Skip to Sub-menu

The 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:

ENGAGE YOUTH AND HELP THEM SUCCEED

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

UNDERSTAND YOUTH CONTEXT AND ENGAGE STAKEHOLDERS

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

CREATE AND SUSTAIN YOUTH PROGRAMS

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

Coursework and Degree Requirements

Master of Arts – 36 total credits

Required Courses (25 credits)

Understand Youth Development and Contexts:

HDFS 7231: Foundations of Youth Development (1) a
HDFS 8234: Adolescents and Their Families (3)
HDFS 8236: Youth Policies (3)
HDFS 8237: Youth Cultures and the Culture of Youth (3)
HDFS 8239: Community Youth Development (3)
HDFS 8240: Youth Development (3) b

Manage and Evaluate Youth Development Programs:

HDFS 8232: Consumers of Research (3) b
HDFS 8235: Program Administration and Management (3)
HDFS 8238: Program Design, Evaluation, and Implementation (3)

Suggested Electives* (up to 12 credits)

HDFS 7233: Basic Grant Development and Management (3, Spring)
HDFS 7001: Youth, Families, & Technology (3, Summer)
HDFS 7001: Youth Mental Health (3, Summer)
HDFS 8087: Adolescent Sexuality, Pregnancy & Parenthood (3, Summer)
HDFS 8087: Normative Behavior in Immigrant and Minority Youth (3, Fall)
HDFS 7600: Family Resilience (3, Spring)
HDFS 8012: Family Dynamics and Intervention (3, Fall)
HDFS 8100: Foundations and Principles of Family and Community Services (3, Fall)

*Or any other adviser-approved course

Independent Capstone Effort* (choose 1 option):

HDFS 8972: Internship (variable credits, consult your adviser)
HDFS 8999: Comprehensive Exam (no course credit assigned)

No course credit is assigned to the exam option. Students typically complete the exam during their final semester of coursework. The Internship option is available with adviser approval.

aHDFS 7231 should be completed in the first semester of enrollment.
b HDFS 8240 and HDFS 8232 should be completed within the first one-two semesters of enrollment

NOTE: Up to 6 credits can be transferred from other graduate programs, if your adviser deems the courses relevant.

Youth Program Management and Evaluation Certificate – 13 total credits

This graduate certificate works well as a stand-alone for those who want to enhance their skills and credentials in youth program leadership and sustainability. It can also pair well for those who are students in other Master’s or Doctoral programs at Mizzou seeking to add specialized youth programming skills to their training.

Required Courses (1 credits)

HDFS 7231: Foundations of Youth Development (1)

Select Four of the Following Courses (12 credits)

HDFS 8232: Consumers of Research (3)
HDFS 8235: Program Administration and Management (3)
HDFS 8236: Youth Policy (3)
HDFS 8238: Program Design, Evaluation, and Implementation (3)

Or any one other adviser-approved elective course (3)*

a HDFS 7231 should be completed in the first semester of enrollment.

* Only 1 elective course may be chosen for the Certificate Program of Study. The remaining credits must come from the listed course options above.

Youth Development Specialist Certificate – 13 total credits

This graduate certificate works well as a stand-alone for those who want to enhance their skills and credentials in understanding and working with youth. It can also pair well for those who are students in other Master’s or Doctoral programs at Mizzou seeking to add specialized youth development knowledge skills to their training.

Required Courses (1 credits)

HDFS 7231: Foundations of Youth Development (1)

Select Four of the Following Courses (12 credits)

HDFS 8234: Adolescents and Their Families (3)
HDFS 8236: Youth Policy (3)
HDFS 8237: Youth Cultures and the Culture of Youth (3)
HDFS 8239: Community Youth Development (3)
HDFS 8240: Youth Development (3)

Or any one other adviser-approved elective course (3)*

a HDFS 7231 should be completed in the first semester of enrollment.

* Only 1 elective course may be chosen for the Certificate Program of Study. The remaining credits must come from the listed course options above.

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

Apply Now

The Online Youth Development program is flexible, affordable, and designed for you!
  • 100% online, no campus visits required
  • Flexible timeline to completion – continue to work while earning your degree
  • Rolling admissions – courses offered year-round
  • Customize electives to meet your professional goals
  • Flat-rate tuition – no added distance or out-of-state costs
  • Tuition reduction available for MU/Extension employees and military members
  • Federal financial aid eligible for both MA and Certificate programs
  • Applied focus to enhance your current work or support future career goals
  • Learn alongside other working professionals across the nation
  • Hands-on advisers help you meet your goals
  • Take charge of your learning and career growth

After earning her Master’s degree online, Penny earned a promotion and now serves as a County Engagement Specialist in 4-H Youth Development in Northern Missouri.

Youth Development BrochureClick image to open brochure

PENNY KITTLE“The most interesting part about taking classes with people from different countries is their different perspectives. It was a great opportunity to share ideas for how to overcome our unique challenges.”

PENNY KITTLE | MILAN, MO
YOUTH DEVELOPMENT (MA) `18

KEARSTEN PEOPLES“This program was perfect for my passion of working with youth. We never stop learning. We never stop growing. I want to be that person that is ‘there’ for the youth I work with at all times.”

KEARSTEN PEOPLES | GAINESVILLE, FL
YOUTH DEVELOPMENT (MA) `19

HDFS Online Graduate Program Partners

The Youth Development online graduate program is offered as a collaborative partnership in conjunction with several other university partners. Visit the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance (Great Plains IDEA) website for the most up-to-date information regarding tuition, course offerings, and teaching faculty.

Visit the Missouri Online website for more information about


Youth Development Adviser

Melissa HerzogMelissa Herzog
Phone: (573) 884-9845
E-mail: herzogm@missouri.edu