Advancing Academic Pathways for Building Capacity in the Youth Development Profession

William H. Quinn, Barry A. Garst, Edmond P. Bowers, Kayla L. Weston


The growing literature on the theory and practice of youth development provides a framework for youth-serving practitioners to design, implement, and grow youth programs in their communities. Yet such a framework is not widely known in many youth-serving organizations where professional development is variable. The youth development field would benefit from academically trained professionals who could apply the youth development literature to serve youth more effectively in organizations or communities. This article describes a graduate level academic degree program in youth development to: (a) increase awareness of the importance of youth programs and (b) bring attention to the fundamental learning structures that can be deployed to build human capacity in the youth development field. The history, theoretical frameworks, and structure of the program are briefly described. Details are provided on 4 effective features of this academic degree program rated by students and graduates as being valuable components of the program. Applications to youth development practice are explored.


youth development; academic degree programs; higher education; online learning

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