Earning a Master's in Human Services Online

Many careers in the human services field allow students to enjoy high job growth rates. In particular, social and community service managers have an 18% job growth rate. Students benefit greatly from earning a master's degree in human services online, experiencing more job opportunities, higher salary options, and specialized careers. Additional education can lead to better job placement, higher pay, and more job growth.

Student Profile: Who Earns an Online Master's Degree in Human Services?

Students in a bachelor's of human services program who want to advance their career should consider enrolling in an advanced program. These programs are great for students who want to pursue a specialized career that requires them to hold an advanced degree or working professionals who want to expand their career options and increase their earning potential. Master's programs are also a great choice for those who are choosing between earning a master's degree or a professional certification.

Why Get a Master's Degree in Human Services?

Pursuing Specialization

Many online master's programs in human services allow students the chance to choose a concentration or specialization. After graduation, graduates can pursue specialized careers relevant to the education they received. These opportunities attract a large number of students to graduate programs.

Career Advancement Opportunities

Professionals who hold master's degrees also have more job opportunities. They can enjoy more career possibilities than those with undergraduate degrees. Additionally, these professionals enjoy higher salary opportunities.

Online Learning Technology

Online master's students enjoy access to the latest communication technologies, and the ability to use these technologies for professional development in the human services industry.

Prerequisites for Online Human Services Programs

Human services students must meet various admissions requirements before they can enter their graduate program. Listed below are some of the most common admissions requirements.

  • Work Experience: Students do not typically need any prior work experience to enroll in an online master's in human services, although previous experience can be beneficial. Students with prior field experience can enjoy a unique learning environment where they can relate their course topics to the workforce.
  • Exams and Test Scores: Most human services programs do not require applicants to submit GRE or GMAT scores, though each program features its own unique requirements. Any schools requiring test scores typically outline their minimum score requirements on the program website.
  • Coursework: Human services graduate students often need to hold a bachelor's degree in a related field to be admitted to a masters program. Many programs outline specific prerequisite coursework for applicants to fulfill before gaining admission.
  • Recommendations: Many programs require students to submit one or more letters of recommendation with their application materials. Letters of recommendation should be from professional or educational contacts rather than friends and family members. Letters should detail why the student would be a great fit for their potential program.
  • Essays: Applicants often get asked to submit an essay with their application materials. Program websites usually outline essay requirements, including the topic, format, style, and length. Students should make sure they edit and proofread their essay.
  • Interviews: Applicants do not usually complete admissions interviews. If an interview is requested it can allow admissions teams to gain a more comprehensive understanding of applicants and their qualifications.
  • International Students International students must complete English as a second language exams to demonstrate their English-speaking proficiency before they gain admission to a master's program.

How Much Can I Make with a Master's Degree in Human Services?

Human services professionals experience a wide range of salaries. Human service assistants, for example, make $21,480 annually in the bottom 10% of the field, $33,120 for the median, and $53,380 for the top 10%. Professionals who hold advanced degrees often have higher salaries, usually earning more money than someone with a bachelor's degree in a comparable position.

Traditional Careers for Master's in Human Services Graduates

Careers Stats Description

Social and Community Service Managers

Median Pay: $64,100

Job Growth: 18%

Social and community service managers look after the administrative aspects of programs to ensure they meet the expectations of stakeholders. They also work with stakeholders and community members to determine necessary services and programs and write proposals for social services funding.

School and Career Counselors

Median Pay: $55,410

Job Growth: 13%

In charge of counseling small groups and individuals on the basis of school and student needs, school and career counselors review student interests and abilities through aptitude assessments, individual planning, and interviews. These counselors help students develop their organization and time management skills and study habits.

Social Workers

Median Pay: $47,980

Job Growth: 16%

Social workers work with clients to help them resolve and cope with problems in their daily lives. Clinical social workers also help treat and diagnose mental, emotional, and behavioral issues. These professionals sometimes operate their own private practice or work in group settings.

Social and Human Service Assistants

Median Pay: $33,120

Job Growth: 16%

Social and human service assistants work with clients to determine what type of help they might need. They also work with other professionals, including social workers, to decide an action plan for their clients. They check back in with clients to ensure they received the necessary care.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Nontraditional Careers for Human Services Graduates

In the section below, students can review some nontraditional careers they can pursue after completing their online master's in human services program. Typically, graduates of this discipline follow a specific career path, but can also branch out into areas like human resources, counseling, therapy, and administration roles, using many of the same skills and techniques as human services professionals.

Career Stats Description

Human Resources Manager

Median Pay: $110,120

Job Growth: 9%

Responsible for coordinating and planning an organization's employees to best use their talents, human resources managers link an organization's employees to management. They also oversee recruitment, interviewing, selection, and training.

Skills Overlapped: Much like professionals in the human services field, human resources managers must demonstrate strong communications skills.

Marriage and Family Therapists

Median Pay: $48,790

Job Growth: 23%

Marriage and family therapists encourage their clients to discuss their experiences and emotions to work through marital and family issues. They also walk their clients through the process of making important decisions about their future.

Skills Overlapped: Marriage and family therapists, similar to human services professionals, must have strong communication and critical thinking skills.

Postsecondary Education Administrators

Median Pay: $92,360

Job Growth: 10%

Postsecondary education administrators oversee academics, student services, and faculty research at colleges and universities. They often focus their work in one area such as financial aid, student services, or admissions.

Skills Overlapped: Postsecondary education administrators demonstrate excellent communication skills and the ability to connect with individuals to understand their unique needs, just like human services professionals do.

Human Resources Specialist

Median Pay: $60,350

Job Growth: 7%

In charge of recruiting, screening, interviewing, and placing job candidates, human resources specialists also work with compensation and benefits, employee relations, and training.

Skills Overlapped: Human resources specialists have excellent interpersonal and multitasking abilities, similar to human services professionals.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Paying for an Online Master's in Human Services

Students interested in obtaining their master's degree in human services online can follow different enrollment paths depending on their degree timeline. Students interested in earning a degree as quickly as possible can explore accelerated programs, allowing them to graduate in less than two years. Other options include full-time enrollment, which generally takes two years to complete, or part-time enrollment, putting students between three and five years for completion. Students also experience different tuition rates and financial aid opportunities depending on their program, and should complete their FAFSA to determine aid eligibility.

Scholarships for Online Human Services Master's Students

Students pursuing their master's degree in human services online can explore a variety of scholarship opportunities to help them pay for their education. Some scholarships require students to submit materials including essays and letters of recommendation while others require a minimum GPA and major stipulations.

What to Expect from a Master's Level Online Human Services Program

Students who enroll in a master's of human services online as full-time students typically earn their degree in two years. Some students pursue accelerated formats to finish in less than two years while others might need more flexibility, leading them to enroll part-time and take longer to earn their degree. Courses vary depending on the program, but across the field, students can expect similar topics in their curriculum.

Major Milestones

  1. Capstone

    A capstone project is a culmination of what students have learned throughout their human services program. Students often work with a specific faculty member throughout their project to confer and consult with them along the way, ensuring their ideas get executed effectively.

  2. Thesis

    Students required to complete a thesis must work with a faculty member to come up with an idea for a written work representing what they learned from their program. They must conduct research, create drafts, and work with their piece until they produce a final thesis paper.

  3. Internship

    Some programs require students to complete an internship requirement. These do not necessarily happen at a specific point during the student's program, but they do allow students to gain valuable field experience and college credits.

  4. Licensure Exam and Exam Prep

    At the end of their senior year, students can begin to prepare for licensure exams. Once they graduate, they should ensure they meet all necessary work and education requirements needed for certification.


Coursework for master's in human services programs vary depending on the college or university, although students can expect to see similar topics for any program in the field since they will need to hold a specific skill set and knowledge base.

Human Development and Human Behavior in Context

In the human development and human behavior in context course, students gain an overview of the purpose, history, current trends, and theoretical perspectives in human services. Students leave the course prepared to be leaders in human services.

History, Multiculturalism, and Diversity in Human Services

Students in the history, multiculturalism, and diversity in human services course learn about the historical background of human services. The course focuses on both legislation and social policies.

Skills and Practice in Human Services

The skills practiced in a human services course provides students with an overview of the comprehensive application of practice and skills in the human service field. They learn about the services and needs for diverse settings and population, focusing on families, individuals, and groups.

Professional Ethics and Personal Values

In the professional ethics and personal values course, students gain an overview of the ethical concerns in the human services field. In the course, students learn about the framework and professional ethics for applying principles in a professional setting.

Advocacy for Children and Families

The advocacy for children and families course focuses on the knowledge needed to become an advocate for change. Course topics emphasize advocacy work for families, individuals, and groups at all levels, such as community organizing and development and global activism. Students also learn how to advocate for client self-determination.

Degree Timelines

Students can pursue a variety of enrollment timelines depending on their specific preferences and needs. The following list details the different types of enrollment and the time it takes to complete each pathway.

Enrollment Status Time to Complete Description


3-5 years

Students who need more flexibility in their program can enroll part-time to take fewer credits each semester. Students who enroll part-time typically end up taking between three and five years to finish their program, but they are able to enjoy the ability to work and commit their time outside of their program.


2 years

Considered the standard enrollment type for students, full-time enrollment is ideal for students who have the time and dedication needed to complete their degree within two years. Full-time students often experience slight variations in the amount of credits they take each semester as long as they meet the minimum requirement.


1-1.5 years

Students interested in earning their master's degree as quickly as possible can enroll in accelerated programs. In accelerated formats, students take more than the typical amount of credits in a semester to finish their degree in as little as one year.

Licenses and Certifications

Some employers in the human services field require employees to hold certifications. In many cases, professionals who hold certifications tend to have higher salaries and more diverse job possibilities. Certification functions as a way to demonstrate a professional's unique skill set, relevant to their potential job.

  • Human Services Board Certified Practitioner: Individuals who earn certification as human services practitioners learn to promote safe and effective practice, increase median earnings, and validate skills to employers. To earn certification, individuals must pass an exam, and after becoming certified, they must keep up on continuing education requirements.
  • Certified Community Service Worker: A certified community service worker must hold a certain level of competency. To earn certification, individuals must hold a bachelor's degree, adhere to the code of ethics, and demonstrate various core competencies.

Professional Organizations and Resources

Graduates who earn their master's degree in human services online should consider joining a professional organization and enjoy many benefits.

  • The National Organization for Human Services: A membership organization dedicated to providing opportunities for professional development, the National Organization for Human Services promotes certifications and advocates for social change.
  • The American Public Human Services Association: The American Public Human Services Association represents both state and local health and human services. The association functions as a bipartisan membership organization using resources to influence modern policies to support stronger families.
  • American Counseling Association: The American Counseling Association advocates for individuals working in professional counseling, providing free access to publications, conferences, and continuing education courses, helping individuals become counselors, therapists, or psychologists.
  • Council for Standards in Human Service Education: Established in 1979 to improve the consistency, quality, and relevance of human service education, the Council for Standards in Human Service Education gears membership toward colleges and universities interested in promoting training.
  • National Council on Family Relations: The National Council on Family Relations hosts annual conferences that bring new treatments, practices, and methods to the forefront. Members include educators, therapists, clergy, and public health workers.
  • PublicHealth.Org: PublicHealth.org serves as an online platform for human services students in need of additional resources. The website boasts professional development tactics, different academic guides, and information about college planning and financial aid.
  • U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Website: Students and professionals in the human services field can access the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services website to review the laws and regulations and different services offered to citizens of the United States.
  • Medicare and Medicaid Website: The Medicare and Medicaid website provides individuals with information on health and human services for Medicare and Medicaid recipients in the U.S.
  • Health Resources & Services Administration: The Health Resources & Services Administration website features information about health centers, scholarship information, grant opportunities, and other useful information for human services students and professionals.
  • Journal of Human Services Students and professionals can review the Journal of Human Services to learn about the latest trends and technologies in the field and stay up-to-date on current research.