What is an Online Master’s in Human Services?
An online master’s degree in human services is a broad-based program that introduces students to the study of human needs and how to meet them while preparing students for a wide range of careers.
Human services as a field is focused on improving the quality of life of specific populations. In an online master’s degree program, students learn various strategies, interventions, and techniques they can use to make a positive difference in the lives of others.
Often human services master’s programs include a study of everything from counseling and therapeutic techniques to research analysis to advocacy and accountability. Because of the wide scope of coursework in these programs, graduates can enter the workforce in many different occupations. This includes as a therapist, a college professor, a social services manager, or a drug and alcohol counselor, just to name a few.
What is an Online Master’s in Human Services that Does Not Require a GRE?
There are a number of online master’s degree programs in this field that do not require students to take the GRE. From world-renown universities to small colleges to institutions that specialize in online studies, the list below is just a sampling of options for pursuing an online master’s degree in human services without needing to take the GRE.
Walden University – MS in Human and Social Services
The online master’s degree program in human and social services from Walden University is a 100-percent online degree taught by scholar-practitioners that have real-world experience working in the human services field. The program offers a dozen different career-aligned specializations that allow students to tailor their studies to their desired career field. The general program requires students to complete 48 quarter credit hours, which can typically be done in two years.
To enroll in the master of science program in human and social services at Walden University, students must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution and submit official transcripts as well as an employment history. Once admitted, students will participate in a professionally-focused curriculum with various specialization opportunities, including in community intervention and leadership, gerontology, criminal justice, and mental health facilitation, among others.
Purdue Global University – MS in Human Services
Purdue Global University offers an online master of science program in human services that offers a comprehensive curriculum designed to aid students in developing critical skills to be competent practitioners. Students can choose to concentrate in one of two areas – family and community services or organizational and social services. To be admitted to the program, students must present transcripts that show graduation with an undergraduate degree from an accredited institution.
Ashford University – MA in Human Services
The master of arts in human services degree from Ashford University offers three areas of concentration for students – a generalist emphasis, a non-profit management emphasis, and a mental health administration emphasis. No matter which area of emphasis a student pursues, the guiding principles of learning are to assist students in understanding how people’s goals, lifestyles, and values differ and how to tailor services to people based on their unique situation and needs. To gain provisional admission to the program, students must possess a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, have a minimum of a 2.0 undergraduate GPA, and have satisfactory scores on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).
Capella University – MS in Human Services
Capella University offers three different specializations in their human services department. This includes a master of science degree in leadership and organizational management, a master of science degree in program evaluation and data analytics, and a master of science degree in social and community services. Each option requires at least five core courses, three specialization courses, three elective courses, and one capstone project in order to earn one’s degree. Admissions requirements for students include having a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution and a minimum 2.3 GPA on a 4.0 scale.
Do All Online Master’s in Human Services Programs Require a GRE?
Fortunately, not all online master’s degrees in this field require a GRE score to be considered for admission. Since the GRE exam is designed to predict a student’s potential for success in graduate school, other indicators can be used to determine a student’s abilities in that regard.
For example, a popular admissions requirement for programs that do not require a GRE is for students to submit letters of recommendation from several undergraduate professors. Since these professors had the student in class – and potentially multiple classes – they can speak well to the student’s abilities and potential as a graduate student.
Often, non-GRE programs (and those that require a GRE, too) will also require students to participate in an interview process. Typically, this involves the student meeting with graduate faculty members either in-person or online to discuss their abilities, goals, achievements, and so forth. Again, this is an excellent means of determining the fitness of a student for graduate studies without having to rely on GRE scores.
Are There Any Disadvantages of Non-GRE Human Services Master’s Degrees?
Typically, students that opt for a non-GRE human services master’s degree program are not at a disadvantage. This is due to a couple of primary factors.
First, as noted above, non-GRE programs utilize other factors to examine a student’s ability to succeed in the program. In addition to the letters of recommendation and interview requirements discussed above, many non-GRE programs also require students to have a certain undergraduate GPA (i.e., 2.5 on a 4.0 scale), another master’s degree, or professional experience. In that regard, students that have already demonstrated academic or professional success will not be at a disadvantage by enrolling in a non-GRE program.
Second, when students graduate and apply for jobs, seldom – if ever – will a prospective employer ask about an applicant’s GRE scores. Employers are much more concerned with the applicant’s GPA, the courses they took in graduate school, what their practicum and internship experiences involved, and so forth.
What Do You Learn in an Online Master’s in Human Services Degree?
Human services as a field of study is quite broad – perhaps among the broadest of the helping professions. However, at the graduate level, degree programs are often geared toward one specialization or another. For example, one program might focus on drug and alcohol counseling while another might focus more on preparing students to work with young adults in an after-school program. Despite these distinct differences, many human services programs have similar core learning topics, which include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Social services issues – Students in human services graduate programs learn about primary issues that impact various populations, such as poverty and health-related problems, and develop the skills necessary to help people overcome those obstacles in their lives.
- Counseling skills – Human services students learn various approaches to counseling, including how to practice counseling from the perspectives of Gestalt therapy, behaviorism, and psychoanalysis, to name a few.
- Legal issues in human services – These courses enlighten students to the often-complicated legal issues that surround working in this field. For example, students develop an understanding of what it means to be a “mandatory reporter” and the conditions under which they must break confidentiality to protect the safety of their client and others.
- Ethics – All human services master’s degree programs include a study of ethical procedures that govern their practice. For example, students explore ways to maintain a professional relationship with their clients and avoid blurring the lines between that professional relationship and a personal relationship.
- Human services management – Courses in human services management seek to help students develop the skills they need to oversee a public, private, for-profit, or non-profit human services organizations. This might include studies of accounting, reporting, and human resources.
- Case management – These courses aren’t just a study in how to practice in an organized manner, but instead focus on how to build rapport and trust with clients. Often, case management courses include case studies that place students in simulated situations in which they have to interview and develop rapport with a client.
- Human services research – Staying abreast of the latest developments in human services requires that students learn how to be good consumers of research and how to apply research to practice.
- Grant writing – Though not all human services students will need grant writing skills in their career, understanding how to present proposals for funding is highly marketable and valuable to potential employers.
Is Coursework of Non-GRE Programs Different?
Usually, coursework in GRE and non-GRE programs does not differ. Instead, what differentiates one human services master’s degree program from the next is often the focus of the program.
For example, a non-GRE human services program with a research focus would have more courses required for graduation that involved research into human services issues than a GRE program that focuses on preparing students for practice as a counselor or a therapist.
As another example, a GRE human services program with a primary education focus would include more courses in child development and school counseling than a non-GRE program that prepares students for careers in marriage and family therapy.
Since the GRE is not utilized to develop curricula for master’s degree programs, it really has little or no bearing on the types of coursework that are offered.
How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Master’s in Human Services Program?
To complete a typical online master’s degree in this field requires two to three years of full-time study. Required credits usually range from about 33 on the low end to more than 60 on the high end for graduation, depending on the program.
For example, the online master’s program in human services at Northeastern University requires students to complete 45 credit hours, which can be completed in as little as two years. Conversely, the human services master’s degree program at Wake Forest University requires 30 credit hours of study in addition to two study courses and a fieldwork unit. But because it’s a part-time program, students might need three or more years to complete it, even though it has fewer credit requirements than the program at Northeastern University.
What Skills You Need to Complete a Master’s in Human Services?
Though the following list is not a complete overview of all the skills one needs to be successful in a master’s program in human services, they are certainly some of the most valuable skills to possess:
- Knowledge of social structures – Regardless of the employment setting, human services workers provide direct services to clients of all types. As a result, possessing a deep understanding of social structures, cultural influences, religious beliefs, and so forth, is critical for success not only during one’s studies but during one’s career as well.
- Ability to synthesize information – Much of what a human services worker does is gather data from various sources to develop a plan for helping people improve their lives. This is a skill that must be fine-tuned throughout graduate school so that students are prepared to hit the ground running once they find employment after graduation.
- Critical thinking skills – Not all problems that are presented in the course of this type of work are obvious or easy to solve. Developing high-level critical thinking skills during one’s graduate studies will help ensure that students have the ability to be effective problem-solvers for their clients.
- Sociological research skills – There is an emphasis on research throughout a master’s program in human services. As such, students must possess the ability to develop and test hypotheses, conduct research, analyze data, and report on their findings, particularly with respect to sociological research.
- Interpersonal communication skills – While the career paths for graduates of human services programs are diverse, they all have at least one thing in common – excellent interpersonal communication skills are a must. As a result, students in a human services graduate program should possess the ability to speak well, to listen actively, and do so with many different types and groups of people.
- Understanding of counseling techniques – Students pursuing a master’s degree in this field should have a solid grasp of counseling and therapeutic techniques that are designed to bring about positive changes in people’s lives.
- Organizational skills – Graduate programs in human services require that students manage multiple deadlines simultaneously. Students that are not organized and that do not have the ability to attend to multiple tasks at the same time might have difficulty being successful.
How Much Can You Earn With a Master’s Degree in Human Services?
Because a master’s degree in human services opens up so many doors for employment in many different work areas, the income one can earn varies widely.
For example, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, working as a Human Resources Specialist will get you an average annual salary of $60,350. However, if one uses their master’s degree in human services to become a drug and alcohol counselor, the average annual wage is just $50,807.
These differences in wages has much to do with the field of work and the agency for which one works. For example, people that go on to become licensed professionals typically make more money than workers that are not licensed. Likewise, if one enters private practice and is self-employed, the potential for a higher income is much greater than if one is employed in a private non-profit setting.