Child Development and Family Relations

Why study Child Development and Family Relations at the University of Maine?

The University of Maine offers child development and family relations majors a chance to study with internationally known experts in the field. Our students work within the community of the College of Education and Human Development, which boasts small class sizes and close faculty interaction. At the same time, they are able to take advantage of the vast resources available at Maine’s largest and most comprehensive university. Undergraduate research is a focus at UMaine, and our students have the opportunity to work on such projects as social development studies, nature playground development and best practices in curriculum.

What can I do with a degree in child development and family relations?

Our students acquire the professional skills necessary to work with children and families in a variety of rewarding and challenging careers. Majors can specialize in aspects of individual and family development to meet specific career interests, such as family planning, employee assistance, gerontology, intervention programs, education, social service and community programs. Recent graduates work in family planning agencies, daycare facilities, nursery schools, elementary schools, family respite care settings and child development service agencies. Graduates of the professional program also have found positions in such diverse areas as employee assistance, recreation, parent education and intervention programs. Graduates of the early childhood education program are prepared to teach, and they often go on to graduate study in early literacy, special education, early intervention, educational leadership, counselor education or social work.

Our undergraduate program

Our students apply their classroom knowledge in a practicum or fieldwork in schools and communities. This hands-on learning starts in the second year of study. The undergraduate program offers two tracks: K-3 teaching certification, and professional preparation to work with children and families in community settings. The early childhood education option includes student teaching experience. The curriculum meets the rigorous standards and requirements of the National Council of Family Relations’ Certified Family Life Educator designation. This enables graduates to quickly complete the application process for Certified Family Life Educator status.

Our faculty

Child development and family relations faculty have a deep commitment to quality teaching, advising and mentoring. Several professors have been recognized with University of Maine outstanding teaching awards. Our faculty members frequently publish their research in books and national and international journals. Their areas of research are varied and include college students’ attitudes and behaviors, early childhood literacy and math, teaching methods to help students succeed in school, family relationships in their varied forms, and support for families with children with disabilities. Faculty members serve on the editorial review boards of research and professional practice journals. All faculty members present regularly at national and international conferences, and are active in state and national organizations representing their profession.

Opportunities to excel

Our majors can gain professional and research experience at the Katherine M. Durst Child Development Learning Center, a licensed nursery and pre-K program on campus that is one of the oldest such university-affiliated centers in the United States. Students can develop research skills through internships with faculty and apply concepts and theory during an integrated practicum or field experience. Students can join the Early Childhood Organization (EChO), which gives UMaine education students the opportunity to collaborate with peers from nearby colleges, teachers, social workers and others in the field, allowing them to build their network before they graduate. Students are also encouraged to join the Kappa Omicron Nu human sciences honor society.

We encourage our students to gain an international perspective on children and families through our short travel study courses to Mexico and Europe. In addition, we encourage our majors to spend a semester studying abroad in such places as England, Scotland, Italy and Ghana.


Join the UMaine Child Development and Family Relations students and alumni Facebook group.

I’m ready to apply. Where do I go?

Visit for an application, as well as information about academics and life at UMaine.

UMaine Advantage

  • A comprehensive liberal arts foundation
  • Faculty actively engaged in research
  • Internship opportunities in rural, urban and international settings
  • Close interaction with faculty
  • Top-notch advising
  • An education that prepares our students to thrive in any career
"As an undergraduate, I was able to intern with the Touchstone Project, which addresses suicide prevention among college students. That experience led me to pursue a master’s degree in human development." — Samantha Kane, Class of 2010, child development and family relations major