Online Master’s Programs in Human Services

Updated on: 11/24/18

A master’s degree in Human Services provides individuals already working as human services professionals the knowledge and credentials to become leaders in the field, or to specialize in an area of interest. These programs typically do not require previous education or experience in human services, so a master’s may also be ideal for someone passionate about helping others and looking to start a career in human services. Demand for qualified professionals is expected to grow due to increasing needs for more services as well as replacing professionals leaving the field. The knowledge and skills gained from a master’s in Human Services, as well as the research conducted in many master’s programs, enriches the work that is most important to the profession: service to individuals and communities.

The Best Online Master’s in Human Services Programs of 2018

2-Year Colleges

A quality master’s program in Human Services combines the study of relevant theory with practical application, advancing students’ knowledge of human services and preparing them to be leaders in the field. Using data from the Department of Education, the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System and published materials from the program’s university, rankings are based on multiple measures to ensure the merit of the program, and all schools are accredited by regional or national accrediting bodies. Programs that are accredited by the Council for Standards in Human Services Education (CSHSE) have been peer-reviewed and meet national accreditation standards, and programs that are members of CSHSE might also follow national standards, even if they do not seek accreditation from CSHSE.

Rank University Title Tuition # of Online Programs Expand Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid Credit for Experience Placement Services Counseling Services University Description
1 Morehead State University $8,496 3 86% 49% 67% Yes Yes Yes

At Morehead State University, online students can complete a Bachelor of Science in Imaging Sciences with a concentration in Leadership in Medical Imaging. You will focus on topics such as fiscal management, program planning, healthcare law and policy and patient evaluation. This is a competitive application process with limited space. Prospective students should already have training and certification in a radiologic sciences field in an accredited program with a 2.5 GPA or higher. You should also have completed at least 15 credit hours of prerequisite courses in computer literacy, speech communications, English and mathematics before applying. MSU graduates typically move on to careers in imaging sciences administration or management positions.

2 Clarion University $7,238 2 94% 51% 41% Yes Yes Yes

Distance learners at Clarion University can earn a Bachelor of Science in Medical Imaging Sciences online. This is a 120-credit program that offers two concentrations: radiologic technology or ultrasound. Graduates are proficient in performing all types of imaging exams to meet ARRT requirements. The hybrid version of the program only accepts students who are already credentialed radiologic technologists, sonographers, nuclear medicine technologists, radiation therapists or medical dosimetrists. Clinical requirements must be completed in-person. Most students in this program transfer in 60 credits from another accredited program and complete the remaining major core requirements at Clarion. Applicants must submit their high school GPA and SAT or ACT scores.

3 University of Wisconsin-La Crosse $7,585 3 74% 69% 24% No Yes Yes

Students at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse can earn their Bachelor of Science in Radiation Therapy in a blended format in approximately 4 years. WIth courses such as Radiation Physics, Pathophysiology, Patient Care and Medical Imagine, UWL will train you to administer radiation therapy and conduct x-rays for a variety of patients. Of the 120 required credits, a minimum of 30 semester hours must be complete in residence at UWL for graduation. Applicants should have at least a 2.75 GPA and 40 hours of observation in a radiation therapy department. Prospective students who need help accessing facilities to complete the observation requirements may contact the department for assistance or to schedule a visit.

4 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill $6,881 1 27% 91% 41% No Yes Yes

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill offers a blended Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Science option for distance learners. In this medical imaging-driven program, you will focus on the administration of radiation and x-rays for disease diagnosis and injury evaluation. You will explore several main areas of the practice such as orthopedics, pediatrics and mammography, vascular imaging and computerized tomography. Graduates are prepared to sit for the ARRT national certification exam in radiologic technology. UNC requires a host of general education requirements and radiologic science pre-admission courses. Applicant must also have a 2.5 GPA or higher.

5 Weber State University $4,611 4 - 50% 58% Yes Yes Yes

Weber State University offers a Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Sciences entirely online. Courses are self-paced and take about 4 weeks to complete, although you may take longer if you wish. As a distance learner, you will receive training in advanced radiologic sciences specialties, sonography, nuclear medicine and radiation therapy. To enroll in this program, students must be certified in medical imaging and/or therapeutic radiation before enrolling. Incoming students must submit their official high school transcripts or GED documentation. ACT and SAT scores are not mandatory and no clinicals are required for graduation. At Weber, distance learners also pay a flat in-state tuition rate.

6 Ohio State University-Main Campus $9,168 1 54% 85% 80% No Yes Yes

Students can pursue 3 specialty areas in a Bachelor of Science Radiologic Science and Therapy degree program at Ohio State University. You can choose from a major in Radiography, Radiation Therapy or Sonography/Vascular Therapy, all of which can be completed in a blended format. In any track, you will be prepared for professional careers in clinical practice, administration, education and research. Whether you are treating diseases with radiation, conducting x-rays and CT scans or diagnosing a medical condition using sonography, OSU teaches you the essential critical thinking and technological skills to make the best evidence-based decisions for patients. Applicants must have a 2.5 GPA or higher and 8 hours of documented patient contact experience.

7 Mitchell Technical Institute $3,488 1 - 70% 26% Yes Yes Yes

Online students at Mitchell Technical Institute can earn certificates in Advanced Medical Imaging (AVI). You may choose from programs in Computer Tomography, Magnetic Resonance Imaging or Advanced Medical Imaging. Each certificate requires 10, 12 or 18 credits to complete, respectively. The AVI certificate is a combination of the Computer Tomography and Magnetic Resonance Imaging tracks. Upon completion of the program, you will be eligible to apply for licensure. This program is only open to ARRT-registered technologists in Radiography, Nuclear Medicine Technology, Nuclear Medicine or Radiation Therapy. Applicants must complete an online or paper application and submit their ACT, Accuplacer, SAT or Compass scores.

8 Armstrong State University $3,886 2 80% 35% 8% Yes Yes Yes

The Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Sciences at Georgia Southern University-Armstrong teaches online learners how to administer radiation, ultrasound, and magnetism to treat diseases and injuries. Students choose between 5 career specialties: Cardiovascular/Interventional Science, Nuclear Medicine, Radiation Therapy, Radiography or Sonography. This is a hybrid program consisting of 5-10 online courses over the course of 5 semesters, depending on chosen specialty. Graduates can sit for the national certification exam. Applicants must have a 2.5 GPA or higher, and should have 50 semester hours of general education requirements completed. Students with lab experience in a radiologic field are more likely to be admitted to this program.

9 Misericordia University $29,150 1 74% 72% 100% Yes Yes Yes

Distance learners can take advantage of Misericordia University's online Bachelor of Science in Diagnostic Medical Sonography program. In this hybrid program, you will complete a curriculum that balances sonography education and liberal arts courses. The core curriculum is on-campus every other weekend with a few courses online. Approximately 110 credits are needed for graduation. All applicants should have a minimum GPA of 3.0 or be in the top half of their high school graduating class. Students should also have taken 3 years of mathematics and 2 years of science before applying. ACT or SAT scores are required. Graduates are prepared to sit for the ARRT Sonography exam.

10 Siena Heights University $24,390 2 72% 53% 99% Yes Yes Yes

Siena Heights University offers distance learners the chance to earn an Associate of Applied Science in Radiologic Technology through its Adrian and Southfield campuses. Students must complete a minimum of 60 credit hours while maintaining a 2.0 GPA. To satisfy graduation requirements, students complete a minimum of 18 credits through SHU. A maximum of 9 credit hours of prior learning credit, including CLEP, Excelsior College Exams, Michigan Occupational Competency Exams and military and police academy certification, can be counted toward the associate degree. SHU subscribes to a rolling admission policy and requires applicants to submit only an online undergraduate application and high school transcripts. Online students pay $530 per tuition credit regardless of their location.

11 St Catherine University $31,042 1 91% 61% 98% Yes Yes Yes
12 Baptist College of Health Sciences $9,864 1 54% 51% 83% Yes Yes Yes
13 Southern Illinois University-Carbondale $8,691 5 77% 46% 74% Yes Yes Yes
14 Minot State University $5,192 1 60% 42% 70% Yes Yes Yes
15 Carolinas College of Health Sciences $11,086 1 31% 33% 25% Yes Yes Yes
16 Bellarmine University $37,850 1 82% 68% 100% Yes Yes Yes
17 University of St Francis $30,520 1 49% 57% 100% Yes Yes Yes
18 Boise State University $4,872 3 82% 44% 41% Yes Yes Yes
19 Ball State University $8,992 1 62% 62% 40% Yes Yes Yes
20 University of Washington-Seattle Campus $9,694 1 45% 86% 38% No Yes Yes
21 Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania $7,238 1 78% 66% 6% Yes Yes Yes
22 University of Vermont $15,096 1 69% 76% 92% No Yes Yes
23 Texas State University $7,234 1 71% 59% 12% Yes Yes Yes
24 University of Missouri $8,286 1 75% 71% 64% No Yes Yes
25 Concordia University-Wisconsin $27,640 1 63% 62% 98% Yes Yes Yes
26 University of Sioux Falls $27,160 2 91% 54% 100% Yes Yes Yes
27 Saint Cloud State University $6,820 1 85% 48% 41% Yes Yes Yes
28 Notre Dame of Maryland University $33,785 1 59% 60% 98% Yes Yes Yes
29 Ferris State University $11,144 1 78% 51% 69% Yes Yes Yes
30 Clarkson College $11,976 5 52% 17% 58% Yes Yes Yes
31 Pennsylvania State University-Worldwide $12,718 1 83% 49% 56% Yes Yes Yes
32 Newman University $26,416 1 58% 47% 100% Yes Yes Yes
33 University of Charleston $20,564 2 52% 37% 94% Yes Yes Yes
34 National University $13,016 1 - 50% 4% Yes Yes Yes
35 Drury University $24,750 2 70% 64% 83% No Yes Yes
36 Missouri Southern State University $5,311 1 94% 39% 69% Yes Yes Yes
37 Lakeshore Technical College $3,910 1 - 58% 6% Yes Yes Yes
38 Washburn University $7,644 2 - 38% 64% Yes Yes Yes
39 Oregon Institute of Technology $8,110 1 73% 50% 60% Yes Yes Yes
40 Northeast Community College $2,700 1 - 48% 40% Yes Yes Yes
41 Briar Cliff University $27,684 1 - 48% 98% Yes Yes Yes
42 Northern Kentucky University $9,000 1 91% 40% 61% Yes Yes Yes
43 Southwestern Oklahoma State University $5,295 1 91% 38% 65% Yes Yes Yes
44 Drexel University $48,660 1 75% 68% 97% Yes Yes Yes
45 University of Hartford $35,036 2 72% 56% 98% Yes Yes Yes
46 Saint Louis University $40,100 2 65% 72% 91% No Yes Yes
47 University of Akron Main Campus $8,618 1 96% 45% 62% Yes Yes Yes
48 Fort Hays State University $3,789 1 91% 44% 73% No Yes Yes
49 Arkansas State University $6,060 2 70% 41% 70% No Yes Yes
50 Emory University $47,300 1 25% 91% 48% No Yes Yes

What to Know About Online Master’s in Human Services Coursework

The curriculum of a master’s in human services is typically interdisciplinary, pulling from social sciences, counseling, social work, family studies and business administration. Students should expect to learn how to design, deliver, administer and evaluate services and programs for individuals and communities. A deeper understanding of the origins and theories that drive human services will be the core of most programs, as well as practical coursework in administration and leadership, assessment and data collection, ethical and legal issues, and grant-writing. Some programs offer specializations such as a focus on working with special populations, crisis intervention, policy analysis, family services, or non-profit administration. Most include internship opportunities, field experiences, capstone projects, and opportunities for comprehensive research, so while earning a degree online, students still get practical experience in the profession that is relevant to their goals.

What Common Courses are Offered in a Master’s in Human Services Program?

All master’s coursework will vary slightly depending on the university and the specialization that the student is working toward. However, there are commonalities between all degrees in the human services field. A sample of these courses is outlined below:

Introduction to Human Services

Students are introduced to the foundations of human services, including history, development of the human services profession, and relevant theories. Examines strengths and weaknesses of services delivery systems and how human services responds to the needs of a constantly changing society. The course also reinforces the competencies needed to be an effective human services professional, as well as examines ethical standards of the profession.

Human Services Administration

Examines the competencies needed to administer human services programs and address the challenges of providing services to individuals and communities. Also introduces students to foundations of human services administration including communication, supervision, policy implementation, strategic planning, organizational behavior, management and evaluation of services, and leadership.

Introduction to Research

Evidence-based practice is critical to effectively informing the practice of human services professionals. Coursework surveys different methodological practices for conducting research and evaluation, including design, implementation and assessment. Connects theory to practice through case studies, discussions and research projects. Other topics might include ethical issues in research or how cultural differences affect research and evaluation of services.

Social Change and Advocacy

Students identify issues at the local and national level that affect communities and explore how to effectively advocate for social change. Examines how to encourage community involvement and engage diverse populations in issues of social change.

Life Span Human Development

Explores in-depth relevant theory pertaining to human development across the lifespan. Analyzes social issues and challenges people face at different developmental stages in life, and the role of development in meeting those challenges. Reflection on self and others deepens student understanding of the complex factors that play into human development.

Fundraising/Grant Writing

Explores sources and strategies for funding, how to engage donors, create proposals, philanthropy, grants and contracts, marketing, public relations, and managing funds. Introduces grant proposal writing including skills for writing a good proposal and grant writing cycle.

What Specializations are Available in a Master’s in Human Services Program?

Most master’s degree programs require students to pick a specialization to focus on during the duration of their studies. Some popular options are outline below:

Social Services Administration

A concentration in administration of social services prepares students for roles in executive leadership. Study leadership and organizational theory as well as strategic planning, program development, challenges in leadership, teamwork and communication, and how to be a visionary leader in the profession.

Addictions and Recovery

A concentration in counseling and case management to prepare students for work in addictions treatment programs. Study theoretical foundations of addictions counseling, how to assess substance abuse and work with clients in recovery.

Human and Health Services Administration

A concentration combining the intersection of human and health services, preparing students for administration roles in both sectors.

Children and Families

A concentration in working primarily with children and families. Study human development and family theories, family dynamics and techniques for assisting families through challenges.

Law and Justice

A concentration studying the justice system and human services directly related to the justice system. Study the relationship between behavioral health and the law and how to work with clients and their families.

What Exams or Projects Should I Expect?

A master’s in Human Services typically culminates in a capstone, internship or field experience where students integrate their learning and practically apply new skills in the human services field. These culminating courses typically require something like a community services program proposal or assessment, a service-learning project or creating a professional portfolio of work from an internship. Some programs will also include a thesis or research project as a culmination to completing the degree.

How Can I Choose a Quality Online Master’s in Human Services Program?

Programs that are accredited by the Council for Standards in Human Services Education (CSHSE) have been peer-reviewed and meet national accreditation standards, and programs that are members of CSHSE might also follow national standards, even if they do not seek accreditation from CSHSE. If you are seeking a master’s degree for a licensing requirement, like substance abuse counseling or nursing home administration, be sure the program outlines how it fulfills, or at least prepares, students to meet licensing requirements. A high quality human services program incorporates theoretical learning with relevant and practical experience in the field that can be tailored to the student’s professional goals, is accredited by a regional or national accrediting body, and strives to follow CSHSE standards in its curriculum.

Career Opportunities with a Master’s in Human Services Degree

Human services is a broad field and professionals work in a variety of settings, so career opportunities are diverse and allow for professionals to be mobile within the field of practice. Professionals work in varied settings, from non-profits to government agencies, and may have many different titles during their career. Some of these job titles might include case worker, substance abuse counselor, client advocate, probation officer, mental health aide, community outreach organizer, or social services manager. While the median salary is listed with the following job descriptions, obtaining a master’s degree may increase opportunities for pay and advancement.

Social Services Manager

Oversee administration of services and programs, including working closely with community members to identify needed services and conduct outreach, analyzing data and evaluating effectiveness of services, strategic planning, fundraising and grant writing, managing funds, hiring and supervision of staff.

Median Salary: $64,100 per year

Currently Employed: 147,300

Expected Job Growth in next 10 years: 18%

Substance Abuse Counselor

Evaluate mental health and addiction behaviors of clients, assess readiness for treatment, develop treatment plans and goals with clients, counsel clients to identify challenges to recovery, work closely with family members, work with clients individually or in groups, teach coping and life skills necessary to recovery.

Median Salary: $43,300 per year

Currently Employed: 260,200

Expected Job Growth in next 10 years: 23%

Probation or Parole Officer

Work with parolees or probationers and families to assess progress of probation and evaluate course of action, make referrals and provide resources, drug test offenders with drug testing as part of probation and work with substance abuse counselor, testify in court on behalf of client, document progress and maintain case files, make home visits and have regular contact with clients

Median Salary: $51,410

Currently Employed: 91,300

Expected Job Growth in next 10 years: 6%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018

What’s the Expected Job Outlook for Human Services Careers?

Growth in human services management is expected to top 18%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, faster than average for non-human services management positions. Employment opportunities in facilities and programs that serve the elderly, mentally impaired, or developmentally disabled are expected to be in high demand, according to the National Organization for Human Services, as well as working in drug addiction treatment programs, according to BLS. A projected growth in the elderly population, job turnover in the field and an increased need to provide services to more people are also cited by NOHS as reasons for expected job growth.

Professional Organizations for Careers in Human Services

Joining a professional organization opens opportunities for scholarships, awards, job networking, professional development, attendance to regional and national conferences, and access to peer-reviewed academic journals relevant human services education and professions. Some scholarship and award opportunities are only open to members, and membership usually provides a discount on professional development resources and conferences. Student membership rates are typically discounted, and membership can be a great way to access job boards, internship opportunities, and stay up-to-date on the latest research happening in the field.

  • National Organization for Human Services

    Guided by principles of social justice advocacy, collaboration and accountability, the organization strives to meet its mission of strengthening the human services community. It accomplished this through promoting professional development and certification opportunities to its members and adopting a set of national standards for ethics for human services professionals. The organization also offers awards and scholarships and publishes the Journal of Human Services and a quarterly newsletter.

  • American Public Human Services Association

    Represents state and local human services agencies and leaders. Mission is to influence policies and practices at state and local levels that support families and build communities. Offers opportunities for professional development and education through conferences and publications. Works collaboratively with the Center for Child and Family Well-Being, Center for Employment and Economic Well-Being and the National Collaborative for Integration of Health and Human Services to work across multiple sectors that have influence in the human services field.

How to Pay for a Master’s in Human Services Degree

There are numerous financial aid programs available to students in a human service master’s program. All prospective students should start by filling out a FAFSA form online to determine grant eligibility at the federal level. Many scholarships require that students complete the FAFSA form before they are eligible to receive additional scholarships. Below you’ll find a list of scholarship options for human services students:

National Scholarships

There are several human services scholarships that students can apply for. The David C. Maloney Scholarship, the Harold McPheeters Scholarship and the Davis Putter Scholarship are all available to eligible students.

School-Sponsored Scholarships

Some schools offer their own department-based scholarships to human services students. For example, California State university and other bay-area schools sponsor the New Leader Scholarship that is awarded to students enrolled in a human services master’s program.