30 Best Online Masters in Human Services Degree Programs [2019 Edition]

If you desire for your professional life to be devoted to the pursuit of helping others, then earning a master’s in human services may be the right path for you. With this degree, you could help to improve housing, health or education for people in your community or around the country.

Online masters in human services internship

In addition to being a rewarding field, human services also offers a growing job market. As policies and programs expand, more workers are needed to help implement and facilitate helpful initiatives.

To learn more about how an online master’s in human services can help you get started with a rewarding career in this area, the following guide provides useful information about this degree and its professional applications.

Online Master’s in Human Services Overview

A master’s in human services is designed to prepare you for a leadership role within an organization that serves people or communities. It’s a degree aimed at helping people improve their lives, whether through counseling, education, assistance with daily needs, behavior modification or healthcare access.

As a human services professional, your main responsibilities may involve administrative roles. Although some graduates do work directly with individuals, many are instead responsible for coordinating programs, policies, organizations or facilities in a behind-the-scenes capacity.

Depending on the school you choose, you may receive a Master of Science in Human Services or a Master of Arts in Human Services. These two degree programs are quite similar, and either one will work for most positions in the field. The main difference lies in the foundational approach that is used for helping you become an expert in human services.

  • In an MS program, you may focus much of your studies on mental and behavioral science. Before graduation, you may participate in an internship experience.
  • In an MA program, you’ll approach your studies from a perspective rooted in the humanities. Your capstone experience may involve a major research project or paper.

Curriculum

Although specifics vary among different schools that offer an online master’s in human services, your course of study may include classes that are similar to the ones below.

  • Politics and Health Policy. Learn about current health-related policies in the United States, and discover what’s involved in making new policies. Discuss ways that the political landscape of the country affects policymaking, and consider ways that politics will influence future healthcare and human service endeavors.
  • Health Agency Management. Explore what’s involved in serving in leadership capacities for various nonprofit organizations, including schools, museums, religious institutions, healthcare entities and human service organizations. Learn about how political, economic and cultural landscapes affect these organizations. Explore methods of fundraising and learn to navigate legal issues related to nonprofits.
  • Human Services Counseling. Learn the fundamentals of providing counseling within a human services context. Explore methods of providing support through group settings and interpersonal interviews. Learn about managing clients’ cases, and discuss unique concerns related to special populations. Consider ethical and legal issues in counseling, and discuss ways for workers to stay motivated.
  • Multicultural Issues in Human Services. Explore how diverse populations are impacted by social policies and programs. Topics may include race, ethnicity, gender and disability. Consider these issues from both historical and modern perspectives, and engage in readings to help shed light on these topics from different viewpoints.
  • Issues in Public & Community Health. Discuss contemporary topics that relate to healthcare and human services. Subject matter may include eugenics, genetic testing and euthanasia. Explore ways to think about these topics, and address sensitive subjects among various populations. Talk about current issues, and develop a framework for addressing issues that may arise in the future.
  • Social & Behavioral Theory Applications. Explore reasons why there are disparities in access to healthcare and human services. Consider ways that racial and economic diversity play a role in these issues. Talk about ways that cultural influences can make a difference as well, and learn methods of offering effective human services in light of these issues.

Degree Specializations

Human services is a broad field, but you can tailor your education to meet your particular area of interest by selecting a specialty. The following list of concentrations will give you an idea of the specializations that are available to master’s students.

  • Addictions and Recovery. Helping others make positive life choices is the goal of an Addictions and Recovery concentration. This field of study involves psychology, counseling and behavioral science, and you’ll discover ways to influence thought patterns and behavior. You’ll learn methods for translating the theoretical concepts behind addiction treatment into real-world applications.
  • Business. To merge your interest in the business world and your passion for helping people, choose a Business specialization. You’ll study ways to influence people within organizational settings, and you’ll become equipped for leadership positions. You could put this degree to work in a managerial role or become a corporate trainer.
  • Christian Ministry. To serve others in a religious setting, consider a Christian Ministry concentration, which can prepare you to work in church or parachurch organizations. The program will teach you to apply a biblical worldview to your work. Students of this discipline study topics like communication, child development and strategic planning.
  • Crisis Response and Trauma. Going through a trauma situation can affect every aspect of a person’s life, but as a human services professional, you’ll have opportunities to help. A Crisis Response and Trauma specialization will equip you with the skills to assist people in the midst of crises and work through the long-lasting effects.
  • Health and Wellness. Nursing homes and other adult-care centers rely on human services professionals, and a Health and Wellness concentration can prepare you for a leadership role in those organizations. Students of this discipline must study a broad variety of topics, including nutrition, health policy, grant applications, managerial skills and political navigation.
  • Life Coaching. You can help others achieve their goals for a successful life when you pursue a Life Coaching specialization. You’ll learn ways to encourage people to do their best in their professional lives, their marriages and their family relationships. In addition, you can help them strive for both physical and financial health.
  • Marriage and Family. If counseling is your passion, then a Marriage and Family concentration might be the right fit for you. In this program, you’ll study human development, thinking and behavior. Classes will provide information on working with various populations, including engaged and married couples, children, adolescents, families and women.
  • Military Resilience. Military families face unique circumstances like deployments and the transition from a military career to a civilian role. These situations can be trying for both the service members and their families, but a Military Resilience specialization will equip you to help people navigate PTSD, marital struggles, stress, violence and deployment.

Employment Outlook

One appealing aspect of pursuing an online master’s in human services is that there is a vast array of job paths that you could follow after obtaining your graduate degree.

Whether you’re interested in working in a healthcare, social services, community, corporate, nonprofit or religious setting, you may be able to do so with a master’s in this field. In addition, job availability in these areas is expected to grow over the next several years.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a 14 percent growth rate in the field of community and social services.

Health Educators & Community Health Workers

When communities learn how to make healthy choices, the overall health of the population may improve. As a health educator, you could design programs and campaigns to increase people’s health skills and knowledge, or you could work one-on-one with individuals.

  • Median Annual Salary: $46,080
  • Projected Growth Rate: 16 percent

As a community health worker, you might also perform research into the best methods for health improvement and then apply your findings to new initiatives.

Marriage and Family Therapists

Marriage and family involve some of the most important relationships in a person’s life, yet they are often fraught with strife and tension. As a marriage and family therapist, you can help people improve their important relationships by growing their communication and interpersonal skills. Therapists often work in public or private practice settings, and they may meet with clients in groups or one-on-one.

  • Median Annual Salary: $50,090
  • Projected Growth Rate: 23 percent

Licensure is required for most counseling positions.

Rehabilitation Counselors

Living with a disability can make everyday activities challenging, but rehabilitation counselors can ease the process. Counselors work with people who have various challenges, including mental, physical and emotional disabilities. They may help clients navigate jobs, housing and other daily responsibilities so that they can live on their own or in a group setting. Being a rehabilitation counselor may involve working with youth, adults or senior citizens.

  • Median Annual Salary: $35,630
  • Projected Growth Rate: 13 percent

School and Career Counselors

As a school or career counselor, you can help people make choices to better their futures. In a school setting, you can talk to students about their problems, guide their academic progress and help them make future plans.

  • Median Annual Salary: $56,310
  • Projected Growth Rate: 13 percent

As a career counselor, you might help people analyze their strengths, formulate a potential job plan and provide information on the educational path that they’ll need to take for that career.

Social Workers

Although social workers perform a wide variety of jobs, they all involve helping others solve problems and better their lives. Social workers may work with kids or adults, and their role might include providing diagnosis or counseling for mental or behavioral health conditions. You might find employment with a social service agency, a school, a healthcare facility, a private clinic or a group home.

  • Median Annual Salary: $49,470
  • Projected Growth Rate: 16 percent

Licensure is required for some positions.

Mental Health Counselors

Many counselors in the field of human services focus on helping people recover from addictions and behavioral health issues, such as drug use, alcohol abuse and eating disorders. This job path often involves helping people break addictive or destructive habits and learning new ways of thinking in order to replace those habits with healthy choices.

  • Median Annual Salary: $44,630
  • Projected Growth Rate: 23 percent

Graduates may work in correctional facilities, counseling centers and community organizations.

Program Accreditation

Any university that you attend should have regional accreditation. Being accredited means that, as a whole, the university meets certain standards and provides a quality education for students.

The regional accrediting agencies are:

  • WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • The Higher Learning Commission
  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)

These agencies must meet standards set by the US Department of Education, and they are approved by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).

In addition, human services programs may receive accreditation from an industry-specific organization. The main one is the Council for Standards in Human Services Education (CSHSE). Although this accreditation is not absolutely essential, if you choose an approved school, you can be certain that you are receiving a reliable, high-quality education in human services.

Admission Requirements

Admissions requirements will vary depending on the university you select. As a general rule, most universities require the following to be considered for admission into the program.

  • Have an accredited bachelor’s degree with a 2.0 GPA (minimum GPA varies by school)
  • Submit an admission application
  • Submit college transcripts
  • In some cases, you may be required to submit GRE scores, but a large number of online programs do not require them.

If English is not your first language, some universities will also require proof of English proficiency.

How long does it take to get an MA in Human Services?

A master’s degree typically consists of 36 credit hours and take two years to complete, but there are exceptions.

For example, Liberty University offers a 30 credit Online Master of Arts in Human Services that can be completed in about 18 months.

Certifications and Licenses

  • Licensed Professional Counselor
  • Human Services-Board Certified Practitioner

Professional Organizations

  • National Organization for Human Services
  • National Association of Social Workers
  • American Public Human Services Association

Financial Aid

Every year, the Federal Student Aid program gives over $120 billion in funding assistance to higher education students. To find out what grants or loans you qualify for, start by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

In addition, you may be able to get scholarships based on qualifications like your background, academic achievements, field of study or other characteristics. Your school’s financial aid office may be able to help you find scholarships.

Finally, it’s in a school’s best interest to help students afford its programs. Therefore, many universities offer financial assistance and payment plans. Contact the school’s financial aid office for more information.

FAQs

What Are the Various Fields of Study in Human Services?

Because of the broad scope of this discipline, studying human services will require a grasp of multiple subjects. These include behavioral health, mental health, leadership, policymaking, human development, communication and finance. Additionally, you can earn an online PhD in Human Services if you want to take your studies to the next level.

Within the field, you might choose to pursue a particular specialty. Common choices include counseling, criminal justice, youth, addiction and special populations. Selecting a concentration means that you will take several classes focused on the skills and knowledge that are unique to that specialty.

Will a Master’s in Human Services Qualify Me for Licensure?

Although earning a degree in human services can prepare you for a wide variety of careers, it’s unlikely to specifically equip you for licensure. Instead, a master’s in human services usually provides a broader understanding of the field rather than focusing on the specific tools and knowledge that are necessary for becoming licensed.

If licensure is your goal, you might consider a different master’s program instead. Good choices include:

  • Master’s in counseling for becoming licensed as a counselor or therapist.
  • Master’s in Social Work for becoming licensed as a social worker.

Although most master’s in human services programs won’t prepare you directly for licensure, you may be able to apply some of the credits that you earn during your master’s program toward another program designed for licensure preparation. For example, you may be able to add a certificate program onto your master’s studies and then take a licensure exam.

A university’s admissions department will be able to give you a clear picture of which, if any, of its classes or programs might help you work toward obtaining licensure in social work or counseling.

How Much Do Human Service Professionals Make?

Salaries in the human services field vary widely, but on average, those with a master’s degree earn between $36,990 and $72,610 each year. The average annual pay is $47,950.

Factors influencing salary include:

  • Area of specialization
  • Place of employment — community organization versus private company
  • Geographical region

In general, those with a master’s in human services earn about 37 percent more than those who hold a bachelor’s degree in the field.

List of Universities offering a Masters in Human Services Online

Rank University Featured Image tbl-programs Location mdgtbl-description
1

Antioch University

PROGRAMOnline
LOCATIONAntioch University
ACCREDITATIONHLC
Antioch is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
  • Online Master’s in Human Services Administration
2

Bellevue University

PROGRAMOnline
LOCATIONNebraska
ACCREDITATIONHLC
Bellevue is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
  • Online Master’s in Human Services
3

California State University – Northridge

PROGRAMOnline
LOCATIONCalifornia
ACCREDITATIONWSCUC
CSU Northridge is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).
  • Online Master’s in Assistive Technology Studies and Human Services
4

Capella University

PROGRAMOnline
LOCATIONMinnesota
ACCREDITATIONHLC
Capella is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
  • Online Master’s in Human Services – Leadership and Organizational Management
  • Online Master’s in Human Services – Program Evaluation and Data Analytics
  • Online Master’s in Human Services – Social and Community Services
5

Concordia University – Chicago

PROGRAMOnline
LOCATIONIllinois
ACCREDITATIONHLC
CU Chicago is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission to award baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral degrees.
  • Online Master’s in Human Services
  • Online Master’s in Human Services Administration
6

Concordia University – St. Paul

PROGRAMOnline
LOCATIONMinnesota
ACCREDITATIONHLC
CSP has been accredited by The Higher Learning Commission since 1959, with reaffirmation of accreditation in 2018.
  • Online Master’s in Human Services – Forensic Behavioral Health
7

East Tennessee State University

PROGRAMOnline
LOCATIONTennessee
ACCREDITATIONSACSCOC
ETSU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to award Baccalaureate, Masters and Doctoral degrees.
  • Online Master’s in Human Services
8

Houston Baptist University

PROGRAMOnline
LOCATIONTexas
ACCREDITATIONSACSCOC
HBU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award the associate, baccalaureate, graduate, and doctoral degrees.
  • Online Master’s in Human Services Counseling
9

Judson University

PROGRAMOnline
LOCATIONIllinois
ACCREDITATIONHLC
Judson is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and a member of the North Central Association.
  • Online Master’s in Human Services Administration
10

Lenoir-Rhyne University

PROGRAMOnline
LOCATIONNorth Carolina
ACCREDITATIONSACSCOC
LRU is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
  • Online Master’s in Human Services Administration
11

Liberty University

PROGRAMOnline
LOCATIONVirginia
ACCREDITATIONSACSCOC
Liberty is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award associate, bachelor’s, master’s, specialist, and doctoral degrees.
  • Online Master’s in Human Services Counseling – Addictions & Recovery
  • Online Master’s in Human Services Counseling – Business
  • Online Master’s in Human Services Counseling – Christian Ministries
  • Online Master’s in Human Services Counseling – Criminal Justice
  • Online Master’s in Human Services Counseling – Crisis Response & Trauma
  • Online Master’s in Human Services Counseling – Dobson Center Family Advocacy, Public Policy, and the Future
  • Online Master’s in Human Services Counseling – Dobson Center Marriage and Family Studies
  • Online Master’s in Human Services Counseling – Dobson Center Parenting, and Child/Adolescent Development
  • Online Master’s in Human Services Counseling – Executive Leadership
  • Online Master’s in Human Services Counseling – Health & Wellness
  • Online Master’s in Human Services Counseling – Life Coaching
  • Online Master’s in Human Services Counseling – Marriage & Family
  • Online Master’s in Human Services Counseling – Military Resilience
12

Lubbock Christian University

PROGRAMOnline
LOCATIONTexas
ACCREDITATIONSACSCOC
LCU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges or SACSCOC to award Associate’s degrees, Bachelor’s degrees and Master’s degrees.
  • Online Master’s in Human Services – Family Life Educator
  • Online Master’s in Human Services – Non-Profit Leadership
13

Nova Southeastern University

PROGRAMOnline
LOCATIONFlorida
ACCREDITATIONSACSCOC
NSU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to award associate’s, baccalaureate, master’s, educational specialist, doctoral, and professional degrees.
  • Online Master’s in Human Services – Child Protection
14

Post University

PROGRAMOnline
LOCATIONConnecticut
ACCREDITATIONNECHE
Post is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
  • Online Master’s in Counseling and Human Services – Alcohol and Drug Counseling
  • Online Master’s in Counseling and Human Services – Clinical Mental Health Counseling
  • Online Master’s in Counseling and Human Services – Forensic Mental Health Counseling
15

Purdue University Global

PROGRAMOnline
LOCATIONIowa
ACCREDITATIONHLC
Purdue University Global is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
  • Online Master’s in Human Services – Family and Community Services
  • Online Master’s in Human Services – Organizational and Social Services
16

Regent University

PROGRAMOnline
LOCATIONVirginia
ACCREDITATIONSACSCOC
Regent is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award associate, baccalaureate, masters, and doctorate degrees.
  • Online Master’s in Human Services – Addictions Counseling
  • Online Master’s in Human Services – Biblical Counseling
  • Online Master’s in Human Services – Christian Counseling
  • Online Master’s in Human Services – Conflict & Mediation Ministry
  • Online Master’s in Human Services – Criminal Justice & Ministry
  • Online Master’s in Human Services – Grief Counseling
  • Online Master’s in Human Services – Human Services Counseling
  • Online Master’s in Human Services – Human Services for Student Affairs
  • Online Master’s in Human Services – Life Coaching
  • Online Master’s in Human Services – Marriage & Family Ministry
  • Online Master’s in Human Services – Trauma & Crisis Counseling
17

Saint Leo University

PROGRAMOnline
LOCATIONFlorida
ACCREDITATIONSACSCOC
Saint Leo is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).
  • Online Master’s in Human Services Administration
18

Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota

PROGRAMOnline
LOCATIONMinnesota
ACCREDITATIONHLC
SMU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
  • Online Master’s in Health and Human Services Administration
19

Southeastern University

PROGRAMOnline
LOCATIONFlorida
ACCREDITATIONSACSCOC
SEU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award associate, baccalaureate, masters and doctorate degrees.
  • Online Master’s in Human Services – Administrative
  • Online Master’s in Human Services – Children and Family
  • Online Master’s in Human Services – Ministry
20

St. Joseph’s College

PROGRAMOnline
LOCATIONNew York
ACCREDITATIONMSCHE
SJC is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
  • Online Master’s in Human Services Leadership
21

University of Illinois – Springfield

PROGRAMOnline
LOCATIONIllinois
ACCREDITATIONHLC
UIS was recently reaccredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
  • Online Master’s in Human Services – Alcoholism and Substance Abuse
  • Online Master’s in Human Services – Child and Family Studies
  • Online Master’s in Human Services – Gerontology
  • Online Master’s in Human Services – Social Service Administration
22

University of Northwestern – Saint Paul

PROGRAMOnline
LOCATIONMinnesota
ACCREDITATIONHLC
The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) visited Northwestern on November 12 and 13, 2018 and has completed its ten-year Reaffirmation of Accreditation process.
  • Online Master’s in Human Services Administration
23

University of Oklahoma

PROGRAMOnline
LOCATIONOklahoma
ACCREDITATIONHLC
The University of Oklahoma is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
  • Online Master’s in Human and Health Services Administration
24

Wake Forest University

PROGRAMOnline
LOCATIONNorth Carolina
ACCREDITATIONSACSCOC
Wake Forest is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award baccalaureate, masters, and doctorate degrees.
  • Online Master’s in Human Services
25

Walden University

PROGRAMOnline
LOCATIONMinnesota
ACCREDITATIONHLC
Walden has been accredited by The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) since 1990.
  • Online Master’s in Human and Social Services – Community and Social Services
  • Online Master’s in Human and Social Services – Community Intervention and Leadership
  • Online Master’s in Human and Social Services – Conflict Management and Negotiation
  • Online Master’s in Human and Social Services – Criminal Justice
  • Online Master’s in Human and Social Services – Disaster Crisis and Intervention
  • Online Master’s in Human and Social Services – Family Studies and Interventions
  • Online Master’s in Human and Social Services – General Program
  • Online Master’s in Human and Social Services – Gerontology
  • Online Master’s in Human and Social Services – Global Social Services
  • Online Master’s in Human and Social Services – Human Services Nonprofit Administration
  • Online Master’s in Human and Social Services – Mental Health Facilitation
  • Online Master’s in Human and Social Services – Military Families and Culture
  • Online Master’s in Human and Social Services – Social Policy and Analysis and Planning
26

Warner Pacific University

PROGRAMOnline
LOCATIONOregon
ACCREDITATIONNWCCU
Warner Pacific has been accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities since 1961.
  • Online Master’s in Human Services
27

Washburn University

PROGRAMOnline
LOCATIONKansas
ACCREDITATIONHLC
Washburn is accredited or approved by the Higher Learning Commission.
  • Online Master’s in Human Services/Addictions Counseling
28

Webster University

PROGRAMOnline
LOCATIONMissouri
ACCREDITATIONHLC
Webster is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.
  • Online Master’s in Human Services
29

Wilmington University

PROGRAMOnline
LOCATIONDelaware
ACCREDITATIONMSCHE
Wilmington is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
  • Online Master’s in Administration of Human Services
30

Youngstown State University

PROGRAMOnline
LOCATIONOhio
ACCREDITATIONHLC
The Higher Learning Commission has affirmed Youngstown State‘s accreditation through the year 2027.
  • Online Master’s in Health and Human Services

Ready to Get Started?

If helping others experience a better quality of life is important to you, then you’ll find human services a rewarding career. Growth in this field is expected to outpace the national average, so you can rest assured that this degree will provide a wide assortment of interesting job opportunities. In two years or less, you can complete an online master’s in human services and be on your way to a satisfying new career.

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