Cole Ratcliffe in FAML-200 class

The Department of Home and Family is better preparing its marriage and family studies degree-seeking students for the workplace. Starting April 2019, new students will now earn their degree through a modular approach. 

Currently, marriage and family studies offers four different emphases within the degree. In the future, students working toward a bachelor’s degree will select one of three 15-credit certificate options as opposed to an emphasis. The current program credit requirements will also drop from 54 credits to 45 credits, thus allowing students to develop other complementary skills in their educational endeavors.

Certificate options will include child and family advocacy, human services, and parent and family education. Each of the three advanced certificates will require the completion of two foundational certificates that build toward an associate’s degree of applied science in marriage and family studies. The third certificate students choose to specialize in (in addition to the completion of other credit requirements by the university) will then earn them a bachelor’s degree.

Department of Home and Family faculty member Cole Ratcliffe explains that the changes originally came about after looking at ways the department could reduce the amount of advising needed for online students through BYU-Pathway Worldwide.

“We wanted to make the requirements the same for each student, whether they are a student online or on campus,” Ratcliffe said.

In turn, the simplification of the degree brings tremendous benefits to students on campus. Students who change their major or transfer to BYU-Idaho may earn their degree faster. Others will have more room in their schedule to take elective classes where they can develop other marketable skills.

Ratcliffe says these changes will also give students a more focused path to gain employment after graduation.

“This will also help graduates be more marketable. Even though certificates are not yet a big thing in our field, these certificates will give graduates a leg up by having a set of skills that employers desire,” Ratcliffe said.

For example, if a marriage and family studies student also wants to get a social media marketing certificate, they would be able to earn one without exceeding 120 credits before graduating. Customized degrees across disciplines like this could give students the opportunity to learn how to better advocate for the family online and in social media settings.

These changes are set to be implemented both online and on campus in Spring 2019.