Human Development & Family Studies | Michigan State University

Youth Development graduate programs at Michigan State University

Youth Development

Online Master of Arts Degree and Graduate Certificate Programs with a positive, strength-based curriculum for working with today's youth.

The Department of Human Development and Family Studies offers several options for continuing education in the field of Youth Development, including:

  • Youth Development Master of Arts degree
  • Youth Development Specialist Graduate Certificate
  • Youth Development Management and Evaluation Graduate Certificate

Focus of Programs

The programs address the need for advanced education in youth development and does so through a strengths-based curriculum. Instead of focusing on the negative aspects of adolescence, this program supports youth and their families to make them socially, emotionally and cognitively competent adults.

Cooperating Universities

Michigan State University and the Youth Development programs are part of a multi-state alliance of accredited universities offering fully online graduate programs in the human sciences.  Several universities share knowledge through a body of faculty with expertise in youth development. It allows each campus to contribute unique course offerings to the degree programs and student have access to experts in the field regardless of location.  All institutions have a history of success in distance education.

The Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance or Great Plains IDEA ( is different than other online colleges and universities in that:

  • The curriculum is developed by inter-institutional faculty teams at Research 1 institutions.  Youth Development is not just a collection of classes.
  • All courses and programs receive full institutional review prior to implementation and meet the rigorous institutional academic standards. 
  • Youth Development courses are taught by professors with expertise and research in the Youth Development area.
  • Students seeking admission must meet institutional admissions standards.  Youth Development students must apply and be accepted to Michigan State University as a graduate student candidate.

In addition to Michigan State University, other participating institutions in the Youth Development programs include:

  • Iowa State University
  • Kansas State University
  • South Dakota State University
  • Texas Tech University
  • University of Missouri-Columbia
  • University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Who is in the Programs?

These programs are ideal for professionals in a variety of youth-related fields and organizations, such as 4-H, Boys and Girls Clubs, non-profit organizations, faith-based groups, community recreation facilities, correctional professions, middle and high school education and extension educators. 

Persons with professional or teacher certifications should check PRIOR to enrolling with your State's Department of Education and any licensing or accrediting agencies to verify that the YD program will be recognized and credited toward renewing your professional licensure or certification. 

Professionals who understand the strengths-based approach to working with youth are in demand.

For Military-Affiliates

The Military Academic Achievement Program (MAAP) is a collaboration funded by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Department of Defense. The program provides education for careers on and around military bases that fit the professional development of military spouses, dependents, veterans and civilian professionals serving the military.

More information on the Military Academic Achievement Program is available by clicking on the MAAP link in the left navigation menu of this page and/or you may request a brochure by emailing: 

Format of the Programs

The Youth Development Master of Arts program is thirty six credits with twenty eight of those credits required by the degree program.  The remaining credits may be pre-approved electives, an internship, independent study project or research which are chosen in consultation with your advisor. 

A cumulative project is required for all Master of Arts students at MSU and must be presented to faculty as an oral defense or as part of a Plan B Master's program.

The Youth Development Graduate Certificate programs are thirteen credits each with the emphasis on aquiring skills for a basic understanding of youth or an advanced certificate for practitioners.

Format of Courses

All classes are delivered online and there are no on-campus meetings.  Professors communicate with students via e-mail, phone calls, Skype and other technologies using an asynchronous format.  Courses use online lectures, discussion boards, wikis, audio, video and more.  Persons with disabilities are not disadvantaged and are encouraged to participate and seek accomodations through the Resouce Center for Persons with Disabilities. Students have 6 years to complete their program.


Applications are accepted three times each year. The deadline for beginning courses in Fall semester is June 1, the deadline for beginning in January is September 1 and the deadline for summer semester is February 1.  All applicants must meet Michigan State University graduate student admissions standards.  Residents in the States of Arkansas and Maryland are not eligible to apply to MSU's online degree programs.  Residents in Alabama, Lousisiana and Minnesota need to be aware of the following disclaimers:

Alabama ‐ State authorization to provide a program related to the preparation of teachers or other
P‐12 school/system personnel does not indicate eligibility for an Alabama certificate. Applicants for
an Alabama certificate based on reciprocity must meet Alabama’s test requirements and submit a
valid, renewable professional educator certificate/license issued by another state at the degree level,
grade level, and in the teaching field or area of instructional support for which an Alabama
certificate is sought and for which Alabama issues a certificate. Applicants for Alabama certification
in an area of administration must also document at least three years of full‐time employment as an
administrator in a P‐12 school system(s). ‐

Louisiana ‐ Michigan State University is currently licensed by the Board of Regents of the State of
Louisiana. Licenses are renewed by the State Board of Regents every two years. Licensed institutions
have met minimal operational standards set forth by the state, but licensure does not constitute
accreditation, guarantee the transferability of credit, nor signify that programs are certifiable by any
professional agency or organization.

Minnesota ‐ Michigan State University is registered as a private institution with the Minnesota
Office of Higher Education pursuant to sections 136A.61 to 136A.71. Registration is not an
endorsement of the institution. Credits earned at the institution may not transfer to all other
institutions.Please check with the financial aid office to ensure you are eligible for financial aid and grants, especially with the Graduate Certificate option.

Colorado, New York and Texas – All Programs and Courses. A letter of intent must be submitted 60-45 days prior to any field-based activity (internship, externship, practicum, away programs, field experience, etc.) occurring in any of these states. Prior notification is applicable to both undergraduate and graduate courses and programs.  Letters of intent should be sent to Sandy Townsend prior to the deadline.  Her contact information is 353-4550,

More information regarding state authorizations if found at:


There is a flat rate tuition for these programs, so there are no in-state/out-of-state fees.  The tuition for 2014-2015 is $515.00 per credit hour.

Contact Person

For more information about technical requirements, financial aid, admissions and more please use the "Resources" link found in the left-hand column of this page or contact the MSU Great Plains IDEA Campus Coordinator:  Karen Mills, 552 W. Circle Drive, 14 Human Ecology Building, 517-432-9225 or You can also view videos about the field and courses on our YouTube channel by searching for: Great Plains IDEA at MSU .You Tube Icon

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