Students majoring in family studies at Oklahoma Christian University will no longer have to stress about an accreditation test after graduation due to a new certified program.
Oklahoma Christian became one of two universities in the state to offer a certified family studies program though the National Council on Family Relations last month. The certified program will help the school’s graduates embrace a better approach to family life education in several different settings such as service agencies, schools, and faith-based organizations.
The National Council on Family Relations is the leading professional association for understanding the complexities of families. The main focuses for this program are family research, policy, practice and education.
Sophomore Ruth Lalli said she is excited Oklahoma Christian is now certified by the National Council on Family Relations.
“It means that I don’t have to take the test to get certified after I graduate and it also will look better to say that I came to a certified school, especially when I’m trying to get a job or get into grad school,” Lalli said. “And it’s just good to know that I’m getting quality education here.”
Ryan Newell, chair of psychology and family studies department, said the certification would prepare students to be accredited at graduation in family studies.
“We’re hoping what that means is they’ll be able to qualify for certain jobs and get into different positions a little bit easier,” Newell said.
Assistant Professor of Psychology and Family Studies Bobby Kern said he discovered the National Council on Family Relations certification and colleges that were certified while looking for ways to make the department better known.
“Only one in Oklahoma had that recognition, and knowing that could really separate OC to set us apart in our degree in pursuing it and that’s what we did,” Kern said.
Oklahoma Christian is only one of two programs in the state to offer the certification; the other is University of Central Oklahoma. What does the certification mean?
“It’s adds another layer of credibility to our program,” Newell said. “It means that we have a national organization review our curriculum. It means that we’re meeting their standards for credit and body and so I think it will be a nice credential for family studies graduates to have in the future.”
According to Newell students who graduate in the family studies department will be recognized on a level of distinction that does not come from other programs.
“Anytime you can get a label or certification or a license to your name I think it carries a little bit of weight and I think this will too,” Newell said. “It’ll add some meaning to what we’re doing in our program.”
First-year student Rachel Parrett said the certification would help her to have more options for future jobs after she graduates.
“People can look at my application and see that it’s NCFR approved that will make them consider me more and I’ll have more job opportunities,” Parrett said.
Parrett said the National Council on Family Relations certification would help make Oklahoma Christian look more attractive to future students who want to major in family studies.
“It’s not a huge major here, but there are quite a few people in it and we’re one of the two schools in Oklahoma that now have NCFR,” Parrett said. “And even though it’s not one of the biggest majors here, it will attract more people that want to be a family studies major.”
Kern said the current graduating students will have the option of receiving the certified degree, but will have to do a little more work than students who will be in the certified program from start to finish.
“They’ll still be able to say, yes they graduated from a certified program,” Kern said.
According to Newell the certification will not immediately change any of the courses in the family studies department.
“We were already offering the courses, we’ve had to tweak a few courses, work on a few syllabi,” Newell said. “We will have to make some changes within the next five or 10 years that are to better meet the requirements as laid down by NCFR, but we’ve got a little bit of time to do that.”
Kern said the family studies department would change for the better because of the certified program.
“It gives us something else that we can offer our students, and hopefully, it’s another catalyst for our growth,” Kern said.