Online Family & Community Services Graduate Programs

Make a Difference in Your Community with a Family & Community Services Degree

The online master’s degree and graduate certificate in Family & Community Services equip professionals to help families and communities thrive in today’s world. This program will prepare you to manage programs and deliver quality services, as well as understand family and community dynamics and human development across the lifespan. Taken entirely online, you can balance family and work while pursuing your career goals and earning your master’s degree or graduate certificate.

Why study Family & Community Services through Great Plains IDEA?

Our online curriculum prepares you to understand individual, family, interpersonal, and community dynamics across the lifespan. Through this program, you will gain the knowledge and skills necessary to strengthen your local community by designing, implementing, evaluating, and sustaining quality programs.

Students also learn to empower families during times of transition or stress (e.g., military families, families in poverty) while recognizing the role of diversity (e.g., racial/ethnic, military, religious) in family and community dynamics.

Listen as family and community services professor Ashlie Lester explains who the ideal student for this program is.

While this degree does not lead to licensure, students may take the certification exam to become a certified family life educator. Talk to your advisor about appropriate course offerings.

Your home university is where you pay tuition, manage your program, receive academic advising, and meet graduation or completion requirements. While you will take courses online at each of the participating universities, your home university will award the diploma or certificate at the completion of the program.

Review the official degree names for each member institution in our Family & Community Services Student Handbook.

Kristen Wearbon's Headshot"The online Family & Community Services Program is teaching me to observe, evaluate, and assist families using a strengths-based approach. All of my courses have contributed in some way to how I now approach my work and interact with those close to me. I am a better employee, sister, daughter, friend, and mentor because of the online Family and Community Services program!"
Kristen Wearbon, master's student and recipient of the 2022 Student Excellence Award

Family & Community Services Program Formats

Great Plains IDEA offers both an online master's degree and a graduate certificate, allowing you to select the best-fit academic path to meet your goals and advance your career.

Designed for working professionals, the Family & Community Services program provides flexibility and convenience, as well as affordability through a common price per credit hour through all universities.

There is no GRE requirement for application to this program.

Janice Santiago is a graduate student in the family and community services program."I was looking for the education I needed to take the next step in my career to a program director or executive director.  I spent a lot of time searching for a university and degree that matched my education in community organizing and advocacy and aligned with my interest in families and community services and supports.  Finding GP IDEA and reading about the courses and career tracks of those who earned the MA in Family & Community Services, I knew right away that this was the degree and program for me. It has lived up to all I had hoped!"
Janice Santiago, family and community services master's degree student, and recipient of the 2023 Student Excellence Award

Master's Degree in Family & Community Services

The Family & Community Services online master’s degree is a 36 credit-hour program offered completely online, providing flexibility for busy adults who don’t have access or time to attend on-campus classes. Students typically finish in two to three years, taking one or two courses each semester. The ten core courses include:

  • Crises Across the Lifespan
  • Family Dynamics
  • Family Resource Management
  • Foundations and Principles of Family and Community Services
  • Interpersonal Relationships
  • Lifespan Development
  • Parenting Education
  • Program Administration and Management
  • Program Design, Evaluation, and Implementation
  • Resilience in Families

View the Course Descriptions

Students work closely with their academic advisor to round out their master’s degree by completing six credit hours of thesis or elective credits that allow them to specialize in an area of interest. Visit the course planner to see a suggested course sequence for specific classes. 

Heather Topham's Headshot"The Great Plains IDEA family and community services program is an amazingly affordable and diverse program. You can choose professors from many different schools to learn from and it is fun getting a taste of each school's unique culture."
Heather Topham, master's student in the family and community services program, and recipient of the 2022 Student Excellence Award.

Graduate Certificate - Human Services Administration

The 12-credit online Human Services Administration graduate certificate is an excellent option for those already working in human services agencies and looking to advance in their career while developing their administration and management skills. This certificate is also a great addition to other master’s programs, for example, human development and family science, social work, public health, early childhood education, and community development.

The graduate certificate is offered by the University of Missouri, Oklahoma State University, Kansas State University, and Michigan State University. The certificate includes three core courses and a choice of one elective. Courses include instrumental topics for current and future leaders in family and community services programs, such as grant management, budget design, program development, and evaluation methods.

View the Course Descriptions for the Graduate Certificate

Program Information at Participating Universities

In the Family & Community Services program, six universities work together to bring an innovative, top-notch academic experience, allowing you to get the best from our member universities. Faculty collaborate across universities, blending their range of perspectives and expertise to provide students with a unique experience not able to be offered at a single institution.

All Great Plains IDEA member universities are accredited by regional agencies, aligning with requirements set by the U.S. Department of Education. This ensures that students pursuing their degrees through Great Plains IDEA are met with a high standard of academic excellence. Learn more about the accreditation of our member universities.

Career Opportunities in Family & Community Services

A master’s degree or graduate certificate in Family & Community Services can benefit a diverse range of professionals and help graduates advance into leadership positions like executive director, supervisor, program manager, or program developer.

Graduates of this program work across public, private, and nonprofit industries in areas such as:

  • County extension offices
  • Military community services
  • Pre/Post-deployment assistance
  • Family advocacy programs
  • Child development centers
  • Social service agencies
  • Community service programs
  • Consumer credit counseling services
  • Emergency shelters
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters
  • Crisis centers
  • United Way


Pursuing a master’s degree is a big investment, financially and time-wise. Carrie Hanson-Bradley, assistant professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, explains why the Family & Community Services program through Great Plains IDEA is worth that investment. 

Collaborate with Expert Faculty

Great Plains IDEA’s Family & Community Services faculty come from different home universities, providing a range of perspectives and experiences. They are dedicated to your success and collaborate together to bring you a unique, dynamic curriculum. Get to know more about the Family & Community Services faculty members at the bottom of this webpage.

Apply Today and Start Making a Difference

Great Plains IDEA’s online Family & Community Services master’s degree and graduate certificate will help you develop the skills to effectively deliver needed services that strengthen families and enrich communities.

Ready to get started? Learn how to apply now!

A master's degree for individuals who want to cultivate strengths in individuals, families, and communities.

View the Course List for this Master's Degree

The graduate certificate is offered by the University of Missouri, Oklahoma State University, Kansas State University, and Michigan State University. The certificate includes two core courses and your choice of two elective courses.

Review the List of Courses for the Graduate Certificate

University Contact
These campus coordinators can help you navigate Great Plains IDEA. Click on the university name to learn more about how Great Plains IDEA works at that campus. Ashley Schultz
Meagan Rau
Rae Ann Montgomery
Sarah (Heewon) Kim
Janice Clawson
Mel Sedlacek
University Members
Members of the Great Plains IDEA are universities accredited by a regional accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Member universities recruit, admit and graduate students, teach in an academic program and contribute to the leadership and maintenance of the alliance. Membership in the alliance is a selective process that engages institutional leadership at all levels.
– – Sonya Carney, Gerontology Master's Graduate,
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