Family and human development professionals examine how people develop over the course of their lives within families, schools, and communities. Common career paths include becoming a childcare director, crisis specialist, and social service assistants. Put simply, professionals work to evaluate the effect of life events such as adolescence, marriages, and parenthood on individuals to create strategies for encouraging increased intellectual and emotional health.
Given the fact that human and family relationships are changing (especially with the advance in technology), many professionals consider obtaining master’s degrees. The advanced coursework of these programs are designed to ensure that students are up to date on the latest research and on the forefront of contemporary human development—courses cover adolescent problematic behavior as well as theories of family development and change. With the insight that degree holders provide, society can better understand how to intervene and encourage close human and family relationships that allow for maturity and compassion.
The desire for healthier relationships is thankfully growing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that common positions in human and family development will grow faster than the national average. For example, human and social service assistant positions are expected to grow at a rate of 16% (a very high rate). But aside from job stability, professionals enjoy fulfilling careers helping others develop the empathy and patience necessary for rewarding relationships.
What Can I Expect from an Online Master’s Human and Family Development Program?
An online master’s in human and family development prepares students to help adults, children and families get through an array of life issues. Designed for greater flexibility, the online degree makes it possible for professional students to continue working while going to school and makes it easier to balance school and personal activities. Classes may be taken full- or part-time, and you can choose between a program that requires you to take all your classes online or opt for classes that include on-campus participation. Because every online degree program is different, it’s important to find the best one to suit your needs and career goals.
Degrees Offered for an Online Master’s in Human and Family Development
|CONCENTRATION||DESCRIPTION||CAREERS THIS CONCENTRATION PREPARES FOR|
|Gerontology and Aging||A concentration in gerontology and aging prepares individuals to treat and assist the elderly within a community.||Social worker, health care business manager, grief counselor, physical therapist, herbalist and mental health care associate|
|Addiction Treatment Services||This concentration provides students with a solid understanding of issues facing individuals and families who are struggling with some form of addiction.||Substance abuse counselor, victim’s advocate, health educator and case manager|
|Childhood Education||Coursework provides students with the skills needed to work effectively with children in a learning environment.||Childcare center director, special education teacher, preschool teacher, elementary school teacher and child welfare worker|
|Youth and Adolescent Development||This concentration includes background on adolescent brain development and how self-esteem shapes a child’s identity. It also focuses on how children respond to puberty and what adults can do to be supportive during this time.||Child life specialist, special education paraprofessional, parent educator, early childhood education consultant and social worker|
Curriculum for an Online Master’s in Human and Family Development
The online master’s in human and family development Is a highly specialized degree that varies in focus from infants to the elderly. Because you will invest a significant amount of time and money, it’s important to find a program that closely fits your career goals and needs. Factors to take into consideration include concentrations, whether internships and practicums are part of the program and what type of capstone is required. Some programs also offer all of the classes online that are offered on-campus while others require some of the coursework to be completed on-campus. Some of the classes you may encounter include:
|Aging in Families||Prepares students to work in settings that serve older people and their families.|
|Family Relationships and Dynamics||Develops skills to help resolve issues related to individuals, families and groupsr.|
|Administration and program management||Provides students with the knowledge to develop and manage projects from start to finish.|
|Leadership and Social Justice||Helps equip students with the tools and theory needed to become activists and community organizers.|
|Theoretical Issues in Child Development||Looks at the overview of child development and the theories that discuss and measure development.|
How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Master’s in Human and Family Development?
A typical online master’s degree in human and family development can take two to three years to complete when attending classes full-time. The degree program makes up 36 credit hours, which may include a practicum or field component. Those who prefer to work and take classes part-time may take as long as five years to complete the degree. Factors, including the type of program you choose, can affect the time of completion. With cohort classes, a group of individuals take the required courses together and graduate together. This can take longer because some classes may only be offered once a year. The self-paced program makes it possible to take as many or as few classes necessary to complete the degree on your own schedule.
Certifications and Licenses an Online Master’s in Human and Family Development Prepares For
|National Certified Counselor (NCC)||The NCC is the main certification for counselors. By becoming board certified, you let others know you have met the highest national standards in counseling. Applicants must complete a graduate degree from a regionally accredited counseling program, have adequate work experience and demonstrate the highest ethical practice standards.|
|Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)||Licensing requirements vary by state, but it is required for clinical social workers who want to practice independently within the United States.|
|Marriage and Family Therapist License||Individuals who meet the educational and clinical experience criteria may sit for the licensing exams. A master’s or doctorate degree and supervised clinical experience are required.|
Accreditation for Online Master’s in Human and Family Development Degrees
An important consideration for an online master’s in human and family development is accreditation. An accredited program is one that has been evaluated by an outside agency that determined the program meets or exceeds certain industry standards. Accreditation can affect whether you receive federal and some types of private funding and can determine whether you can get a job after graduation. Regionally accredited schools are typically more prestigious and are held to high standards. National accreditation applies to faith-based colleges, trade schools and career-based programs.
Employment Outlook for Master’s in Human and Family Development Graduates
Job Placement: Master’s v. Bachelor’s
In many careers in sociology, a master’s degree is beneficial for advancement. Some require at least a master’s degree for entry-level positions. The majority of individuals who complete a degree in sociology go on to work in human services, such as social work or working with non-profits. Most of the available jobs require advanced degrees for research, academia, government positions and career paths in the private sector. An online master’s in sociology provides career opportunities and gives you the knowledge needed to make a major difference in your field.
According to the Bureau of Labor Standards, graduates with a master’s degree earned an average of $12,000 more per year than those with bachelor’s degrees. Because many occupations in human and family development deal with health care, research and counseling, an advanced degree is often the minimum requirement for entry-level positions. In health care, approximately 43 percent of all physician’s assistants held master’s degrees in comparison to the 23 percent who held bachelor’s degrees. Nearly half of all counselor’s held master’s degrees in comparison to the 26 percent who help bachelor’s degrees.
|Job Title||Salary Range|
|Marriage and Family Therapist||$44,760-$72,580|
|Substance Abuse Counselor||$39,980-$63,030|
|Mental Health Counselor||$42,840-$70,100|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Approximately 3,500 jobs were held by sociologists in 2016. While most worked in an office setting, some may work outside when conducting research and making social observations. The top industries for sociologists were as follows.
Employment by Industry of Social and Human Service Assistants
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
A master’s degree in human and family development prepares individuals for a wide range of social work, counseling and psychology careers. Because many of these jobs require someone with specialized skills, a graduate-level degree is needed for even entry-level positions.
|JOB TITLE||JOB DESCRIPTION||MEDIAN SALARY||PROJECTED GROWTH RATE|
|School Counselor||School counselors help students develop social and academic skills needed to excel in school. They work in both private and public schools.||$55,410 per year||13%|
|Marriage and Family Therapist||A family or marriage therapist works with couples and families to help them overcome problems with their relationships. They may work in a wide variety of settings, including hospitals, private practices and mental health centers.||$48,790 per year||23%|
|Social Worker||Social workers help people solve and cope with problems pertaining to everyday life. They may work in schools, welfare agencies, hospitals, settlement houses and community development corporations.||$47,980 per year||16%|
|Public Health Administrator||Also referred to as health care administrators, public health administrators plan, direct and coordinate activities that go on in a medical practice, hospital, specific departments or entire facilities. They also make sure the facilities they work in conform to all health care regulations and laws.||$98,350 per year||20%|
|Occupational Therapy Nurse||These nurses help treat disabled, injured or sick patients through therapeutic activities so they can regain strength and a better quality of living.||$83,200per year||24%|
Industry associations are a valuable resource for scientific professionals. Membership can connect you with new research, career advancement resources and continuing education opportunities. Here are several groups that serve forensic psychologists and allied professionals.
American Counseling Association (ACA): This non-profit organization focuses on the enhancement and growth of those in the counseling profession. It is the world’s largest professional counseling organization.
National Association of Social Workers (NASW): With more than 120,000 members around the world, the NASW is the largest professional social work organization. The group works to enhance the growth and development of its members.
Association for Addiction Professionals (NAADAC): The NAADAC represents over 100,000 counselors, educators and other health professionals who specialize in addiction-focused prevention and treatment. The group helps develop quality health services and protect the well-being of the public.
American Mental Health Counselors Associations (AMHCA): The AMHCA provides support to mental health professionals through continuing education, publications and various events throughout the year.
Financing Your Online Master’s in Human and Family Development Degree
An online master’s in human and family development degree costs less than the traditional on-campus program, but students seeking this degree may still require assistance paying for classes. The first place to look is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This application identifies any grants, loans and scholarships that you are eligible for through the federal government. There are also several public and private funding options in addition to federal funding. Consider some of the following resources.
David C. Maloney Scholarship
Deadline: May 1
Eligibility: Preference is given to students with special needs or minorities. Applicants must maintain at least a 3.2 GPA and write a 500-word essay about helping others.
Dr. Alma S. Adams Scholarship
Deadline: April 30
Eligibility: Applicants must possess a minimum 3.0 GPA, exhibit financial need, be a U.S. citizen and provide proof of community involvement.
Harold McPheeters Scholarship
Deadline: May 1
Eligibility: Scholarship applications must have a minimum of 2.8 GPA, demonstrate successful volunteer work and possess interpersonal skills in the workplace.
Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program
Award: Full scholarship
Eligibility: Recipients must prove a financial need.
Scott and Paul Pearsall Scholarship
Deadline: December 15
Eligibility: Applicants must be enrolled in a full-time accredited university, be in good standing, receive IRB approval for research and have the goal of reducing the misconceptions about disabilities.