Whelan, Christine Whelan

Christine B. Whelan, Ph.D.

Faculty Associate and Director, Relationships, Finance & Life Fulfillment Initiative
4220 Nancy Nicholas Hall



“Not for school but for life we learn” is my high-school motto, borrowed from Seneca, and I use it in the first lecture for most of my classes. I’m a firm believer that academic research can and should be useful to all of us in our day-to-day lives. My favorite classes are ones chock full of fodder for cocktail party conversation. Cool ideas and new perspectives. Fun facts and counterintuitive approaches. Knowledge that will hopefully germinate into food for thought for years to come. I’ve taught a half-dozen sociology classes on marriage, gender, social change and everyday life. Soon I’ll be debuting a course on Consuming Happiness and helping to design Living 101, the newest – and coolest – way to introduce students to all that the School of Human Ecology has to offer.

Christine B. Whelan is a clinical professor in the Department of Consumer Science. She is the director of the Relationships, Finance and Life Fulfillment Initiative in the School of Human Ecology. In partnership with the Center for Financial Security, Dr. Whelan will teach and research on topics of self-improvement, gender, relationships formation and purpose throughout the life course. Prior to joining the School of Human Ecology, Dr. Whelan was a visiting assistant professor in the sociology departments at the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Iowa.

Dr. Whelan received a doctorate from the University of Oxford for her research on the quest for self-control and self-improvement in American since the 1950s. She continues to research behavioral change literature and programs, incorporating aspects of applied sociology into her teaching. As a nationally recognized expert in the field of self-improvement, Dr. Whelan has authored two books on best practices for emerging adults — Generation WTF (Templeton Press, 2011) and The Big Picture (Templeton Press, forthcoming) — and has published op-eds in  The Wall Street JournalThe Washington Post , USA Today,  Chronicle of Higher Education, and quoted as an expert on self-improvement in ForbesSELFCity Journal and many others.

Dr. Whelan, who graduated magna cum laude from Princeton University, also researches and writes on changing dating and marriage patterns in the United States. She has authored two books shattering myths of hypergamy – Why Smart Men Marry Smart Women (Simon & Schuster, 2006) and Marry Smart (Simon & Schuster, 2009) — and academic articles on mate preferences. Dr. Whelan has been published in The Chronicle of Higher Education,  The Wall Street JournalForbes and the New York Post and has been cited and reviewed in The New York Times, Cosmopolitan and The Washington Post, among others.


“A Roundabout Path to Self-Help”

The Chronicle of Higher Education, December 2, 2013

“Beware of Self-Help Gurus”

USA Today, July 11, 2013

“Marriage is Not a Dirty Word for College Women” 

The Chronicle of Higher Education, April 2, 2013

“Measuring Mate Preferences: A Replication and Extension” 

Journal of Family Issues, with Christie F. Boxer and Mary C. Noonan, Spring 2013

“Making Marriage Work: A History of Marriage and Divorce in the Twentieth-Century United States” 

Journal of Social History, Spring 2011

“Helping College Students Help Themselves”

The Chronicle of Higher Education, April 17, 2011

Generation WTF: From “What the &%$@!” to a Wise, Tenacious and Fearless You

Templeton Press, West Conshohocken, PA. 2011

“James Ray and the Dangers of Self-Help”

The Washington Post, October 25, 2009

A Feminist Friendly Recession?

The State of Our Unions, 2009

Marry Smart: The Intelligent Woman’s Guide to True Love

Simon & Schuster, New York, NY. 2008

“It Isn’t About the Trash Can”

Washington Post, November 11, 2008

Why Smart Men Marry Smart Women

Simon & Schuster, New York, NY. 2006