Best Online Masters in Human Services Degrees for 2023

Master's Degree in Human Services Career Options & Salary

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Why Earn a Master’s in Human Services?

Human services professionals field are a special breed. They have chosen to make helping others their life’s work. This is perhaps even more true of those who have invested the time, energy, and heart into attaining a master’s in human services. These professionals may have earned their degree through traditional means or continued to work while attending an online or hybrid, with online and in-person courses, to gain their education.

If you are driven to help others find vital resources so that they can have the best chance in their lives, this field might be right for you. You'll find opportunities to work with and support a variety of populations, from child and family groups to substance abuse sufferers. You might be called to help developmentally disabled people, for instance, or you might seek to help impoverished families secure housing and job placement services when they don't have access to things like online job boards or services they can find themselves.

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Master’s in human services degree programs have many positive attributes. In fact, an advanced degree might serve as the catapult that lifts your career from good to stellar. For starters, you will be able to spend time in school studying what you love. You can build on the work you did in your undergraduate program and delve deep into the areas that mean the most to you.

Once you have graduated, your academic credentials will attract the attention of employers. They will be more likely to hire you for supervisory positions and you will be at the top of the list for promotions and raises, too. If you work for a governmental agency, your pay should automatically increase once you submit your new status to HR.

You will also find that you can build on your master’s degree with certifications and state licenses in human services. Make that you research your state’s rules and regulations to ensure that your courses, whether online or on campus, will satisfy the state licensing boards.


While more education is almost always a net positive that yields rewards for a lifetime, that is not always the case. In fact, pursuing master's degrees, even online, can be quite a gamble. You could invest years of time and intellectual energy, and take on large debts, only to find that you are not as employable or promotable as you’d hoped. This may be especially true if you are not willing to move in order to find a position in human services leadership or as a community service manager with larger human services agencies elsewhere.

Another possible negative aspect of a graduate degree is that you could decide that the human services field is not for you. This one is avoidable if prospective human services students take the time to work in the field as human services workers or community service managers for a significant time, at least two years for example, before going after their master’s. Experience can also help you decide precisely what to concentrate on during their human services master's programs.

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What are the Best Online Masters in Human Services College Programs?


Purdue University

  • Net Price: $12,294
  • Retention Rate: 93%
  • Graduation Rate: 83%
  • Total Enrollment: 46,655
  • Undergrad Students: 35,706
  • Graduate Students: 10,949
  • Diplomas Awarded: NA
  • Grads Salary: $78,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 13:1
  • Purdue University

St. Joseph's College-New York

  • Net Price: $16,290
  • Retention Rate: 84%
  • Graduation Rate: 70%
  • Total Enrollment: 5,012
  • Undergrad Students: 3,903
  • Graduate Students: 1,109
  • Diplomas Awarded: 68
  • Grads Salary: $69,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 12:1
  • St. Joseph's College-New York

University of Cincinnati

  • Net Price: $22,767
  • Retention Rate: 88%
  • Graduation Rate: 73%
  • Total Enrollment: 40,826
  • Undergrad Students: 29,933
  • Graduate Students: 10,893
  • Diplomas Awarded: 68
  • Grads Salary: $72,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 19:1
  • University of Cincinnati

University of Redlands

  • Net Price: $30,240
  • Retention Rate: 75%
  • Graduation Rate: 71%
  • Total Enrollment: 4,931
  • Undergrad Students: 3,206
  • Graduate Students: 1,725
  • Diplomas Awarded: 68
  • Grads Salary: $81,200
  • Student-to-faculty: 12:1
  • University of Redlands

University of Nebraska-Lincoln

  • Net Price: $17,341
  • Retention Rate: 85%
  • Graduation Rate: 66%
  • Total Enrollment: 25,108
  • Undergrad Students: 20,286
  • Graduate Students: 4,822
  • Diplomas Awarded: 68
  • Grads Salary: $69,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 16:1
  • University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Saint Mary's University of Minnesota

  • Net Price: $22,021
  • Retention Rate: 79%
  • Graduation Rate: 62%
  • Total Enrollment: 5,152
  • Undergrad Students: 1,329
  • Graduate Students: 3,823
  • Diplomas Awarded: 68
  • Grads Salary: $71,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 18:1
  • Saint Mary's University of Minnesota

Webster University

  • Net Price: $23,548
  • Retention Rate: 77%
  • Graduation Rate: 55%
  • Total Enrollment: 8,197
  • Undergrad Students: 2,563
  • Graduate Students: 5,634
  • Diplomas Awarded: 68
  • Grads Salary: $76,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 12:1
  • Webster University

University of Wisconsin

  • Net Price: $12,278
  • Retention Rate: 72%
  • Graduation Rate: 56%
  • Total Enrollment: 15,314
  • Undergrad Students: 14,068
  • Graduate Students: 1,246
  • Diplomas Awarded: 68
  • Grads Salary: $64,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 23:1
  • University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh

Concordia University-Saint Paul

  • Net Price: $16,521
  • Retention Rate: 68%
  • Graduation Rate: 48%
  • Total Enrollment: 5,585
  • Undergrad Students: 3,578
  • Graduate Students: 2,007
  • Diplomas Awarded: 68
  • Grads Salary: $71,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 20:1
  • Concordia University-Saint Paul

East Tennessee State University

  • Net Price: $13,661
  • Retention Rate: 78%
  • Graduation Rate: 50%
  • Total Enrollment: 13,713
  • Undergrad Students: 10,705
  • Graduate Students: 3,008
  • Diplomas Awarded: 13
  • Grads Salary: $64,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 16:1
  • East Tennessee State University
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Overview of an Online Master's in Human Services

What Online Human Services Master’s Degrees are Available?

  • Master of Arts in Human Services
    An MA in Human Services is a graduate degree that focuses on non-mathematical or analytical subjects. If you are considering furthering your work in public policy, counseling, or administration you should perhaps consider an MA when researching programs.
  • Master of Science in Human Services
    An MS in this field differs from an MA in that you will typically find your coursework focuses more on statistics and even social science research, than topics such as public policy or administration. However, there is often a lot of crossover with an MA degree and some programs offer both within the same department but confer one or the other depending on your specific course selections at this degree level.
  • Master of Human Services
    Yet another option is an MHS degree. This type of degree will serve much the same purpose as an MA or MS. In fact, many MHS programs offer specific concentrations that you can choose. Each program will offer slightly different tracks for your studies, so be sure to thoroughly research and compare your top choices.

Online Admission Requirements

Graduate school admissions are often far more rigorous than undergraduate programs, even for online degrees. For degrees that have an occupational focus, such as a master's in human services degree, you should be prepared to document your experience in the field and even discuss it in an admissions interview. On top of your professional experience, you will need a strong undergraduate GPA, letters of recommendation, and GRE scores that meet minimum criteria. You may also need to submit an admissions essay that details your passion for the field as well as your plans for the future.

How long does it take to earn an Online Human Services Master’s?

Graduate degrees vary in length. Some are designed to take a single year, while others are designed for up to three years. When you assess the time it ostensibly takes to complete an online master's degree, factor in your personal time constraints as well. Some programs might have a track that leads to graduation in 16 months, but that might not be reasonable for you and your situation. Consider that to hit the 16-month target you will have little time for anything but studying. You may need to forgo things like family vacations, overtime at work, and some personal time. For those students who choose an online degree specifically to make sure they can still maintain their current work schedule, an online degree that takes over your day with synchronous online courses will not provide you with the flexible schedule you need.

Prior to applying to any online or hybrid human services program, consider your current time constraints vis-a-vis work and family, and make a reasonable plan for a timely graduation. You want to be certain that you can dedicate your full attention to your studies. After all, the degree will help launch a new chapter in your career.

Potential Careers in Human Services with a Master’s

  • Social Worker
    Social workers are found in a wide variety of settings. They work in hospitals, jails, in government offices, and independent non-profit organizations. Their function can vary from counseling to administration.
    Social workers currently earn an average yearly salary of: $48,000.
  • Addiction Counselor
    The opioid epidemic, as well as the continuing rise of alcoholism, is driving demand for more addiction counselors. Some states license addiction counselors starting with those with an online associate degree. These professionals work in settings including drug rehabs, private practice, and perhaps even prisons.
    The national average income for this occupation is: $40,000.
  • Community Outreach Coordinator
    This profession is found as the face of non-profit organizations. They are often the contact person on press releases and they typically spearhead public initiatives. Professionals in this occupation don't need any specific degree, but an online master's degree will certainly provide the knowledge and skill they need to thrive.
    The average salary for this job description is: $42,200.
  • Case Manager
    This job is very demanding, as these professionals must manage many different individuals who are all at very different stages in their lives. Typically, case managers work with specific populations such as prisoners on release, homeless people seeking a stable place in society, or children in the foster care system. With a master's degree you might even manage the managers.
    The average salary for case managers is: $41,400.
  • Juvenile Probation Officer
    This sort of probation officer is dramatically different from the corrections professionals who work with adults. Juvenile probation officers work with children and adolescents in hopes of transitioning them out of the corrections system and into a more stable living pattern.
    An average salary for this profession is: $40,600.

Options to Advance

As your human services career progresses, you will surely want to attain raises and promotions. As you put more and more time and effort into your job, you are sure to receive both. However, you may find that your earnings cap out at a certain point. This is often due to your educational credentials. Thus, with each higher degree you earn, you can find more options to advance yourself.

You can even seek out special non-academic online certifications and win awards that will bolster your resume. However, the best way to advance is through higher and higher degrees. Even if you achieve an online master's degree, you can still return to school for either a different master's or a graduate certificate. For instance, you might complete an MBA to inform your ability to administer a non-profit, or you could simply add a new certificate that specifically speaks to your passions for human services.

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