Master of Arts in Youth Studies

Format: Online, On Campus
Application Deadlines
  • Fall 2023 Priority Deadline: April 6, 2023
  • Fall 2023 Regular Deadline: May 18, 2023

Over the past 20 years, the number of youth development programs throughout the country has grown exponentially. This is a result of initiatives led by advocates, policymakers, social service providers, and social science researchers to focus greater attention on the needs of individuals ages 12 to 24. Youth development principles and practices are now acknowledged in afterschool settings, child welfare, and juvenile justice systems as essential programmatic elements that support young people to thrive.

The MA in Youth Studies degree, the first program of its kind in New York, equips students with the knowledge and skills needed to design, run, research, and work in youth settings. Through on campus, hybrid, and online coursework, the program provides a sound theoretical grounding and highly applicable skills to its students by integrating crucial areas of study including:

  • Adolescent psychology
  • Legal construction of adolescence
  • Social work
  • Cross-cultural studies
  • Representation of youth in pop culture
  • Health and sexuality issues

Additionally, the program applies a participatory approach through which students are taught to incorporate young people in shaping the programs, institutions, and policies that impact their lives. This MA promotes youth development principles and practices with a strong emphasis on and commitment to social justice and equity. 

As a student in this program, you will also:

  • Examine how age, gender, gender identity, sexuality, race, class, immigration status, (dis)ability, and region impact youth development
  • Analyze current youth policies, opportunities, and best practices related to the field
  • Apply principles and practices in program management, facilitation, and evaluation
  • Engage multiple stakeholders and partners in order to ensure the positive development of youth, staff, and communities

Class Schedule

Each course meets once a week in the evening from 6:15 - 9:15 p.m. eastern standard time in an online synchronous format. When we resume post pandemic, we will offer a HyFlex model, allowing students the option of attending sessions in the classroom or participating synchronously online. Please contact the Academic Director if you have any questions about the class schedule.

Online and Hybrid Classes

Starting in Fall 2020, we will offer a pathway where students can complete their degree with a combination of fully online and hybrid courses (classes in which students complete most of their coursework online and attend three on campus Saturday classes each semester). This addition to our on campus learning format ensures that youth workers in and outside the NYC metro area have access to our program.

Career Prospects

Graduates of the MA in Youth Studies are better prepared to design and offer programs that exemplify best practices in youth work, to engage in meaningful research with youth, and to develop policy that caters to the needs of youth, communities, and families in the public education, juvenile justice, social welfare, and medical systems. Graduates of the program will also be able to teach in Youth Studies at the undergraduate level.

We invite you to learn more about the program, its students, and its faculty by watching this video:

Scholarship Opportunities


CUNY SPS Youth Studies Fellow

The fellowship is designed to provide aspiring athletic coaches, social workers, educators, and other youth development workers with the opportunity to develop and strengthen their skills in youth development practices through programs centered around sports and creative play.

To be considered for the fellowship and/or have any questions, please contact Chanira Rojas.

New York Edge Youth Studies Internship

This program is designed to provide aspiring youth development leaders with the opportunity to form, strengthen and enhance their skills in program management through school-based placement at the Assistant Program Director level.

To be considered for the fellowship and/or have any questions, please contact Chanira Rojas.

Research Agenda

The CUNY SPS Youth Studies Program has an active research agenda, Intergenerational Change Initiative. With support from the Mayor's Young Men's Initiative and the Ford Foundation, we have launched a youth participatory action research project aimed at involving young people in shaping the policies and institutions that impact their lives. We currently have a project in partnership with the Administration for Children's Services (ACS) and the Department of Education (DOE). As a collective, we are exploring the implications of our findings on policies and practices while collaborating with city agency partners to use youth-generated research to inform their work. ICI recently launched a research tool created by and for youth called Amplify that houses our annual Youth ask Youth (YAY) Census.

With generous support from the New York Community Trust, we launched the Immigrant and Refugee Youth Action Fellowship, an intergenerational group of people that work with or have experience being an immigrant or refugee. This group has created a critical participatory action research project related to the “everyday experiences of immigrant and refugee families during the COVID-19 crisis.”

Meet our Faculty

Elizabeth Bishop
Elizabeth Bishop

Adjunct Faculty, Youth Studies

Regina Bernard-Carreno
Regina Bernard-Carreno

Associate Professor, Youth Studies

Head Shot
Limarys Caraballo

Academic Community Leader, Youth Studies

Headshot of Manijeh Hart
Manijeh Hart

Adjunct Lecturer

María Torre
María Torre, PhD

Adjunct Faculty, Youth Studies

Sarah Zeller-Berkman

Academic Director of Youth Studies Programs at CUNY SPS and Director of the Intergenerational Change Initiative, JFK Jr. Institute

Admissions Criteria

Applicants must possess a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, with a GPA of 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale. Applicants are required to write a personal statement, upload a resume, and provide two letters of recommendation. Letters of recommendation may be submitted before or after submitting an application. An individual interview may be necessary if an applicant meets most but not all requirements.

Application Deadlines

  • Fall 2023 Priority Deadline: April 6, 2023
  • Fall 2023 Regular Deadline: May 18, 2023
Apply Now

Student/Alumni Profiles

Rachel Johnson

MA in Youth Studies 2018

"My experience at CUNY SPS helped me strengthen my approach to working in education settings and building better partnerships with many stakeholders including students, faculty, administrators, and guardians. Furthermore, I am a filmmaker and my studies have also improved my ability to write and direct more insightful stories featuring youth as protagonists and supporting characters."

Matt Conlin

MA in Youth Studies / MA in Disability Studies 2021/2015

"For me, one of the more defining aspects of CUNY SPS is its community. I have found an incredible support system in my colleagues, peers, and mentors."

Mike Hidalgo

MA in Youth Studies 2020

"If you were accepted into a program here, you belong here. And if you are passionate about the field you are in, then you can shape it for the better.”

Tyler McCormick

MA in Youth Studies 2018

"My time with CUNY SPS reinforced my love for this work, and the importance of developing a praxis to elevate youth development more broadly.”

Recent News About Master of Arts in Youth Studies

CUNY Projects Get Grants for Covid-affected

December 14, 2022

Campus News

CUNY SPS is featured in this article about the initiative Bold Solutions to Re-engage, which has awarded grants to 11 CUNY colleges and projects to help increase enrollment. As noted in the article, CUNY SPS will use this grant to develop a 12-month “gap year” program that combines a year-long paid internship at a nonprofit organization with a free college course and training in youth development issues.

CUNY SPS Salutes Hard-Working Students at 9th Annual Scholarship Reception

October 26, 2022

In a reception held at Hudson Yards, two scholarship recipients shared their experiences and described how the awards benefited their studies. 

BRESI Grant Awardees

October 14, 2022

Black, Race and Ethnic Studies Initiative (BRESI)

Youth studies associate professor Dr. Regina Bernard-Carreño has been awarded the CUNY BRESI (Black, Race and Ethnic Studies Initiative) grant. Dr. Bernard-Carreño's proposal, The Podcast & Anthology Project, will bring awareness to difficult conversations of racism and social injustice(s) across the US and the world. The project will bring together experts in the field with members of the public to talk in an open, safe environment about these issues while offering a creative space to reflect upon these conversations.

Discussing Identity, Equity, and Authenticity at Camp

September 30, 2022

Camping Magazine

Lance Ozier, EdD, an adjunct professor in the youth studies program, published an article in American Camp Association's publication Camping Magazine entitled, "Discussing Identity, Equity, and Authenticity at Camp." The article provides skills for developing more equitable communities where staff and campers feel included in spaces where they want to belong.