Families play a significant part in individuals’ lives and society. In sociology, one approach is to view families as a small group, focusing on relational processes like support, socialization, conflict and intimacy that constitute interactions among family members.

Another approach views the family as a major social institution that interacts closely with other institutions including those affecting education, law, healthcare, religion, the economy, criminal justice and welfare.

The family - in its varied and diverse forms - is also key to understanding how inequality is experienced and reproduced in society, as substantial responsibility for caring, nurturing, and raising others is delegated to families. The interplay of these multiple levels - the micro or interpersonal, the meso or institutional, and the macro or structural - also interests sociologists, as individuals influence social structures and institutions, and the latter, in turn, affect family interactions and relationships.

Program at a Glance

Degree Program:

Family and Social Welfare Undergraduate Certificate

Offered By:

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences


Cost Per Credit:


Cost Per Credit:


Credit Hours:


Program Details

This certificate provides students a foundation for understanding the complex role of families and family members at multiple levels, as well as the social systems and organizations responsible for supporting families and individuals. The content and methods courses will prepare students for direct service positions working with individuals and families (e.g., human and social services), or research, policy or advocacy positions addressing family issues (e.g., housing, violence and abuse, parenting, social welfare). Students earning the certificate also will be well-positioned to pursue advanced degrees in social work, public health, counseling, law, sociology or related disciplines.

Upon successful completion of the certificate, students will: 

  • Recognize the diversity of family structures within and across cultures
  • Understand the theoretical perspectives explaining family behavior and relationships, and those addressing differences in the institution of family across cultures and over time
  • Be familiar with current trends in family structure and recent research on family functioning and well-being, as well as how family research informs advocacy and policy work, and social welfare programs
  • Be able to apply the technical skills of their methodological training to conduct analyses about families and family life, and outcomes assessments for social welfare programs aimed at helping families
  • Engage in original research projects involving family-related issues

While housed in Sociology, the study of families and social welfare is, in fact, a multidisciplinary field that draws from diverse liberal arts fields, including psychology, communications and history, among others. 


A minimum of 15 hours is required for the Family and Social Welfare Certificate.


Admission requirements and deadlines vary based on the program. Students are encouraged to apply for the Families and Social Welfare Certificate at any point in their undergraduate studies. Students must have a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or higher and earn a minimum of a “C” in each course applied to the certificate. The certificate will be transcripted when all requirements are completed.

Learn more about the admissions process by filling out the form above or contacting an Enrollment Navigator today.

Example Courses
SOCY 3700 — Sociology of the Family
SOCY 3115 — Quantitative Methods & Analysis
SOCY 3010 — Sociology of Human Sexuality
SOCY 4650 — Sociology of Adulthood and Aging
HIST 4219 — Depression, Affluence and Anxiety: U.S. History, 1929 to the Present
PSYC 4485 — Psychology of Cultural Diversity