Western Michigan University's Bachelor of Science degree in Youth and Community Development is a course of professional development for youth workers in afterschool and out-of-school time programs, and informal learning environments. It is based on theoretical perspectives in childhood, adolescent, and family development, best pedagogical practices, and grounded in an ethic of family engagement and social action. It prepares change agents to transform communities through an intentional investment in youth with interdisciplinary coursework and community-based experiences.
The program is situated at the intersection of developmental theory, socio-ecological context, and youth worker skills and competencies. This program is rooted in community psychology and the prevention sciences to provide a foundation for studying setting-level interventions and developmental needs. Instructors invite students to critically examine youth in context of families and communities, root causes, and how individuals and organizations can address social inequalities. Students will study the practice of the youth worker to develop understandings and competencies in organizing effective learning environments and experiences to promote human flourishing.
Courses are offered at the main campus. Many courses are also offered online.
To schedule an advising appointment, contact Advising.
Youth development professionals assume roles in afterschool, community service, and youth activism programs; public and private human services organizations and agencies; dropout prevention and alternative education; and juvenile justice. Students may also assume positions in informal learning environments such as museums, nature centers, environmental education, and outdoor and adventure programs.
WMU's bachelor's degree in youth and community development is designed to build the skills and knowledge outlined in the National AfterSchool Association’s Core.
Knowledge and Competencies for Afterschool and Youth Development Professionals. Graduates of this program may seek provisional status as a Certified Family Life Educator by the National Council on Family Relations.
For class listings, program guides and other resources, visit the advising page for the youth and community development major.
The Professional Experience Program allows students to extend their academic work with on-the-job training in youth-serving settings. The program is supervised by WMU faculty in cooperation with management personnel in the field. Students independently locate sites that fit with their long-term career goals. More information on the internship/field experience program