US News Best Online Programs Grad Education 2023The Master of Arts in Youth Development prepares students to provide youth with opportunities to learn and grow using the principles and practices of the positive youth development approach. Our graduates will:


Recognize youth strengths, foster positive relationships, and provide opportunities to learn, lead, connect, and serve


Recognize diverse contexts that impact youth and partner with families, schools, communities, and policymakers


Use evidence-informed practices to design, deliver, administer, evaluate, and fund effective youth programs


Degree Requirements

Master of Arts – 36 total credits

Starting in Fall 2021, the Youth Development Program is initiating an updated curriculum to better capture the needed competencies of graduate-level youth professionals. Courses are organized below according to these professional competency blocks. Youth professionals work in a wide variety of settings so students are encouraged to choose elective courses that meet their own unique professional needs and goals.

Not all updates will be finalized by Fall 2021; see specific course notes for more information.

Required Courses (27 credits, courses in bold)
Elective Courses (6-9 credits, choose additional courses from any block)

Block I – Foundational Skills in Positive Youth Development

  • HDFS 7231: Foundations of Youth Development (3) a
  • HDFS 8232: Youth Professionals as Consumers of Research (3) b
  • HDFS 8240: Youth Development (3) b

Block II – Relational Dynamics and Positive Youth Development c

  • HDFS 8234: Adolescents and their Families (3)
  • HDFS xxxx: Youth-Adult Relationships (3) – offered starting 2022-23
  • HDFS 8237: Youth Culture and the Cultures of Youth (3)
  • HDFS 8087: Adolescent Health & Sexuality (3)
  • HDFS 7001: Youth, Sports, & Society (3)

Block III – Contexts of Youth Practice and Policy c

  • HDFS 8236: Federal and State Policies that Impact Youth Development (3)
  • HDFS 8239: Positive Youth Development in Community Settings (3)
  • HDFS 7001: Youth Mental Health (3)
  • HDFS 7001: Systems of Care for Youth at Risk (3) – offered starting 2022-23

Block IV – Youth Program Management, Evaluation, & Administration c

  • HDFS 8235: Youth Personnel and Program Management (3) – course number/title will change in Fall22
  • HDFS 8238: Design and Evaluation of Youth Programs (3) – course number/title will change in Fall22
  • HDFS 7233: Basic Grant Development and Management (3)

Independent Capstone Effort (choose 1 option, 0 or 3 credits)

HDFS 8972: Internship (up to 3 credits, consult your adviser)
HDFS 8999: Comprehensive Exam (no course credit assigned)
No course credit is assigned to the exam option, so students in this option need 3 elective courses to meet the MA total credits required. Students typically complete the exam during their final semester of coursework. The Internship option is available with adviser approval.

a HDFS 7231 must be completed in the first semester of enrollment.
b HDFS 8240 and HDFS 8232 must be completed within the first one-two semesters of enrollment, may be taken concurrently with HDFS 7231 or other courses.
c Blocks II-IV are not sequential, students may take courses in these blocks in any order they choose.
~ Elective courses rotate and may not be offered every year, students are advised to consult their adviser and plan ahead; Other adviser-approved courses may be utilized
Note: Up to 6 credits can be transferred from other graduate programs, if your adviser deems the courses relevant to the YD program of study



Graduates from Youth Development work in a variety of settings. Get prepared to give youth the tools and opportunities they need to thrive!

  • 4-H | County Extension offices
  • Afterschool programs
  • Youth camps and recreation programs
  • Juvenile justice
  • Foster care services
  • Faith-based youth programs
  • Schools and education support programs