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NC State Extension

The Youth Development Leadership (YDL) Specialization

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Basic Information

The academic programs of the Department of 4-H Youth Development combine contemporary theory and research with best practices to strengthen and expand leadership competencies and capacities of youth development professionals working in community-based settings. Our academic program in Youth Development Leadership (YDL) supports and strengthens the academic missions of both the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and North Carolina State University, as a contemporary Land-grant University.

Our partnership with university peers in formal youth education creates synergistic collaborations that actively engage graduate students, youth development professionals, parents and their children, and community leaders in positive holistic youth development. We teach, guide, and mentor graduate students through student-centered academic instruction focused upon foundations of community-based youth development, learning strategies in non-school settings, organizational management and leadership, collaborations and partnerships in youth development, and volunteer management and administration. We embrace a philosophy of our students as adult learners and partners in lifelong learning who bring a wealth of experience and insight to the academic classroom. We commit to instructional strategies combining face-to-face dialogue with distance education technologies that provide the highest quality education possible for our students.

Our ultimate vision seeks to discover, develop, teach, and apply knowledge within the classroom setting that empowers our graduates to improve the quality of their lives and those of our state’s youth, ultimately improving the social well-being of North Carolina and the world.

In order to work toward this vision, the Youth Development Leadership (YDL) specialization is a relatively new collaboration between the Departments of 4-H Youth Development (College of Agriculture and Life Sciences) and Curriculum and Instruction (“ECI” – College of Education); thus, all YDL courses are listed currently under ECI 509: “Special Topics in Curriculum and Instruction.” Please note that the YDL specialization is not a graduate major; it is a concentration of courses that may be considered a minor, cognate or concentration for any other NCSU graduate degree program.

YDL courses are open to advanced undergraduate students and all graduate students. All YDL courses originate on the campus of NC State University (Butler Building Distance Education Classroom) and are offered via NC REN distance education synchronous video downlink sites at UNC-Asheville; Fletcher Research & Extension Center, Hendersonville; Appalachian State University, Boone; Winston-Salem State University; Elizabeth City State University; Vernon James Research and Extension Center, Plymouth; East Carolina University Medical School; CMAST Center, Carteret County; Fayetteville State University; and UNC- Pembroke

A student registers for YDL courses using TRACS, not via the McKimmon Center Office for Distance Education (NCSU considers “distance education” courses as entirely web-based courses, not video-linked courses.) According to the most recent NCSU Graduate School policies, a PBS (Post Baccalaureate Student) may transfer in “no more than one-half of their total program hours.” Thus, for most MS students, that means 18 hours of coursework.

The YDL specialization is administered as a part of the Curriculum and Instruction Generalist Master’s Program. A student applies on-line directly to the NCSU Graduate School. The complete application packet includes: the official NCSU Graduate School Application; the application fee; three (3) letters of reference attesting to the applicant’s academic and scholarly abilities and potential as a graduate student; and (4) either the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) or Miller Aptitude Test (MAT) scores. The completed application packet is assembled by the ECI Graduate Program secretary and forwarded to Dr. Safrit for review and recommendation by 4-H Youth Development graduate faculty.

An interested student should contact Dr. R. Dale Safrit before applying (, 919-513-0306). Dr. Safrit will review the YDL program holistically with the student and advise her/him on how to proceed. Unfortunately, as a new program still being approved at the University level, there is no current NCSU web presence for the YDL program.