Children need a foundation of support to become thriving adults. Family and Child Development professionals provide a multifaceted resource for families and children in education, healthcare, early intervention, special education, child advocacy, and community programs that can encourage lifelong positive outcomes for young children from birth to kindergarten.
At UNC Charlotte, our Master of Family and Child Development program offers two concentrations: the Master of Arts in Teaching, for students seeking a career teaching in a classroom environment; or the Master of Education, for students with undergraduate degrees in related fields (i.e., early childhood education, psychology, sociology, or elementary education) who want to become leaders in a particular aspect of family and child development.
You can tailor your degree program to align with your interests by incorporating courses in fields such as: early intervention or early childhood special education. You can even elect to perform an independent research study for course credit, under the guidance of a faculty member, in any relevant topic for which courses are not available. You also have the option of earning a certificate in partnership with a variety of disciplines, such as early childhood mental health, child life, social work, or public health. We believe in an interdisciplinary approach to education and work across colleges and areas of interest to incorporate other disciplines, which inform the work our students will do in their future careers.
Our coursework offers more than just methodology and behavior management, by introducing immersive experiences, like working with infants and toddlers, teaching in blended and special education settings, providing support to families of young children from birth to kindergarten, and engaging in research focused on improving developmentally appropriate practices in a variety of settings.
The Family and Child Development program is a hybrid model that utilizes both in-class and online forums for instruction. This format provides the practical experience and face-to-face interaction our students need to be fully prepared to excel in their future careers, while offering the flexibility and balance needed by students who commute or have vital obligations to work, family, or community that require their time and attention. Most of our students are able to attend the program as full-time students because of this format, but we also offer the option of part-time matriculation for students in our program if that is what will best allow them to succeed in our program.
The Office of Field Experiences provides support services to our students for school-based clinical experiences and during yearlong internships and student teaching. Field experiences – observing, interacting with, and teaching children and youth – are a critical part of all teacher education programs at UNC Charlotte. These field experiences continue throughout a candidate’s program and culminate in a 15-week, full-time student teaching experience after completion of all other course work.
The Center for Graduate Life provides the support and sense of community students need to meet the challenges they will face throughout their graduate experience. The Center offers workshops on topics like grant writing, presentation skills, publishing in scholarly journals, and understanding the academic job search. Virtual workshops are available online on subjects such as graduate academic writing and research writing at the graduate level.
The University Career Center provides services, programs, and support for students and alumni. Services include such options as an Education Career Fair held each spring semester, individual appointments with career advisors and the Hire-A-Niner online job and internship database. Southern Teachers Agency is a free placement service that helps recent graduates in their search for education jobs in PK-12 private and independent schools around the South.
Our esteemed instructors are consummate learners and contributors to the discipline of family and child development through publications, grant-funded research (often with student collaborators), community outreach, and extensive clinical experience working directly with families and children in a variety of professional settings, such as schools, childcare programs, and local hospitals. Many of our courses are taught on-site, so faculty are able to engage students in the hands-on learning vital to applying theory and strategies learned in the classroom and through research in a real-world environment.
Our M.A.T. courses focus on classroom teaching through evidence-based practices and action research. It is our aim for students to gain an understanding of how to incorporate best practices and research findings in the classroom to inform decision-making and improve educational outcomes for their students. This program culminates in a capstone course, in which students must create a research proposal and put it into practice in a real-world classroom environment.
Our M.Ed. is a broad program that features more specialized concentrations, depending upon the student’s area of interest, such as early intervention, early childhood special education, child life, or classroom teaching. Research is a major component of our curriculum and the required capstone research project consisting of a full written proposal, conducting the research, and defending the proposal and research project to the Institutional Review Board at UNC Charlotte. Many of our students are even able to publish their thesis upon completion for professional experience.
Some of our students choose to pursue independent study research projects or begin practicum/internships to meet licensing requirements to become child life specialists while attaining their master’s degree. Our faculty provide resources, academic and networking support, and supervision to students as they work toward their professional goals in these projects and placements.
Graduates from our program are gainfully employed in diverse and dynamic careers, including teaching in public pre-k, kindergarten, blended or special education, and private school classrooms; or in administrative roles within school systems. Others are working with area early intervention programs, providing support to families and children in their homes or through community programs as service coordinators or case managers. Alternatively, they may be employed by agencies, such as Smart Start with the Partnership for Children in North Carolina, work with family support, referral, or early education programs in their communities. Many seek additional licensure to become child life specialists in healthcare facilities. Some are employed by their internship sites, while others pursue professional speaking, clinical research, and working with individuals they know as a result of the networking opportunities they gained during their master’s program. Many choose to continue their education with post-graduate certifications, such as early childhood mental health, or doctoral programs, like UNC Charlotte’s Ph.D. in Special Education. Graduates who continue their education often pursue careers in special education, early intervention, early childhood special education, clinical research, or higher education. Whatever path our graduates take upon completion of their degrees, they are confident that the knowledge, skills, and experience they have gained at UNC Charlotte will be viewed favorably by potential employers and unlock the opportunities they need to achieve their career goals as effective and empathetic family and child development professionals.
Do you want to make a difference in the lives of children by providing the nurturing and developmentally rich environment they need to learn and grow?
If so, click here to learn more about requirements for our Master of Education or Master of Arts in Teaching in Family and Child Development programs, graduate student financial aid, and the graduate application process.