Childhood and Youth Studies

Childhood and Youth Studies engages the issues, concepts and debates that illuminate the lived experience of children and the wider social, economic, cultural and political factors that condition that lived experience, as well as childhood itself as a social and historical construct. Drawing on methodologies and approaches from the humanities, social sciences, medicine, law, and education, it encompasses the study of children’s cognitive and physical development; children’s psychology; histories of childhood and adolescence; legal and social policy pertaining to childhood and adolescence; educational theory and approaches; social class and childhood; literacy and language acquisition; transnational and global childhood; and the analysis of children’s literature, media and culture (including film and digital media).

Degree Requirements

MALS students take four classes within the program — Seminar in Interdisciplinary Studies, two core courses in their chosen concentration, and the thesis/capstone project — and choose their remaining electives from among courses offered across the doctoral and certificate programs in the Social Sciences and Humanities at The Graduate Center.

This master's degree program requires the following coursework for a total of 30 credits:

  • A required introductory course [MALS 70000: Seminar in Interdisciplinary Studies] (3 credits)
  • Two required core courses to introduce students to Childhood and Youth Studies [MALS 78800 and MALS 78900] (6 credits)
  • 18 credits from courses of the student's choice that are relevant to the student’s concentration or studies
  • A master's thesis/capstone project [MALS 79000] (3 credits)

Core Courses

MALS 78800 Introduction to Childhood and Youth Studies
In this introductory seminar, we will consider changing concepts of childhood and adolescence from a variety of cultures and historical periods.  What do we mean by “childhood” or “adolescence” and what is at stake in these definitions?  Drawing on literary, cinematic and philosophical texts, we examine various historical models of childhood, including the romantic child, the sinful child, the working child, the sacred child, the child as miniature adult, the developing child, and the child as radically other. As we do so, we will examine how our shifting—and often contradictory—conceptions of childhood both align and clash with the way children actually live. After considering key moments in the history of childhood, we will look at the ways in which age intersects with other dimensions of social experience: sex/ gender, race, class, nation, and religion.  In addition, we consider what young people do, how they live their lives and imagine their futures, as illustrative of the ongoing development of society, including practices of professionals working with them. Finally we will look at childhood experiences that challenge the historically recent notion of a “protected” and “innocent” childhood: child sex, child labor, child soldiers and child criminals.

MALS 78900 Childhood and Youth Studies: Approaches and Methods
The second core course of the Childhood and Youth Studies track allows for a more in-depth focus on theory and method, with sustained attention to the ways in which researchers in the field frame research investigations and develop research questions. Students will also engage with the history of the study of children, childhood and adolescence from the nineteenth century to the present day. The course builds on the historical study of children and childhood in the first core course of the track, to encompass sociocultural approaches to childhood, field-based studies with children encountering various kinds of problems, educational and other interventions, and Policy Perspectives on Childhood.

Elective Courses

Electives can be chosen among courses offered across most of the doctoral and certificate programs in the Social Sciences and Humanities at The Graduate Center.

For related coursework in Childhood and Youth Studies, students may look to offerings in the doctoral programs in AnthropologyPsychologySociology, and Urban Education

Library Resources

Visit the GC Mina Rees Library's Liberal Studies Research Guide.
Students' contact for Childhood and Youth Studies research is reference librarian Alycia Sellie.

associated faculty

Other faculty, who have taught core courses or electives for this concentration or supervised theses and capstones, include Colette Daiute (Urban Education, Educational Psychology, Psychology, Interactive Technology and Pedagogy).

Childhood and Youth Studies Concentration Faculty

Carrie Hintz - Professor -  profile photo

Carrie Hintz


  • English


  • Liberal Studies


  • Women's and Gender Studies