2024 Best Online Masters in Human Development Programs

By Megan Patiry
Edited by Briana Sukert
Updated on May 3, 2024
Edited by Briana Sukert
Ready to start your journey?
Explore the best online human development masters programs for 2023. Find accelerated classes to advance your career in human and family development.

A human development masters program could help you develop the necessary knowledge and skills to promote healthy relationships and understand the needs of youths and families.

Best Online Masters in Human Development Programs

At their core, human development and family studies graduate programs are designed to prepare students to work directly with children or families in various human services positions.

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Most schools also offer a variety of concentration tracks, allowing you to tailor your masters program to your personal interests and career goals.

Universities Offering Online Masters in Human Development Degree Program

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.

Arizona State University

Arizona State University offers an online program for a Master of Science in Family and Human Development. It requires the completion of 10 classes that are each 7.5 weeks long, for a total of 30 credit hours. These classes include Theoretical Issues in Child Development, Research Methods, Social Statistics, Leadership and Social Justice, and more.

Arizona State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Hardin-Simmons University

Hardin-Simmons University offers a Master of Arts in Human Development. The program aims to teach a holistic understanding of human behavior and how people change throughout their lifespans.

To graduate, students must complete 30 credit hours of coursework. The program can potentially be finished in just 1 year. Graduates often pursue work in human resources, non-profit agencies, community organizations, and similar settings.

Hardin-Simmons University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Iowa State University

Iowa State University offers a non-thesis program for a Master of Family and Consumer Sciences. The program has three specialization options: Family Financial Planning, Youth Development, Gerontology, and Human Development and Family Studies. The Human Development and Family Studies specialization is campus-based, but the other options are online.

Iowa State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Murray State University

Murray State University offers a Master of Science in Human Development and Leadership. The program offers courses year-round in 8 or 16 week sessions. Some courses include virtual, live meetings, and others do not. The program requires 33 credit hours of coursework and emphasizes real-world experiences and application.

Murray State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Oklahoma State University

Oklahoma State University offers an online program for an MS in Aging Studies. It requires 36 credit hours and can be completed entirely online at a student’s own pace. Coursework includes Aging in Human Development, Statistical Methods in Education, Program Evaluation and Research Methods in Gerontology, and more.

OSU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Pacific Oaks College

Pacific Oaks College offers an online program for a Master of Arts in Human Development: Social Change. The degree can typically be earned in 2 years of full-time study or 4 years of part-time study. The program requires the completion of 30 credit hours of coursework and a variety of field experiences.

Pacific Oaks College is accredited by the WASC Senior Colleges and Universities Commission.

Texas Tech University

Texas Tech University offers a Master of Science in Human Development and Family Sciences. It is home to the Child Development Research Center and Texas Tech University Neuroimaging Research Institute, which provide students with ample opportunities to conduct research. Students may also receive one-on-one faculty mentorship.

Texas Tech University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of Colorado – Denver

The University of Colorado—Denver offers a Master of Arts in Learning, Developmental, and Family Sciences, Human Development and Family Relations. Classes are available both online and on campus, and applications are accepted on a rolling basis. The program requires 30 credit hours of coursework and can usually be completed in 2 to 3 years.

The University of Colorado – Denver is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

University of Missouri

The University of Missouri offers a Master’s in Family and Community Services, a Master’s in Gerontology, and a Master’s in Youth Development. These programs are all 100% online, with no campus visits required. New students can start any time of the year. The program allows students to work at their own pace and customize their coursework through a wide range of elective options.

The University of Missouri is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of Rochester

The University of Rochester offers an MS in Human Development. Students may choose the general program or one of five concentrations: Early Childhood, Developmental Differences, Family Studies, Gerontology, or Research and Program Evaluation. The degree can potentially be finished in 2 years of part-time study or 1 year of full-time study.

The University of Rochester is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Online Human Development Masters Programs

Man taking online Human Development Masters

An online master’s in human development program is designed for professionals who want to make a positive impact in the healthy development of people and their relationships.

With a key focus on development through the lifespan, this degree aims to prepare graduates to work with a variety of individuals and families of all ages. Graduates in the field often find opportunities to work in community and social services, education, childcare, research, adoption, crisis intervention, and child services. Some even work within government agencies.

Subjects that you may study in human development and family studies graduate programs include:

  • Research methods
  • Marriage and family relationships
  • Wellness
  • Leadership
  • Diversity and society
  • Social statistics
  • Program design, evaluation, and implementation
  • Human development

Your coursework is designed to help you learn how to implement strategic programs and strategies for life and relationship improvement. It can also teach you to recognize causes of dysfunction and trauma in order to improve the relationships of youths and families.

An online masters program in human development can offer the same level of rigorous coursework that on-campus programs provide. Distance learning can be especially strategic for students who have other commitments, such as childcare or work, alongside their studies. Human development and family studies graduate programs can also require internships or fieldwork experience.

Common Online Human Development Master’s Concentrations

Family Therapist in a session with clients

Here are some common concentrations that may be available within a master’s in human development program:

  • Developmental Differences. This concentration is designed to equip you with the skills and knowledge required to help those who have developed differently from their peers, like children with learning disabilities.
  • Early Childhood Development. This specialization focuses on the early childhood years and on developing beneficial skills for working with children in schools and communities.
  • Family Studies. This concentration helps prepare you to work with families, including family therapy or education.
  • Gerontology. This concentration helps prepare you to work with aging adults and their families.
  • Prevention Science. This concentration is designed for students seeking research careers in the field or for those seeking human service careerslike educators and social service providers.

Choosing a concentration for your human development and family studies graduate degree allows you to focus on your specific area of passion within the field.

Human Development and Learning Careers & Salaries

Human Development and Learning Careers & Salaries

Professionals with a masters degree in human development can be found in a wide variety of careers. Your human development concentration can impact the type of positions you can qualify for. Your prior experience, geographic location, and chosen industry can influence your job and salary prospects as well.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are some career paths related to the field of human development and family studies.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Social and Community Service Managers $74,000
Human Resources Specialists $62,290
Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers $61,350
School and Career Counselors and Advisors $60,510
Social Workers $50,390
Marriage and Family Therapists $49,880
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors $48,520
Preschool and Childcare Center Directors $47,310
Rehabilitation Counselors $38,560
Preschool Teachers $30,210

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 12% job growth community and social service occupations over the next ten years. This is faster than the average growth for all occupations.

Some of these career paths may require a state license or a professional certification to practice. This is especially true for most teaching, counseling, and therapist positions. It’s helpful to check with your state to discover their specific requirements.

Master in Human Development Curriculum & Courses

Group of people taking Human Development Master, studying together

The coursework in human development and family studies graduate programs focuses on a variety of developmental and sociological topics. This can include a focus on counseling methods, developmental processes, and research processes.

  • Developmental Psychology: This introductory course covers the basic principles of human psychological development.
  • Research Methods: This course explores how to conduct research on human development topics effectively.
  • Minority Development: This course helps you understand the unique factors that influence members of minority communities and their development.
  • Parenting Education: This course focuses on education and methods that can improve parenting practices.
  • Resilience in Families: This course examines factors that create resilient families and how this impacts development.
  • Crises Across the Lifespan: This course teaches you effective strategies and methods to help people respond to crises that occur throughout the lifespan.
  • Family Dynamics: This course focuses on theories of family functions and dysfunction, along with methods of intervention.
  • Program Design, Evaluation, and Implementation: In this course, you’ll learn how to develop and implement intervention programs that benefit families, children, and communities.
  • Counseling and Human Development: This course can prepare students interested in counseling to have a deeper understanding of individual reactions and motive related to development.
  • Child Development: This course hones in on one of the most critical stages of development: childhood.

You may also be presented with a variety of elective and specialization courses, depending on your concentration.

How to Choose an Online Masters in Human Development and Family Studies Program

Woman choosing an online Masters in Human Development

When choosing the master’s in human development program that’s best for you, it helps to keep considerations like the following in mind:

  • Career- or research-oriented. Programs focused on research require students to complete a master’s thesis to prepare for post-graduate studies. On the other hand, programs that are career-oriented focus on learning in a counseling or clinical setting and usually require an internship or field experience.
  • Location. While you can enroll online for a masters in human development from anywhere, it may be helpful to enroll at a campus closer to home. This is because some online programs still require a few in-person practicums or requirements. While online programs can also require fieldwork or in-person clinical experiences, you can often complete these locally.
  • Program format. There are two different types of program formats for online students: synchronous or asynchronous. Synchronous learning requires live online sessions, while asynchronous learning does not.
  • Cost. The cost of an online masters program in human development can vary depending on the university. You can also compare different schools’ financial aid options.

Accreditation is another essential factor to consider when choosing a program. Overall, the program that’s right for you is the one that best aligns with your needs and interests.

Admissions Requirements

Man preparing requirements for Masters in Human Development

In most cases, admission requirements are the same for on-campus and online programs. Here are some common admissions requirements for human development masters programs:

  • GRE or GMAT scores (not required by all schools)
  • Bachelor’s degree
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Statement of intent
  • Resume and work experience

In some cases, students may be requested to complete an interview before admission. You can find out what admission criteria your prospective school requires by going on their website or by contacting their admissions office directly.

Human Development Graduate Programs Accreditation

University offering Human Development Graduate Program

When choosing a school, it’s essential to verify that it’s received regional accreditation. Regional accreditation is considered the most widely-recognized accreditation, and it ensures that you can receive a high-quality education. Regardless if your school is online, on campus, or both, accreditation standards will remain the same.

Attending an accredited school is even an eligibility requirement for federal financial aid. Most employers and certification boards also require applicants to hold degrees from accredited institutions. You can visit the website of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) to learn more about accreditation and to verify your prospective school’s credibility.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Financial Aid for Human Development Graduate Program

Many students seek financial assistance to complete a masters degree in human development. Depending on your needs and eligibility, there are number of aid options you can explore.

Most students start their financial aid search by filling out the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA). Your FAFSA can determine your eligibility for need-based government aid, such as student loans and work study programs.

You can also explore scholarship opportunities. These are often awarded by schools and outside organizations based on merit or area of study. Plus, many employers offer tuition benefits to workers who wish to further their education and skill sets.

What Can You Do with a Masters Degree in Human Development?

Human Resources Specialist discussing with an intern

In a masters in human development degree program, you can learn how to help children, individuals, and families work through life challenges.

You can also learn how to create effective intervention and development programs for youth, individuals with drug addictions, and even children with learning disabilities. There are many career opportunities in this field, including careers in therapy, counseling, social services, education, and childcare. Many positions may require additional certification or licensure.

Professions with a background in human development may work as teachers, social workers, social and community service managers, and family therapists, among other roles. Your human development concentration may impact the type of career path you can pursue.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Human Development Master’s Degree Online?

Man pursuing Online Masters in Human Development

Human development and family studies graduate programs typically require 30 to 42 credits and can take 1 to 2 years to complete with full-time enrollment.

If you study part-time, it will likely take longer to complete your online human development and family studies program. If you’re on a research track, completing a thesis could add time to your program as well. The length of your overall program may also depend on your chosen concentration. Child development, counseling, research, and other specializations have different course requirements, which could result in more or less time to completion.

Is a Masters in Human Development Worth It?

Teacher and elementary students during science class

Yes, a masters in human development is worth it for many students. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 12% job growth for community and social service occupations over the next ten years. This is faster than the average for all professions.

In addition to the positive job outlook in the field, human services professionals often find their work rewarding. There is also a variety of potential career paths in the human development field. Graduates tend to work in education, childcare, social work, counseling, or community services.

Getting Your Human Development Masters Degree Online

Woman completing her Masters in Human Development online

Getting your human development masters degree online can help you develop your expertise and professional qualifications in this growing field.

This advanced study of healthy relationships, child development, and family dynamics can prepare you to make a positive impact on individuals and communities. It can also act as a stepping stone into post-graduate research in the development field. Completing your degree online can also give you the flexibility to study while maintaining other life responsibilities, like work and family.

You can start exploring accredited schools today to find the online human development masters program and concentration that’s best for you.

Ready to start your journey?