Social and Community Services Master's Degree Programs

Read about master's degree programs in the social and community services field, including social work and human services programs. Explore the curricula for these programs, and read about online or hybrid learning options. Get info on career opportunities for graduates with a master's degree in social work or human services. Schools offering Social & Community Services degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Master's Degrees Are Available in Social and Community Services?

There are two common master's degrees you can earn in social and community services. The Master of Social Work (MSW) is a clinically-focused 2-year program designed to prepare students for advanced professional practice as social workers. As an MSW student, you will be required to complete at least 900 hours of supervised clinical field experiences where you will learn to conduct assessments. If you already have a bachelor's degree in social work, you may receive advanced standing within the program and be able to complete your master's degree in less than two years.

Master of Science (M.S.) or Master of Arts (M.A.) in Human Services programs are designed for students wishing to become managers and policy developers within non-profit and human services organizations. There is no clinical component in a human services program, but an internship or research project is generally required.

Degree ProgramsMaster of Social Work, Master of Science in Human Services or Master of Arts in Human Services
Social Work Common CoursesHuman behavior, social justice, diagnostic assessment and social welfare policy
Human Services Common CoursesCommunity building, legal issues, human services policy and non-profit management
Online OptionsAvailable for all degree programs; in-person fieldwork required for MSW
Career AreasChildren and families, substance abuse, supervisory positions or research; licensure required for social workers

What Courses Will I Take?

The MSW curriculum is designed to increase your social work practice knowledge. You will learn practical skills as well as theory through independent study, fieldwork and coursework such as the following:

  • Social welfare policy
  • Human behavior
  • Social policy analysis
  • Diagnostic assessment
  • Social work research
  • Social justice

The human services curriculum is designed to increase your leadership ability and to learn to analyze, develop and advocate social service policy through coursework such as the following:

  • Non-profit management
  • Legal issues in human services
  • Human services ethical issues
  • Human services policy
  • Leadership development
  • Community building
  • Fundraising and grants

Can I Earn My Degree Online?

Both MSW and human services master's degree programs are available online. Online MSW and human services programs consist of the same courses and requirements as the on-campus programs. Your coursework is typically made up of online instruction, webcasts and asynchronous didactic material.

Some MSW programs are a hybrid of online courses and required on-campus intensive weekend courses. Supervised clinical fieldwork is also required for online MSW degrees. Your program can place you at a fieldwork location in your area or you can seek approval from your program to work at a specific location.

What Can I Do With My Degree?

MSW graduates can work in medical and public health facilities, offering support to individuals, families or communities dealing with illness. As a social worker, you can evaluate and provide support for mental or substance abuse patients, or offer services and assistance to children and families dealing with issues such as foster care or domestic violence. Both MSW and human services master's degree holders may find supervisor, manager or director positions in evaluation or program planning within community outreach programs for public and private organizations. You will typically work to develop government policies and advocate for them within various agencies and research institutions. Other career options include teaching, research and private practice.

If you graduate from an MSW program, you will be required by all 50 states and Washington D.C. to be licensed, certified or registered as a social worker. Each state has developed their own requirements, however; most states typically require you to have two years or a minimum of 3,000 hours of supervised clinical experience in order to qualify for licensure as a clinical social worker.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • Purdue University Global

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  • Strayer University

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  • Capella University

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  • Regent University

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  • University of Central Oklahoma

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    • Oklahoma: Edmond
  • The University of Montana

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    • Montana: Missoula
  • University of Wisconsin

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    • Wisconsin: Stevens Point
  • Loma Linda University

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    • California: Loma Linda
  • University of Utah

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    • Utah: Salt Lake City
  • Stanford University

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    • California: Stanford