Undergraduate Program Child, Youth, and Family Studies

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Child, Youth, and Family Studies Bachelor's Degree and Minor Overview

Child, Youth, and Family Studies (CYFS) is an interdisciplinary blend of liberal arts education and professional preparation for those planning careers with children, youth, and families. Students learn to situate children and young people in current and historical social, political, and cultural contexts while developing the skills to practice effectively in youth work, education, social work, hospital, child welfare, early childhood, and other settings centering children, youth, and families.

The CYFS program is for students interested in improving the lives of children, youth, and families. Whether you are a returning student with years of experience, an activist fighting for justice and equity, or a curious undergrad still exploring your options, CYFS will put you on the path to a career with children and young people.

We offer:

  • An outside-the-box interdisciplinary curriculum that breaks the mold of how we think about children and youth
  • Nationally recognized faculty who bring original scholarship and real-world experience to the classroom
  • Hands-on experience in schools and social service settings committed to awakening the power and potential of children and youth
  • Transformative opportunities to build the skills necessary for fast-paced and dynamic workplaces
  • Fearless confidence and a strong conviction that the world can be made into a better place and that YOU are an agent of change

Our grads are changing the world through service and direct practice, making a better future with and for children, youth, and families. Our alumni work across education and social service sectors across the greater Portland region and beyond. Across the country, our alumni are accepted into graduate programs in education, social work, youth studies, child life, counseling, public policy, and more.

You can graduate from CYFS with Honors, too! If you're interested in working closely with a faculty mentor, being recognized for your outstanding work, and changing the world in the process, consider our Honors Option. You'll develop and carry out an Honors thesis or project focused on addressing a social problem of your choice, and you'll emerge as a student leader in the CYFS program.

Degree Details

Child, Youth, and Family Studies Bachelor's Degree or Minor: Why PSU?

You will experience a cutting-edge curriculum that promotes justice and equity as you build the skills to work effectively with children, youth, and families. Our program welcomes non-traditional students and embraces the wisdom you bring to the classroom. Our articulation agreements with 11 Oregon community colleges help us support you on your pathway to a bachelor’s degree. Our flexibility allows us to incorporate the needs of our students as full people. We will work together with you to design a schedule and curriculum that turns your dreams into real-world impact.

You will be nurtured through deep and supportive relationships with faculty through dynamic and engaged classes, academic and career advising, and collaborative research.

The innovative departmental Honors Option engages your imaginative thinking and doing, as you work with a faculty mentor to push beyond your comfort zone as you create an honors project that leads to lasting change

What can I do with a bachelor's degree or minor in Child, Youth, and Family Studies?

You can go in many different directions with a degree in Child, Youth, and Family Studies. Our innovative interdisciplinary program will equip you with a blend of professional preparation and academic rigor.

Through 300 hours of hands-on practicum experience, you will develop both practical professional skills and build relationships with education and social service professionals that will help you achieve your career goals. With a CYFS degree, you join a long list of other values-driven change agents including:

  • Early childhood educators
  • Elementary and secondary educators
  • Special educators
  • Human services professionals, case managers, and counselors
  • Outreach workers
  • Residential care treatment providers
  • Child welfare workers
  • Child Life specialists
  • Disability advocates
  • Addictions counselors
  • Juvenile corrections staff
  • Outdoor and recreational education providers (counselors, coaches)

You are also well prepared for graduate school with a CYFS degree. Our alumni have been accepted to programs in Portland, across the US, and internationally in fields including:

  • Education (early childhood and K-12)
  • Social work
  • Child and Youth Care
  • Women, Gender, and Sexualities Studies
  • Public Policy
  • Public Health
  • Child Life and Family Life Education
  • Nursing
  • School Counseling
  • Human Development and Family Studies
  • Counseling
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Speech and Hearing Sciences
  • Family Law

Featured Courses

Our orientation to justice and equity sets CYFS apart from many other similar programs. Our curriculum blends your desire to care for others with careful examinations of yourself, society, and what it takes to bring about change:

  • Bias and Belief
  • Structural Oppression
  • Activism for Social Change

We are committed to providing you the skills you’ll need to emerge from CYFS as a child and youth professional. You’ll build many of these skills in the Professional Self series and the CYFS Practicum courses:

  • CFS 493 Professional Self: Ways of Knowing
  • CFS 494 Professional Self: Critical Thinking
  • CFS 495 Professional Self: Identity
  • CFS 496 Professional Self: Integration
  • CFS 497 Practicum I
  • CFS 498 Practicum II


We also offer a wide range of elective courses focusing on a combination of skills development and academic study. These include:

  • CFS 320U ABCs of ECE
  • CFS 450 Youth and Youth Work
  • CFS 385U Working with Diverse Families
  • CFS 340U Queer Families
  • CFS 390U Sex & the Family
  • CFS 410 Intro to Child Life and the Hospitalized Child
  • CFS 330U A American Families in Film and Television


Portland State University is fully accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

Our National Council on Family Relations approval gives you access to contemporary and dynamic professional development opportunities. 

Child, Youth, and Family Studies is an approved CFLE (Certified Family Life Educator) program through the National Council on Family Relations. We are one of only two NCFR approved programs in Oregon.

We are administratively housed in the PSU School of Social Work, which ranks in the top 25% of Social Work programs nationally.