Online master’s in human services degree programs give a strong foundation for studying human behavior and prepare students with the skills they would need to make a long-lasting impact on other individuals around them. This program is designed for prospective students dedicated to improving the quality of life for all individuals. An online human services master’s ranges between 30 and 46 credits and can be completed within two years. This program focuses on accessibility, design, deliverance of services, and evaluations of human service interventions. The job outlook for human services employment is 12% (as fast as average), according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This guide explains the online master’s in human services degree program and all its components, including curriculum, specializations, careers, etc. 

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Best Online Master’s in Human Services

When choosing a master’s program, a student should consider critical aspects to make an informed decision. The tuition fee of the degree, curriculum, electives, concentrations, geographical location of the college, availability of student services, and quality of the faculty should be examined and compared across options. Based on these and other considerations, here are the best online master’s in human services ranked by Online Masters Colleges teams: 

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College Name & AddressTuitionGraduation Rate
Purdue University Global
2550 Northwestern Avenue, Suite 1100, West Lafayette, Indiana 47906
Arizona State University Digital Immersion
1365 N Scottsdale Rd, Scottsdale, Arizona 85257
University of Oklahoma-Norman Campus
660 Parrington Oval, Norman, Oklahoma 73019
Oklahoma State University
107 Whitehurst, Stillwater, Oklahoma 74078
Kansas State University
1453 Mission Street, San Francisco, California 94103
Regent University
2300 Adams Ave, Scranton, Pennsylvania 18509
Liberty University
1 Seton Hill Drive, Greensburg, Pennsylvania 15601
East Tennessee State University
3960 San Felipe Road, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87507
Saint Leo University
263 Alden St, Springfield, Massachusetts 01109
Lenoir-Rhyne University
200 Willoughby Ave, Brooklyn, New York 11205
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
1400 R Street, Lincoln, Nebraska 68588
California State University-Northridge
18111 Nordhoff St, Northridge, California 91330
Bryan College-Dayton
900 Dayton Street, Yellow Springs, Ohio 45387
Minot State University
100 Hofstra University, Hempstead, New York 11549
University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh
1 St Mary of Woods Coll, Saint Mary of the Woods, Indiana 47876
Nova Southeastern University
700 Prospect St, New Haven, Connecticut 06511
Walden University
1001 South Cedar, Ottawa, Kansas 66067
University of Northwestern-St Paul
219 Meadville Street, Edinboro, Pennsylvania 16444
University of Illinois Springfield
720 Northern Blvd, Brookville, New York 11548
Capella University
220 Grove Ave, Prescott, Arizona 86301

Source – Integrated Post Secondary Education Data System & University Data
*Tuition rates are for in-state and per year. Program specific rates may apply.
**NA – data not available

Understanding Online Master’s in Human Services Programs

The master’s in human services online degree helps students learn techniques and skills needed to work in public resources, policy-based programs, and social services. This program is offered in both online, on-campus, and hybrid modes (offering both online and offline classes). The curriculum focuses on theories, specific research, and techniques that would help a diverse population of families, children, the elderly, and so on. Many institutions also include residency, internship, or practicum where students can participate in different fieldwork experiences before completing their degrees. An online human services degree could take up to two years and range between 30 and 46 credits; the duration could differ from online vs in-person classes While the on-campus program can be completed in a shorter time, the online program could be taken up part-time and with asynchronous coursework. This program’s instruction is offered through synchronous and asynchronous learning. In addition to the core coursework, the program offers concentrations in fields like child and family studies, gerontology, counseling, and social service administration. After completing this degree, students can be employed in various professions like human services manager, social program developer, etc. 

Online Master’s in Human Services Degree Types

There are many online master’s in human services degrees available across different regions in the United States, the two most prominent being the Master of Science or MS in Human Services Online and the Master of Arts or MA in Human Services Online. These degrees vary in curriculum and requirements. 

Master of Science in Human Services

The Master of Science in Human Services or MA Human Services degree program is developed for individuals who want to work towards improving the quality of life of people and communities. The curriculum of this program will help students be advocates of change and implement programs in different human services areas. They focus on designing, implementing, and evaluating intervention and coordination of programs.  

Master of Arts in Human Services

The Master of Arts in Human Services or MA Human Services (also known as the MAHS degree) provides prospective graduate students the skills to become leaders at human services-related organizations. In this degree, students understand the different goals, values, and lifestyles of employees and service consumers. Students can develop an understanding of the historical paradigms of human services and hone their management skills. 

Specializations in Online Master’s in Human Services Programs

Selecting a master’s program specialization is crucial as it will allow students to gain expertise in a specific area within the human services domain. The curriculum of the specializations is oriented towards a particular area of study that the graduate student is interested in. Human services specializations help prospective graduates to gain better industry recognition, higher salaries, and career prospects. There are numerous human services specializations which include, but are not limited to:  

Area of Specialization Description 
Marriage and Family This specialization focuses on developing employable skills for students to resolve conflicts and effectively communicate.  
Human Services Nonprofit Administration This specialization includes students learning about recruiting and hiring talent, compensation, and strategies to retain employees. 
Family Studies and Interventions This specialization helps students understand the human service aspects of marginalized populations like single parents, bisexuals, etc.  
Social and Community Services Students learn about social and community service provisions in this specialization, including recreation, social, or welfare work.  
Leadership and Organizational Management  In this specialization, students learn about leadership in a human services organization. The program looks at how to work with multiple stakeholders.  
Family and Community Services This specialization focuses on the overall well-being of families and communities through various human services they would require. Students learn about helping diverse populations like the disabled, elderly, or other underrepresented populations.  
Mental Health This specialization is designed for students who want to pursue careers in human services like psychology, counseling, mental health, special education, and rehabilitation.  
Disaster, Crisis, and Intervention In this specialization, students examine strategies and theories to respond to the initial needs of individuals and communities in a situation of emergency and how to assist victims after the initial response.  
Criminal Justice This specialization is about the collaboration of criminal justice and human services systems. The fundamental goal of this specialization is to ensure that individuals are provided with justice and safety.  

Some examples of other specializations include: 

  • Organizational and Social Services 
  • Military Families and Culture 
  • Studies in Aging 
  • Professional Life Coaching 
  • Addictions Counseling 

Curriculum and Skills Gained in Online Master’s in Human Services Programs

An online master’s in human services requires 30 to 46 credits, but this requirement could differ from institution to institution or program to program, depending on the curriculum and other factors. Students will be required to select different electives, thesis options, and concentrations. Some human services master programs also require the students to complete a capstone project and internships in the field before completing the program. Most colleges will have a similar selection of common human services courses, such as: 

  • Overview of Human Services 
  • Cultural Diversity and Individual Differences 
  • Nonprofit Management in Human Services 
  • Decision-Making Making for Human Services Organization 
  • Professional Ethics, Standards of Practice, and Law 
  • Life Span Developments 
  • Theories of Behavior in Human Services 
  • Developing Team Collaboration in Human Services  
  • Human Services Delivery Processes and Skills 
  • Research Design and Methods 
  • Professional Communication in Human Services 
  • Group Theories and Human Systems 
  • Program Development and Evaluation in Human Services 
  • Integrative Project for Human Services 
  • Management and Leadership in Human Services 
  • Public Policy in Human Services 

Along with these courses, students might be required to complete a thesis, capstone, or end-of-the-year comprehensive exam, depending on the specific requirement of the college. Based on the college’s location, students would be required to complete certain hours of on-field internship as well.  

On graduating from human services master programs, students will be efficient enough to take up roles and responsibilities in different dimensions of human services. Some of the skills they would have acquired are the ability to:  

  • analyze the ethical standards required in human services as a professional; 
  • advocate on behalf of those individuals who need an understanding of the function, methods, and roles which human services play; 
  • analyze high-quality information and data to interpret and evaluate the findings and deliver appropriate human services to those who need them the most; 
  • demonstrate high adaptability to the field and understand the history and impact that present and past policies have had on human services;
  • implement and identify efficient strategies that can be incorporated theoretically and with a philosophical bent in mind to reflect the values that the profession of human services represents;  
  • evaluate and recognize the values, expectations, and strategies of self-care available in this field; 
  • understand the needs of individuals and analyze the scope human services would have on the population; 
  • demonstrate a level of knowledge across all specializations and hold essential positions in the administration field of human services; 
  • effectively communicate knowledge and expertise through visual public and written presentations; and 
  • effectively design, implement, and evaluate the diverse programs in human services. 

Accreditation for Online Master’s in Human Services Programs

Accreditation is a quality assurance process for institutions. Doing a master’s degree from an accredited institute is very important as it could verify the authenticity of the degree, quality of teaching, the institution’s reputation, transferability of credits, employability, and so on. Employers prefer candidates from accredited universities as they meet a set quality of education standard and professionalism. There are predominantly two types of accreditation in the United States – Regional and National Accreditation. Colleges are commonly accredited by regional accrediting bodies, which are: 

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

Some colleges may also provide accredited master’s in human services. These program-accredited degrees are usually accredited by the Council for Standards in Human Service Education, which is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation or CHEA. Programmatic accreditation assures a high-quality human service education through a peer-based accreditation process and evidence-based standards.  

Timeline for graduating from Online Master’s in Human Services Programs

The duration of the master of human services program online could range from 16 to 24 months. This timeline would differ depending on the number of credits the program requires, mode of program delivery, full-time or part-time student status, electives, concentration, coursework, and synchronous or asynchronous learning. Typically, the program ranges between 30 and 46 credits, which full-time students could complete in about 2 years or less, and part-time students in 3 to 4 years. 

Online Master’s in Human Services Programs Admission Requirements

When applying for an online human services master’s, students must follow admission guidelines and meet certain criteria. Students should pay very close attention to deadlines and the documentation that must be submitted with the application. A formal application, standardized test scores, and transcripts are typically some of the requirements students need to meet. Across programs, here are the most common master’s in human services admissions requirements: 

  • Application form  
  • Application fee 
  • Bachelor’s degree (does not need to be a degree in human services) 
  • Minimum GPA between 2.0 and 3.0 in undergraduate coursework 
  • Official transcripts from previous institutions attended 
  • Letters of recommendation (many institutions require 2 or 3) 
  • Graduate Résumé  
  • Statement of Purpose or Personal Statement 
  • Standardized test scores such as the GRE or GMAT 

No GRE Online Master’s in Human Services Programs

When applying for graduate programs, students are usually required to give the Graduate Record Examination and submit their scores as an admissions requirement. However, some institutions have done away with the GRE requirement for their degrees. When a master’s program has no GRE requirements, more applicants from diverse fields can be considered for application. Students also prefer not to take the GRE, which is quite taxing. Some universities that offer master’s in human services no GRE programs are Walden UniversityPurdue University Global, and Capella University

Accelerated Online Master’s in Human Services Programs

Accelerated online master’s programs help students obtain their degrees on a shorter timeline, with lower cost and a more tight-knit curriculum. Some colleges allow students to combine their undergraduate and graduate degrees, enabling them to complete them in 5 years instead of the usually required 6; other colleges allow students to take higher course loads to graduate quicker. Here are some examples of accelerated online master’s in human services:  

  1. Saint Leo University – offers a master of science or MS in human services administrative degree, a 36-credit curriculum that prepares students to lead human services institutions. 
  2. Warner Pacific University – offers a 39-credit hour master of arts or MA in human services that helps students prepare for the Certified Family Life Educator exam. 
  3. Capella University – offers an online accelerated human services master’s degree with two specialization options – leadership and organizational management and social and community services. 

Free Courses for Online Master’s in Human Services Students

Numerous free human services courses are available online. Doing such courses will help prospective students understand the program’s demands. But these courses should not be seen as a replacement for a master’s degree; they essentially help gain additional knowledge that could be used for assignments and exam preparation. Here are a few free master’s in human services online courses:  

CourseProvided by Description 
Human Resources: Recruitment and Selection  OpenLearn -The Open University This course helps students learn the skills and knowledge needed for fair and expert selection and recruitment. Students can learn the essential principles and apply them in different human services fields.  
New Learning: Principle and Patterns of Pedagogy Coursera This course helps students understand the social and technological changes that can happen today. Students can apply these teachings to areas of human services, media, globalization, and more.  
Human Resource Systems and Processes Alison This course helps students understand how tasks are allocated and coordinated and how organizational objectives can be achieved. They learn how to use effective human resource management and explore critical processes of human resources.  

How to Pay for an Online Master’s in Human Services Degree

Various factors go into determining the cost of a master’s program. The average cost of a master’s degree rises every year, and the rising tuition fees make it difficult for students to pay for their education. Besides taking up full-time jobs, there are different avenues online master’s in human services degree students can tap into to pay for their degree, some of which include:  

Graduate School Scholarships 

Graduate school scholarships could cover the whole cost or at least part of the cost of a student’s degree. Universities can give out scholarships; however, other private companies and organizations also frequently provide them, usually based on academic standing and merit. 


Grants are a form of financial aid provided to students in financial need or for a specific research or study area. They are usually not based on one’s academic accomplishments but mostly on specific needs.  

Graduate Assistantships

Graduate assistantships allow students to work for institutions while pursuing their master’s programs. Students assist their faculty members in teaching undergraduate students, helping in developing academic programs, and so on. In return, they are given a stipend, or their fee is reduced or waived.  


Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA is a form that students need to fill out and receive any form of financial assistance or aid from the United States government. FAFSA collects financial and personal information from students to determine their eligibility. FAFSA in itself is not financial aid but determines a student’s eligibility to secure grants, scholarships, and so on.  

Scholarships for Online Master’s in Human Services Students

Scholarships are an excellent way for graduate students to fund their education. They help students decrease their educational costs to a considerable extent. Students can apply for scholarships based on their academic merit or success in music, art, sports, or an area of study and research. Here are some scholarships for master’s degree in human services programs:  

Richard E. Baumgartner Memorial Scholarship 

The department of professional programs in human services offers scholarships for graduate and undergraduate students pursuing programs in human services.  



Application Deadline   

January 02, 2023 

Becky Burrows Memorial Scholarship Fund 

This scholarship is provided to students enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs who want to pursue occupations that aim at improving human conditions and benefiting humankind.  


Varies, but will not exceed $1,000 

Application Deadline 

March 15, 2023 

Outstanding Human Services Student Award 

This award is presented to students who have demonstrated a significant contribution to the human services field during their degree completion. To be eligible for this award, students should be a National Organization for Human Services member.



Application Deadline   

July 31, 2023 

FAQs about Online Master’s in Human Services Programs

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a master’s in human services? 

A master’s in human services degree focuses on the needs of humans and how individuals can improve the general population. Human services is an interdisciplinary study field that aims at meeting human needs by applying their knowledge base, focusing on remediation and prevention of the problem. It is designed for students who want to help others live their best lives and make a difference through advocacy and care.

What can you do with a master’s in human services degree? 

Human services degree can help students pursue many different careers in human services, which will help them change the lives of others. Students could work as administrators in advocacy organizations, support underrepresented communities, work as marriage and family therapists and counselors (where licensing is not required), and have leadership positions in nonprofit organizations.

How long is a human services master’s? 

Is a human services master’s worth it?

Does a human services degree offer concentration?

Careers and Salary Outlook for Online Master’s in Human Services Graduates

After earning their human services online master’s degree, graduates could work in non-profit organizations and private human services organizations. They can take up other roles in leadership, administration, and management of human services institutions. Graduates can also work with governmental agencies, administrative offices, and more. Besides leadership, there are many human services roles where graduates can use their master’s degrees. Some job positions available include:  

  • Child Welfare Worker 
  • Caseworker 
  • Drug and Alcohol Counselor 
  • Court Support Workers 
  • Social Worker 
  • Public Policy Analyst 
  • Rehabilitation Counselors 
  • Youth Worker
  • Domestic Violence Advocate 
  • School Counselor 
  • Social And Community Service Management 
  • Child Life Specialist 
  • Family Court Advocate 
  • Community Service Officer 
  • Crisis Support Worker 
  • Community Outreach Worker 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor of Statistics (BLS), human service professionals can look to a job growth of 12%, which is much faster than average. The list below highlights the statistical data by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on a few professional options for students to consider after earning a master’s in human services: 

Occupation Median Annual Salary Job Growth (up to 2031) Job Description 
Social and Community Service Managers $74,000 12% (much faster than average) Social and community service managers supervise and coordinate programs in institutions that would support the public’s well-being. They could work at non-profit organizations, governmental agencies, and for-profit social services organizations. 
Rehabilitation Counselors $38,560 11% (much faster than average) Rehabilitation counselors help people with mental, physical, emotional, and developmental disabilities to live with independent skills.  
Social Workers $50,390 9% (as fast as average) Social workers can help individuals cope and prevent their problems in everyday life. They are employed in different settings, which include human services agencies, child welfare, healthcare agencies, schools, etc.  
Childcare Workers $27,490 6% (as fast as average) Child workers usually take care of a child’s needs while helping their process of fostering. These professionals work in their own homes, private households, or childcare centers.  

Certifications and Licensing for Online Master’s in Human Services Graduates

Certification will assure the public that professionals have the necessary knowledge, skills, and expertise to do their jobs with a commitment to duty. Because human services professionals help individuals better their lives, having certifications will help them gain credibility in their field of work. Every state would require professionals to take a few steps to help them meet the state’s specific requirements for certification. Some of the common requirements would be:  

  • An undergraduate degree from an accredited university 
  • Completion of a specific number of semester hours 
  • Completion of some field work with minimum specified hours 
  • Passing certification exams determining topic knowledge and expertise 

Human Services – Board Certified Practitioner (HS-BCP) was created by the Center for Credentialing and Education with the assistance of the National Organization for Human Services (NOHS) following the Council for Standards in Human Service Education consultation. This process of credentialization was designed for practitioners in human services who want to advance their careers by assessing their practical knowledge and educational background.  

An applicant with a technical certificate from the NOHS can obtain the credential by passing a national-level examination developed by human services practitioners. More information about this exam is available on the Center for Credentialing & Education’s website

While some professions require licensure to carry out the roles and responsibilities of that profession, human services professions generally do not require any specific license. That said, each state has its requirements for certification/licensure for teaching positions. Therefore, individuals who want to teach human services can refer to the norms established by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards

Additional Resources for Online Master’s in Human Services Students

An online master’s in human services student can benefit from the resources available to members who join an association. Certification programs and career aids are some of the services offered by such professional organizations. Additionally, tapping into their many resources can provide a deeper understanding of the human services field. Here are a few resources to get started:  

  1. National Organization for Human Services (NOHS) – National Organization for Human Services (NOHS) membership looks at the professional development of individuals by providing job boards, evaluation of resumes, conferences, and volunteering opportunities. Membership in this organization also gives access to valuable resources and many publications.
  2. American Public Human Services Association (APHSA) – American Public Human Services Association (APHSA) is a nonprofit, bipartisan membership organization representing local and state health and human service agencies through leadership. They seek to influence modern-day practices and policies to support the well-being and health of all families and children that contribute to building stronger communities.  
  3. Council for Standards in Human Service Education (CSHSE) – The Council for Standards in Human Service Education (CSHSE)was established to give more direction and focus to training and education in human services and mental health services throughout the United States. CSHSE is recognized under the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).  
  4. National Council on Family Relations (NCFR) – The National Council on Family Relations (NCFR) is one of the oldest non-profit, multidisciplinary, and nonpartisan professional associations focused on family practice, education, and research. Members of this organization work in college teaching and pedagogy, program development, research, counseling, family life education, and human services.  
  5. American Counseling Association (ACA) – Some human services professionals work specifically in the field of professional counseling. For such individuals being part of the American Counseling Association (ACA) can provide free access to conferences, publications, and continuing education. 

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