Family Studies Minor Requirements - JMU Catalog

For questions or to declare the minor, please contact:

Dr. Terrence Fernsler, Minor Adviser
Phone: (540) 568-6980
Office: HBS 2071 

Dr. Nancy Poe, Family Studies Minor Coordinator

The minor adviser provides additional information about the minor, provides information sessions, and assists with course planning in coordination with your major. Please contact the minor adviser when you have additional questions not covered by the JMU Catalog or with the basic information below. Students seeking to become family studies minors are encouraged to attend scheduled information sessions. Dates and times are posted on social work department bulletin boards, and you may contact the minor adviser for information.

The minor in Family Studies, housed in the Social Work Department, is designed for undergraduates seeking enhancement of their major, desiring to increase their understanding of self and relationships, and seeking to make a positive contribution to society. The minor will enhance majors in many fields, including anthropology, the arts, early and middle education, health sciences, management, nursing, psychology, social work, and sociology.

The Family Studies minor requires a minimum of 18 credit hours with no more than six credit hours in the student’s major. Note that some courses have prerequisites that must be completed before enrollment. Some courses may be restricted to students enrolled in particular majors.

The minor offers two focuses: Family ecology (FECO) and gerontology (GERO). Both foci explore a range of family-related issues, family processes, policies, laws, services, and the interrelationship of families and society. The minor capstone requires students to make connections between family studies and their major field of study.

Family Ecology (FAM-FECO)

The interdisciplinary study of the complex and recursive relationships between humans and the natural, built, and socio-political environments where family systems are viewed as the motivating nexus. Stress and adaptation in family systems' structures, functions, and dynamics are central foci of study.

Gerontology (FAM-GERO)

The interdisciplinary study of social, cultural, psychological, cognitive, and biological aspects of aging with emphasis on development in later adulthood. Intergenerational dynamics, specifically relative to caregiving and receiving over the life course, and end-of-life issues are central foci of study.

Information session dates

To declare the Family Studies minor, you will need to attend an informational session listed below: 

  • Monday 3/4, 10:00-11:00 AM HBS 2095
  • Wednesday 3/6, 12:00-1:00 PM in HBS 2099
  • Thursday 3/7, 1:00-2:00 PM in HBS 3041
  • Tuesday 3/19, 4:40-5:40 PM in HBS 2099
  • Thursday 3/21, 3:30-4:30 PM in HBS 1085

Each student needs to attend only one session.  Each session will include information for both the Family Ecology and Gerontology foci.

Please contact the Family Studies Minor adviser at with any questions.

Attendance at Information Sessions is highly encouraged. At this meeting, students will:

  • Learn about the minor and course requirements
  • Map a plan for completing the minor
  • Be assigned a capstone cohort and/or waitlist
  • Learn how to track their progression through the minor
  • Receive information about registration for approved courses

Declaring the minor

To declare the Family Studies minor, students must:

  • Review the online requirements in the Undergraduate Catalog and determine if the minor is feasible in their academic plan. This might involve a discussion with your major adviser. The minor requires completion of 18 credit hours and takes a minimum of three to four semesters.
  • Submit a Declaration of Minor form on MyMadison


“Family is whatever a person defines family to be.” 

This is how Nancy Poe, JMU’s family studies minor coordinator, describes the human connections and relationships of caregiving, receiving, growing, learning and developing across the lifespan.

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