By Iris Stone
What exactly is an accredited online human services master's degree? You might not even know what "human services" really means, but it's a very popular type of graduate program. In a general sense, it combines aspects of counseling, psychology, social work, leadership, administration, and interpersonal communications into a single degree option.
Some programs lean more toward the counseling side, while others focus more on the business aspects of human services. Either way, graduates with a degree in this subject have the flexibility to secure work in behavioral health, nonprofit work, human resources, organizational development, or social services.
If you're limited financially or geographically, an online program could be perfect for you. Plenty of schools offer master's in human services through distance education, giving students the opportunity to save money without needing to relocate for school. Many online learners even continue working full time!
The ten schools below represent the most affordable in online colleges with master's degrees in human services. We determined our ranking primarily by looking at online colleges' graduate-level tuition rates, using an average value for public schools with both in-state and out-of-state costs. All of these data came from College Navigator, a component of the National Center for Education Statistics, which is part of the U.S. Department of Education. The figures below represent an approximate annual cost based on per-credit pricing at each school. Note that your actual financial commitment may depend on residency, qualifications for scholarships, and part-time/full-time status. Schools are presented in descending order of cost, with the least expensive occupying the #1 spot.
10. Liberty University
Online Master of Arts in Human Services Counseling
As one of the largest online colleges in the country, Liberty University has plenty to offer. Its online Masters in Human Services Counseling degree caters to busy professionals who want to augment their work experience with advanced academic instruction. This program does not prepare students for professional licensure, but does allow graduates to apply for high level and managerial positions in their field. The human services features specialized "cognates" that help students narrow their interests and gain more relevant skill sets. Potential cognate options include Addictions and Recovery, Life Coaching, Criminal Justice, Executive Leadership, and Health and Wellness, among others. Students who choose the Addictions and Recovery concentration will be happy to hear that TheBestSchools.org ranks Liberty 9th out of the 20 Best Online Master's Degrees in Substance Abuse Counseling.
9. Western Carolina University
Online Master of Science Degree in Human Resources
Western Carolina University's selection of online master's degree programs includes a graduate option in human resources. The degree combines many elements of traditional master's in human services online programs with useful business training. The Society for Human Resource Management has approved WCU's rigorous curriculum, which meets the organization's high standards for HR education. Students can earn their entire degree in less than three years of full-time, entirely online study. GetEducated.com lists the university as the 3rd ranked "Best Buy" out of all online human resources programs, thanks to its affordable cost and generous graduate tuition awards.
Tuition: $4,098/yr (In-state) $14,505/yr (Out-of-state)
8. Bellevue University
Online Master of Arts in Human Services Degree
Students looking for one of the most affordable online master's in human services degrees will find a quality choice in Bellevue. The university's graduate program offers the perfect blend of low-cost credits and top-notch, engaging classes. Experienced professors share information about statistics and quantitative research methods, career development, social diversity, nonprofit administration, and leadership. Students boost themselves above the competition by completing final internships and an "applied learning project" – two accomplishments that will help them stand out in job interviews. OnlineCollege.org recognizes Bellevue's Human Services program for its technological services, commitment to student engagement, research support, and faculty credentials.
7. Concordia University St. Paul
Online Master of Arts in Human Services: Forensic Mental Health
Concordia University's St. Paul campus is just one of several regional options that this university offers from coast to coast. Bolstered by a vast network of alumni and resources, Concordia has developed strong graduate degree programs across business, health, and liberal arts topics. The cheap online Human Services Master's Degree stands out for its unique emphasis on forensics and mental health; the curriculum includes discussions in psychopathology, family violence, substance abuse, culture, and mental health law. A final research project mandates that all students submit a 30 to 40 page paper on a special topic of their choice. Particularly for students interested in the criminal justice system, Concordia is an ideal choice; U.S. News ranks CUSP the 34th best online graduate criminal justice program in the nation.
6. Southeastern University
Online Master of Arts in Human Services
Southeastern University has designed its online Masters in Human Services program to appeal specifically to Christian learners. The curriculum helps religious students learn to apply their faith and ethics to useful careers in organizational development, healthcare, social services, counseling, behavioral health, and other professional areas. SU's breadth of specialization options indicate just how comprehensive its curriculum is; concentrations include Gerontology, Administration, Emergency Management, and Children and Families. The program requires all students to contribute 350 hours or more to a community internship position (both faith-based and secular organizations are acceptable). In 2015, OnlineU.org named Southeastern the 19th best value in online human services degrees.
5. University of Nebraska Omaha
Online Human and Family Services Administration M.S.
The University of Nebraska is a sizeable public university that attracts students from all across the Midwest. However, it is also gaining a reputation as a top provider of distance education programs. Its "Worldwide" selection of majors includes a cheap online Human Services Master's degree with an emphasis on Family Services Administration. The program goes beyond typical human services pedagogy, focusing on four main content areas: administration and management, professional issues, family functioning, and program design/evaluation. The 100% online option allows students to interact with their classmates and professors much as they would in traditional classrooms by utilizing email, online discussion boards, video conferences, and phone calls. U.S. News lists the University of Nebraska 99th on its selection of the best national colleges, also recognizing the high caliber school with more than 30 other top rankings across a range of subject areas.
Tuition: $4,415/yr (In-state) $12,330/yr (Out-of-state)
4. Wilmington University
Online Master of Science in the Administration of Human Services
Students who want to learn about both management and social services can turn to Wilmington University's online Human Services master's degree. The major acts as an amalgam of some of the most interesting graduate programs available; topics cover leadership skills, research design, the dynamics of relationships, social policy, volunteerism, substance abuse, grant writing, and much more. Online learners enjoy a long list of electives that allow them to customize their education, but all students complete engaging Capstone Projects and Guided Practicums. Both of these final commitments are vital to developing the practical skills that will get them far in the professional world. Local students often choose Wilmington for its stellar regional reputation; TheBestSchools.org even named it the top university in the state!
3. St. Mary's University of Minnesota
Online Master of Arts in Health and Human Services Administration
Online masters in human services degrees often provide training in leadership and administration, but many fall short of offering licensure options. St. Mary's is one exception, as its Health and Human Services Administration program allows students to seek licensure in Home Nursing. The primarily health-focused courses include Informatics, Labor Relations, Common Diseases and Treatments, Financial Management, Project Management, and Human Services Policy. Notably, SMU is one of just a handful of colleges that makes its results on the National Survey of Student Engagement publicly available; data from this prestigious report reveal that nearly 90% of students rate their experience at the school as "good" or "excellent."
2. Post University
Online Master of Science in Human Services: Clinical Counseling in Organizational Settings
According to U.S. News, Post University has some of the best online undergraduate and graduate programs available within the United States. The school counts among its programs an affordable master's in human services online. This 37-credit, 18-month degree includes a concentration in Clinical Counseling in Organizational Settings, a specialization that uniquely prepares students for challenging work with businesses and mental health organizations. Courses within the curriculum include Ethics and Diversity, Applied Research Methods, Human Services Policy, Family Systems Theory, and Psychological Assessment. Students also complete two separate research projects during their time at Post, ensuring that they acquire adequate practice in data analysis, critical thinking, and experimental design prior to graduation.
1. Lubbock Christian University
Online Master of Science in Human Services
Graduate program applicants who desire a specific focus in Nonprofit Management may find no better option than Lubbock Christian University. The school's human services program earns the top spot on this list for its low tuition rates, but also receives well-deserved recognition for its challenging coursework. LCU attracts passionate, faith-oriented students who seek top positions in social services organizations and nonprofit work. Online learners can choose between specialties in Administration and Family Life Education, the latter of which opens the door for graduates to earn Certified Family Life Educator licensure. And as proof of the impressive affordability of this cheap online master's degree in human services, College Factual has named it a "good" value for its money, ranking it in the top third of all universities nationwide.
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About the Author:
Iris Stone began her writing career when she started working as a freelance writer and researcher in 2011. Her freelance business soon took off and she now owns and operates a writing and editing firm that works with clients all across the country. Despite the time it takes to run a business she still does much of the writing herself, and her work has included a variety of content related to education policy, colleges and universities, academic programs, and graduates' careers. Her interests actually span far beyond writing, and she is currently studying to be a physicist! Check out her Google+ Profile.
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