Human Development & Family Studies | Michigan State University

Online Master of Arts Degree in Family and Community Services from MSU

Family and Community Services

Online Master of Arts Degree prepares students to work with individuals and families in a community context.

Focus of Program

The focus of the FCS program is to prepare graduates to work with individuals and families in a community context, with emphasis on leadership and management of family and community service programs.

Cooperating Universities

Michigan State University and the Family Community Service program is 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 family community services. It allows each campus to contribute unique course offerings to the degree programs, and students 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 (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.  The Family Community Services degree 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. 
  • Family Community Services courses are taught by professors with expertise in the Family Community Services area.
  • Students seeking admission must meet institutional admissions standards.  Family Community Services 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 Family Community Services program include:

  • Kansas State University
  • South Dakota State University
  • University of Missouri-Columbia
  • University of Nebraska-Lincoln
  • Oklahoma State University

Who is in the Programs?

The FCS program is designed for students seeking advanced education, an on-line structure, and preparation for working with individuals and families in a community context.  In addition to knowledge of human and family development, those desiring to work in community service programs will gain skills in design, implementation, evaluation and sustainability of programs.  The FCS program has been designed with a focus on military personnel and those with whom they work, but is appropriate for all those interested in family and community programs. 

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 Family and Community Services Master of Arts program is thirty six credits with thirty of those credits required by the degree program.  The remaining six credits may be pre-approved electives, an internship, independent study project or research that is chosen in consultation with your advisor. 

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 accommodations through the Resource 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 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 Yok 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 if 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.


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