The Most Affordable Online Master’s in Human Services Programs

Badge with 2-Line TitleOnline Master'sin Human Services2017
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If you have a deep desire to help the overlooked people in society, an online master’s degree in human services might be a great career choice for you. The field focuses on serving the underserved, from impoverished families and veterans to the elderly and those suffering from mental health or substance abuse issues. Human services positions are found in a variety of organizations, from nonprofits and government agencies to schools, churches, and medical facilities. A graduate degree ultimately gives students the tools they need to work effectively within these institutions and offer support to underserved populations through effective leadership, organizational management, and new social and health programs.

An online master’s in human services program is worth considering if you currently work in the field of human services and want to further your education or advance your career. Online programs allow you to continue working while managing the costs of your education. With average human services salaries lower than those of profit-driven employment sectors, affordability is most certainly a factor in your education decisions. Any degree program requires an investment of time and money, but rest assured there are affordable online master’s in human services programs available. All distance education programs can help reduce ancillary costs such as commuting expenses, but not all schools can offer you a high-quality education and return on investment. It is not enough to simply consider the cheapest online master’s in human services programs in terms of tuition because there’s a difference between cheap colleges with poor programs and schools that provide a robust education at an affordable price.

The colleges listed below are some of the best and most affordable online master’s in human services programs in the country. They offer reasonable tuition and a variety of grants, scholarships and graduate assistantships to help students control costs. If you’re considering going back to school for an online master’s in human services, be sure to check out these top programs.

Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Location Description
1 Bellevue University 81.25 3/5 Bellevue, NE

Bellevue's online master's in human services program helps prepare students to work in a range of human service settings, emphasizing ethical standards in both a theoretical and practical context. Intended for current human services professionals and those planning a career in the field, the program focuses on administrative and non-profit management, preparing students for leadership positions through training in counseling, finance, and project management. Classes emphasize ethics, leadership, and management theory, and all courses are available entirely online. Applicants to the program must fulfill a prerequisite of six credit hours in behavioral science.

Bellevue's human services master's program offers affordable tuition, generous credit transfers, and fewer application and registration fees than comparable colleges. Bellevue prides itself on an accelerated curriculum that eliminates unnecessary classes and allows students to complete their degree as quickly and affordably as possible.

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2 Concordia University-Nebraska 76.67 3/5 Seward, NE

Concordia offers a fully online human services degree program that focuses on strengthening connections between communities and necessary resources. Grounded in Christian faith, the program prepares students to improve human service policies and offer better access to available programs. The school's master's program features four distinct tracks: gerontology, which focuses on care for aging populations; community health, which covers programs to strengthen families and communities; Leadership and Management, which prepares students for leadership opportunities in human service organizations; and a custom track that allows students to design a curriculum to meet their personalized career goals. Core coursework focuses on administration, intercultural communication, leadership, organizational development, and ethics. All four tracks are available entirely online.

Concordia offers a tuition lock that freezes students' tuition rate throughout their time in school. Taking advantage of the tuition lock, students can accurately forecast the cost of their education and take advantage of effective financing opportunities. The school also offers a range of public financial aid packages through state funding sources.

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3 University of Illinois at Springfield 70.83 2/5 Springfield, IL

The online master's in human services program at UIS offers four distinct concentrations for students. The social service administration concentration is offered entirely online, while the alcohol and substance abuse, child and family studies, and gerontology concentrations are available in a blended format. Each track emphasizes reflective learning, and students are encouraged to examine their past experiences in order to develop a deeper understanding of their values, beliefs, and biases as they relate to human services. Students gain competencies related to a range of human services applications, learning to effectively prepare and deliver services for individuals, groups, and agencies.

UIS offers a range of financial aid options for graduate students, along with assistantship and internship opportunities. Students can apply for over 70 graduate assistantships, teaching assistantships, graduate research assistantships, and pre-professional graduate assistantships. Graduate assistants work 20 hours per week and receive a monthly stipend, along with tuition and service fee waivers. Illinois residents can also apply for a range of paid public service internships offered through state, along with local and non-profit agencies.

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4 Wilmington University 67.92 3/5 New Castle, DE

Wilmington offers an affordable online master's in human services with an emphasis on administration, targeted at professionals seeking leadership positions with non-profits, for-profit service providers, and government agencies. Grounded in theoretical, methodological, and practical learning, Wilmington's curriculum combines professional experience, ethics, and technology in the context of human services operations. Students take a selection of core courses, emphasizing a variety of topics such as program design, legal issues, and administration practices, along with a range of elective courses that students can take. All courses are offered online: students can graduate in one year on an accelerated track or in 18 to 24 months on a traditional schedule.

In addition to standard financial aid options, Wilmington offers a variety of school-specific scholarships, including an annual $5,000 award for one student in the College of Social & Behavioral Sciences. The school also offers resources to help local students pursue a range of scholarships available through the state of Delaware.

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5 St. Joseph's College of New York 63.75 3/5 Brooklyn, NY

St. Joseph's online human services degree features a concentration in leadership, with a research-based curriculum that examines the field of human services through social, political, financial, legal, regulatory, and historical contexts. The program centers around two core values: the development of specific competencies in the service of workplace success and the necessity of relating academic theory to real world practice. Rooted in a service-based model, this master's program encompasses 10 courses designed to train future human service leaders. Students gain skills to implement effective programs that assist underserved populations, including the homeless, the elderly, returning veterans, and those suffering from mental or substance abuse issues.

Graduate students at St. Joseph's have access to conventional financial aid options, and most students qualify for Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford loans. School-specific scholarships are not available to online students because distance education courses at St. Joseph's are offered at a dramatically lower cost per credit than campus-based classes.

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6 University of Northwestern-St Paul 60.83 4/5 Saint Paul, MN

As a Christian college, UNWSP's human services master's degree program focuses on the intersection of faith and human services, utilizing both Christian principles and research-based program design to help those in need. UNWSP's program highlights human services through the exploration of both individual and systemic issues, teaching students to identify needs and solutions in the context of various human service environments, including education, nonprofits, social services, business, and other venues. Students can also choose to concentrate in family studies, which helps them serve specific populations by studying family dynamics and parent education. The program intertwines biblical ethics and a Christian worldview with philosophies of human service, giving students practical and research-based perspectives that acknowledge the importance of faith.

In addition to standard financial aid packages and scholarships, UNWSP also offers discounted tuition for families who have multiple people enrolled simultaneously. Parents obtaining a graduate degree can also receive a discount if they have a child obtaining an undergraduate degree. Additionally, the school offers a tuition discount for students employed as pastors, missionaries, and Christian education directors.

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7 Northeastern University Global Network 56.25 4/5 Boston, MA

Northeastern's entirely online master's in human services degree prepares students to pursue leadership roles in the field. Coursework teaches students to plan, administer, and assess the effectiveness of service programs and policies. In addition to core and elective courses, distance learners can choose from one of three concentrations, with each offering different courses for a specialized focus: leadership, organizational communication, and global studies. All students study policy issues, social inequality, research practices, and service management. The school emphasizes practical learning, incorporating work-based applications and a cumulative service-learning project that combines hands-on experience with theory.

In addition to a range of traditional scholarships, Northeastern also offers graduate assistantships and scholarships available through specific departments. Graduate scholarships can cover the cost of up to 9 credits per semester, while assistantships provide teaching or research appointments along with a tuition reduction and a monthly stipend.

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8 Saint Mary's University of Minnesota 54.17 4/5 Winona, MN

St. Mary's master's in human services program emphasizes the connection between health care and human services, preparing students for careers in behavioral health institutions, assisted living facilities, governmental service agencies, non-profit agencies and clinics, among other institutions. Students have the option to choose a non-specialized degree, a concentration in human services administration, a concentration in healthcare administration, or a combination of both. Students can also prepare for licensure as a Long Term Care Administrator in Minnesota. Regardless of specialization, students take core courses focusing on financial management, project management, human resources, heath informatics, and common diseases and treatments. Minnesota residents can also take practicum courses that provide hands-on learning opportunities in professional settings.

St. Mary's offers a range of scholarships and some grants available to graduate students. Students enrolled in any of school's graduate programs who demonstrate financial need are eligible for one full-tuition scholarship along with several $2,000 scholarships available through the school's Evert Scholarship Fund.

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9 Southeastern University 51.67 3/5 Lakeland, FL

The online master's in human services at Southeastern combines research and theory with experienced-based learning, all rooted in the biblically informed values that characterize the field. The program includes five distinct specializations: administration, gerontology, children and family services, emergency management, and ministry. All students take core courses that focus on legal and ethical issues, historical perspectives, multicultural issues, program planning, and more. Students in the human services program learn to assess organizational needs and plan programs that build on an organization's strengths.

Southeastern ranks among the top 25% for affordability among schools in the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. Online courses are more affordable than campus-based classes, and credits in human services are also less expensive than credits in many other graduate programs. Students at Southeastern typically complete their degrees faster than at public institutions, which reduces costs and allows them to enter the workforce faster.

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10 Liberty University 24.17 4/5 Lynchburg, VA

Liberty is a Christian college offering an online master's in human services counseling degree. The school offers one of the most diverse online programs available, allowing students to specialize in one of 11 distinct areas: Addictions & Recovery, Business, Christian Ministries, Criminal Justice, Crisis Response & Trauma, Executive Leadership, Family Advocacy & Public Policy, Health & Wellness, Life Coaching, Marriage & Family, and Military Resilience. All courses can be completed online, and the school also offers certain classes in an intensive, on-campus format.

Distance learners can take advantage of a number of grants and scholarships, particularly if they are residents of the state of Virginia. Online students also have access to a variety of scholarships, including deep discounts for Canadian students, veterans, and members of certain religious organizations.

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