Family Services

Family Services

The Family Services program aims to prepare students through both educational and experiential opportunities to become successful professionals in a variety of employment sectors; some of which include non-profit agencies and governmental agencies. Family services as a profession focuses on building strong families through education, prevention and intervention programs. Some areas of emphasis include: children and youth, gerontology, parenting/relationship education, interpersonal violence prevention and advocacy services. Also, family service provides a strong foundation for advanced studies in couples and family counseling, student services and family studies. 

The discipline of family studies operates from a systemic perspective that believes problems are best addressed by understanding the interrelationship between the individual, the family, and the environment. The family services major is a bachelor of arts degree program. Coursework focuses on theories and research about family relationships and human development. It explores patterns of family functioning and how relationship processes and other contextual factors influence development and behavior. It has a strong focus on prevention and early intervention, providing tools and knowledge in order to improve the quality of life for families. Finally, the curriculum in family services focuses on applied experiences (e.g., service-learning, internship, research) which prepares students for future employment as well as graduate education.

The Family Services program has been designated as an approved Certified Family Life Educator (CFLE) program by the National Council on Family Relations.


Students transferring to UNI should take Intro to Psychology, Developmental Psychology and Marriage and the Family/Sociology of the Family before transferring. This will help prepare students to make a smooth transition.


Student and Professor

Scholarships for current School of Applied Human Science majors include the Marjorie Gibson Leighty Scholarship, the Martha Shedd Scholarship, Letitia Walsh Scholarship and Abbot Home Ec Endowed Scholars. An award in honor of Dr. Elisabeth Sutherland Howes, department head from 1940 to 1960, is presented to an outstanding graduating senior. More information on department scholarships can found at

Students in class

Internship in Family Services is a senior-level 9-credit elective for completion of the Family Services major and is required for students seeking Family Life Education certification. A successful internship experience requires a cooperative, collaborative relationship between the student, the UNI faculty coordinator, and the site supervisor. It provides a student with the opportunity to apply knowledge and skills learned in the classroom to real life situations. In the past, students have obtained approved internships locally, at various locations around the state of Iowa, nationally, and internationally.


Family Services majors have opportunities for professional development through participation in departmental organizations including Northern Iowa Family Services Organization (NIFSO). NIFSO is a student run organization that promotes education about family life and family diversity, and facilitates networking between past, present, and future Family Services majors/minors and professionals. 

Students may also join the National Council on Family Relations  (NCFR). Membership in NCFR provides students access to a variety of resources some of which include: honors student recognition program, scholarships, and professional preparation.


96% of last year's graduates are either continuing their education or employed


Family Service Agencies

Domestic Violence Prevention and Victim Service Agencies

Youth Service Agencies

Child Abuse Prevention Agencies

Student Services

Adoption and Foster Care agencies

Long-term Care Facilities

Residential Treatment Agencies and Programs


Have questions or want more information? Fill out the form below and someone from the department will contact you directly. To receive general university information from UNI’s admissions office, please click on ‘Request More Info About UNI’.

William Henninger
​Assistant Professor of Family Studies 
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