Masters in Human Services: Degree Program Overview

Human services master's degree programs focus on the administration of human services and the theory behind a wide range of social benefits. Programs typically cover social services, such as mental health and drug addiction counseling, the healthcare system and aid to the homeless.

Essential Information

Two-year master's degree programs related to human services are focused on the management of a human services organization, while others also include training in some form of counseling, such as substance abuse or school counseling. Courses may cover topics in human services programming development, program analysis and community relations. A thesis may be required. Students in programs that include counseling may be required to complete internships or student teaching. Some schools offer these degree programs online.

Master's Degree in Human Services Administration

Many people seeking advanced education in human services pursue a Master of Science (MS) or Master of Arts (MA) in Human Services Administration. The degree program teaches students how to fund, program, manage and present services such as discounted healthcare, psychological counseling, drug and alcohol addiction therapy, child services and community outreach. Students can work for governmental agencies, private companies and non-profit organizations.

Applicants to master's degree programs in human services administration need to have a bachelor's degree and should submit a copy of their undergraduate college transcript. Some programs have specific grade point average requirements, while some programs also ask that students submit personal statements with their academic credentials.

The curricula in human services administration master's degree programs emphasize leadership, program evaluation, decision-making and program planning as related to social services. Programs usually require students to complete courses discussing topics such as:

  • Contemporary social services issues
  • Strategic human services programming
  • Human services program analysis
  • Leadership for human services administrators
  • Research in human services

Master's Degree in Human Services and Counseling

Some schools offer master's degree programs that emphasize both human services and a particular branch of counseling, such as community counseling or school counseling. Programs award either a Master of Arts (MA) degree or a Master of Education (M.Ed.) degree. Students in an MA program usually have to complete a thesis project prior to graduation, while those enrolled in an M.Ed. program often need to complete student teaching or observation assignments.

Applicants need to maintain an adequate GPA in their undergraduate studies and ask for letters of recommendation from their former professors or work supervisors. Additionally, many programs require students to submit a résumé detailing relevant work experience and write a personal statement on why they are interested in human services and counseling.

The coursework in most human services and counseling master's degree programs is split between courses covering human resources and those on counseling. Students learn about theory, administration and research of when completing the human services component. The counseling component covers topics related to counseling theory, techniques and the history of psychology. The classes below are often included in the programs:

  • Community relations
  • Counseling ethics
  • Human services administration for multicultural communities
  • Counseling skills
  • Society and education

Employment Prospects and Salary Info

Graduates of human services administration master's programs may work for governmental groups, nonprofit organizations or private research firms. They often qualify for advanced roles in management and program implementation. The careers listed below are common options for those with a master's degree in human services administration:

  • Human services program manager
  • Human services program implementation specialist
  • Human services researcher

People who graduate from a master's program in human services and counseling have a range of career options. The type of counseling studied impacts graduates' career prospects, allowing graduates to work in settings like schools, non-profit organizations or counseling private practices. Graduates often work in the careers listed below:

  • Community counselor
  • Counseling service administrator
  • School district administrator

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), social and community service managers earned a median wage of $63,530 per year in 2015. About 119,770 of these professionals were employed as of 2015, and those jobs were projected to increase by 10% between the years of 2014 and 2024, which is faster than average compared to other occupations.

There are two types of master's degrees students interested in careers in human services administration may seek, a master's degree in human services administration or a master's degree in human services and counseling. The first focuses on management concerns while the other prepares students for counseling positions.

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