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Youth Development

Program and Application Information
Department Head:Dr. Joel Hektner
Graduate Coordinator:Dr. Elizabeth Blodgett Salafia
Department Location:Evelyn Morrow Lebedeff Hall
Department Phone:(701) 231-8268
Department Web
Application Deadline:One month prior to the beginning of each term. Applications accepted for fall, spring, and summer.
Degrees Offered:M.S., Certificate
English Proficiency Requirements:TOEFL ibT 100 (subscores of at least 24 for speaking and 21 for writing); IELTS 7

Program Description

Programs of study leading to a Graduate Certificate or the Master of Science degree are offered in three options: Family Financial Planning, Youth Development, and Gerontology. All of these options are available via a collaborative, inter-institutional program offered through online distance education. Each program requires a capstone practicum experience to complete the M.S. degree. Students can complete the M.S. programs in two to three years and the certificate programs in one calendar year.

The Family Financial Planning (FFP) M.S. option is a 36-credit program with a specific curriculum approved by the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) Board of Standards. Graduate certificates (18 credits) are available in Financial Planning and in Financial and Housing Counseling.

The Gerontology M.S. option requires 36 credits, and the Graduate Certificate requires 15 credits. An advanced degree in the field of Gerontology can benefit the professional in social work, nursing, counseling, recreation, public policy, long-term care administration, medicine, architecture, interior design, psychology, adult education, and rehabilitation therapy.

The Youth Development M.S. option requires 36 credits. Graduate Certificates (13 credits) are available in Youth Development and in Youth Program Management and Evaluation. Youth development is an emerging professional field. It has a positive orientation, meaning its focus is on promoting the positive development of youth, and it is an applied field, with professionals who put developmental research and theory into practice in structuring and implementing programs and services for adolescents.


Admission Requirements

In addition to the Graduate School’s required application requirements, submit the statement of purpose indicating reasons for pursuing graduate study, specifying your special interests within your chosen discipline and including your background preparation in that area. Mention any relevant skills or experience you have acquired. In addition, be sure to address the following, in 500 words or less:

  1. How your interest in this field developed.
  2. Why you chose our program at NDSU.
  3. The experiences you have had (e.g. informal, academic, employment, volunteer) that you see as related to this graduate program or your professional goals.
  4. What your professional goals are and how this graduate program will help you accomplish your professional goals.
Degree Option
HDFS 710Foundations of Youth Development1
HDFS 711Youth Development3
HDFS 712Community Youth Development3
HDFS 713Adolescents and Their Families3
HDFS 714Contemporary Youth Issues *3
HDFS 715Youth in Cultural Contexts3
HDFS 716Youth Professionals as Consumers of Research3
HDFS 717Program Design, Implementation and Evaluation3
HDFS 718Administration and Program Management3
HDFS 719Youth Policy3
HDFS 794Practicum/Internship5
3 additional credits to be approved by adviser and committee3
Total Credits36

Certificate in Youth Development

HDFS 710Foundations of Youth Development1
Select 4 courses from the following12
Youth Development
Community Youth Development
Adolescents and Their Families
Contemporary Youth Issues
Youth in Cultural Contexts
Youth Policy
Total Credits13

Certificate in Youth Program Management and Evaluation

HDFS 710Foundations of Youth Development1
Select 4 courses from the following: 12
Contemporary Youth Issues
Youth Professionals as Consumers of Research
Program Design, Implementation and Evaluation
Administration and Program Management
Youth Policy
Total Credits13

This course may be taken more than once, as long as the topic areas are different each time.

Kristen Benson, Ph.D.
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 2008
Research Interests: Gender Identity and Family/Partner Relationships, Diversity Issues in Family Therapy, Collaborative Approaches to Family Therapy Education and Training, and Qualitative Methodology

Elizabeth Blodgett Salafia, Ph.D. 
University of Notre Dame, 2008
Research Interests: Family and Peer Influences on Adolescents' Disordered Eating Attitudes and Behaviors

Sean Brotherson, Ph.D. 
Oregon State University, 2000
Research Interests: Parenting and Fatherhood; Healthy Marriages; Family Stress; Rural Families; Grief and Bereavement; Family Life Education; Family Policy

Thomas Carlson, Ph.D. 
Iowa State University, 2000
Research Interests: Narrative Pedagogy; Relational Accountability Approach to Couples Therapy, LGBT Affirmative Therapy Competence among Therapists, And Influence of Spirituality on Clinical Practice and Training

James E. Deal, Ph.D. 
University of Georgia, 1987
Research Interests: Personality Development in Children; Relationship Between Individual Development and Family Relationships

Margaret Fitzgerald, Ph.D. 
Iowa State University, 1997
Research Interests:  Financial Counseling and Planning; Husbands and Wives Who Own and Operate Family Businesses Together; Family Business and Economically Vulnerable/Viable Communities; Gender and Management Issues in Family Business 

Heather Fuller, Ph.D. 
University of Michigan, 2009
Research Interests:  Social Relationships across the Lifespan (E.G. Intergenerational Relationships); Psychological Well-Being in Old Age; Culture and Aging; Migration, Transnationalism and Acculturation; Biculturalism 

Joel Hektner, Ph.D. 
University of Chicago, 1996
Research Interests:  Prevention Programs for Children with Adjustment Problems; Peer Affiliation Patterns and Peer Influences on Children's Behaviors; Family and School Conditions that Facilitate Optimal Experiences (Flow) and Optimal Development; The Experience Sampling Method

Carrie Johnson, Ph.D. 
Iowa State University, 2012
Research Interests:  Personal Finance for Low-Income and Underserved Populations; Financial Education Impact; Student Loan Debt; Program Delivery Methods and Evaluation; Behavioral Finance across the Lifespan

Christie McGeorge, Ph.D. 
University of Minnesota, 2005
Research Interests: Influence of Heterosexism and Homophobia on Clinical Practice and Training, Gender Equity In Therapy, Gender Equity In Higher Education, Feminist Theories, And Societal Perceptions of Single Parents.

Melissa Lunsman O'Connor, Ph.D.
University of South Florida, 2010
Research Interests: Cognitive And Functional Aging In Healthy And Clinical Populations; Older Drivers; Research Methods; Attitudes Toward Dementia; Interventions For Improving Cognition, Health, And Everyday Functioning

Brandy A. Randall, Ph.D. 
University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2002
Research Interests: Relational and Contextual Influences on Adolescents' and Young Adults' Positive and Problem Behaviors

Gregory F. Sanders, Ph.D. 
University of Georgia, 1983
Research Interests: Later Life Families; Family Strengths

Meagan Scott, Ph.D. 
Oklahoma State University, 2016
Research Interests: Understanding How Changing Trends in Society Influence Youth; Afterschool Training; Positive Youth Development; Professional Development Methods to Better Meet the Needs of 4-H Staff

Rebecca Woods, Ph.D. 
Texas A&M University, 2006
Research Interests: Perception and Cognition in Infancy; Object Processing; Multimodal Processing, Adults' Influence on Infant Learning