2023 Best Online Master’s in Human and Family Development Programs

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Deciding which college to attend can be a daunting task. For many, it will be the most important decision that they make in their lives. To make an informed decision, you have to consider a lot of variables, such as cost of attendance, financial aid, student/teacher ratio, academics, student life, and more. These factors will either positively or negatively impact the quality of education that you receive.

Do you want to acquire an online master’s in human and family development, but don’t know what institution you should attend? Well, if you are as ambitious as I was in my late teens, then you want to attend a top school, instead of an average or mediocre one. Fortunately, we have already done the legwork for you. To help you find the right school for your interests and goals, we’ve compiled a list of 2022’s best online master’s in human and family development programs.

What institution did we forget? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

  1. North Carolina State University at Raleigh, Raleigh, NC

At NC State, learners from all over the world advance their education and careers by earning a master of science in youth, family, and community sciences. Learners in this degree program can augment their education by earning a certified family life educator endorsement. Learners who earn this endorsement normally need an extra year to graduate. Most full-time learners who do not pursue an endorsement graduate in two years.

The 36-credit, fully online coursework, uses accelerated five-week or 10-week classes. Learners begin the degree program by exploring their academic interests and selecting a topic that evolves into their capstone project. The program comprises synchronous coursework in family health, human sexuality, and applied concepts in parenting and family life education. Learners finish the degree program with action research and a master’s thesis.

Application requirements consist of a 500- to 800-word essay, three recommendation letters, and official transcripts. A public institution, NC State, charges in-state learners 66 percent less for their degrees than out-of-state learners. The institution has several scholarships exclusive to master’s in human development and family studies online learners. New learners can begin their educations in the spring, summer, or fall semester; each term uses a distinct application deadline.

  1. Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN

The online human development counseling degrees from Vandy’s Peabody College consist of a focused master’s degree program with a school counseling concentration. Most full-time learners earn their degrees in two to three years. Most learners who enter the workforce immediately after graduation take jobs as K-12 counselors.

The human development master’s degree online coursework centers on six focus areas, including human growth, social and cultural diversity, career development, and research and assessment. The 48-credit degree program holds live online classes in the evenings and two on-campus immersion sessions. Learners finish three internships at schools in their local communities.

The degree program qualifies graduates for a Tennessee school services personnel license. Prospective learners planning to work in other states should contact Vanderbilt to learn more about licensure transferability. Prospective learners can apply for the spring or fall semester. This highly competitive degree program requires a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA, GRE scores, three recommendation letters, and an interview.

Candidates from countries that do not speak English also submit TOEFL or IELTS scores. A private institution, Vanderbilt, charges the same per-credit tuition rate to all online learners. Online graduate learners do not obtain institution-funded financial aid.

  1. University of Nebraska – Lincoln, Lincoln, NE

At the University of Nebraska, learners in the MS in child, youth, and family studies degree program can select from nine concentrations, including family financial planning, international family studies, and youth development. Full-time learners graduate in two to three years, depending on which degree choice they select.

The coursework includes 36 to 54 credits for the three degree options. The first choice includes 54 credits and a thesis. The second choice has no thesis and only 36 credits. Both of these options allow learners to select a concentration. The third choice comprises 36 credits and does not involve a thesis or minor, but it does provide learners greater flexibility as to which classes they take.

The faculty who teach in this degree program possess advanced degrees and perform original research on concepts such as children’s long-term healthful eating, LGBTQ+ families, and early childhood teachers’ experience. Application requirements consist of three recommendation letters, GRE scores, and a professional objectives statement. UNL does not utilize undergraduate GPA score cutoffs. If incoming learners possess transfer credit from the prior 10 years, the institution considers it on a case-by-case basis. Nebraska residents save 50 percent on their degrees compared to their out-of-state peers. Online learners do not qualify for institution assistantships or fellowships.

  1. Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK

OSU’s MS in human development and family science—family and community services is perfect for learners who live in Great Plains IDEA states; however, anyone can apply. Full-time learners who plan their classes around the institution’s class rotation schedule can graduate in two years.

The 36 credits of synchronous coursework include coping with family crises, leadership and management of community service programs, and interindividual relationships. Learners personalize their degrees by selecting two three-credit electives, one of which involves self-directed study. Classes do not utilize set meeting times, allowing learners to continue working full time while earning their degrees. Learners get many in-demand skills in research methodology, interviewing methods, and problem-solving. New learners can start their educations in the fall or spring semester.

OSU uses rolling admissions and accepts applications a maximum of 30 days before the start of the next term. Candidates submit transcripts, a resume, an essay, and a professional objectives statement. The institution uses TOEFL score cutoffs for international candidates. Out-of-state online learners pay 50 percent more for their degrees than in-state learners, but all online learners benefit from paying lower fees than their on-campus counterparts.

  1. Iowa State University, Ames, IA

The MS in family and consumer science and youth development concentration at ISU attracts learners who want to help young adults meet their potential. This entirely online degree program enables learners to learn at their own pace. The 49-credits of synchronous coursework focus on positive youth development and restorative justice. This master’s program’s classwork includes youth policy, youth professionals as consumers of research, and community youth development.

After completing core classes, learners take five classes in the youth development concentration. These classes cover concepts such as youth in cultural contexts and contemporary youth issues. The degree program concludes with an internship at a school or youth development organization in learners’ home communities. Prospective learners can apply for the fall, spring, or summer semesters. Application requirements consist of an individual statement and three reference letters.

Candidates do not submit GRE or MAT scores. The institution accepts transfer credit from other sanctioned institutions. Although a public institution, ISU charges the same per-credit tuition rate to all learners. The institution also boasts an easy-to-utilize scholarship application system wherein new learners need only submit a single scholarship application to apply for several scholarships. Scholarship candidates obtain financial aid results within days.

  1. Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX

Learners select Texas Tech’s master of family and consumer science with a concentration in youth development to prepare for careers working with young adults. This highly flexible degree program includes several paths that appeal to many types of prospective learners. Full-time learners in this master’s in human resource development online degree program earn their degrees in two years.

The 41 credits of synchronous coursework include eight credits that learners can utilize to customize their educations by completing a thesis, practicum, or another extended project, 28 core credits of classwork, such as educational leadership, research methods, and coursework development.

The degree program has two paths: one for learners with a bachelor’s in family and consumer science degree and one for learners with degrees in distinct subjects. The second path includes a thesis. In-state learners can extend their educations by taking classes that lead to teacher licensure.

TTU does not require official transcripts until candidates obtain an admission offer. Application materials consist of GRE scores, three reference letters, and an individual statement of professional objectives. Out-of-state online learners pay the in-state tuition rate, making TTU an excellent choice for budget-conscious learners. TTU awards several merit-based scholarships to incoming graduate learners.

  1. University of Missouri, Columbia, MO

The University of Missouri’s family and community services degree is an online master’s degree that prepares learners for careers as certified family life educators, health educators, and community service managers. Learners take one to two classes each semester, allowing them to balance school with work and family obligations. This master’s in child development and family studies take learners two to three years to finish.

The 36 credits of coursework convey in-demand skills, such as comprehension community subtleties, creating community programming, and leading communities—the synchronous coursework classwork in resilience in families, lifespan development, and administration, and project management.

After completing core classes, learners customize their education by selecting two electives from among eight options. The degree program concludes with a capstone examination or an internship. A Great Plains IDEA institution, MU has classes from other member institutions. Learners register for classes through MU regardless of the institution offering the class.

Out-of-state prospective learners should check MU’s state authorizations page before applying. Application requirements consist of a minimum of 3.0 undergraduate GPA and three recommendation letters. MU does not require GRE scores. The institution accepts international candidates, but it may request TOEFL scores. The fall, spring, and summer semesters utilize separate application deadlines.

All online learners pay the same per-credit tuition rate. Active-duty service members, veterans, spouses, and dependents qualify for reduced tuition. New graduate learners interested in institution-funded scholarships submit a separate application.

  1. Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS

The unique MS in family and community services degree at K-State attracts learners who plan to work with military families. This non-licensure rigorous classwork, including a capstone experience and oral examination. Full-time learners can graduate from this master’s in human development and family studies online degree program in two years.

The 36 credits of asynchronous coursework include three components: core classes, elective classes, and a practicum—the core coursework in family resource management, interindividual relationships, and crises across the lifespan. Learners select from diverse electives, including military individual finance and problems in family studies and human services. For the capstone, learners can finish a practicum in family and community services or take additional electives.

  1. University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR

The online MS in human environmental sciences at the University of Arkansas has three concentrations, including human development and family sciences. Learners in the human development concentration focus on gerontology, the study of aging, and its effects. Full-time learners can graduate from the master’s in human resource development online in two years. After selecting a concentration, learners customize their education by choosing a thesis or non-thesis path. The latter choice includes an additional three-credit class and a holistic exam. Learners who select this path earn 33 credits, while learners who write a thesis earn 30 credits.

Both paths feature core classes in advanced studies in child development and family relations. To prepare for the holistic exam or thesis, learners take at least one class in statistical analysis. Learners must maintain a minimum 2.85 GPA to remain in good academic standing.

  1. Texas Woman’s University, Denton, TX

Learners in TWU’s master of science in family studies can select a thesis, portfolio, or professional paper path. All paths consist of the same core coursework and elective options. No matter the path they select, full-time learners can graduate in two years. Learners interested in this in-demand licensure should research whether TWU’s online master’s degree in human development and family studies satisfies their states’ licensure requirements.

The 34 to 35 credits of synchronous coursework start with seven core classes in concepts such as families and public policy, theories of the family, and research methods in family sciences. The research methods class prepares learners to perform research for their thesis, portfolio, or professional paper. After completing core classes, learners select three electives from over a dozen options. Learners must earn a minimum B grade in all classes to remain in good academic standing.

Application requirements consist of a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA, GRE scores, and reference letters. Candidates with a GPA lower than 3.0 may obtain conditional admission depending on other academic merits. International candidates from countries that do not speak English must submit TOEFL, IELTS, or Michigan English Language Assessment Battery scores. Texas residents save 66 percent on tuition compared to out-of-state learners. TWU learners who maintain a 3.0 GPA may qualify for an institution-funded scholarship. TWU is regionally sanctioned by the Southern Association of Colleges and

  1. Ball State University, Muncie, IN

In Ball State’s master’s degree in educational psychology, learners can select from five concentrations, including human development. Typical full-time learners graduate in 18 months, while learners who take classes in an accelerated format can earn their degrees in just one year. Graduates work as adjunct professors, developmental specialists, and researchers.

No matter their concentrations, all learners start the 30 credits of synchronous coursework with 18 credits of core classes. In core classes, learners investigate concepts such as advanced educational psychology, statistical methods in educational and psychological research, and human learning and achievement motivation. In the human development concentration, learners select three classes from five electives—the concentration classwork in child development and fundamentals of neuropsychology. New learners can start their degrees in the fall, spring, and summer semesters.

Ball State does not require the GRE. Candidates submit undergraduate transcripts, an individual statement, and two professional references. Indiana residents save 33 percent on their degrees. Ball State does not award institution-funded financial aid to online graduate learners, but the institution holds military-friendly status, so it has strong financial and academic support to active military personnel and veterans.

  1. Liberty University, Lynchburg, VA

Prospective learners who want to utilize their Christian faith to help married couples and families should consider Liberty’s MA in pastoral counseling – marriage and family studies degree program. The coursework blends Protestant theology with the latest counseling methods. This entirely online optional on-campus intensive offers learners real-life training from professors. Full-time learners can graduate in 1.5 years.

The 36 credits of synchronous coursework include core classes and a marriage and family studies cognate. In the core coursework, learners master knowledge and skills connected to multicultural issues in pastoral counseling, marriage and family counseling, and crisis intervention. The core coursework concludes with a pastoral counseling internship within which learners work alongside a pastoral counselor in their home communities. For the cognate, learners select four electives from among five options. The degree program does not consist of a thesis or portfolio requirement. Military personnel and first responders obtain generous tuition discounts, and graduate learners with financial need may obtain grants via several programs.

  1. North Dakota State University, Fargo, ND

The MS in human development and family science at NDSU has three in-demand concentrations: youth development, gerontology, and family financial planning. NDSU learners benefit from the school’s membership in Great Plains IDEA, a consortium of schools that share resources, supports, and professors. This collaboration means that NDSU learners take classes from some of the best human development professors in the United States and collaborate with peers from several schools.

Full-time learners graduate from this master’s in human development and family studies online degree program in two years. The 36 credits of asynchronous coursework include 25 credits of core classes. Core classes vary among concentrations. In the youth development concentration, learners examine administration and degree program management, community youth development, and youth professionals as consumers of research.

Learners then pick three electives from over a dozen options. The degree program concludes with a practicum or independent study class. NDSU works directly with learners to help them find an appropriate practicum site in their home communities. Learners can extend their educations by earning a 13-credit graduate certificate.

Prospective graduate learners submit undergraduate transcripts, GRE or GMAT scores, three recommendation letters, and a statement of purpose. Due to NDSU’s tuition structure, full-time and accelerated learners pay less for their degrees than part-time learners. The institution does not award scholarships or grants to online graduate learners.

  1. Missouri State University, Springfield, MO

The MS in early childhood and family development online degree program at MSU enrolls the human development field’s next generation of leaders. Learners in this entirely online degree program customize a maximum of 33 percent of their classes, and learners living near the Springfield campus can take some classes in a blended format. Full-time learners graduate in four semesters and go on to careers in childcare, higher education, and social services settings.

The 34 credits of asynchronous coursework include orientation to early childhood and family development, educational research methodology, and the educational role of play. Full-time learners take seven to nine credits each semester, leaving them plenty of time to continue working full time or meeting other responsibilities. This degree program places learners at practicum sites in their local communities. Instead of a thesis, learners write a seminar paper based on their practicum experiences and defend their findings during an oral presentation.

MSU requires candidates to possess a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA. Other application materials consist of two recommendation letters and a letter of intent. MSU accepts a maximum of nine transfer credits from sanctioned institutions. All online learners pay the same per-credit tuition rate, making MSU an excellent choice for prospective learners looking to advance their educations without going into debt. Online learners interested in institution-funded scholarships and grants should submit the MSU annual scholarship application. MSU is regionally sanctioned by the Higher Learning Commission.

  1. Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, TX

The MS degree program in family and consumer sciences attracts learners who want an education that fits around their busy schedules. Learners select between a thesis and a non-thesis path. The thesis path appeals to learners who plan to earn doctoral degrees, while the non-thesis path prepares learners for leadership positions in the human development field.

Both the thesis and non-thesis path utilize a 36 credits of synchronous coursework. All learners begin their educations by taking classes in family science research and social statistics. The latter class prepares them to perform original research later on in the degree program. Learners then customize their degrees by selecting electives. Learners in the thesis path spend one semester carry out research and writing the thesis. Learners in the non-thesis path take two additional electives. Both paths feature a holistic exam at the end of the degree program. Graduates leave the degree program with in-demand leadership and analytical skills.

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