Youth Development Leadership | Online


Degrees Offered


Our Youth Development Leadership program affords students the opportunity to receive a comprehensive discipline of study that (1) develops effective leaders to work with youth to foster healthy living and preparation for successful adulthood; and (2) expands the body of knowledge of best practices in serving youth.


The 2-year Master of Science degree program is designed to prepare leaders to build the capacity for youth to successfully participate and succeed in their families, neighborhoods, and communities by equipping them with the knowledge and skills related to:

  • Theories of Youth Development
  • Child and Adolescent Development
  • Developing Best Practice Programs
  • Strengthening FamiliesProgram Assessment and Evaluation
  • Leadership Development
  • Youth Around the Globe
  • Youth and Technology
  • Nature and Youth Development
  • Grant Writing

Similarly, the online Certificate program can be completed within one year and is designed to equip professionals with competencies listed above that augment their bachelor’s degree in a related field. Certificate students upon completion of Theories of Youth Development can select courses in the curriculum that are congruent with their interests and needs.

Youth Development Leadership SACSCOC accreditation information.


More information can be found in this graduate handbook.


Program of Study

This program meets the needs of students who are also working professionals. All courses are offered in an accelerated format. If you are accepted into the program, you will be required to visit the Clemson University campus for three days of new student orientation in the first year and make a return visit of two days during the second year of the program for course activities and campus events.

This program is a 36-credit-hour interdisciplinary degree.  You will enroll in two courses (taken consecutively) each term and complete the program in two years.

You will connect and interact with your instructors and other students weekly using distance education technologies both asynchronously (at different times) or synchronously (at the same time). These courses involve approximately 80% asynchronous and 20% synchronous communications.

You will need a microphone, access to email and the Internet (via the latest versions of Internet Explorer, Netscape or an equivalent browser) and a computer with the ability to read a CD-ROM or DVD. You will also need current versions of your operating system and of word processing, spreadsheet and presentation software. Headsets are required and because the courses involve sending and receiving large files, a high-speed Internet connection is ideal.

You will be responsible for allocating sufficient time in your schedule (approximately 12-15 hours per week) to access the course materials, study the content and complete your assignments.  Two courses per semester are taken consecutively, each six weeks in duration, with a designated time of one evening (EST) per week allocated to adobe connect synchronous meetings.


Students have access to all resources available to Clemson students using the online library services of the University. These resources are comparable to those provided to on-campus students including book delivery (if necessary)  and scanned journal articles.

Our Students

The Youth Development Leadership program admits a maximum of 25 students per year. The majority of students work in youth-related professions while enrolled in the program. However, a few are making a career change and seek a graduate degree to prepare them for working in a youth-serving organization.

Students in the program are new professionals, career-changers and practicing professionals who want to expand their skills and create new professional opportunities.

Graduates of this program are prepared to work in youth-serving agencies and other family and community environments that promote youth well-being. In a recent survey of graduates, 64% report a pay raise and/or new professional opportunities as a result of obtaining this degree. 


Application Information

Required materials for the application are:

  • A transcript documenting bachelor’s degree, preferably with a GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • A Graduate Record Exam score is optional for those who believe it would strengthen their application
  • A letter of intent
  • Two letters of reference
  • Preferably experience in a youth serving organization

You may apply on the web at Accepted students may enroll in January or August of a calendar year. Every required item in support of your application must be on file before an application can be processed.

Required Documents


The School or Program offers a number of graduate assistantships to students each year based on merit. These are offered in the form of stipends and the additional benefit of tuition remission. Students must be enrolled in a minimum of 9 credit hours per semester to qualify for a graduate assistantship and must work a minimum of 10 hours a week as a teaching or research assistant or perform other tasks assigned by the School or Program.


Program Contact(s)

Program Coordinator(s)