If your ideal career is one that serves the communities and people around you, choose one of the best online master’s in human services.
The need for professionals in the field of human services is growing along with the world’s population. It’s a dynamic and demanding field, with a rapidly aging population and growing substance abuse issues.
You may be working with people in crisis or rehabilitation, with children or adults, manning social services agencies within your community. You may be working in human resources or even international organizations. Experts provide counselling and comfort to people in need and work relentlessly to serve individuals and their communities.
A Master’s in Human Services will equip you to understand and work within community services or social work. It will help you to manage nonprofit organizations and program management. Or, it could prepare you to work within housing resources, health education, and implement social policies that affect our communities.
Most programs feature curriculum content such as human services policy, and program and portfolio development. Specialized concentrations might include mental health administration, life coaching, grant writing, community building, and nonprofit administration.
You won’t typically need to have any work experience to be accepted into an online Master’s in human services. Most programs will ask for a combination of GRE examination scores, bachelor’s test scripts, and possibly letters of recommendation. You may also be asked to submit a resumé along with a written personal statement.
- What will you learn with this degree?
- What kind of classes will you take?
- What requirements will you need to meet in order to apply?
Careers for human services majors
Certain community and social services occupations don't require a master’s, nor a degree, such as social and human service assistants. For prospective students of a master’s, work experience may have been gained in roles that only require a degree. This can benefit applicants who are, for example, applying with a less competitive GPA or overall weaker educational background.
After graduation, popular careers include marriage and family therapy, rehabilitation counseling, and school or career counseling. It's worth noting that a bachelor's degree is sufficient for certain roles, such as probation officer or substance abuse advisor. However, a master’s paves the way for a more varied career with greater opportunities and opportunity for salary progression.
Following your master’s, there are also online doctorates available in human services, which prepare you for leadership roles. These may be in organizations that help those in need, such as addiction and abuse, poverty, and mental health support. The greater emphasis on research and specialized skills will help you to implement legislation and policies to bring such services structure and guidance.
- Check the Bureau of Labor Statistics for potential careers.
- What are the most popular? Most novel?
- Do people often get more advanced degrees like a master’s or doctorate?
Human services salary potential
Counseling is a popular field for newly-qualified graduates with a master’s in human services. Marriage and family therapists earn an average of around $50,000 annually, with school and career counselors earning around $56,000. Counselors working in rehabilitation typically earn significantly less than their peers -- and indeed many other professions -- at around $45,000 per year.
Higher salaries are available for senior managerial roles, though these tend to be within the same social care and community support organizations. For example, a social and community service manager can expect to earn an average yearly salary of around $65,000. Salaries may progress beyond this for the highest leadership roles in such services, like directorships.
Some colleges and universities offer certificates that specialize in specific areas of human services. For example, a graduate may take a certificate to focus on supervisory duties, technology and gerontology, substance abuse, or youth services. Advanced degrees can also be undertaken, which might focus on human development and family, concentrating on the elderly or the young.
- Check the Bureau for Labor Statistics and Payscale for average, highest, and entry-level salaries.
- What certifications or licenses can you get that will increase salary?
What Are the Best Master’s in Human Services Degrees?
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40% Potential Salary After Graduation: Average mid-career salary of school alumni
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California State University, Northridge is known for its great campus life; it has a number of delicious restaurants to dine at, including the Pub Sports Grill and Juice It Up. The Master of Science in Assistive Technology Studies and Human Services allows students to enjoy these great restaurants and more while studying online and exploring all the different ways to use technology to help patients in need.
The curriculum includes 27 semester credits of required core classes and another three credits in Directed Comprehensive Studies. Many of the courses focus on assistive technology and how it can affect the quality of life.
Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree and have at least a 2.5 GPA in their undergraduate studies. CSUN ranks No. 20 on the list of Top Public Schools, according to U.S. News & World Report.
In 2016, Washington Monthly named Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota the school with the “Best Bang for Your Buck” in the Midwest and included it in its rankings of the Best National Universities for a Master’s Degree. The master’s in health and human services program gives students the skills they need to assist those who need it most.
The 36-credit curriculum includes 11 required core courses and a capstone project. Students may also opt to complete a nursing home practicum, which gives them additional field experience with helping the elderly.
The admissions requirements include two letters of recommendation, a personal statement, an updated resume, and official transcripts. SMUM’s mission is to provide the highest-quality education available at the best possible value.
The University of Nebraska - Lincoln is the home campus of Warren Buffet, Larry the Cable Guy, and Johnny Carson. With a Master of Science in Human and Family Services Administration, students gain a better understanding of the skills necessary for the development, administration, and management of human services organizations.
The 36-credit curriculum can be completed entirely online and includes courses in Scholarly Practice and Discovery, Foundations in Public Service, Public Human Resource Management, and Administrative Ethics and Leadership. Students also complete an internship and capstone project as part of the program.
The GRE is mandatory for all applicants, and they must submit three letters of recommendation, a written personal statement, and official transcripts. UNL ranks No. 64 on the list of Top Public Schools, according to U.S. News & World Report.
Ranked No. 4 on the list of Top Public Schools by U.S. News & World Report, the University of Illinois at Springfield has more than 85 student organizations that add spice to its campus life. Illinois’ Master of Arts in Human Services Administration is an online program that gives students the leadership skills they need to head an organization and give aid to those who need it.
The 44-credit curriculum requires 24 credits of human services courses and 20 credits for the Social Services concentration. Even though the program can be completed at a distance, students can complete an internship near their home and receive course credit for it.
Applicants are required to submit two letters of recommendation, official undergraduate transcripts, and a personal statement. UIS prefers students to hold a bachelor’s degree in a liberal arts field, but this field of specialty is not mandatory.
Ranked regularly among college football’s top 10 teams, the University of Oklahoma, in Norman, OK, gives students a chance to be a part of the “Sooner Nation.” Astronaut Fred Haise, running back Adrian Peterson, and actors Ed Harris and James Garner are just a few of the school’s famous alumni. The Master of Arts in Human and Health Services and Administration trains students to be leaders in the health care field and teaches them how to assist patients who need proper care.
The 33-credit hour curriculum requires students to maintain a 3.0 GPA during their studies. All students take a combination of core courses and electives to meet the curriculum criteria and take part in fieldwork practice.
Applicants to the online program should submit official transcripts, a statement of goals, a current resume, an academic writing sample, and three letters of recommendation. OU ranks No. 108 on the list of Top National Universities, according to Washington Monthly.
Located in Virginia Beach, VA, Regent University has five faculty members who have been named Fulbright Scholars. The Master of Arts in Human Services provides students the opportunity to improve their skills in specialized areas such as Christian counseling, addiction counseling, mediation, criminal justice, biblical counseling, and student affairs.
The online program includes 30 semester hours of coursework and provides concentrations in Grief Counseling, Trauma and Crisis Counseling, Life Coaching, Marriage and Family Ministry, Human Services Counseling, and Conflict and Mediation Ministry. The program can be taken full-time and completed in less than two years.
Applicants must submit official transcripts and a professional resume with their application and complete an academic background questionnaire. RU ranks No. 4 among the Top Online Graduate Programs in Virginia, according to U.S. News & World Report.
Founded in 1971 by the Rev. Jerry Falwell, Liberty University is the largest Christian university in the world and is located in Lynchburg, Va. Its Master of Arts in Human Services Counseling is designed to give students a solid foundation in studying human behavior and equip them with the communication skills they need to help children and adults who are experiencing struggles.
The program is delivered completely online, with classes lasting just eight weeks. The 30-credit curriculum can be completed in 18 months on a full-time schedule. Specializations are provided in a number of areas, including addiction, crisis response, business, executive leadership, life coaching, marriage and family, criminal justice, and military resilience.The admissions office requires applicants to submit official transcripts alongside their application. LU ranks No. 1 on the list for Top Online Colleges in America, according to Niche.
St. Joseph’s College has two campuses in New York, in Brooklyn and on Long Island, as well as an online college with a graduate enrollment of 234 students. The Online Master of Science in Human Services Leadership teaches students how to work with individuals facing a variety of issues, including domestic abuse and homelessness, returning veterans, and families dealing with problems.
The 30-credit curriculum includes several courses in leadership and can be completed in less than two years. Coursework is all completed online and includes virtual sessions and seminars.
Applicants are required to hold a 3.0 GPA in their undergraduate studies and submit to the Office of Admissions their official transcripts and a resume. GRE scores may also be required as part of the documentation. SJCNY ranks No. 59 on the list of Best Regional Universities North, according to U.S. News & World Report.
The school with the nickname “The Sharks,” Nova Southeastern University is located just outside of Tampa, FL and has a low student-to-teacher ratio of 16:1 and an 80% retention rate. Its Master of Human Services in Human Protection teaches graduate students how to respond to complex problems involving children and families.
The program includes 10 concentrations, including Psychological Foundations in Child Advocacy, Child Protection and Juvenile Justice, Family Systems and Support, Administration for Child Protection Services, and Conflict and Crisis Management for the Child Protective Case Worker. Students are required to complete 24 core credits and nine concentration credits.
Applicants must submit two letters of recommendation and official transcripts to the Office of Admissions. Interested students must have had a 3.0 GPA in their undergraduate studies in order to apply.
Lubbock Christian University is located within 20 miles of 1,800 retail stores, 337 restaurants, 65 public parks, 34 movie theatres, nine golf courses, and nine libraries. Located in Lubbock, TX, the Christian university gives eager Master of Science in Human Services students the opportunity to learn how to make a difference in the lives of others and provides them the skills to lead nonprofit organizations and help families in need.
Students have the option of choosing a specialization in either Non-Profit Leadership or Family Life Education. The curriculum is delivered entirely online and includes 36 credits with a mix of core and specialization classes.
LCU ranks in the top 10 among Top Online Colleges for Human Services Degrees, according to Best College Values. Interested applicants should provide the admissions office with two letters of recommendation from professional contacts and hold at least a 3.0 GPA in their undergraduate studies to be eligible for admission.
#11. Bellevue University
Located in Bellevue, Nebraska, Bellevue University has a diverse population; most of its students are in their upper 20s and early-to-mid 30s. The Online Master of Arts in Human Services provides students with the leadership tools necessary to make a difference in society and to help those who need it most. The program is offered completely online, allowing students to earn a degree from home.
The 36-credit curriculum includes 11 core classes, and BU gives students the option of completing an internship or applied learning project. As part of the program’s objectives, students analyze the role of professional and ethical standards in human services and communicate effectively through writing, visual, and public presentations.
Applicants must have a GPA of 3.0 in their undergraduate work and supply the Office of Admissions with official transcripts, two letters of recommendation, and an essay. Students must maintain at least a 2.5 GPA during their MA studies.
Wilmington University has 15 locations throughout the Northeast, but its main campus is located in Delaware. It offers programs completely online, allowing students to study at home and close to a WU campus. With a Master of Science in Administration of Human Services, students learn the essential skills needed to lead government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and social service providers.
The program includes 11 courses, which adds up to 33 semester credits. When on a full-time and accelerated path, students can complete the program in just one year. Students complete six core courses and five electives as part of the curriculum.
Applicants must submit official transcripts and a statement of career goals along with their application. Students can contact and meet with an admissions specialist by scheduling an appointment on the WU website.
Located in Lakeland, FL, Southeastern University is one of the 10 fastest-growing private colleges in the nation, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education. Its Master of Arts in Human Services prepares graduates for leadership positions in educational institutions, behavioral health management, social services, and nonprofit organizations.
Students can choose either a Ministry, Children and Family, or Administrative specialization. All students complete a total of 36 semester credits; 24 credits come from core coursework, while 12 come from specialization coursework. Two human services practicum courses and two field experience courses are included in the curriculum.
For more information on the documentation that should be submitted with the application and official transcripts, applicants can contact an admissions counselor via the SU website. SU ranks No. 92 on the list of Best Regional Universities South, according to U.S. News & World Report.
Located in the suburbs of Minneapolis-St. Paul, the University of Northwestern - St. Paul is a Christian school that provides the perfect learning environment for its students with a 14-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio, giving faculty plenty of opportunities to work one-on-one with students. Students who study online for a Master of Arts in Human Services combine their faith with their work to learn the essential skills they need to be leaders and assist those in need of aid.
With a concentration in Family Studies, students take 21 core credits and 15 concentration credits as part of the program. Courses include Family Studies and Education, Parent Education, Marriage and Family Dynamics, and Intervention Strategies with Families. A capstone project is also a part of the curriculum.
UNSP ranks No. 1 on the list of Top Online Master of Human Services Programs, according to TheBestSchools.org. Interested applicants should contact a university admissions officer through the UNSP website for information on documentation requirements.
#15. Post University
With its main campus located in Waterbury, CT, Post University strives to fulfill its mission to give students the education they need to become leaders in their chosen profession. A Master of Science in Counseling and Human Services allows graduates to become an important aid to children, individuals, families, and society as a whole, improving their overall well-being. All courses are delivered 100% online, giving students the freedom to study from their own homes.
Students can choose a concentration in either Clinical Mental Health Counseling or Forensic Mental Health Counseling. As part of the 37-credit curriculum, students complete 25 core credits and 12 concentration credits. Part of the coursework includes two capstone research projects, a field practicum, and a counseling internship.
As part of the admissions process for online graduate students, applicants must submit official transcripts and two letters of recommendation. If a student has a GPA under 3.0 in their undergraduate studies, they must also submit a professional resume and secure enrollment permission from the PU Dean.
#16. Saint Leo University
Located just outside of Tampa, FL, Saint Leo University is a Roman Catholic school that operates 17 education centers throughout the country, most of which are in the Southeast and in Florida. With a Master of Science in Human Services Administration, students have the flexibility of earning a degree online while gaining the knowledge, values, and leadership skills they need to lead a human services agency or organization.
Students complete one or two classes during each 8-week term, following an accelerated enrollment format. The full program requires the completion of 30 core credits and six elective credits.
The admissions office requires the submission of official transcripts, two letters of recommendation, a resume, a personal statement, and an essay as part of the application documentation. SLU ranks No. 25 among Best Regional Universities South, according to U.S. News & World Report.
Ranked No. 35 for Best Value Schools, according to U.S. News & World Report, Concordia University Chicago provides a great environment for its students, whether they choose to work from the comfort of their own home or in one of America’s most exciting cities. The Master of Arts in Human Sciences allows students to explore and become aware of the different mental, social, and health behaviors that lead to different complications in humans. The coursework also helps students come up with problem-solving solutions for bettering their own lives.
The program places a heavy emphasis on advocacy, gerontology, and psychology and gives students opportunities to work in a variety of health centers for hands-on coursework practice. The MA requires 33 credits and can be completed in 24 months; all courses are offered online. Twenty-one of the credits come from core coursework, while 12 come from electives.
Applicants must provide a variety of materials alongside the application, including official transcripts, a resume, an objectives statement, and two letters of recommendation. Students must also meet the prerequisite credit requirements provided on the CUC website.
#18. Capella University
With an average student age of 39, Capella University, located in Minneapolis, provides a strong learning environment for people of all ages. Eight-eight percent of its faculty hold a doctorate degree and all are well-experienced in the fields they teach. The Master of Science in Human Services provides students with the leadership, collaboration, and advocacy skills they need to make a difference and help others who are struggling in society. The curriculum can be completed completely online, so students can study around their work schedules.
The program offers three specializations, in Leadership and Organizational Management, Program Evaluation and Data Analytics, and Social and Community Services. The curriculum includes the completion of 44 core and specialization quarter-credits and four elective credits.
Applicants must submit official transcripts, three letters of recommendation, a resume, an essay or writing sample, and a registration acknowledgment form. They must also complete an interview with a faculty member from the college.
#19. Walden University
Walden University is one of just six institutions approved by the U.S. government to offer direct assessment competency-based education. Located in Minneapolis, WU offers a Master of Science in Human and Social Social Services that focuses on making a positive impact in the lives of individuals, families, and communities.
The degree offers specializations in 13 areas, including Criminal Justice, Gerontology, Disaster Crisis and Intervention, Mental Health Facilitation, Military Families and Culture, Social Policy Analysis and Planning, and Community and Social Services. Most specializations require the completion of 48 to 54 quarter-credits of coursework.
Applicants to WU are required to provide official transcripts, a professional resume, and a personal statement. According to its website, 90% of WU graduates were satisfied with their selection of the university.
Located just outside of Minneapolis, Concordia University, St. Paul is a private university ranked No. 3 on the list of Top Colleges for Adult Learners, according to Washington Monthly. The Master of Arts in Human Services with an emphasis in Forensic Behavioral Health is offered completely online and focuses on the direct relationships among behavioral health, criminal justice, and legal systems.
The 36-credit curriculum includes courses in Sexual Offending, Special Populations in Human Services, Family Violence, PSD & Trauma, Risk Assessment in Human Services, and Substance Abuse and Co-Occurring Disorders. The curriculum also requires a final capstone and research project prior to completing the degree.
Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA and submit to the Office of Admissions official transcripts, a personal statement, and a professional resume. According to its website, 95% of CUSP graduates receive a job offer within one year of graduation.
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