Family Science Semester of Study

Family Science Semester Program

The Family Science Semester Program is an opportunity for students from other colleges and universities to gain in-depth educational and practical experiences in family science. This program offers a semester-long intensive inquiry into the human development and family science field from a Christian perspective for students who do not have such opportunities available at their home institution.


Students enrolled in the program are required to be in residence at the Messiah University Campus. This program is designed primarily for juniors or seniors in any major, although sophomores may also enroll. Students must have a 3.3 GPA or higher to qualify for admission to this program.

The Family Science Semester curriculum may allow students to satisfy General Education and major course requirements. Please check with your course advisor.

Family Science Semester Curriculum

The 18-credit program highlights the core courses of a strong human development and family science curriculum, emphasizing interpersonal and family dynamics and processes. Issues of Christian faith and ethnic and racial diversity are integrated throughout the curriculum.

Course Descriptions

HDFS 101: Foundations of Marriage and Family

The purpose of this course is to provide an overview of the distinct perspective of and the content area within the field of family science. The course provides a fundamental description of family forms and issues across the life course, guided by historic and contemporary perspectives. The course will focus on the discovery and application of knowledge about the family including its history, theories/frameworks, methodologies, emerging applications, and trends within a changing world. Multicultural diversity and Christian integration are emphasized.

HDFS 244: Human Sexuality

This course examines sexual development, human reproduction, sexual functioning, gender, ethics, and attitudes. This course investigates sexual dysfunction and socio-psychological issues related to sexual expression.

HDFS 339: Dynamics of Family Interaction

This course is a study of interpersonal processes in families and other intimate groups. It involves examination and application of family theory and family interaction patterns.

HDFS 345: Parenting

This course provides an overview of the process of parenting in diverse cultural and familial structures. Throughout this course students will be encouraged to explore issues related to parenting at various stages of development, as well as formation of parenting goals, styles and familiarization with different parenting education programs. Students will also be able to gain valuable applied skills through the development of a parenting lesson.

HDFS 355: Marital and Couple Relationships

The purpose of this course is to investigate the relationship between husbands and wives. The following topics will be addressed: a) history of marriage, b) dating, courtship, and mate selection c) adult attachment d) rituals e) commitment/covenant f) gender roles g) trust/intimacy/jealousy h) love, i) marital education j) marital diversity, k) marital processes and outcomes, and l) factors associated with marital satisfaction, dissolution, and stability.

The scope of this course will be limited to the husband-wife relationship. While it is acknowledged that most couples have children and that children greatly impact marriage, every effort will be made to limit discussion to the development and processes of marriage itself. Our study of this unique relationship will be primarily "academic," although we will work at practical application of the material as well.

Since the relationship between woman and man and between wives and husbands is a central feature of God's creation, it is expected that we will explore the topics cited above in light of scriptures and our Christian faith. Several readings in the reading packet will help to facilitate this goal.

HDFS 391: Family Service Practicum

This is a field experience for junior and senior HDFS majors wishing to clarify vocational goals and gain hands-on experience. Students work under professional supervision for a minimum of 40 hours per credit. Ten additional hours of reading and other integrative activities per credit are required.

What Others Are Saying About Family Science

"The more people I talk to, the more situations, job interviews, and jobs that I have, the more I find that family studies is an exceptional program. I truly think that it is a credit to Messiah College... the caliber of the program developed at Messiah is seldom found elsewhere." - Annette (Murphy) Winkle '96

"Family Studies not only prepares you for a job but for life too."
"If you want to grow and be challenged, family studies is the right choice." - Family Studies Majors, Class of 2000

"The family studies program was a pivotal factor in my decision to attend Messiah College. The curriculum is practical and detailed. I was well prepared to enter the workplace and continue to utilize what I've learned." - Jean (McNulty) Landis '89