Best Online Master’s in Human Services Programs

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Online master’s in human services degrees launch students into rewarding careers supporting and strengthening health, education, and housing resources for individuals and communities. Human services professionals help communities navigate the evolving social services and policies that impact their area, and as a result, the need for these human services experts continues to grow. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this occupation is growing 11% per year — a notably faster pace than the national average. Below is a list of online master’s degrees that prepare students for this dynamic and demanding field. Different aspects of human services online master’s degrees — including concentrations, program length, curriculum, and career trajectories — are included for you to consider.

WILL THIS PROGRAM PROVIDE ME WITH THE SKILLS I NEED TO ADVANCE MY CAREER?

If you are interested in a career in nonprofit administration, community services, program management, or social work, an online master’s in human services provides the necessary skills to advance your career. Look into the specific courses and concentrations offered by each school, as many online programs provide specializations that may align with your career interests.

DO I NEED PREVIOUS WORK EXPERIENCE TO GET IN?

Most online master’s in human services programs don’t require students to have previous work experience for admission. Prospective applicants are typically asked to submit a combination of bachelor’s degree transcripts, GRE test scores, letters of recommendation, and a personal statement. Some schools also require students to submit a resume along with their application materials.

CAN I WORK WHILE I COMPLETE MY ONLINE MASTER’S IN HUMAN SERVICES?

If you want to work while you complete your online master’s in human services, consider programs that are offered asynchronously or on a part-time basis. Many online programs allow participants to complete coursework when it suits their schedules.

WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES TO EARNING MY MHS ONLINE?

There are several advantages to earning your master’s in human services online. In addition to asynchronous and part-time coursework, many online degree programs offer tuition at discounted rates. To further offset the cost of school, online students save by not having to pay on-campus housing fees or transportation costs commuting to campus.

See Methodology
Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost % Enrolled Online Location Description
1 Northeastern University Global Network RANKING SCORE 74.22 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 83% LOCATION Boston, MA

NUGN delivers a 100% online master’s degree in human services on an asynchronous schedule through the NU Online learning system. The specific objectives of the program are to explore the ongoing development of service in human interest industries and to examine issues in leadership and behavior. Additionally, graduates of this program know how to engage communities to facilitate involvement and outreach. Full-time students can complete their coursework in two years, while part-time students generally earn their degree in three. Out of the 45 total credits required for this master’s degree, 21 of those credits are devoted to the core curriculum, nine to elective classes, and 15-16 hours are dedicated to a concentration. NUGN offers three concentrations within the human services degree: global studies, leadership, and organizational communication. Students may apply for financial aid in the form of loans, grants, scholarships, and employer reimbursement programs.

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2 Wake Forest University RANKING SCORE 71.09 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 11% LOCATION Winston-Salem, NC

Located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Wake Forest University offers a part-time, online human services master’s degree that prepares students for careers in administration and program planning. Students complete the program over seven semesters, with online cohorts beginning three times per year. Students take 30 hours of counseling courses, two specialized study classes, and a final fieldwork unit. Fieldwork entails 350 hours of on-site work within a human services organization. Additionally, WFU requires two three-day residency experiences on campus. The residencies allow faculty to evaluate students’ competency and to assist in planning their fieldwork experiences.

The university approved the human services program in 2012 as part of its Department of Counseling. Acceptance into the program requires an in-person interview and completion of the GRE, and applicants receive admission based on their GRE scores, GPA, recommendations, and work and volunteer experience.

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3 University of Illinois at Springfield RANKING SCORE 70.79 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 67% LOCATION Springfield, IL

UIS has been ranked as one of the most affordable online schools in the U.S. and offers its students over $7 million in research funding each year. The university offers a master’s degree in human services with four concentrations for students to choose from, but only the social services administration track is available fully online. To apply for this online master’s in human services, students must have maintained a GPA of at least 3.0 throughout their undergraduate education. Once enrolled in the social services administration concentration, students must maintain a grade of "B" or higher in all classes. This program requires students to complete 44 credits, with 24 of those credits devoted to core curriculum classes, and 20 to the concentration. Earning a master’s in human services prepares graduates to manage public and private institutions of human interest and welfare.

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4 Liberty University RANKING SCORE 65.33 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 96% LOCATION Lynchburg, VA

LU delivers an online master’s in human services counseling degree through its Department of Community Care and Counseling. While the degree does not directly lead to licensure for professional counseling, it does prepare students for certification in the field. To complete a master’s degree in human services at LU, students must choose one of eleven specializations, including addictions and recovery, business, criminal justice, and executive leadership. Each of these specializations, along with core degree requirements, can be completed fully online. Students can also complete this program in a hybrid format, taking classes both online and on campus. As an alternative to completing the degree entirely online, LU delivers some of the required courses as on-campus intensives, which are accelerated programs led by professors. If students choose to enroll in any of these intensives, LU offers temporary housing options on and off campus. The school also provides scholarships and financial aid to students in need.

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5 Concordia University-Saint Paul RANKING SCORE 64.20 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 98% LOCATION Saint Paul, MN

Based in Saint Paul, Minnesota, Concordia University’s online master’s degree in human services emphasizes forensic behavioral health. CU partnered with the American Institute of Forensic Studies to develop the program, and classes focus on the direct relationship between behavioral health and the law. Two years of full-time work complete the program's 36 required credits. Topics range from criminal justice to psychopathology, and students learn the major ethical and legal considerations of the field. The degree culminates in a capstone project, a 40-60-page integrative essay. An optional study abroad course provides students with additional first-hand experience through international travel.

Application to the program requires submission of a minimum 3.0 GPA, a personal statement, and a professional resume. Online students qualify for a tuition discount as well as financial aid.

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6 California State University-Northridge RANKING SCORE 63.96 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 14% LOCATION Northridge, CA

Based in Southern California, CSU-Northridge offers an assistive technology studies and human services master’s degree online. Learners complete the 10-course program over two years, and graduate prepared to serve clients with disabilities. Coursework trains students to both understand and implement assistive technologies to ensure their clients' optimal care. The program concludes with the completion of comprehensive case studies in the field.

Designed to meet the needs of working professionals, students receive one-on-one support from a program coordinator and professors. Cohort-style teaching by faculty and industry experts allows for professional development and networking opportunities. Students can work when and where they are able through flexible online learning schedules.

Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree and a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0. Learners who wish to apply with a GPA between 2.5 and 3.0 must submit a GRE score in the upper 50% percentile of at least one section of the test.

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7 Pacific Oaks College RANKING SCORE 63.73 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 42% LOCATION Pasadena, CA

The online master’s in human development at POC in Pasadena, California emphasizes the importance of combating social injustice. With a focus on understanding social and cultural milieus, the program trains learners for leadership and mentoring positions that positively impact the industry. Additionally, the curriculum incorporates interpersonal communication skills and teamwork training.

Students earn their degree in two years of full-time or four years of part-time coursework, totaling 30 units. They complete each course in seven weeks. The asynchronous schedule further benefits working professionals and those with families. Canvas delivers online coursework, supplemented by a required in-person classroom observation experience or a project at the student’s place of employment.

POA holds accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Admission requires a bachelor’s degree, a resume, official transcripts, and a personal statement. POA seeks candidates with direct work experience in human services.

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8 Nova Southeastern University RANKING SCORE 63.22 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 51% LOCATION Fort Lauderdale, FL

Based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, NSU offers an online master’s of human services in child protection. Students build expertise in social services and the juvenile justice system, to prepare for leadership positions the field. The 33-credit curriculum includes core lessons in psychology, child development, and crisis management, and includes an additional concentration specific to a student’s desired career. Students can complete the degree in two years, taking two courses per semester, though they may take as many courses as they choose.

Applicants must complete a baccalaureate program with a GPA of 2.5 or higher in their last 60 credit hours of undergraduate study. An Applicant with a master’s degree must demonstrate a GPA of at least 3.0. The program director may approve the transfer of up to six transfer credits completed with a B or higher within the last five years. NSU holds accreditation through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

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9 University of Oklahoma-Norman Campus RANKING SCORE 62.19 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 36% LOCATION Norman, OK

Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, the University of Oklahoma-Norman offers an online master’s in human and health services administration. While not designed to provide professional training, the program emphasizes the theoretical and ethical foundations of field concepts. Coursework explores the healthcare and human services industries through current social and cultural issues.

Though available completely online and asynchronously through Canvas, the program allows students to take courses on-site if they wish. Learners complete the 33-credit curriculum in just over two years, encompassing core courses, focus-area training, and a fieldwork internship. Learners with previous graduate work can transfer unapplied credits that are less than five years old and that earned at a B grade or higher.

Admission requires a bachelor’s degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Additionally, the program favors applicants with prior training in a relevant career field. Oklahoma residents and military/homeland security students in any state pay discounted tuition.

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10 University of Nebraska-Lincoln RANKING SCORE 61.71 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 31% LOCATION Lincoln, NE

Chartered in 1869, The University of Nebraska-Lincoln offers a master’s degree in human services online that focuses on human and family services administration. Encompassing 36 total credits combining family studies and business skills, the MS prepares students for roles in human services development and administration. The program emphasizes four main study areas: family functioning, program design, legal and ethical issues, and management. A final capstone course concludes the degree.

UNL’s interactive program consists of forums, assignments, and group discussions with peer and faculty, through synchronous study online. Academic advisors and career counselors offer support services to distance learners.

Applicants must submit an undergraduate degree, a minimum 2.5 GPA, and current GRE scores. The department accepts qualifying graduate transfer credits. Nebraska residents receive a tuition discount of nearly 50% compared to non-resident rates. UNL holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

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11 Concordia University-Nebraska RANKING SCORE 61.24 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 85% LOCATION Seward, NE

CUN offers a master's degree in human services, with a leadership and management concentration available fully online. This master’s in human services online degree program requires students to complete 36 credits: 24 credits in the core curriculum, nine credits toward a concentration, and three credits dedicated to a capstone course. CUN allows students to transfer up to 70 credits from an accredited two-year institution toward their degree. Students who are enrolled full time can expect to earn their degree within two years. While not mandatory, CUN encourages applicants to have a background in sociology, psychology, and/or community service. In efforts to streamline enrollment and course completion, the university has created a system of "concierge registration" where a team of specialists orchestrates the enrollment process for students to ensure that they take all classes required for them to graduate in a timely manner.

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12 Concordia University-Chicago RANKING SCORE 61.01 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 72% LOCATION River Forest, IL

Concordia University-Chicago, a Christian liberal arts school based in River Forest, Illinois, holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission. The university's master’s degree in human services online emphasizes advocacy through a broad body of human services skills. By combining psychology and social services, students familiarize themselves with field competencies and develop professional expertise. Learners can complete the 33-credit curriculum in 24 months, concluding with a capstone experience: a research paper or project and corresponding presentation in a focus area of the student’s choice.

Admission into the program requires an undergraduate degree with a minimum 2.85 GPA, or a master’s degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Applicants may be pursuing entry-level employment or advanced management roles. CUC guarantees that its tuition costs will not increase from the initial enrollment cost. Students may qualify for federal student aid and graduate student loans.

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13 Wilmington University RANKING SCORE 59.78 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 83% LOCATION New Castle, DE

WU provides students multiple ways to earn a master’s in human services degree, including the option to complete courses in a semester format or a block format. Each semester runs for a period of 15 weeks, while a blocks takes only seven weeks. The primary difference between these two structures is intensity; block students will be expected to learn the same information as semester students, but in less than half the time. Through the university’s online learning platform, students have twenty-four hour access to all course materials. WU's online master's in human services program has no mandatory in-person components and can be completed entirely online. Though students generally finish the program in 18-24 months, they can choose to earn the degree in as few as 12 months on an accelerated track. Students are required to complete a minimum of 33 credits in this program, in addition to at least 120 hours of guided practicum or a capstone project.

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14 St. Joseph's College of New York RANKING SCORE 57.49 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 48% LOCATION Brooklyn, NY

SJCNY's online master’s degree in human services, completed through a series of 10 courses, emphasizes the importance of working with the homeless, the aging, veterans, and victims of domestic violence. To be considered for this master’s program, applicants must have a baccalaureate degree from an accredited university with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Additionally, applicants may be required to hold full-time employment before they are granted admission to the program. The school also delivers a hybrid B.S. and master’s program in human services, allowing students to earn their bachelor’s and master’s degrees concurrently. Additionally, students can choose to pursue an advanced certification in human services.

SJCNY bases coursework on a leadership model with three domains: values, mediation, and fulfillment. To finish each of the 10 courses in the master's program, students must complete a competency application project that focuses on skills covered in the course.

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15 University of Northwestern-St Paul RANKING SCORE 54.33 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 100% LOCATION Saint Paul, MN

Based in Minnesota, The University of Northwestern-St. Paul’s master’s in human services online degree program offers students a Christian education in the social services. The degree emphasizes the intersection of faith and service-based learning, with a foundation in biblical ethics. Coursework explores family studies, research methods, and the proper design and evaluation of human services programs. Graduates prepare for careers in public health, education, behavioral health, and social services.

The 36-credit program can be completed in 18-22 months, through either completely online or blended study, incorporating on-campus meetings on Thursday evenings. Support services include the writing center, a disability support service, and career coaching for distance learners. Candidates must hold a minimum 2.8 GPA and submit undergraduate transcripts and an essay discussing their personal and professional experiences, professing and strong commitment to the Christian faith. UN holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

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16 Southeastern University RANKING SCORE 52.54 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 82% LOCATION Lakeland, FL

A "Christ-centered partner in higher education" located in Georgia, SU delivers a master's degree in human services entirely online and encourages students to select a concentration based on the industry in which they plan to work. Classes run over eight-week sessions, and students can earn a master's in human services at SU in as few as 12 months. To graduate, students must complete at least 36 credits. Of those 36 credits, 24 are dedicated to core courses, while the remainder come from the chosen specialization and a capstone project. SU offers five specializations within this master’s program: administrative, gerontology, children and family, emergency management, and ministry. To be admitted into this online master’s degree in human services, applicants must have received a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution and have graduated with a GPA of 3.0 or higher. SU allows students to transfer up to nine credits toward a graduate degree.

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17 Amridge University RANKING SCORE 51.77 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 100% LOCATION Montgomery, AL

Based in Montgomery, Alabama, AU’s master’s in human services online promotes the wellbeing of families, society, and the church from a Christian perspective. The core curriculum, delivered through Canvas, trains students in psychology, scientific research methods, ethical decision making, human relations, and the primary techniques used in individual and family counseling. Students do not prepare to pursue licensure through the program. Learners may choose four elective courses in their specific area of interest. AU’s commitment to public service makes it an excellent choice for aspiring life coaches, social services workers, or human services professionals in a church setting.

The curriculum encompasses 30 semester hours of graduate coursework over four full-time semesters, though students may also enroll part time if they choose. The program allows 12 transfer credits from another accredited university. 90% of students receive financial aid. Military members pay reduced tuition fees and enjoy additional institutional support.

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18 Chadron State College RANKING SCORE 51.56 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 99% LOCATION Chadron, NE

Based in the agricultural community of Chadron, Nebraska, CSC prides itself on providing top-quality education at a reasonable cost. The online master’s degree in organizational management with an area focus in human services trains students in research design application management skills. The program encompasses 36 credit hours, including courses in statistics, conflict resolution, and the legal and social environment of business, and must be completed within seven years. At least four courses must focus on human services, concluding with a thesis project or an internship comprising six credit hours. Graduates can pursue management positions in corporate, governmental, and nonprofit settings.

The asynchronous, online human services master’s degree spans courses lasting for eight weeks at a time. Students may access additional courses through CSC’s sister institutions: Wayne State College and Peru State College. Applicants must submit a bachelor’s degree with a minimum 2.75 GPA and transcripts for consideration.

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19 Albertus Magnus College RANKING SCORE 51.51 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 28% LOCATION New Haven, CT

Located in New Haven, Connecticut, Albertus Magnus College prepares future leaders to make a positive impact in the world with its online human services master’s degree. Rooted in the Catholic tradition, the program emphasizes community engagement and optimal treatment and advocacy for human services clients. Classes cover psychology and the major social and ethical issues within human services. Learners complete two courses per each accelerated eight-week term, typically meeting on-campus one day per week. The program requires 39 total credits, including fieldwork experience in a public or private human services agency, a capstone seminar course, and an extensive literature review.

Incoming students must achieve a minimum 2.8 GPA in their bachelor’s degree and complete 15 credits of coursework in psychology, human services, or social work before enrollment. The department may approve the transfer up to six graduate credit hours.

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20 Saint Mary's University of Minnesota RANKING SCORE 51.31 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 34% LOCATION Winona, MN

Located in Minneapolis, SMUM delivers a variety of graduate degree programs on campus and online. The university has a limited transfer policy, allowing students to transfer a maximum of six semester credits.

SMUM’s online master’s in human services program has foundations in both theoretical and practical learning methods. Full-time students can expect to earn their degree, consisting of 36 required credits, within two years. SMUM offers concentrations within the program; students can specialize in human services, health care administration, or both. However, completing this program does not certify students for clinical work; students should look into their specific state’s requirements for related licensure. Upon enrollment in the online program, students are given an iPod preloaded with SMUM’s mobile learning platform. By accessing this platform, students can take part in interactive exercises involving real-world scenarios. Additionally, the platform provides an open channel of communication among online classmates.

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21 Southwestern Assemblies of God University RANKING SCORE 51.26 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 97% LOCATION Waxahachie, TX

Located in Waxahachie, Texas, SAGU offers an online master’s degree in human services counseling that integrates education with an understanding of the Scripture. The program emphasizes spiritual development and faith-based learning. Graduates prepare to serve their communities as church caseworkers or health services professionals. The non-clinical master’s degree does not apply towards licensure. Students learn the major theoretical approaches to counseling through coursework in behavioral sciences, crisis management, and human development. Learners must complete 30 program hours, a practicum, and receive a passing score on graduate comprehensive examinations in order to graduate.

Applicants must demonstrate a spiritual experience as defined by the Scripture and supply recommendations from a minister and academic supervisor. Additionally, prospective students must submit an undergraduate degree in psychology, social work, or a related area, or fulfill a selection of prerequisites in the field. Admittance requires respective GRE verbal and qualitative scores of at least 150 and 3.5. Students may transfer a maximum of two-thirds of their graduate credits from another institution.

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22 Bellevue University RANKING SCORE 50.84 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 93% LOCATION Bellevue, NE

Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, Nebraska's Bellevue University offers real world, low-cost programs including an online master’s degree in human services. Students can complete interactive lessons online at any time of day. The program prepares students for nonprofit administration and management, benefitting both professionals already working in the field as well as those planning to enter it. Through theory- and practice-based coursework, students explore the clinical application of their studies. Additional courses explore funding and potential financial impacts on organizations.

The 36-credit-hour program, including a capstone project in fieldwork or an applied learning project, must be completed within three years of full-time attendance. To apply, candidates need a previous bachelor’s degree with a minimum GPA of 2.5.

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23 Lenoir-Rhyne University RANKING SCORE 46.63 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 39% LOCATION Hickory, NC

Lenoir-Rhyne University in Hickory, North Carolina offers over 25 master's programs rooted in the Christian faith. The university's self-paced, online master’s in human services promotes responsible leadership in the community. Learners train for advanced management positions in public agencies and nonprofits. Graduates may also work with vulnerable populations, striving to ameliorate poverty, addiction, and healthcare access.

Students can enroll part time or full time in the 33-hour program during any semester. The program includes core courses and a specialization in one of three areas: addiction counseling, career development, or human services management. Internships provide hands-on experience. Graduates qualify to sit for the human services board-certified practitioner examination. Applicants must submit their resume, GRE scores, official transcripts, and an essay explaining career goals and relative life experience. Students with extensive work experience may waive out of some application requirements.

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24 Regent University RANKING SCORE 43.39 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 92% LOCATION Virginia Beach, VA

Regent University, founded by Pat Robertson, is a Christian college that cultivates leaders with academic proficiencies and Christian ideals. The Virginia Beach school offers the master of arts in human services, a 30-credit program that utilizes real-time instruction, asynchronous discussions, podcast lectures, and small-group projects.

Faculty teach the curriculum through a Christian worldview. Students take foundational coursework in human services, behavioral science, helping skills and techniques, and multicultural awareness. The degree offers a comprehensive suite of concentrations, so students can focus their degree on a particular area of interest. These include Biblical counseling, Christian counseling, grief counseling, and criminal justice and ministry. Graduates qualify for careers in churches and ministry, schools, hospitals, and mediation. Admission requirements include a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA in a field such as psychology or counseling.

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Some of the best online master’s in human services programs offer concentrations and curriculum that caters to a student’s specific career goals. Many programs feature courses on human services policy, program development, and nonprofit management, but specific program details may vary depending on the school and program chosen.

CONCENTRATIONS OFFERED FOR AN ONLINE MASTER’S DEGREE IN HUMAN SERVICES

Concentration Description Careers This Concentration Prepares For
Nonprofit management Students in nonprofit management learn how human services organizations work and thrive. Courses discuss best practices for creating successful, volunteer-based programs that support human services work. This concentration also can teach ways to effectively manage volunteers and work with community members. Nonprofit administrator, nonprofit program manager, volunteer manager
Mental Health Administration This concentration teaches students the foundation of being a mental health worker. Courses help students develop effective decision-making skills to solve problems relevant to the field of human services. Students learn about what motivates personal change and how mental health administrators can impact people and help them make personal changes. Mental health administrator, volunteer manager, human services department administrator
Life Coaching This concentration prepares students for careers that guide and motivate people to meet goals related to personal or professional ambitions. Students in this field develop relationships and effectively communicate with clients to help them meet their personal goals. Life coach, job coach,
business consultant

CURRICULUM FOR AN ONLINE MASTER’S DEGREE IN HUMAN SERVICES

While each master’s degree in human service has different course offerings that depend upon the various requirements and concentrations, most programs cover similar content relevant to human service careers. Below is a sampling of courses that online master’s in human services programs tend to offer.

Policy Issues in Human Services: Offered through some of the best online master’s in human services, this course covers current social policy issues with respect to the human services field. Students analyze the impact of policies on topics such as welfare, education, immigration, and reproductive rights. The course prepares graduates to work as nonprofit administrators and social workers.

Human Service Management and Development: Often an entry-level course in online master’s in human services programs, human service management and development covers the dynamics and issues in human services organizations. Students learn about the policies and planning that come into play in these organizations, preparing them for leadership roles in this field.

Grant Writing: Ideal for students pursuing careers as grant writers and fundraisers for nonprofits, this course teaches students to conduct effective research for grant writing. Students also learn the elements of a good proposal and strategies for requesting grant funding.

Community Building: This course teaches the value of community involvement in human services. Students learn to engage and empower diverse groups of community members in human services improvement projects, preparing them for careers as program administrators and community service managers. Topics cover community economic development, health services, and housing equity.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET AN ONLINE MASTER’S IN HUMAN SERVICES?

Online master’s in human services degrees have different completion timelines that correspond with school and program requirements. The length of an online master’s degree depends on whether students take courses synchronously or asynchronously, if the program requires any additional internships, field experience, or research, if certain concentrations within the degree require more credits than others, and how many total credits are needed to graduate. Given these requirements, it takes an average of 36 credits, or two years, to graduate from a master’s degree in human service.

Some online programs assign students to a cohort in which students take classes together and graduate on the same timeline. Other online master’s in human services programs, however, give students the flexibility to complete coursework on their own individual pace. Those taking courses asynchronously often continue working and enroll in classes on a part-time basis, and therefore complete their degree over a longer period of time.

CERTIFICATIONS AND LICENSES A MASTER’S IN HUMAN SERVICES PREPARES FOR

  • Human Services-Board Certified Practitioner: Professionals looking for additional credentials to demonstrate their knowledge of the human services field can apply for the Human Services-Board Certified Practitioner (HS-BCP). Professionals earn the HS-BCP credential after they complete 350 hours of postgraduate human services work and pass a national exam developed by the Center for Credentialing and Education.
  • Licensed Professional Counselor: Students with a master’s degree in human services can begin a career in counseling by becoming a Licensed Professional Counselor. The certification, which varies in requirement from state to state, requires applicants to have a master’s degree and job experience related to human behavior and development and pass the National Counselor Examination or equivalent state-mandated exam.

One of the most important features to consider about an online master’s in human services degrees is the school’s accreditation. Institutions with accreditation demonstrate they meet education standards set by a board, organization, or government. It is most common to see schools accredited at the regional level by organizations such as the Higher Learning Commission, Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, or the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, among others. These regional accrediting agencies are held to specific standards by the U.S. Department of Education.

In addition to regional accrediting organizations, students looking into human services master’s degree programs should make sure their program is accredited by the Council for Standards in Human Services Education. This organization holds hold human services educational programs to high standards of quality, consistency, and relevance. The best online master’s in human services programs should be connected to this council.

To confirm if a school is accredited by a legitimate organization, U.S. Department of Education has a searchable database of accredited postsecondary institutions and program. Using their database is a reliable way to cross-check the accreditations associated with online learning programs.

The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) is another trustworthy source to confirm if schools meet educational standards. The council is composed of 3,000 degree-granting colleges and universities and recognizes 60 organizations that give accreditation to institutions and programs. Their work upholds quality education standards. A list of all accredited schools can be found through the U.S. Department of Education or CHEA.

MASTER’S IN HUMAN SERVICES CAREERS AND SALARIES

The variety of careers available to graduates of this degree makes it appealing to a wide range of students. From mental health counselors to social workers, online master’s degree in human service graduates work in areas such as psychology, health, social work, and rehabilitation. Human services professionals commonly work with children, families, people with disabilities, mental illness, and/or addiction, veterans, and the elderly. Supporting at-risk individuals and communities often requires a demanding work schedule that wrestles with difficult situations alongside rewarding outcomes.

Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorders Counselor

Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors provide treatment programs to individuals with health problems such as alcoholism, eating disorders, and drug addiction. The number of jobs in this field continues to grow as mental health counseling is increasingly covered by insurance, giving more people access to these services. These professionals typically have advanced degrees, giving those with a master’s degree an advantage over other applicants.

Median Annual Salary – $41,070
Projected Growth Rate – 22%

Social Worker

To become a social worker, earning a master’s degree and gaining licensure is essential — especially for clinical social workers. Licensed social workers play an important role in people’s everyday lives, and provide resources to help individuals deal with problems. Clinical social workers also diagnose and treat mental, behavioral, and emotional issues.

Median Annual Salary – $46,890
Projected Growth Rate – 12%

Social and Community Service Manager

Social and community service managers play an important role in human service organizations, often organizing programs that support a particular demographic, such as at-risk youth, people with mental illnesses, the elderly, or veterans. While some social and community service managers hold a bachelor’s degree, many employers require candidates to have years of job experience and a master’s degree.

Median Annual Salary – $64,680
Projected Growth Rate – 10%

Mental Health Counselor/Marriage and Family Therapist

Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists guide people through difficult changes in their lives, such as divorce or layoffs. They develop strategies for clients to improve their personal or professional situations. Professionals in this field are typically required to have a master’s degree and licensure to practice.

Median Annual Salary – $44,170
Projected Growth Rate – 19%

School and Career Counselors

A vital aspect of the education system, school and career counselors help students identify and improve social and/or behavioral problems so they can succeed in school. School counselors also support students in their academic and career endeavors after high school. The vast majority of school counselor positions require a master’s degree and state licensure.

Median Annual Salary – $54,560
Projected Growth Rate – 8%

JOB PLACEMENT

Earning your online master’s in human services opens the door to more job opportunities and higher salaries. Many higher-paying career paths in the human services field — such as a social worker or school counselor — require licensure, and a master’s is often a prerequisite. According to a recent report from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce (CEW), about 45% of people who study psychology or social work as an undergraduate obtain a graduate degree, which gives them an average earnings boost of 43%. These trends demonstrate that earning a master’s in human services gives candidates more opportunities for job placement and higher salaries.

PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS

Professional organizations in the human services field have a wealth of resources for current students and recent graduates of online master’s degree programs. These organizations provide networking opportunities for human services professionals who work in a variety of nonprofit environments, conferences that discuss relevant topics such as the impact of certain a social policies, and scholarships and grants to help member students fund human services educational programs.

Funding opportunities for online master’s in human services programs range from departmental scholarships to federal loans, and can greatly reduce the cost of one’s education. To fully understand federal scholarships, loans, grants, and work-study opportunities, prospective students must complete a FAFSA form. Students can also look to other funding sources to finance their education. For instance, professional organizations such as the National Organization for Human Services offer scholarships and grants to member students. Other organizations like the Bureau of Health Workforce give scholarships and loan repayment to students who are willing to work in certain locations.

AN OVERVIEW OF FINANCIAL AID

Approximately two-thirds of today’s college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.

UNDERSTANDING THE FAFSA

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.

FINANCIAL AID FOR ONLINE STUDENTS

Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you’ll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn’t always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.

SCHOLARSHIPS FOR SINGLE PARENTS

Online college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree and securing their family’s financial future. We’ve compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.

FINANCIAL AID FOR VETERANS AND ACTIVE MILITARY

Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.

Rankings Archive

Best Online Master's in Human Services Programs of 2017
Rank School Location
1 University of Illinois at Springfield Springfield, IL
2 Northeastern University Global Network Boston, MA
3 Concordia University-Nebraska Seward, NE
4 Saint Mary's University of Minnesota Winona, MN
5 St. Joseph's College of New York Brooklyn, NY
6 Liberty University Lynchburg, VA
7 University of Northwestern-St Paul Saint Paul, MN
8 Wilmington University New Castle, DE
9 Southeastern University Lakeland, FL
10 Lubbock Christian University Lubbock, TX