Youth & Social Innovation Major


Interested in an exciting career working with or on behalf of youth?

The Youth and Social Innovation major is designed for undergraduate students who are passionate about making a difference in the lives of youth.

    About YSI

    The YSI curriculum is built around three core areas:

    1) Youth Development (primarily ages eight to 25 years, but also younger children): understanding dynamic processes of biological, social, emotional, and cognitive development, with a focus on how youths’ assets and school/community settings influence youth outcomes

    2) Social Innovation: enhancing youth development through systematic approaches to developing and refining youth experiences or programs, with attention to what works for different youth in diverse settings and contexts

    3) Policy: understanding how regulations and rules that affect schools and organizations serving youth are developed, and understanding the effects of those policies on youth outcomes

    Experiential learning is a key component of the major. Our students work with youth in the community, join faculty-led research, and design innovations addressing issues youth face.

      Considering a YSI Major?

      Interested students should attend a Curry information session to learn more about the program, requirements, and application process. 

      You are invited to apply to the YSI Major as a first or second year. Our application deadline is February 1.

      The YSI Major can be completed in your third and fourth years, even if you have not taken any YSI courses in your first or second year. However, we encourage you to enroll in at least one YSI course to help you determine if the YSI Major is the right one for you. Here are the courses we recommend and a short description of each:

      EDHS 1120 So You Want to Change the World: Foundations of Community Engagement
      Interact with youth in our community and discover how to engage with youth and their broader communities. EDHS 1120 meets a YSI Major core requirement.

      EDLF 2050 What the Innovators Do: Strategies to Transform the Lives of Youth
      “Meet” innovators and investigate the process by which educators, entrepreneurs, and policy makers design innovations to combat inequalities in education. EDLF 2050 meets a YSI Major core requirement.

      EDLF 3170 Introduction to Adolescence
      Gain a working knowledge of adolescent development, foundational to the YSI Major. EDLF 3170 or EDLF 3150 meets a YSI Major core requirement.

      EDLF 3150 Introduction to Child Growth and Development
      Gain a working knowledge of child development, foundational to the YSI Major. EDLF 3170 or EDLF 3150 meets a YSI Major core requirement.

      EDLF 3000 Research Design for Social Innovation with Youth
      Are you past the exploratory stage and eager to select the YSI Major? This introductory course on research design will provide you with conceptual knowledge that will help you get the most out of your future YSI coursework. EDLF 3000 meets a YSI Major core requirement.

      Recommended Course Sequence for YSI Major Core Courses:
      Though there is some flexibility, depending upon your individual circumstances, these recommended course sequences can help you imagine your course schedule in the coming years. These recommended course sequences include the Major Core only; you would add an additional 9 credits of focus area coursework and 3 credits of practice credits in accordance with your interests. Note that these were created with rising third year students in mind, given the tighter timeframe for rising third years.

      For students considering Curry’s Elementary Education, Early Childhood Education, or Special Education Majors:
      While students interested in a teacher education degree may pursue the YSI undergraduate major and then pursue a one-year graduate degree in teaching (MT), students will not be able to double major in YSI and a teacher education undergraduate major. If you are undecided about whether to pursue YSI or a teacher education undergraduate major, you may apply to both programs by the February 1 deadline. Be certain to tailor each application to make it clear why each program would be a fit for you. If you are admitted to both programs, you will need to choose one offer to accept.

      What Are Students Saying?

      We pride ourselves on creating a family feel within the Youth and Social Innovation major. To make positive, substantive change for youth, we are stronger together. We connect our students with alumni, people “in the field,” and with each other to grow a network of those trained and committed to making the world better for youth. Here's what our students say they love most:

      • “The freedom to shape the major based on what I am passionate about learning and changing in education.”
      • “Interacting with my peers in small and open settings.”
      • “Opportunities to have conversations—informed by theory, research, and our personal experience—about issues we care about that concern youth.”
      • “Being empowered by a network of faculty, community programmers, and students who are invested in every individual’s drive to create social change.”
      First-Generation Students Are Rising Together

      A mentoring program led by YSI student Bryan Christ pairs UVA students with local high-schoolers, many of them working to be the first in their families to go to college.

      Read More

      Program Details


      • Application Due Date

        Complete applications are due by February 1st of each year for the following fall term start date. See Admissions for instructions.

      • UVA Student Financial Services

        For information on financial support for UVA students visit UVA Student Financial Services.

      • Course Overview

        Information on courses required for the major can be found in the Undergraduate Record.

      • Sample Jobs

        Some of our recent YSI Graduates' accepted positions in:

        Master’s Programs (School Counseling, Commerce, Social Work, Public Policy, Mental Health Counseling, Law, Drama Therapy, Teaching, Public Health)
        Ph.D. Programs (Education Psychology, Clinical Psychology, Social Psychology)
        Youth-Based Organizations (Project Coordinators & Project Managers)
        Youth-Focused Research (Research Assistants)
        Legal Aid Justice Center (Community Organizer)
        Office of the Appellate Defender (Client Services Coordinator)
        Virginia College Advising Corps (College Advisors)
        Peace Corps & AmeriCorps

        Potential Employers:

        • child welfare/family services
        • colleges/universities
        • community centers
        • educational corporations
        • government agencies
        • juvenile justice system
        • mental health agencies
        • office of elected official
        • physical health organizations
        • policy organizations
        • public schools (teaching license required for teaching positions)
        • religious organizations
        • social service agencies
        • think tanks
        • youth agencies and associations
        • youth development organizations
        • youth services

      The information contained on this website is for informational purposes only. The Undergraduate Record and Graduate Record represent the official repository for academic program requirements. These publications may be found at http://records.ureg.virginia.edu/index.php.