Master's in Human Services Vs Master's in Social Work

While master's programs in human services and social work can both prepare students to work in the field of social services, human services might cater more towards administrative topics while social services often prepares students for direct practice positions. Learn more details about the programs and careers related to these degrees. Schools offering Human Services degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Master's in Human Services vs Master's in Social Work

Master of Arts in Human Services

Students can earn a Master of Arts in Human Services in around 1.5 years of full-time study by completing about 36 credit-hours of coursework. Students typically need a bachelor's degree with a certain undergraduate GPA for admission and may be able to choose an area of concentration within their program such as administration or children & family services. Human services programs may include courses such as issues in human services, psychology, case management, leadership, and social justice. Graduates of human services programs may pursue careers working directly with the public in social services and human positions or as administrators of social and human services. These roles may include social services manager, nonprofit manager, and child and family social worker.

Master of Social Work

Master of Social Work programs often offer advanced standing tracks for students with a bachelor's degree in social work as well as traditional tracks for students who have a bachelor's degree in another field. Advanced standing tracks typically consist of 30 to 40 credit-hours and may be completed in one year or less, while traditional MSW tracks consist of 60 to 70 credit hours and are usually completed in around two years. While both tracks consist of coursework and fieldwork components, the advanced standing track often bypasses core courses and around half of the required fieldwork hours. Depending on their chosen program, students may be able to choose a program concentration such as community & organizational practice, individuals & family, administration, and clinical social work. Programs may include courses in psychopathology, practice in trauma, practice with groups, and work with children and families. Graduates of MSW programs may be prepared for careers such as family and child social worker, mental health social worker, and social and community service managers.

Degree Program Program Length (full-time) Program Requirements Related Careers
Master of Arts in Human Services 1.5 years *undergraduate degree *Social and Community Service Manager
*Nonprofit Manager
*Child and Family Social Worker
Master of Social Work 1 year (advanced standing)
2 years (traditional)
*BSW (advanced standing)
*undergraduate degree (traditional)
*Child and Family Social Worker
*Mental Health Social Worker
*Social and Community Service Manager

Jobs for Master's in Human Services and Master's in Social Work

Child, Family, and School Social Workers

Child, family, and school social workers typically need a master's degree in social work related to their field of work in order to offer unsupervised services; for example, a school social worker typically needs an MSW with a school social work focus. Child and family social workers provide counsel and referral services to children and families which may include adoption services, unsafe home interventions, and food stamp applications. School social workers work in school settings, collaborating with students, teacher, parents, and administrators to help students improve their academic and social skills.

Social and Community Service Managers

Social and community service managers oversee and coordinate community groups and social service programs as well as the social service providers working within those programs and groups (such as social workers). Although specific tasks may vary, these managers may be responsible for planning activities for public awareness, reviewing program effectiveness, drafting funding proposals, and making recommendations for service and program improvements. Some social and community service managers require a master's degree and applicable work experience.

Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers

Mental health and substance abuse social workers often need a master's degree in social work because of the clinical nature of these positions. They work with clients who suffer from addictions and/or mental illnesses, helping them to cope with their problems and providing referrals to support groups when applicable. Other duties may include researching resources, program development, psychotherapy services, and following up with clients to ensure they are making progress.

Job Title Median Annual Salary (2018)* Estimated Job Growth (2018-2028)*
Child, Family, and School Social Workers $46,270 7%
Social and Community Service Managers $65,320 13%
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers $44,840 18%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Students who wish to work in social service roles can pursue either a master's degree in human services or in social work and may be qualified to work in positions such as social worker or community service manager. While students from either program may find employment in direct and indirect client services, human services programs might provide a more administration-focused education while social work programs may be more direct-practice focused.

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:
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Popular Schools

  • Strayer University

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    • Master

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  • Capella University

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    Popular programs at Capella University:

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  • Liberty University

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    Popular programs at Liberty University:

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  • Regent University

    Regent University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Regent University:

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  • University of Pennsylvania

    Campus Locations:

    • Pennsylvania: Philadelphia
  • Vanderbilt University

    Campus Locations:

    • Tennessee: Nashville
  • University of Louisville

    Campus Locations:

    • Kentucky: Louisville
  • Howard University

    Campus Locations:

    • Columbia (D.C.): Washington
  • Michigan State University

    Campus Locations:

    • Michigan: East Lansing