The Department of Family and Consumer Sciences offers concentrations in child and family studies, dietetics, family and consumer sciences education, fashion merchandising, food and nutrition, gerontology, and hospitality and food services management. The department provides students with a variety of experiential learning opportunities to gain real-world experience outside the traditional classroom setting.

All students are required to participate in service learning projects through the senior seminar course, which may include working with local agencies and school systems. Students must also complete a supervised field experience (internship) for 12 academic credit hours. This is a semester-long experience in a setting where students work alongside professionals and customers/clients to gain the skills needed in their areas of specialization.

Observation and practicum opportunities are available in the Margaret N. Perry Children’s Center for child and family studies students, university food services for nutrition and hospitality students, local retail stores for fashion merchandising students, and local nursing homes and assisted living facilities for gerontology students. Students in family and consumer sciences education complete student teaching hours. The dietetics field experience is spread over two semesters during the student’s senior year, with the student working in community settings in the fall and shadowing hospital professionals in the spring in addition to their on-campus coursework.

Other examples of field experience locations are the Carl Perkins Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, Jackson-Madison County Hospital, Girl Scouts of America, Coordinated School Health, Van Ayer Nursing Center, the Center for Family Development, the Northwest Tennessee Area Agency on Aging and Disability, Buckle and The Limited specialty stores, and Dillard’s and Nordstorm’s department stores.

All field experiences require a 2.5 GPA or higher to enroll in the course. The dietetics experience requires a 3.0 GPA or higher. The required GPA must be achieved two semesters before the semester of field experience and maintained until the semester of field experience. Skill sets needed to be successful in the field experience include excellent verbal and written communication skills, time management, planning and organizational skills, proven teamwork skills and interpersonal “people” skills.

Students can choose to complete approved upper-division electives in lieu of a supervised field experience.

For additional information, contact the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences main office at 731-881-7100.