Most Affordable Online Master’s in Human Services Programs 2021

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A human services degree features an interdisciplinary program in scope and by definition. It focuses on the timely and coordinated delivery of diverse services that bring about profound and lasting change for individuals and communities. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) lists several jobs under the community and social service occupations umbrella. These include social and human services assistants, rehabilitation counselors, health educators, and community health workers. The BLS projects the field to grow 12% from 2019-2029, much faster than the average growth of 4% for all jobs. 

Graduates of a human services program can look forward to entering a growth-oriented job market with above-average salaries. Degree-holders may enjoy many opportunities for professional and personal fulfillment.

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Master's in Human Services Questions

  • What kinds of jobs can you get with a human services degree?

    A human services degree often qualifies graduates for careers as juvenile court liaisons, community advocates, mental health counselors, and case workers.

  • Is a human services degree worth it?

    Individuals wanting to help people with their physical, mental, and social well-being will find a human services degree helpful for their goals.

  • What can you do with a master's in human services?

    A master’s degree in human services often qualifies degree-holders for top management and leadership positions. In these roles, they influence policy and implement institutional changes.

  • What is the highest paying job in human services?

    The highest-paid human services practitioners include school and career counselors, probation officers and correctional treatment specialists, and social workers. According to the BLS, these professions earn median annual salaries of $57,040, $54,290, and $50,470, respectively.

What Are the Goals of a Human Services Degree?

Students can pursue a human services degree at all levels. At the master’s level, some schools offer a master of arts while others offer a master of science. The latter focuses on specific arenas such as administration or healthcare management. The former offers more flexibility and focuses on topics such as abnormal psychology or ethics. Both program types offer concentration areas such as policy analysis, nonprofit management, and intervention and leadership.

Why Get a Human Services Degree?

Pursuing a master’s degree in human services requires significant time and monetary investment. However, well-crafted programs yield a myriad of professional and personal benefits, five of which we describe below.

Career Focus
A master’s degree in human services allows students to concentrate in an area aligned with their professional interests and goals.
Enhance Credibility
A human services master’s degree distinguishes the holder as a trained and committed professional. It denotes they possess the knowledge, skills, and ethical training to help organizations fulfill their mandate toward their clients.
Meet Job Requirements
Healthcare, nonprofit, and government leadership positions often require at least a master’s degree for advancement.
Increase Compensation
Data from the BLS show that master’s-trained professionals typically earn higher median salaries than bachelor’s and associate degree-holders.
Improve Professional Ability
A master’s in human service degree increases a practitioner’s ability to implement and maintain progressive programs and access diverse resources more effectively.

Online Guide to Accredited Colleges and Universities

Courses in Human Services

A master’s degree in human services typically comprises 30-46 credits. Many full-time students earn the degree within two years. Some online programs follow an accelerated schedule, cutting completion time to as few as 18 months.

A well-developed human services master’s degree expands learners’ knowledge of the field while improving their research and communication skills. Culminating activities vary by program, but many require an internship and thesis. Some schools ask candidates to complete a capstone project proposing implementable solutions for existing challenges communities or organizations face.

While each program creates its own curricula, schools commonly offer the courses below in a master’s degree in human services.

The class gives enrollees an overview of human services organizations. Through case studies and experiential activities, students learn how to manage human services agencies efficiently and effectively. The course immerses learners in topics such as resource development, diversity management, financial and strategic planning, and team building.

Learners examine the history of social welfare policy and the emergence of modern systems. The course helps enrollees develop an individual framework for human services professionals’ roles in today’s society. Students learn how legal and political systems impact social institutions and policies.

The course develops assessment and communication skills needed to maintain a positive client relationship. Enrollees learn how to take advantage of common informal and formal assessment methods. The class includes a field component where students practice their interviewing skills with real clients.

Career and Salary Outlook for Human Services

Human services practitioners work with diverse client groups including children, adolescents, and families. They help individuals struggling with mental health or addiction problems and elderly patients coping with medical conditions or end-of-life issues. Several factors influence the career and salary outlook for each specific human services sector, including the state of practice and the field’s regulatory policies.

  • Social and Community Service Managers

    A social and community manager’s responsibilities include overseeing programs to ensure stakeholder objective adherence, writing funding proposals, and planning and implementing outreach programs. They also continually evaluate the needs of the communities and organizations they work for to identify necessary services.

  • Medical and Health Services Manager

    The specific duties of these professionals depend on their facility’s size and type. Their work includes preparing and monitoring budgets, maintaining records of services rendered, and making sure their facility maintains relevant compliance.

  • Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors

    These professionals work directly with clients and their support community to develop treatment plans addressing the addiction or behavior disorder. They make sure clients can access additional resources to aid their recovery and progress. These include job placement services, group counseling, and social amelioration programs.

Career Median Annual Salary Projected Growth Rate (2019-2029)
Social and Community Service Managers $67,150 17%
Medical and Health Services Manager $100,980 32%
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors $46,240 25%

Source: BLS

Scholarships for Human Services Students

Institutions with master’s in human services programs may offer financial assistance in the form of scholarships or fellowships. Professional associations and private nonprofits also administer human services financial aid programs. We list three such scholarships below to jump start your own search.

  • Foundation for Community Association Research Byron Hanke Scholarship

    Who Can Apply: The Foundation administers this program that welcomes graduate applicants engaged in community association related research. The organization requires applicants to submit a proposal demonstrating how their research supports and enhances The Foundation’s mission.

    Amount: $3,000-$5,000

    Explore Here

  • National Organization for Human Services David C. Maloney Scholarship

    Who Can Apply: NOHS accepts applications from students enrolled in a human services program at the associate, bachelor’s, or master’s level. Candidates must demonstrate excellent academic performance with a minimum 3.2 GPA. NOHS gives preference to applicants with a minority status or special needs.

    Amount: Varies

    Explore Here

  • NOHS Outstanding Human Services Student Scholarship

    Who Can Apply: Student NOHS members demonstrating a significant contribution to the field qualify for this award. Applicants need nomination from a human services professional. Submission requirements include nomination and recommendation letters, a resume, and any other documents providing evidence of accomplishments.

    Amount: Varies

    Explore Here

Most Affordable Online Master’s in Human Services Programs 2021

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