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Frequently Asked Questions

  • What coursework is required to complete the doctoral program?

    The curriculum requirements and electives are found here.

  • Can classes be taken outside of the department to fulfill program requirements and to meet individual interest and reach individual goals?

    Students should work with the Graduate Studies Coordinator and/or their Dissertation/Advisory Chair to develop a Plan-of-Study that will meet the requirements of the program and assist them in reaching their individual goals.

  • When do classes start?

    Classes for entering graduate students begin with the fall semester (in mid-August). Exact dates can be found by looking at Clemson's Academic Calendar.

  • Is there an onsite orientation for entering doctoral students?

    All students are expected to participate in an orientation/annual meeting in Clemson, SC in mid-August prior to the start of classes. Students residing abroad can participate online if attending in person creates a financial hardship.

  • How long will it take me to complete the doctoral program?

    The doctoral program can ordinarily be completed in three years by students who enter with a master’s degree and in four years by students without prior graduate education. This projected timeline is based on students pursuing the degree on a full-time basis. The timeline is also affected by an individual student’s level of preparation, job demands, and personal responsibilities.

  • Can the doctoral program and certificate program be completed on a part-time basis?

    Yes, many of our students work part-time or full-time and complete the programs by taking one, two or three courses a semester, depending on their personal situations. Clemson University has a Continuous Enrollment Policy, which requires students to be enrolled for fall and spring semesters unless an approved leave of absence is in place.

  • Are students with families and careers well supported throughout the process?

    Many of our students have families and established careers. Students are encouraged to work closely with the IFCS Graduate Studies Coordinator to develop a plan-of-study that will allow them to complete the program in a timely manner and maintain healthy home and work lives.

  • Department faculty and staff offer extensive support to students in our doctoral program. During the first 1-2 years of the program (until you have completed your coursework), you will receive one-on-one guidance from the IFCS Graduate Studies Coordinator. When you are about to finish your coursework, you will select a Dissertation/Advisory Committee (DC) Chair. This individual is a member of the program faculty who will assist you in selecting the other members of your Dissertation/Advisory Committee. The majority of your committee must come from full-time, tenure-track faculty at Clemson. Persons not employed by Clemson University may serve if they have been appointed to an adjunct faculty status. You will work closely with your DC Chair on your master’s equivalent research project (if applicable), comprehensive exams, and dissertation. Your committee members will also provide support and guidance throughout the balance of your program, and will meet with you in person, through conference calls, Skype or web conferencing tools, as needed.

  • Are courses available during the summer?

    Yes. Several courses, not offered during the fall or spring semesters, are offered during the summer.

  • Is the program offered online?

    The program is offered in a blended format, allowing campus-based students to attend in person and students outside of the Clemson area to connect via the Internet. We currently use Adobe Connect. Courses are offered in real time (Eastern Standard Time), and all students are expected to attend in person or virtually and to fully participate in class lectures, discussions and presentations.

  • What time of day are classes offered?

    Class times are based on Eastern Standard Time and usually meet once a week either from 9:00 a.m. to noon or from 1:00-4:00 p.m. Occasionally a class may be offered later in the day, but that is rare due to the difficulties it might create for our overseas students.

  • How often do classes meet?

    In the fall and spring semesters, classes typically meet once per week. Summer courses usually meet twice per week.

  • What are the residency requirements for international students?

    International students may pursue the degree from their home countries or as full-time students at Clemson. If pursuing the degree while living in your home country, you need not apply for residency. For those international students who will be relocating to Clemson, the Office of Global Engagement's International Services provides support for all international students and faculty and is responsible for policies and regulations related to immigration. For detailed and current information visit and for information about the arrival process once you’ve be accepted please visit:

  • What kinds of careers are graduates from this program pursuing?

    The program can prepare graduates for several different career tracks. Our students become scholars in interdisciplinary institutes or in academic departments on child and family studies, social policy studies, and international studies. Students also become researchers, planners or administrators in domestic or international governmental or non-governmental agencies concerned with children, families and/or communities.

  • Who do I contact if I have additional questions about the program or admission?

    For additional information, please email the Graduate Studies Coordinator at: