Masters in Human Services

What Could You Learn in a Masters in Human Services?

A master’s degree in human service may provide students with a foundation of study in human behavior. This type of educational program is typically available to students who have completed a bachelor’s degree in a related field and wish to pursue more specific education or hope to work in a specific role requiring a graduate degree.

Human services is the field that focuses on helping others. It includes numerous potential career paths and opportunities. Often, the core of this type of program is working to help others to improve their lives through a range of services. It may be a common path for those who wish to work in hospitals but may also be helpful in clinics, schools, religious organizations, and public service overall.

Human services masters

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25 Schools Graduating Students with a Masters in Human Services

According to NCES, these are 25 schools in the US based on the number of students graduating with a master’s in human services for the 2019 to 2020 school year:

College / University GraduatesAcceptance Rate
Walden University251N/A
Purdue University Global149N/A
Wilmington University68N/A
Saint Leo University5772%
Lincoln University41N/A
University of South Dakota3986%
Capella University38N/A
East Central University3859%
Post University3297%
Ashford University26N/A
Concordia University – St. Paul2598%
Albertus Magnus College2383%
University of Illinois Springfield2277%
Chestnut Hill College2065%
University of Baltimore2078%
National Louis University1798%
Webster University1757%
Southeastern University1648%
Warner Pacific University Professional and Graduate Studies16N/A
University of San Diego1549%
East Tennessee State University1386%
University of South Florida1248%
Lenoir-Rhyne University1178%
Mississippi Valley State University1165%
University of San Francisco1164%

Human Services Master’s Programs Courses May Include

Students who earn a master’s degree in human services program typically take courses in a range of fields. This may include social work, counseling, sociology, and psychology. They may be able to take courses that they are specifically interested in as well as core or foundation courses in the field. Students typically learn how to guide the work other people do through leadership skills and how to make an impact on the lives of other people. Here are a few of the courses that a student may take when earning a Master in Human Services:

1st course Foundations of Human Service

Foundations of Human Service

This is often one of the base courses for this program. An overall history of human service as well as how it is applied on all levels are often covered. How to deal with clients as well as interpret data may also play a role in this program.

2nd course Social Welfare Policy

Social Welfare Policy

The social welfare policy on an international and national level are typically examined as the primary focus of this course. How it applies to social, political, and economic dynamics may also be a part of the program. How these policies are applied and how they affect other policymaking is also often discussed.

3rd Course Diversity and Cultural Competence in Human Services

Diversity and Cultural Competence in Human Services

This course may cover the importance of diversity and being understanding of it to deliver messages across cultures in the field. Values and cultural competencies are often major topics of discussion in this course.

4th Course Introduction to Counseling

Introduction to Counseling

This is often an introductory course in this field. This course often provides students with an understanding of what to expect as well as provide a general background of all subject matter through the course of the program.

5th Course Human Growth and Development

Human Growth and Development

This course typically goes in depth in the field of human growth and development. Understanding changes over the lifespan of people, and changes in areas such as emotional, physical, social, and cognitive development are often a part of it.

6th Course Assessment and Assessment Techniques

Assessment and Assessment Techniques

This course often serves as an introduction into assessing and testing. Using statistical concepts and applying methods for developing, scoring, and administering these tests may be a part of this course. Students may develop competence in understanding data and research to help improve their assessing abilities..

  • Some of the nation’s most affordable tuition rates, from a private, nonprofit, NEASC accredited university
  • Qualified students with 2.5 GPA and up may receive up to $20K in grants & scholarships
  • Multiple term start dates throughout the year. 24/7 online classroom access

5 Most frequently asked questions (FAQs) about a Masters Program in Human Services

Earning a masters in human services may help students enhance their careers in a range of fields, depending on the type of courses they take and the type of licensing they pursue. Often, this may include positions like higher education counselor, human services educator, drug and alcohol counselor, marriage and family therapist, or geriatric social worker. Many other paths may exist.

Earning a master’s degree in human services may be beneficial to some people. It may enable them to enter a challenging but rewarding career path. Individuals who complete this degree may be able to use those skills for various leadership type positions or to work in a field that enables them to help others on a one-on-one basis. For those who find this type of work exciting and rewarding, this degree may be worth it.

Those earning a Master in Human Services may learn the skills and techniques necessary to work in social service fields. They may work in other areas that involve policy making or public resources as well. These positions typically help individuals and groups access and benefit from various programs available to them, such as housing and education.

The two fields could be somewhat the same. However, social workers typically spend more time dealing directly with clients to carry out the social programs available to them. In the human services sector of the industry, many may work in administrative positions or in advocacy organizations that help to support those underserved communities.

It typically takes about 2 years to complete a master’s degree in human services. Accelerated programs may help students complete it in under 18 months in some situations. Other times, students may take part time classes while working or meeting other goals, and that may extend the education process to 3 years or more.

Find Funding for Human Services Masters Programs

Students who wish to complete a master’s degree may need to find funding to cover the costs of it. According to NCES data, the average cost of a masters degree in 2018 to 2019 was $19,314. For those students who wish to cover those costs, there are several funding options that may be available. Availability depends on multiple factors, including qualifications and needs. Financial assistance is available to those who qualify. Below are some of the available funding options that may help cover the cost of a graduate degree, though qualifications differ for each person.


Scholarships may be one of the funding options students may wish to pursue when looking to cover the cost of a graduate degree. Scholarships typically provide funds that often do not have to be repaid later. That means students may be able to apply these funds to their tuition or other costs. Options may exist for scholarships for a master’s degree in human services. Students may need to apply for them and beat the competition to earn them.

APF Queen-Nellie Evans Scholarship

Who Can Apply: The APF Queen-Nellie Evans Scholarship is a $4,000 award that supports minority students going for a master’s or doctorate degree in an accredited program

Amount: $4,000

Deadline: November 15

Roy Scrivener Memorial Research Grant

Who Can Apply:  The APF Roy Scrivener Memorial Research Grant is an $8,000 grant towards scientific and applied research focused on LGBTQ family therapy.

Amount: $8,000

Deadline: November 1

NAJA Graduate Scholarship

Who Can Apply: The National Association of Junior Auxiliaries, Inc offers graduate scholarships to those planning to work directly with children.

Amount: $1,000

Deadline: February 1

AAMFT/SAMHSA Minority Fellowship Program

Who Can Apply: Arizona State University awards a $1,000 Friends of History Scholarship to an undergraduate student who has a declared major in history.

Amount: $1,000

NBCC Foundation Military Scholarship (Master’s)

Who Can Apply: The NBCC Foundation military scholarships are $8,000 awards for service members, veterans, and their spouses pursuing a career in professional counseling in exchange for a work commitment.

Amount: $8,000

Federal Loans

One of the options for obtaining a loan to pay for this graduate degree is through federal student loans. These loan programs are often backed by the U.S. federal government. They may provide a range of funding options, but they have various specific requirements. Students may need to meet specific requirements to qualify for these loans. There are usually fewer graduate program student loans from the federal government than there are undergraduate student loans. Here are some examples to consider:

  • Direct Unsubsidized Loans: These are typically available to graduate schools and professional students. Unlike direct subsidized loans, which are made available to undergraduate students with demonstrated financial need, direct unsubsidized loans usually do not have a need based requirement. More students may be eligible for them.
  • Direct PLUS Loans: These are loans typically made available to professional or graduate level students. They are designed to pay for educational expenses that are typically not paid for through other loans. Eligibility for these loans is not based on financial need, though. However, some require a credit check to be performed, and borrowers may not qualify without meeting other requirements in some cases.
  • Direct Consolidation Loans: These loans may enable a student to combine all of their undergraduate and graduate level federal debt into one new loan. This consolidation loan is typically provided after a student completes their education.

Private Student Loans

Another option for some students may be private student loans. These loans often come from third party lenders, not the government. They may be available to cover various costs associated with completing a master’s degree including tuition and books. Each private student loan lender sets their own rules for these loans and terms may differ significantly from federal loans and from each other. Students may wish to take a closer look at each of their options before making a decision on which loan to use. Some of the factors to compare include:

  • Credit score and income requirements may be factors
  • Limitations on repayment adjustments and terms are common in these loans
  • Costs such as interest rates may also differ from one to the other
  • Forbearance and consolidation may be limited
  • Interest rates may be fixed or variable

Is marriage therapist a great career?

Working as a marriage and family therapist may be one of the career options for those with a master’s degree in human services. Those who work in this field may help people by diagnosing and treating mental health disorders providing a range of therapies. They may work specifically with those who are married or within a family unit. Some of the work they do often includes encouraging individuals and family members to develop skills for managing problems in a constructive manner, asking questions that help to identify feelings and behaviors, and developing individualized treatment plans related to destructive patterns of behavior.

They may also manage case files, counsel clients on concerns such as relationships, child rearing, and home management, and provide support for difficulties related to personal issues. Their typical day often includes counseling clients or patients regarding their specific needs, teaching life skills or strategies to individuals or families, and maintaining client records. They may also need to develop treatment plans for patients or college information about clients.

Human Services Masters [geo-in-name, Important skills for marriage therapists
  • Active Listening — Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Social Perceptiveness — Being aware of others’ reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
  • Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.

Skills to do this type of work may include active listening, social perceptiveness, and complex problem solving. They may need to have oral expression and comprehension skills, problem sensitivity abilities, and great communication skills.

To do this type of work, many employers require people to have a master’s degree. Many times this requires licensing on top of education. They may need to have 5 to 7 years of experience in the field as well. Some on-the-job experience may be provided.

2022 Median Annual Salary for Marriage Therapists

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, those working as a marriage therapist in 2022 earned the following as a median wage:

New Jersey$83,590Missouri$63,410
New York$61,570Nebraska$53,990
North Dakota$58,050New Hampshire$56,630
Oklahoma$52,570New Mexico$59,850
Pennsylvania$57,570North Carolina$51,750
South Carolina$34,440Ohio$54,810
Utah$88,980Rhode IslandN/A
Virginia$75,990South Dakota$47,580
West VirginiaN/AWyomingN/A

Is substance abuse counselor a great career?

Working as a substance abuse counselor may be another path for those with a master’s degree in human services. Though licensing is also necessary in many students, those who work in this field typically counsel and advise people related to alcohol, drug, or other types of addictive behaviors. They may provide support to individuals as well as families. They may help groups as well. Some work in prevention as well as in treatment.

The work done may include completing and maintaining accurate records, counseling clients or patients on overcoming dependencies and adjusting to life, and assessing a person’s degree or dependency by gathering data. They may also conduct chemical dependency program orientation sessions, follow the progress of patients after discharged, and provide one-on-one support to families.

The day to day tasks a substance abuse counselor may perform may include maintaining client records, writing up reports and evaluations, and counseling clients and patients on their substance use disorder issues. They may also monitor clients to evaluate treatment progress and administer drug screening tests.

To complete this type of work, these individuals may need to have some tech skills. They may also need to have great speaking and critical thinking skills. Many also need to have social perceptiveness and the ability to monitor others long term.

To do this type of work, students may need to sit for a licensing exam, depending on the state’s rules. Many times, students need to have a master’s degree to work in the field, though some employers may prefer students to have a PhD. Many times, students need to come into the position with 5 or more years of experience in some aspect of the field. They may have some but little on-the-job training to complete their work.

Human Services Masters , Important skills for substance abuse counselors
  • Active Listening — Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Critical Thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.

2022 Median Annual Salary for Substance Abuse Counselor

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these are the median wages earned by those working as a substance abuse counselor in 2022 in each state:

New Jersey$65,090Missouri$47,200
New York$60,320Nebraska$54,200
North Dakota$60,710New Hampshire$50,860
Oklahoma$57,180New Mexico$62,610
Pennsylvania$51,650North Carolina$55,530
South Carolina$46,760Ohio$53,310
Utah$65,180Rhode IslandN/A
Virginia$56,350South Dakota$48,160
West Virginia$46,130Wyoming$59,620

Sandy Baker


Sandy has extensive experience writing educational articles for topics ranging from online education to college degrees. She’s worked with several Ivy League colleges to create blogs, newsletters, sales material for recruiting as well as “how to manage” college lifestyle pieces. Additionally, she’s written for well-respected study abroad programs helping students to find international opportunities spanning the globe from South America to Africa and Asia.

Sandy’s experience also includes writing about financial aid, FAFSA, scholarship searches, and managing college loans and grants. This includes aiding both students and parents in managing the application and financial aid process from start to finish. Her writing in this area has been featured in The New York Times, Cleveland Magazine, and several blogs.

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