Master of Science in Human Ecology

Master of Science in Human Ecology ProgramIdea Lab Red Chairs

SoHE’s Master of Science in Human Ecology is an applied program aimed at preparing professionals who want to solve real societal problems and take on leadership roles within organizations that promote the well-being of individuals, families and communities.

Focus Areas

  • Community Development and social change
  • Nonprofit leadership
  • Policies for family and community well-being
  • Family resilience
  • Family financial security and asset development
  • Early childhood development and intervention
  • Applied research and evaluation
  • Youth development
  • Social justice and human well-being
  • Consumer financial advocacy
  • Consumer analytics for businesses
  • State regulatory analysis
  • Extension education and engagement
  • Prevention science
  • Parent education and support
  • Couple relationships

Read more in our MS program print piece.

What Makes this Program Unique

The Master of Science in Human Ecology offers multi-disciplinary course work that focuses on current theories and strategies for creating, managing and evaluating settings that promote human and community development. Students are exposed to current research and practice that integrates: (a) the promotion of human and family development with (b) perspectives on building effective organizations and sustainable communities. Students create their own “masters specialization” through elective courses and the completion of a real-world capstone project. Specializations are designed so that students can name their expertise to prospective employees.

This program is intended as a terminal, professional degree. Students interested in a PhD, MFA or other graduate degrees in the School of Human Ecology may apply separately to these programs.

The Masters program is geared toward students who are both new to the field and those who have had some direct practice, applied research, educational or advocacy experience. This 33 credit MS degree can be completed in 3 semesters of full time study or 4 or more semesters if students are part time. The program prepares students for careers working in a wide range of settings including:

  • Community-based organizations (family support, youth work, community organizing, social justice, intervention and prevention programs, consumer and financial coaching)
  • Intermediary and “backbone” organizations (technical assistance providers, philanthropic foundations, applied research and evaluation organizations, capacity building providers, community-based economic development)
  • Government agencies (child and family services, public health, legislative support)
  • University outreach (Cooperative Extension, community partnerships and coalitions, public service, multicultural offices, academic support and education)
Learning Objectives

Students are expected to work closely with faculty to develop their own professional and academic goals and to tailor the program to meet their individualized needs. In addition to these personalized learning objectives, all students are expected to acquire the following:

  • A basic understanding of the research process, including the skills to interpret and apply research and theory to policy and practice
  • A theoretical and practical knowledge of the conditions and processes that contribute to human development, civil society and social justice
  • Skills for managing, facilitating and leading organizations and groups
  • The ability to effectively communicate, collaborate and work with diverse individuals and groups
  • The capacity to understand and address complex problems facing individuals, families, communities and society
  • An expertise in an area of specialization related to their professional goals
Program Support and Resources for Students

The School of Human Ecology provides strong support to its students. Students in the program will work closely with the Program’s Coordinator/Director to develop a personalized study plan and specialization, as well as design and execute a capstone project. The Director will also help students facilitate connections to other faculty who have the knowledge, skills, and experiences consistent with the educational interests of the students. As students’ interests become more focused, they may also choose a professional mentor from outside the university to help guide their plan of study and capstone project.

In addition to world-renowned faculty and staff and state of the art facilities, students in the program can take advantage of the School’s and University’s many affiliated programs and Centers. These include SoHE’s Center for Child and Family Well-Being, the Center for Financial Security, and the Center for Community and Nonprofit Studies as well as UW-Madison’s Morgridge Center for Public Service, which connects students and faculty to local and global communities to build partnerships and solve critical issues. Students also have the opportunity to become involved in SoHE’s new Community Consulting Clinic, which trains students to provide responsive services to nonprofit and public education entities across the state of Wisconsin. Finally, the School also has close ties to the state Cooperative Extension network which serves as an important link between campus and county-based Extension colleagues, stakeholders, partners, and the residents of Wisconsin.

Financial Aid and Funding

General UW-Madison graduate student funding information Or, contact the Office of Student Financial Aid, 333 East Campus Mall, 608-262-3060.  

Program Contacts

Sarah Halpern Meekin

Sarah Halpern-Meekin | Faculty Program Director | 608-263-4691 |




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