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Human Services Family Studies BHS

College of Community Studies and Public Affairs
Undergraduate major / Bachelor of Human Services

The human services family studies concentration is designed to expose and engage students in a variety of topics related to family function, family structure and family dynamics. Family studies is a multidisciplinary area. It is informed by sociological, historical, anthropological, psychological and other emerging perspectives. Students learn that families are shaped by, and adapt to, a range of economic, political, cultural and psychological factors.

A human services major with a focus in family studies appeals to those students considering working with families as their primary client group in either the public or private human services arenas. The primary concern of the program is the social health of all families, as well as interventions and policies for serving families. The family studies course work is also available for those students who want to understand and contextualize their own family experience.

Are you interested in a Human Services degree? Sign up to learn more at our information session on October 14 at 5 p.m.

Student outcomes

Students will:

  • demonstrate knowledge of best practice family interventions.
  • use quality data to inform decision making.
  • communicate effectively in all professional relationships.
  • demonstrate skills to support all families.
  • understand family function, structure, and dynamics

Related minors

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Course requirements


SOC 101 Introduction to Sociology

4 credits

This course is an introduction to the sociological perspective. Students examine the social processes that shape societies and the course of their histories. The social nature of biographies is explored through the study of the family and socialization, education and work, bureaucracy and the economy, gender, social class, and race and ethnicity.

Full course description for Introduction to Sociology

Requirements (57 credits)

Human Services (28 credits)

HSER 002 Background Check Workshop

This non-credit workshop is for students who declare a major in Human Services or Alcohol and Drug Counseling. It facilitates the process of completing a background check through the Minnesota Department of Human Services. All students in these majors must complete a background check by their second semester as a declared HSER BS, BHS, or ADC major. These majors require a practicum and practicum sites have set standards for background check results. Payment for the background check to the Minnesota Department of Human Services is the responsibility of the student. Results of the background check are sent to the student and to the background check administrator at Metropolitan State University's academic Department of Human Services. Results can be used to guide the student's course of study.

Full course description for Background Check Workshop

HSER 346 Counseling and Interviewing Skills

4-5 credits

This course introduces students to basic counseling skills. As such, it is designed to help students develop essential helping skills needed for client engagement, follow-through, completion and overall therapeutic effectiveness. Specific skills and techniques covered include; developing rapport, building empathy and listening, encouraging trust, self-disclosure, immediacy, questioning & evoking, addressing discrepancies, etc. This course is highly experiential in its format. Students will participate in classroom exercises, real plays, and video-taping of counseling skills.

Full course description for Counseling and Interviewing Skills

HSER 368 Understanding and Using Research for the Practitioner

4 credits

It is important for human service practitioners to understand the relationship between practice and research. According to social psychologist, Kurt Lewin, the best practice is founded in research and the best research is grounded in practice. Acknowledging this insight, this course will engage students in an examination of research as it is employed in the human service field. The primary focus of this course is to teach students how to be critical consumers of research, able to read, evaluate, and apply research for human service practice purposes. A second purpose is to develop students skills for their future role as collaborators with researchers in generating knowledge from the field. This course can serve as a companion course for the program evaluation offering or a foundations course for students interested in pursuing graduate study or a preview course for those intending to take social or behavioral science research methods courses.

Full course description for Understanding and Using Research for the Practitioner

HSER 395 Intersection of Race and Diversity in Human Services

4 credits

This course emphasizes the experience of race and racism and how both intersect with various forms of human diversity in the helping arena. It will provide students an understanding of how power and privilege are operant in the human services. Students will examine assumptions, myths, beliefs, and biases that block effective relationships between groups of people and that hamper helper-helpee dynamics. Course activities involve self-assessment and opportunities for application of learning in a human service environment. COMPETENCE STATEMENT: Knows conceptual frameworks dealing with racial-ethnic identity, racial-cultural world views, oppression and power well enough to explore, develop, and evaluate personal responses and professional strategies to eliminate the myths, beliefs, biases, actions and efforts, that sustain social oppression in the helping professions.

Full course description for Intersection of Race and Diversity in Human Services

HSER 455 Human Services Capstone Seminar

4 credits

This course comes at the end of the student's senior course work in human services. Students complete a human services portfolio assignment demonstrating what they have learned in human services over the period of time while studying in this program. This assignment helps students to reflect on their academic course of study (both theoretical and practical) and how it applies to the professional practice of human services. The written portfolio provides evidence of competence and is a way for students to demonstrate readiness for graduation and work as Human Services professionals. In order to complete the portfolio assignment students must complete at least ten (10) hours of community service in a Human Services Agency with a Human Services professional. The course culminates with students giving presentations on the agency studied and written about in their portfolio.

Full course description for Human Services Capstone Seminar

Choose one

HSER 325 Working with/in Community

4 credits

This course will explore working in community as a form of civic engagement and an arena of human service work. This is typically referred to as community practice. Community practice, whether by the volunteer or the professional, entails helping a community at-large solve its problems and achieve its goals. Insightful, grounded community practice enables helpers to impact the total milieu of peoples lives, improving the broader spectrum of peoples lives in ways that direct client-centered helping cannot. Through the theoretical component of the course students will examine different ideologies of helping and how those become expressed in various forms of community helping including: service, organizing and development, social change and empowerment, and advocacy. Through the experiential component of the course students will become familiar with the varied tools of this distinctive type of helping within a specific Twin Cities social movement. This course is presently designed…

Full course description for Working with/in Community

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HSER 352 Family Counseling

4 credits

This course explores the dynamics and processes of family interactions and counseling from the viewpoint of a family counselor. Some of the major theories of family counseling are discussed, with particular emphasis on the theories of Virginia Satir. Evaluation is based in part on a final conference with the instructor. This course is designed for students seeking self-understanding, as well as for students pursuing careers in the human services.

Full course description for Family Counseling

HSER 415 Spirituality and Helping

4 credits

For the past 30 years helping professionals have deliberated about the role and integration of spirituality or religion in their practice. It is accepted that as clients race, ethnicity, and culture affect their thoughts, feelings, and behavior, so similarly do clients spiritual or religious orientations affect how they function in world and thus perceive and deal with their problems. This course is designed to introduce students to the issues related to spirituality and helping as well as to provide a framework for developing an ethical spiritually-sensitive practice that is cognizant of the significance of these orientations. Students will explore relevant knowledge, skill, and value competencies for success in this frontier of the helping field.

Full course description for Spirituality and Helping

Family Studies (24 credits)

HSFS 343 is required, then choose five additional classes from the remaining courses.

HSFS 343 The Family: A Social/Psychological Exploration

4 credits

This course introduces students to the major social and psychological theories employed in studying family processes and in studying how families function in society today. In addition, the course engages students in an examination of their own families. Key features of this course are that students do a modified social history and case study of their own families. Students demonstrate competence by applying the content of the course in their analysis of their own family's social/psychological analysis.

Full course description for The Family: A Social/Psychological Exploration

HSFS 338 Family: Racial, Gender and Class Dimensions

4 credits

This course familiarizes students with the diversity that exists in families. It is intended for students who want to gain a better understanding of the family, and for students specializing in psychology or human services related fields. Structural inequalities in society based on wealth, race/ethnicity and gender are presented as key determinants in the diversity of family forms and in differing experiences within families.

Full course description for Family: Racial, Gender and Class Dimensions

HSFS 339 Issues and Actions in Family Policy

4 credits

This course considers the impact of public choices on life within families. It is generally offered during the state legislative session in order to give students opportunity to participate in the legislative process. The policy issues covered vary from year to year. Topics may cover competing rights of children and parents, culturally-specific/friendly family policy, international family policy comparisons, and other family policy issues.

Full course description for Issues and Actions in Family Policy

HSFS 341 Work and Family

4 credits

Until recently, the worlds of family and work were seen as separate spheres. Today, people are aware of the many possible relationships between work and family in society. This course examines the challenges, issues and problems associated with a variety of contemporary work-family patterns including single-provider, dual-provider and single-parent families, and families who own their own businesses.

Full course description for Work and Family

HSFS 342 Children in U.S. Society

4 credits

This interdisciplinary course explores historical and contemporary aspects of children's status and roles in family and society, adults' relationships and functions in relation to children, and public policy affecting children in twentieth-century United States. Community and experience-based learning, including a student-designed project, augment class lectures and discussion.

Full course description for Children in U.S. Society

HSFS 370 Sexuality and the Family

4 credits

This course explores sexual values and behaviors as they are developed and expressed across the life cycle of the family in different social cultural contexts. Students will examine human sexuality in the context of family relationships and dynamics while also learning to identify and evaluate effective programs, strategies, and materials for sexuality education. The course focuses on such topics as family planning, pregnancy and childbirth, gender identity and roles, sexual function and dysfunction, sexual pleasure, sexual variation, sexual orientation, sexuality and disability, sexuality and chronic disease, and sexual development. The course content and practice skills will satisfy a requirement for Certified Family Life Educator (CFLE) credentialing.

Full course description for Sexuality and the Family

HSVP 308 Family Violence Across the Lifespan

4 credits

This course is designed as an introduction to the study of family violence across the lifespan. It will introduce students to history, current theories, research, and policies in the three areas of family violence: child maltreatment, elder abuse, domestic violence. You will examine the cultural, social and political roots of family violence, as well as the dynamics of abuse in the family and in intimate relationships. You will explore the effects of abuse at the individual, family, and community levels, and be able to identify abusive and controlling behaviors. The content of the course focuses on current theories, research and policies on domestic violence (battering, sexual assault, stalking), child maltreatment (physical and sexual abuse, emotional abuse, neglect) and abuse of vulnerable adults (elderly, non-elderly vulnerable populations). This course is an introduction to the topic. It will give students a basic overview of the issues across types of family violence…

Full course description for Family Violence Across the Lifespan

Practica (5 credits)

Experiential (practica) learning opportunities are an essential component of the human services degree program. Thus, every student is required to complete a practicum experience.