The B.S. degree in Youth Development Studies is specifically designed as an upper-level degree completion program for professional youth workers who wish to complete a bachelor’s degree in youth development. As such, all classes are offered in the evenings and are delivered online using web-enhanced technologies. Classes are designed to be taken part-time and students are admitted in the fall and spring of each year.
The Youth Development Studies program equips students with the competencies, knowledge and skills necessary to help young people develop into healthy, competent, coping and contributing citizens. Through academic coursework and practical field-based experiences, the program integrates positive youth development theory with practical skills needed to design, deliver and assess intentional and effective youth-serving programs. Studies also prepare students for graduate work in a variety of youth-oriented fields, including programs such as Clemson University’s M.S. in Youth Development Leadership.
The term “youth development” encompasses a specific set of principles and practices that help to mold and shape the successful developmental processes of school-aged youth. These principles include a focus on building and strengthening the assets of young people, and emphasizing the strengths, abilities and potential of youth. Effective youth development programs are exemplified by supportive adult relationships, healthy and stimulating environments conducive to learning and skill attainment, availability of challenging programs and activities, and ample opportunity to engage young people in the process of their own development. Youth-serving organizations include those whose primary mission focuses on youth development, principally for young people and their families, during out-of-school time hours. Examples include afterschool programs; 4-H, YMCA/YWCA, Boys and Girls Clubs; health, fitness and sports programs; organized camping; mentoring programs; programs for children with disabilities; and faith-based ministries.
The B.S. in Youth Development Studies (1) prepares entry- and mid-career level professional youth development leaders for careers in agencies, institutions, schools, and community organizations that serve youth; (2) enhances youth-serving agencies and organizations by supplying professionals who are competent in child and adolescent growth and development, and who understand the connections between problem-focused and positive youth development approaches to working with youth; (3) educates and empowers students to focus on strengths and assets within the context of culturally diverse family and community structures that promote positive youth development; (4) identifies and examines physical, emotional, cognitive, environmental and social issues related to being a young person in today’s society, and teaches students to provide programmatic and policy solutions to help solve pressing youth issues; (5) provides ethical leaders with skills necessary to effect change in complex and changing environments in their communities, in the State of South Carolina, and across the nation; (6) prepares students to design, deliver and evaluate intentional, outcomes-focused youth programs and services based on national best-practices; (7) creates a community of scholars and practitioners that enhances professional connections in the youth development field, and provides a forum for the development and maintenance of meaningful collaborations and partnerships with diverse individuals, families and community groups; (8) educates students in organizational behavior and how governance and youth development systems work; (9) prepares students to demonstrate flexibility, resilience, adaptability, caring, ethical decision-making and ethical conduct; and (10) connects students to professional development opportunities in youth development for continual growth and lifelong learning.
Students who have completed a minimum of 60 credit hours, including all Clemson University General Education credits (33 hours) and approved electives (27 hours), are eligible for admission to the B.S. degree in Youth Development Studies. Students must initiate an application to Clemson University as a transfer student, and must have a cumulative grade point average of 2.5 on all prior college coursework to be eligible for admission. All students accepted into the program are required to attend an on-campus orientation program prior to starting the program. The orientation is designed to build camaraderie among students and faculty, as well as to familiarize students with the online learning technologies that are used to deliver the program.
As an upper-level degree completion program, the Youth Development Studies curriculum encompasses only core academic coursework and field experience in youth development and the approved concentration area. All required coursework, including prerequisite courses, youth development core courses, and approved emphasis area courses, is designed to build a set of core competencies for effective youth work. Required coursework is designed to facilitate the Ten Core Knowledge and Competencies for Afterschool and Youth Development Professionals as outlined by the National Afterschool Association (NAA) and National Institute on Out-of-School Time (NIOST).
Because students have a wide variety of academic and career goals, and because the emphasis area requirements cannot be tracked via Clemson’s degree audit system, detailed departmental advising is vital. Students will select an emphasis area and the courses to fulfill it in consultation with their advisor.