Best Online Master’s in Human and Family Development Programs

A ranking of the best online master's in human and family development programs. Programs ranked by affordability, flexibility, and academic quality.

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Published on March 21, 2022 · Updated on June 15, 2022

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Students who pursue an online master's in human and family development qualify for jobs in personally rewarding and in-demand fields. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 12% job growth for community and social service occupations between 2020 and 2030. That rate translates to approximately 346,900 new jobs in the field and far eclipses the average projected growth rate for all occupations (8%) during that period.

According to U.S. News & World Report, the average online master's in human and family development costs between $10,000-$20,000, or $315-$550 per credit. While graduate school requires a significant investment, this program translates particularly well to an online format, offering maximum flexibility for working professionals.

Read on to learn more about typical courses, careers, and admission requirements and find answers to frequently asked questions.

Frequently Asked Questions About Master's in Human and Family Development Programs

Is a master's in human and family development worth it?

While the value of any degree is subjective, an online master's in human and family development often leads to in-demand and rewarding careers. Graduates often make salaries that exceed the median annual wage for all occupations and can pursue a variety of different positions.

Furthermore, a master's degree in human and family development qualifies graduates for leadership, advanced practice, and managerial roles in the field.

What can I do with a master's in human and family development?

Graduates with a master's in human and family development can pursue careers as social workers or human development, mental health, substance abuse, career, or school counselors. Keep in mind that each of these careers frequently requires a state-issued license.

Are human and family development graduates in high demand?

Yes. The BLS projects 12% job growth for community and social service occupations, eclipsing the projected growth rate of 8% for all occupations during that period.

How much money can I make with a master's in human and family development?

According to the BLS, community and social service occupations paid a median annual wage of $47,250 in May 2020, exceeding the median annual wage for all occupations by nearly $6,000.

What are the highest-paying jobs with a master's in human and family development?

According to the BLS, the highest-paying job with a master's in human and family development is likely school or career counselor. As of May 2020, these professionals earned a median annual salary of $58,120. Keep in mind that counselor positions in public schools require a state-issued license.

What Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Human and Family Development Program?

Empathetic, meticulous, mission-driven, and people-oriented students often succeed in graduate-level human and family development programs. After graduation, many excellent human services professionals share these same qualities. Students can develop the hard skills and knowledge they need over the course of their program.

Many online master's in human and family development programs require 30-42 credits and take 12-24 months to complete. Some programs take longer to complete, especially for part-time students. Possible concentration options include mental health and trauma; health, equity, and wellness; and human development, among many others.

Some programs require fieldwork or internship experience in the field. Many programs allow students to complete theoretical coursework asynchronously and without on-campus requirements. However, some programs may require on-campus residencies to create a sense of camaraderie and rapport among cohorts. These residencies are also excellent networking opportunities.

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Popular Online Master's in Human and Family Development Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

What Courses Will I Take in an Online Master's in Human and Family Development Program?

Parenting Education

This survey course focuses on methods of improving parenting practices and education. Students explore skills, research, and theory to determine best practices and methodology.

Resilience in Families

This course examines resilience across the lifespan in the context of human and family development. Coursework may include case studies and explorations of different theories.

Family Dynamics

In this course, students delve into different theories relating to family dysfunction and function and explore assessment and intervention models and methodology.

Crises Across the Lifespan

This course provides students with coping resources and strategies to respond to crises in their own lives and the lives of families and clients whom they counsel.

Program Design, Evaluation, and Implementation

In this course, students learn to develop programs for communities, children, and parents. This course prepares students for careers working in family-oriented nonprofit organizations.

What Are the Admission Requirements for an Online Master's in Human and Family Development Program?

In most cases, admission requirements are the same for on-campus and online master's in human and family development programs. Prospective students can usually apply as long as they hold a bachelor's degree in any field from a regionally accredited university.

In rare cases, some schools may require applicants to complete an interview with a member of the admissions department. However, the six requirements listed below are much more common.

Application

All online master's in human and family development programs require prospective students to submit applications. In most cases, applicants can fill these forms out online on school websites. Undergraduate applicants can often use application systems like the Common App and Coalition App to apply to multiple schools at once; however, graduate applicants must often fill out a form on each prospective school's website.

Test Scores

Some programs require prospective students to submit GRE scores. While this requirement is becoming rarer, some schools still maintain it. With the right GRE prep, you can maximize your score on test day.

Letters of Recommendation

Most programs require prospective students to submit 2-3 letters of recommendation. These letters often come from undergraduate professors. If you have a lot of professional experience, you can ask former supervisors for letters. In either case, make sure to ask for your references several months in advance of deadlines.

Resume and Work Experience

Some professionally-focused master's in human and family development programs require prospective students to have work experience. Additionally, almost all programs require applicants to submit a resume detailing all previous work, internship, and volunteer experience.

Essays

In most cases, prospective students must submit 2-3 short essays to apply to online master's in human and family development programs. Common prompts often deal with professional goals, why you want to attend the program, and personal values.

Official Transcripts

Most accredited programs, no matter the discipline, require applicants to submit official transcripts from all schools they have attended. Some programs require a minimum undergraduate GPA, often 3.0. Prospective students who have completed some graduate coursework should submit official transcripts to see if they can earn transfer credit.

What Can I Do With an Online Master's in Human and Family Development Degree?

Career Outlook

Between 2020 and 2030, the BLS projects 12% job growth for community and social service occupations. According to the BLS, these careers paid a median annual wage of $47,250 as of May 2020, which eclipsed the median annual salary for all occupations by nearly $6,000.

Many of these positions are helping occupations that can involve long hours, often working with other people or clients. While these careers can prove challenging, many professionals find them personally rewarding. A master's degree in human and family development can lead to managerial or other more advanced positions in these fields, often leading to higher salaries and growth potential.

Career Paths

Marriage and Family Therapist

Marriage and family therapists hold individual and group sessions dealing with personal relationships. They generally work full time in mental health centers and their own private practices. You need a master's degree and a state-issued license to qualify for these positions.

Median Annual Salary: $51,340

Social Worker

Social workers help a variety of people deal with issues in their daily lives. They may work with children, the elderly, or people dealing with substance misuse. They need a master's degree and a state-issued license to practice.

Median Annual Salary: $51,760

School or Career Counselor

School counselors work in private and public schools helping students develop academic, social, and life skills and apply to colleges. Career counselors help people find an occupation that fits their skills and interests. Both usually work full time, and school counselors generally need a master's degree and a state license.

Median Annual Salary: $58,120

Rehabilitation Counselor

These professionals help clients struggling with emotional, physical, and mental challenges develop the skills to live on their own. They can work in senior centers, community health clinics, and youth-focused nonprofit organizations. They generally need a master's degree to practice.

Median Annual Salary: $37,530

Substance Misuse, Behavioral Disorder, or Mental Health Counselor

These professionals provide individual and group services for clients suffering from substance misuse, addiction, mental health challenges, and other related issues. They can work in private practice, nonprofit organizations, or community health clinics. These counselors usually need a master's degree from an accredited program.

Median Annual Salary: $47,660

Human and Family Development Not For You? Check Out These Related Careers.

Social Work Careers Child Development Careers Counseling Careers

Continuing Education

The most common continuing education path for graduates with a master's in human and family development is to pursue a state-issued license in their chosen branch of counseling. Master's degree-holders can practice as substance abuse, mental health, school, career, or marriage and family counselors by completing the appropriate state license.

These licenses usually require that holders complete a certain number of professional development hours for renewal. License-holders can usually complete these hours through coursework, conferences, or other similar learning experiences.

How Do I Choose an Online Master's in Human and Family Development Program?

Cost

U.S. News & World Report found that the average online master's in human and family development costs between $10,000-$20,000, or $315-$550 per credit. The true cost of each program includes additional fees, and online students can avoid paying costs like room and board and transportation.

Program Format

Prospective distance learners should determine whether they prefer synchronous or asynchronous learning. Synchronous learning requires scheduled, live online sessions, while asynchronous learning does not. Working professionals may also prefer to enroll part time.

Location

Even if you enroll online, you may want to choose a program close to you. Many online master's in human and family development programs include in-person clinical experiences or fieldwork. It may be easier to find sites to complete these requirements if you live close to campus, as your school might maintain relationships with local employers.

Accreditation

Accreditation is a third-party approval process that determines the quality of a school's programs and services. You should only enroll in schools that hold regional accreditation. Otherwise, you cannot receive federal financial aid, and some employers may not recognize your degree.

Student Support

Student support can play a big role in the success of online learners. Before enrolling in a program, check to see if the school offers mentorship opportunities, internship placements, networking, and career services.

Best Accredited Online Master's in Human and Family Development Programs

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Best Online Master's in Human and Family Development Programs

  1. Vanderbilt University
    Location

    Nashville, TN

    Tuition

    $23596

    Based in Nashville, Tennessee, Vanderbilt University offers an online master of education in human development counseling with a specialization in school counseling. This track provides foundations in the social and behavioral sciences, with an emphasis on child development.Though students complete most courses online, this program requires three internships and two on-campus sessions. The curriculum spans 48 credit hours and includes areas of studies in social and cultural diversity, human growth, and helping relationships. Full-time distance learners can complete the program in three years.Graduates of the school counseling track often obtain positions as school counselors at K-12 levels. Nearly all human development counseling graduates find employment within four months of graduation.

  2. North Carolina State University
    Location

    Raleigh, NC

    Tuition

    $14771

    North Carolina State University — based in Raleigh — offers an online master of science in youth, family, and community sciences. This program relies heavily on research and program evaluation, which may be especially appealing to students interested in pursuing a doctoral degree.This MS degree requires 36 credits and culminates in a thesis and a final oral examination. Classes can be completed entirely online, and instructors deliver coursework synchronously. Distance learners explore a variety of topics, such as theories in family science, human sexuality, and statistical methods for researchers.Graduates of this program often pursue careers working for government agencies, social service organizations, and schools. To apply, prospective students must submit a 500-800-word essay, a personal statement, and three letters of professional recommendations. GRE scores are not required.

  3. Texas Tech University
    Location

    Lubbock, TX

    Tuition

    $15531

    Designed for professionals who currently work in child and family services, the online master's degree in human development and family studies at Texas Tech University focuses on lifespan development and interpersonal relationships. Students enrolled in this program can choose between two concentrations: gerontology and youth development.Both concentrations require 36 credits and can be completed in 2-3 years. The youth development specialization consists of 28 core credits and an eight-credit practicum, thesis, or research project. The non-thesis gerontology concentration includes 24 core credits and 12 elective credits.Both curriculums feature topics like theories of human development, family theories, and research methods. Distance learners enjoy a variety of support services, including one-on-one mentoring, research facilities, and technology support.

  4. University of Missouri
    Location

    Columbia, MO

    Tuition

    $17833

    The University of Missouri — located in Columbia — offers an online master of arts in family and community services. Distance learners in this MA program gain practical knowledge and develop the skills needed to effectively lead and manage family and community programs.This curriculum spans 36 credits and explores topics such as resilience in families, interpersonal relationships, and administration and program management. Graduates often secure positions as social service managers, health educators, and family life educators.Distance learners at Mizzou pay the same per-credit tuition as in-state students. Courses are delivered entirely online and can be completed in 2-3 years. Prospective graduate students must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited college with a minimum 3.0 GPA over their last 60 credits of undergraduate coursework.

  5. Oklahoma State University
    Location

    Stillwater, OK

    Tuition

    $6707

    The online master of science in family and community services at Oklahoma State University focuses on the development and application of support services for families and communities. The core curriculum features topics such as lifespan development, interpersonal relationships, and dynamics of family interaction.

    This 36-credit curriculum includes 30 core credits, three elective credits, and three creative component credits. OSU participates in the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance — courses in this program are led by experienced faculty who teach across several universities.OSU uses a rolling-admissions process and recommends applicants apply three months before the start of their target term. A bachelor's degree in human development or a related area is required for admission into this program.

  6. University of Nebraska-Lincoln
    Location

    Lincoln, NE

    Tuition

    $17315

    The University of Nebraska-Lincoln hosts an online master's in family and community services program. By earning this degree, students gain the leadership and management skills needed to effectively facilitate family and local community programs.The curriculum comprises 36 credits and covers topics like family dynamics, lifespan development, and principles of family and community service. This master's program prepares students for many careers, such as roles in child development centers, crisis centers, and family advocacy programs. Distance learners in this program have the same access to support services as on-campus students, including library and career resources. Each student is paired with an academic advisor who provides virtual assistance with scheduling and selecting courses.

  7. Kansas State University
    Location

    Manhattan, KS

    Tuition

    $18002

    Providing distance education for over 50 years, Kansas State University offers an online MS in family and community services. Online students at K-State pay the same tuition rate as on-campus learners, regardless of state residency. Designed for students interested in helping families by creating and implementing services at the community level, this program prepares learners for career opportunities in social service organizations. The curriculum consists of 36 credits and includes courses like family resource management, resilience in families, and parenting education. The university features an impressive placement rate, with nearly 95% of online students finding employment within months of graduation. Distance learners at K-State have access to the same academic and career resources as on-campus students.

  8. Concordia University Wisconsin
    Location

    Mequon, WI

    Tuition

    $24803

    Based in Mequon, Concordia University Wisconsin oversees a master of science in family life program that can be completed entirely online. This non-thesis program aims to develop students' counseling skills, preparing graduates to positively impact the lives of parents, teachers, and students.This MS degree requires 36 credits and 120 practicum hours. These practicum hours are included within the curriculum and focus on creating and evaluating family programs. Potential careers include life scientist, family therapist, and family social worker.Admission requirements include a bachelor's degree from an accredited college with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Prospective applicants must submit a one-page essay and two signed letters of recommendation. Students wishing to transfer in graduate credits obtained in the last seven years must contact the admissions department for a transfer evaluation.

  9. Sam Houston State University
    Location

    Huntsville, TX

    Tuition

    $12516

    Distance learners can pursue a fully online MS in family and consumer sciences from Sam Houston State University. Located in Huntsville, Texas, SHSU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.This program allows students to customize their curriculum by choosing a thesis or non-thesis track. The non-thesis track features 21 credits of core courses, while the thesis track requires 15 credits of core courses and six credits dedicated to thesis-related work. Both tracks also feature a statistics course and 12 credits in a specialization area.Students in this program obtain knowledge and skills to advance their competencies in dietetics, business, and education. Applicants must have completed at least 18 undergraduate credits in family and consumer sciences or related coursework to be considered.

  10. Bryan College
    Location

    Dayton, TN

    Tuition

    $15619

    Bryan College — based in Dayton, Tennessee — offers an MA in human services with a specialization in lifespan development. The 30-credit program includes core courses like group dynamics, family and community health, and multicultural awareness in human services.This curriculum trains students to analyze the mental and social health of individuals from all backgrounds. While completing this program, students learn to assist families and organizations, matching clients with important help and services.Graduates of this MA program often pursue careers as human services counselors, child and family advocates, and nonprofit directors. To graduate, students must pass all 10 of their classes, earn no more than two "C" grades, and have a minimum 3.0 GPA.

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BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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