The human services field presents significant opportunities for passionate individuals who want to help others. Professionals with a master's in human services can access growing workforces and strong wages. For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 12% job growth for community and social service occupations between 2019 and 2029, which is much faster than the average projected growth rate for all occupations.
With a variety of positions available, prospective human services professionals should know what options they have and how their education choices might impact their eventual careers. To help with that process, this page delves into master's programs in human services and describes possible career paths for graduates.
For additional information, check out our master's in human services program guide.
What Are the Best Online Master's in Human Services Programs of 2020? Here Are Our Top 10:
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|1||University of Illinois Springfield||Springfield, IL|
|2||California State University, Northridge||Northridge, CA|
|3||Concordia University Chicago||River Forest, IL|
|4||University of Nebraska Lincoln||Lincoln, NE|
|5||Liberty University||Lynchburg, VA|
|6||University of Oklahoma||Norman, OK|
|7||Bellevue University||Bellevue, NE|
|8||Saint Mary's University of Minnesota||Winona, MN|
|9||University of Wisconsin Oshkosh||Oshkosh, WI|
|10||Saint Leo University||Saint Leo, FL|
- How We Rank Schools
At BestColleges, we believe a college education is one of the most important investments you will make. We want to help you navigate the college selection process by offering school rankings that are transparent, inclusive, and relevant for online students.
Our rankings are grounded in a few guiding principles and use the latest statistical data available from trusted sources. Read our Ranking Methodology. We hope our approach helps you find the school that is best for you.
2020 Best Accredited Online Master's in Human Services Programs
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University of Illinois Springfield
|Springfield, IL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 51%||
The University of Illinois Springfield offers an online master of arts in human services that prepares graduates to deliver human services to communities, families, and individuals. Students can choose from concentrations in alcoholism and substance abuse, child and family studies, gerontology, and social services administration.
This 44-credit master's in human services includes core coursework that covers critical perspectives in human services, interviewing and assessment skills, and social policy. The curriculum also incorporates a supervised internship in a human services environment where students complete 100 hours of fieldwork per academic credit. Students must earn a "B" or higher in each course or it will not count toward their degree.
Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree and submit transcripts. UIS is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
California State University, Northridge
|Northridge, CA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 54%||
California State University, Northridge offers an online master of science in assistive technology and human services for working professionals. The program is available entirely online, and graduates are prepared to assist individuals who rely on assistive technologies.
This 30-credit MS in assistive technology and human services can be completed in two years. Core courses include assistive technology across the lifespan, research methods and design, and counseling in assistive technology services delivery. Students must also complete directed comprehensive studies to satisfy the culminating experience requirement.
Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and have a minimum 2.5 GPA, though a GPA of 3.0 or higher is preferred. California State University, Northridge is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.
Concordia University Chicago
|River Forest, IL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 49%||
Concordia University Chicago offers an online master of arts in human services that prepares learners to work in community mental health centers, family services agencies, and related organizations. This program emphasizes the areas of psychology, gerontology, and advocacy.
This online master's degree in human services can be completed in two years. Students take 33 credits of classes, including core courses in human service systems, intervention and direct services, and administration of human services. Students must also complete an internship and a capstone research project. Courses are available entirely online.
Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and have earned a minimum 2.85 GPA. Students may qualify for probationary admission if they have a GPA between 2.25 and 2.84. CUC is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
University of Nebraska Lincoln
|Lincoln, NE||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 69%||
The University of Nebraska Lincoln offers an online master of science in child, youth, and family studies with a specialization in human and family services administration. Graduates are prepared for careers in community health and child services, as well as with other human services organizations. The child, youth, and family studies department participates in the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance, and participants can take courses offered through a consortium of universities.
Learners who earn this online master's degree in human services administration take 36 credits of coursework, including classes like theories of human development and family relations, foundations in public service, and family professionals as consumers of research.
Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution, have competitive GRE scores, and submit a resume or curriculum vitae. UNL is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
|Lynchburg, VA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 50%||
Liberty University offers an online master of arts in human services counseling that combines coursework in psychology, sociology, counseling, and social work to provide students with an understanding of human behavior. Graduates are prepared to become human service workers.
This online master's degree in human services requires 30 credits and can be completed in 1.5 years. Core courses include human growth and development, studies in interpersonal communication, and group dynamics. Students can choose from a variety of specializations, including addictions and recovery, criminal justice, and crisis response and trauma. The school offers substantial tuition discounts to military students.
Applicants must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and a minimum 2.0 GPA. However, GRE scores are not required. Liberty is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
University of Oklahoma
|Norman, OK||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 67%||
The University of Oklahoma offers an online master of arts in human and health services administration that provides learners with a broad understanding of healthcare and human service delivery systems. Courses are available entirely online in a synchronous format.
This 33-credit degree takes two years to complete. Core courses include interdisciplinary foundations, strategic planning and evaluation, and ethics in human and health services administration. Students can complete a thesis or non-thesis pathway. To graduate, students must maintain a 3.0 GPA.
Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and have earned a minimum 3.0 GPA. OU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
|Bellevue, NE||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 0%||
Bellevue University offers an online master of arts in human services that prepares learners to work with nonprofits and other human service organizations. This program is a non-licensure degree and is not designed for individuals seeking mental health counseling licensure or certification.
This online master's degree in human services features 36 credits of coursework, covering topics like communications for human services, social and cultural diversity, ethics for human services, and statistics and quantitative research methods. Students can choose to complete one of two capstone options: an internship or an applied learning project.
Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited university or college with a minimum 2.5 GPA. Students who already have a master's degree may be accepted without needing to provide undergraduate transcripts. BU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Saint Mary's University of Minnesota
|Winona, MN||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 61%||
Saint Mary's University of Minnesota offers an online master of arts in health and human services administration that prepares graduates for leadership roles in healthcare and human services delivery. Graduates can pursue careers as nursing home administrators, medical and health services managers, and social service managers.
To earn this online master's in human services degree, students complete 36 credits over the course of two years. Core courses include advanced health policy and ethics, health and human services systems, and human resources in the health and human services sector. Students seeking Minnesota nursing home licensure can complete a series of nursing home requirements as electives.
Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and have a minimum 2.75 GPA. Saint Mary's is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
|Oshkosh, WI||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 53%||
The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh offers an online master of science in human services leadership that prepares learners to lead sustainable organizations that positively impact communities. Courses are available entirely online.
This 30-credit degree features coursework that emphasizes a global perspective,such as global issues in local communities, transcultural leadership, transnational fiscal management, and social marketing in human services.
Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and have a minimum 2.75 GPA. Prospective students also need to submit a 500-word essay and transcripts as a part of their application. However, GRE scores are not required.
The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Saint Leo University
|Saint Leo, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 51%||
Saint Leo University offers an online master of science in human services administration that prepares graduates for leadership and executive roles within human services agencies.
Full-time students can earn this 36-credit degree in one year, while part-time learners can graduate in two years. Core courses include management and leadership in human service organizations, community needs assessment and program evaluation, and funding sources for human service organizations. Courses are available entirely online in eight-week terms.
Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and have a minimum 3.0 GPA. GRE scores are not required. Prospective students should submit their application materials at least 60 days before their desired starting term. Saint Leo is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
What Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Human Services Program?
MA programs typically offer more flexible training and lead to more diverse careers, while MS pathways tend to focus on a specific topic, meeting requirements for that field.
Human services professionals should possess compassion, strong interpersonal skills, and the ability to solve problems. Online master's in human services programs typically require 30-45 credits, and students can graduate in under two years.
There are two main types of master's in human services programs: MA and MS programs. While these can overlap, MA programs typically offer more flexible training and lead to more diverse careers. In contrast, MS pathways tend to focus on a specific topic, meeting requirements for that field.
Additionally, the curriculum of an MA program may offer more humanities training, and the classes may include more discussion. Alternatively, MS classes often emphasize more practical training and lab work.
Both program types tend to offer concentrations. Students can pursue subdisciplines like intervention and leadership, policy analysis, nonprofit management, and healthcare administration. These specializations can impact students' qualifications and career opportunities after graduation.
Admission Requirements for Online Master's in Human Services Programs
Applicants to a master's in human services program should hold a bachelor's degree. Some programs also require a minimum GPA, professional experience, and GRE scores. Prospective students may also need to submit letters of recommendation or a resume.
For more information, check out the Graduate Admissions Guide.
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What Courses Will I Take in an Online Master's in Human Services Program?
Coursework in a master's in human services program depends on many factors, including the school, degree type, and concentration. While course titles and details vary, the following section highlights five classes offered in many master's in human services programs.
- Community Service Management
This course teaches students various community development methods that can be used for nonprofits and public organizations. Participants learn about outreach and leadership, along with financial, project, and relationship management strategies. Coursework focuses on identifying community opportunities and the processes and policies involved in addressing those needs.
- Law in Human Services
This course examines the legalities surrounding community service programs and policies. Students gain an understanding of the legal system and its interaction with public policy. Learners determine ways to advocate for change and how community workers and programs can affect legal outcomes.
- Policy Issues in Human Services
In this course, students explore the most common and pressing issues in human services. They learn methods for identifying problem areas, as well as strategies to address these concerns. Covered topics may relate to racial inequality, socioeconomic divisions, and gender issues.
- Human Services Administration
In this course, students learn about the various roles that administrators can have in community organizations. Covered roles may include human resources, marketing, and general management. Students also gain skills related to communication, grant writing, and program planning and evaluation.
- Financial Management
This course focuses on the fiscal responsibilities of community service managers. Students learn how to budget for programs, allocate resources, and improve organizational processes and operations to be more efficient.
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What Can I Do With an Online Master's in Human Services?
An online master's in human services degree can lead to many careers in the community and social services industry. Depending on a student's interests, credentials, and experience, they may qualify for counseling, support, and management positions. The BLS projects 12% job growth for community and social service occupations and 17% job growth for community service managers between 2019 and 2029.
While some careers in this industry may be competitive, master's graduates possess advanced training that can give them an advantage in many areas.
- Community Services Manager
Community service managers oversee community programs and organizations, identifying areas of need, implementing programs, and seeking funding. These managers also come up with public policy and handle public outreach and government interactions. According to the BLS, 29% of these managers work in individual and family services and 11% work in nursing and residential care facilities.
- Health Services Manager
Health services managers oversee the operation of health departments and organizations. They ensure facilities follow industry laws and regulations, manage finances, and handle inventory and staffing. According to the BLS, 33% of these managers work in hospitals, 12% work in physicians' offices, and 10% work in nursing and residential care facilities.
- Career and School Counselor
Career and school counselors support students and graduates as they pursue academic and professional goals. These counselors help clients develop academic and/or career plans and prepare for tests and interviews. The BLS reports that 44% of these professionals work for elementary and secondary schools, while 35% work for colleges and universities.
- Rehabilitation Counselor
Rehabilitation counselors support clients with various disabilities and disorders. They develop plans to help clients overcome or adjust to their disability and seek employment or manage self-care. The BLS found that 30% of these counselors work in rehabilitation services, 17% work in individual and family services, and 14% work for state governments.
- Probation Officer
Probation officers help former law offenders and incarcerated people rehabilitate themselves and satisfy the requirements laid out by the courts. These professionals may help clients find employment or connect them with other support professionals and resources. According to the BLS, 97% of these professionals work for state or local government agencies.
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Frequently Asked Questions About Master's in Human Services Programs
- Is a master's in human services worth it?
Human services graduates can enter a rewarding and in-demand field, which makes this degree worth it for many students. The BLS projects 12% job growth for social and community service positions between 2019 and 2029.
- What can I do with a master's in human services?
With a master's in human services, graduates can access various counseling, rehabilitation, and community service positions. Depending on their specialization, licensure, and experience, graduates can work in government agencies, educational settings, or public services. Some graduates may also pursue a doctoral degree, which can lead to teaching and research positions.
- Is human services in demand?
Yes. The BLS projects 12% job growth for the social and community service field between 2019 and 2029. The aging population in the U.S. and the increase in mental health and community service programs has led to more human services organizations and jobs.
- How much money can I make with a master's in human services?
According to the BLS, human services professionals earn a median annual salary of $46,090. However, graduates with a master's in human services can earn significantly more in certain careers. For example, community service managers earn a median annual salary of $67,150.
- What are the highest-paying jobs I can get with a master's in human services?
One of the highest-paying jobs in this field is medical services manager; these workers earn a median annual salary of $100,980, according to the BLS. In general, graduates who qualify for management careers can expect to earn high salaries.