making adequate progress toward their degree throughout the thesis process.  Failure to register for the thesis course during a term in which supervision is received may result in postponement of graduation. After initial enrollment in 5399A, the student will continue to enroll in a thesis B course as long as it takes to complete the thesis. Thesis projects are by definition original and individualized projects.  As such, depending on the topic, methodology, and other factors, some projects may take longer than others to complete.  If the thesis requires work beyond the minimum number of thesis credits needed for the degree, the student may enroll in additional thesis credits at the committee chair's discretion. In the rare case when a student has not previously enrolled in thesis and plans to work on and complete the thesis in one term, the student will enroll in both 5399A and 5399B.

The only grades assigned for thesis courses are PR (progress), CR (credit), W (withdrew), and F (failing). If acceptable progress is not being made in a thesis course, the instructor may issue a grade of F. If the student is making acceptable progress, a grade of PR is assigned until the thesis is completed. The minimum number of hours of thesis credit (“CR”) will be awarded only after the thesis has been both approved by The Graduate College and released to Alkek Library.

A student who has selected the thesis option must be registered for the thesis course during the term or Summer I (during the summer, the thesis course runs ten weeks for both sessions) in which the degree will be conferred.

Thesis Deadlines and Approval Process

Thesis deadlines are posted on The Graduate College website under "Current Students." The completed thesis must be submitted to the chair of the thesis committee on or before the deadlines listed on The Graduate College website.

The following must be submitted to The Graduate College by the thesis deadline listed on The Graduate College website:

  1. The Thesis Submission Approval Form bearing original (wet) and/or electronic signatures of the student and all committee members.
  2. One (1) PDF of the thesis in final form, approved by all committee members, uploaded in the online Vireo submission system.  

After the dean of The Graduate College approves the thesis, Alkek Library will harvest the document from the Vireo submission system for publishing in the Digital Collections database (according to the student's embargo selection). NOTE: MFA Creative Writing theses will have a permanent embargo and will never be published to Digital Collections. 

While original (wet) signatures are preferred, there may be situations as determined by the chair of the committee in which obtaining original signatures is inefficient or has the potential to delay the student's progress. In those situations, the following methods of signing are acceptable:

  • signing and faxing the form
  • signing, scanning, and emailing the form
  • notifying the department in an email from their university's or institution's email account that the committee chair can sign the form on their behalf
  • electronically signing the form using the university's licensed signature platform.

If this process results in more than one document with signatures, all documents need to be submitted to The Graduate College together.

No copies are required to be submitted to Alkek Library. However, the library will bind copies submitted that the student wants bound for personal use. Personal copies are not required to be printed on archival quality paper. The student will take the personal copies to Alkek Library and pay the binding fee for personal copies.

Master's level courses in Family and Child Studies: FCD

Courses Offered

Family and Child Development (FCD)

FCD 5100. Introduction to Family and Child Studies.

Focus on gaining information and competencies important to graduate study success. Includes academic expectations for graduate students as well as information related to the Family and Child Studies graduate program. Required for Family and Child Studies majors.

1 Credit Hour. 1 Lecture Contact Hour. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Credit/No Credit

FCD 5101. Graduate Assistant Development.

This course is required as a condition of employment for graduate teaching and instructional assistants. This course provides regular in-service and planned periodic evaluations of instructional responsibilities. This course does not earn graduate degree credit. Repeatable with different emphasis.

1 Credit Hour. 1 Lecture Contact Hour. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Course Attribute(s): Graduate Assistantship|Exclude from Graduate GPA
Grade Mode: Leveling/Assistantships

FCD 5199B. Thesis.

This course represents a student’s continuing thesis enrollment. Focus is on data collection, analysis, and writing of thesis. The student continues to enroll in this course until the thesis is submitted for binding. Prerequisite: FCD 5399A.

1 Credit Hour. 1 Lecture Contact Hour. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Credit/No Credit

FCD 5299B. Thesis.

This course represents a student’s continuing thesis enrollment. Focus is on data collection, analysis, and writing of thesis. The student continues to enroll in this course until the thesis is submitted for binding. Prerequisite: FCD 5399A.

2 Credit Hours. 2 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Credit/No Credit

FCD 5302K. Foundations of Play.

This course will address foundations and theories of play in the growth and development of children. Medical play, play therapy, music therapy, art therapy, and animal therapy will also be incorporated into the course curriculum.

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Course Attribute(s): Exclude from 3-peat Processing|Topics
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

FCD 5340. Advanced Cultural Diversity of Families.

Survey study of family diversity through selected family science research methods and topics including family structure and function, family life patterns, multicultural groups, agents of enculturation, and family life education.Prerequisite: Graduate Standing. (MULT).

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Course Attribute(s): Multicultural Content
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

FCD 5341. Advanced Child Development.

Focus on developmental processes and influences from conception through early childhood period. Includes interactive relationship of biological and environmental factors in total development of the child. Child observations required. Prerequisite: Graduate Standing.

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

FCD 5343. Hospitalized Child: Child Life Specialist.

This course enhances students’ ability to utilize theoretical and applied technologies when interacting with children and families in hospital settings. Prerequisite: Graduate Standing.

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

FCD 5344. Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health.

This course provides an interdisciplinary understanding of the social and emotional development of infants and young children within the context of the family. Focus will be on the role of the infant mental health specialist in strengthening the development of young children and the parent-child relationship.

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

FCD 5345. Advanced Methods in Child Life.

This course focuses on the applied techniques and methodologies essential to the child life profession. In addition, this course offers guided experience and opportunities for stepping into the child life profession, ongoing career development and self care.

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

FCD 5346. Foundations of Family and Child Studies.

This course will cover the foundations of family and child studies. Topics will include child development, principles of guidance, and family relationships. Prerequisite: Graduate standing. This course does not earn graduate degree credit.

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Course Attribute(s): Exclude from Graduate GPA|Leveling
Grade Mode: Leveling/Assistantships

FCD 5347. Grief and Bereavement in Children, Adolescents, and Parents.

This course includes a historical review of theoretical models on grief and bereavement, influences on grief and bereavement responses, and current perspectives on helping the bereaved cope. Implications for child life specialists will be analyzed.

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

FCD 5348. Pain and Anxiety Management for Children.

This course provides child life students with theoretical foundations and applied non-pharmacological strategies for assessing children’s pain and anxiety and assisting them with alleviation during painful healthcare and other life experiences.

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

FCD 5350. Research Design and Methods in Family and Child Studies.

Evaluation of research concepts, methods, and strategies in family and child studies. Topics include the nature of scientific research, sampling, measurement, data collection, types of socio-behavioral research, data analysis, and evaluation of research reports.

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

FCD 5351. Advanced Theory in Family and Child Studies.

A critical evaluation of theoretical concepts and current research in family and child studies. Emphasis on recent trends in family and child theories.

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

FCD 5352. Seminar: Issues in Family and Child Studies.

Seminar to examine current issues in family and child studies. Emphasis on current research, theories, and applications. Also includes orientation to the conceptual and methodological perspectives of multi-disciplinary study in the field of family and child studies.

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

FCD 5353. Program Evaluation in Family and Child Studies.

Study of the diversity and effectiveness of family and child services programs at the federal, state, and community levels. Program evaluation strategies and measures, fiscal management, and grant writing will be included.

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

FCD 5355. Advanced Independent Study.

Individual work on problems related to student’s primary area of specialization. Work may consist of empirical research or of critical reviews and integration of existing literature. Course may be repeated once for credit when topics vary.

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

FCD 5356. Advanced Program Administration.

Study of family and child services systems. Management theory and strategies, strategic planning, program development and implementation, personnel management, and public policy are emphasized.

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

FCD 5357. Comparative Studies in Child Development.

The study of cultural values and beliefs regarding children and the reflection of these in childrearing and early care and education programs and practices in the U.S. and selected countries. The interactive influence of culture and national policies will also be studied.

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

FCD 5358. Practicum in Family and Child Studies I.

Structured practical experience in family and child studies in a private or public setting. Supervision provided by a member of the graduate faculty and a designated individual at the work site. Focus will be on experiential learning. Prerequisite: Departmental approval required; online practicum form required for registration.

3 Credit Hours. 0 Lecture Contact Hours. 6 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Credit/No Credit

FCD 5359. Practicum in Family and Child Studies II.

Continued practical experience in family and child studies at a private or public setting with supervision provided by a member of the graduate faculty and a designated individual at the work site. A research report will be integrated with practical application. Prerequisite: FCD 5358 with a grade of "C" or better.

3 Credit Hours. 0 Lecture Contact Hours. 6 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Credit/No Credit

FCD 5399A. Thesis.

This course represents a student’s initial thesis enrollment. Focus is on identification of thesis topic, review of literature, and research design. No thesis credit is awarded until student has completed the thesis in FCD 5399B.

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Credit/No Credit

FCD 5399B. Thesis.

This course represents a student’s continuing thesis enrollment. Focus is on data collection, analysis, and writing of thesis. The student continues to enroll in this course until the thesis is submitted for binding. Prerequisite: FCD 5399A.

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Credit/No Credit

FCD 5599B. Thesis.

This course represents a student’s continuing thesis enrollment. Focus is on data collection, analysis, and writing of thesis. The student continues to enroll in this course until the thesis is submitted for binding. Prerequisite: FCD 5399A.

5 Credit Hours. 5 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Credit/No Credit

FCD 5659. Internship in Child Life.

Structured hospital experience for individuals who plan to pursue a career in child life. Provides opportunity to work in a hospital setting under the direction of a certified child life specialist. Prerequisite: 30 hours of graduate coursework or approval of graduate advisor; online practicum form required.

6 Credit Hours. 0 Lecture Contact Hours. 32 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Credit/No Credit

FCD 5999B. Thesis.

This course represents a student’s continuing thesis enrollment. Focus is on data collection, analysis, and writing of thesis. The student continues to enroll in this course until the thesis is submitted for binding. Prerequisite: FCD 5399A.

9 Credit Hours. 9 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Credit/No Credit