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What PhD to Get With an M.A. in Human Services

Nov 13, 2019

Although many who are interested in the practical application side of human services will opt for a Doctor of Human Services (DHS) degree, there is still an option for M.A. in Human Services holders who specifically would like to pursue the more research-focused Ph.D. route.

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Below you will find a description of Ph.D. degree programs related to human services, including admission requirements and an overview of the general structures of degree programs for a Ph.D. in Family Science and Human Development, Human Resources, or Social Welfare.

Family Science and Human Development

Much of the coursework for Family Science and Human Development Ph.D. programs is devoted to research methods, both qualitative research methods and quantitative, statistics, and related methodology and practice. These programs are also typically multidisciplinary with flexible coursework and various specialization and focus areas. Many contain a portion of individualized coursework, planned by students and their academic advisors/mentors subject to department or advisory approval. Common courses include research methods in family science, applied statistics in family science, field studies, survey research methods, and many more. Outside of standardized coursework, students are often required to, and given the opportunity to, conduct their own research in this field of study.

Human Resources

A Ph.D. in Human Resources is another research-focused degree for those who wish to continue their human services education beyond the undergraduate level but within the Ph.D. degree track, specifically. Ph.D. in Human Resources programs can focus on dispute handling, stress management, organizational behavior, public policy, and social statistics. Core course material can include research methods, statistics, and studies in human resources. There are also opportunities for multidisciplinary studies including psychology, sociology, and economics.

Social Welfare

Social Welfare Ph.D. degree programs also have a strong research and statistics focus. Courses can include material on diversity and minority health disparities, children and families, aging, mental health, and related study areas. This degree also has a strong focus on a core understanding of research theories and practices, statistics, data interpretation, and social policy.

Admission Requirements for Human Services related Ph.D. Programs

Typically speaking, students who are applying to Human Services Ph.D. programs should hold a master's degree in a related field. Some schools allow exceptional bachelor's degree holders into the Ph.D. program, but an M.A. in human services will generally meet this requirement.

Students must also demonstrate an appropriate grade point average. Typically, a GPA of 3.0 or more is appropriate for admission, but some schools require students to achieve a GPA of 3.5 or above. Almost always, programs will require official transcripts to verify this information, as well as to gain a better understanding of associated courses and individual performance in those courses. Applicants must also usually demonstrate acceptable scores within the GRE categories for admission into these Ph.D. programs.

Letters of recommendation are another common requirement for Ph.D. programs in this field, and applicants might also expect to provide an essay or personal statement. These can shed light on the academic career, individual abilities, and subject-area passion in a fuller way and on a more personal level than GPAs and standardized test scores.

In summary, there are research-focused Ph.D. routes available to those who hold an M.A. in Human Services. Family Sciences and Human Development, Human Resources, and Social Welfare Ph.D. programs offer students a chance to continue their human services related educations and gain further qualifications therein.

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