In this article, we profile the most affordable master’s in human development online programs of 2020.

Earning a degree in family studies, human development, or family sciences prepares students to work closely with children and families while they navigate issues and changes that impact the familial structure. A master’s degree in family studies qualifies students for careers in a variety of fields, including childcare services, community service, education, nonprofit, and social work. Thankfully, online options to complete this type of degree are available from top institutions. We located affordable and accredited master’s in human and family development online programs from top-ranked colleges and universities. Our methodology is listed below.

Top 20 Master’s in Human Development Online Programs Methodology

We reviewed over 60 accredited colleges and universities listed by the Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) College Navigator and reputable online sources that offered online master’s in human development and family studies and closely related degrees. We narrowed our original pool of schools by applying the following criteria: accreditation (regional and national), institution rankings with U.S. News and World Report, and affordable graduate tuition and fees of less than $22,000 per year. We ranked our selected schools according to raw affordability.

Below are the resulting selections for our top online master’s in human development and family studies programs of 2020.

#20 – Pacific Oaks College

Online Master’s in Human Development

Pasadena, California

Website

Pacific Oaks College - Top 20 Most Affordable Master's in Human and Family Development Online Programs 2020
Part-time or full-time completion options! Pacific Oaks College’s online master’s in human and family development.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $21,057

The master’s in human and family development online program at Pacific Oaks College consists of 30 credits and can be completed on a part-time or full-time basis. There are three specializations to assist students in tailoring their degree. These specializations include early childhood education and development, ecological perspectives of lifespan development, and leadership in education and human services. Typical online courses associated with this degree cover topics like advanced studies as social justice pedagogy, authentic assessment, and conflict resolution and mediation. Pacific Oaks, an accredited institution in California, is recognized by U.S. News and World Report as an unranked miscellaneous school.

#19 – University of Minnesota

Online Master’s in Applied Child and Adolescent Development

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Website

University of Minnesota - Top 20 Most Affordable Master’s in Human and Family Development Online Programs 2020
Study child and adolescent development at University of Minnesota.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $19,221

University of Minnesota’s online master’s in human and family development program focuses on children. In fact, completion of the human development degree online earns a master’s in applied child and adolescent development. Admission to the program requires a 3.0 GPA in undergraduate studies. Once enrolled, students choose one of three specializations. These specializations help tailor the degree to align with career goals. Students may choose to specialize in child life, infant and early childhood mental health, and individualized studies. Required online courses cover topics like early childhood assessment, infant observation, and prevention and intervention in early childhood practice. The school ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report as the 70th best national university.

#18 – Arizona State University

Online Master’s in Family and Human Development

Tempe, Arizona

Website

Arizona State University - Top 20 Most Affordable Master’s in Human and Family Development Online Programs 2020
ASU’s online master’s in family and human development ranks with U.S. News.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $12,608

Arizona State University’s master’s degree in family studies is a non-thesis degree that emphasizes family and human development. This 30-credit, 18-month online degree focuses on the practical application of research through ASU’s Sanford School. Courses cover topics like diversity and society, leadership and social justice, marriage and family relationships, and theoretical issues in child development. All online courses are taught by ASU’s experienced faculty. This means the online students are receiving the same quality education as their on-campus colleagues. ASU ranks with U.S. News and World Report. In fact, recent 2020 rankings include #117 in best national universities.

#17 – Western Kentucky University

Online Master’s in Child and Family Studies

Bowling Green, Kentucky

Website

Western Kentucky University - Top 20 Most Affordable Master's in Human and Family Development Online Programs 2020
WKU’s 30-credit master’s in child and family studies can be earned entirely online!

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $12,140

If you enjoy working in diverse settings and are interested in helping families and children improve the quality of their life, Western Kentucky University’s online master’s in human and family development might be well-suited for your career aspirations. The 30-credit degree is offered fully online and was designed for working professionals. Courses cover topics like advanced family resource management, global perspectives of child and family, infant and toddler development and research, and research methods. Admission to the program requires an earned bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university with a minimum 2.75 GPA. Good news for individuals who have been out of school for some time! The GRE is not required for admission to the program. In addition to offering quality degrees online, WKU ranks with U.S. News and World Report as a top national university.

#16 – North Carolina State University

Online Master’s in Youth, Family, and Community Sciences

Raleigh, North Carolina

Website

North Carolina State University - Top 20 Most Affordable Master’s in Human and Family Development Online Programs 2020
Online non-thesis program! NC State’s affordable master’s in human and family development online programs.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $11,673

Looking for an affordable master’s in human and family development online degree program from a quality institution? North Carolina State University offers an online non-thesis program that consists of 30 graduate credits and a culminating capstone experience. During the student’s final semester, students desiring the master’s as their final degree may pursue the capstone project. However, thesis options are also available. The master’s in youth, family, and community sciences culminates in a final oral exam and thesis approved by the graduate committee. The thesis option is ideal for those who plan to pursue enrollment in a doctoral program. NC State is a fully accredited and nationally ranked institution. In fact, U.S. News and World Report ranks the school #84 in best national universities.

#15 – Kansas State University

Online Master’s in Family and Community Services

Manhattan, Kansas

Website

Kansas State University - Top 20 Most Affordable Master’s in Human and Family Development Online Programs 2020
Ranked & accredited online master’s in human and family development programs – Kansas State University!

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $11,277

Kansas State University’s master’s degree in family studies is a 36-credit, online program designed for working and busy students. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, KSU offers affordable and reputable graduate degrees for those seeking online options. Core courses cover a wide range of family and community services topics. Some of the online courses include crises across the lifespan, family dynamics, family resource management, lifespan development, and resilience in families. In addition to the required courses, the program completion requires two 3-credit electives providing capstone experiences. KSU, a ranked and accredited institution, has received acknowledgement from U.S. News and World Report as a top national university. In fact, the school ranks #162 in best national universities and #76 in top public institutions.

#14 – Bellevue University

Online Master’s in Child, Youth, and Family Studies

Bellevue, Nebraska

Website

Bellevue University - Top 20 Most Affordable Master’s in Human and Family Development Online Programs 2020
100% online! Bellevue University – A top choice for affordable master’s in human and family development online programs.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $11,205

Bellevue University’s master’s in human and family development online programs include the master’s in child, youth, and family studies. This uniquely designed online degree requires no internship or background in human services. In fact, applicants are only required to hold a bachelor’s or master’s in any subject as long as the degree was earned from a regionally accredited college or university. All classes are delivered online. These courses are taught by Bellevue’s experienced faculty and cover a range of topics related to human and family development. Courses include community child and youth development, families across the lifespan, and program administration and management. In addition to offering accreditation, Bellevue ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report among top regional universities in the Midwest.

#13 – Iowa State University

Online Master’s in Family and Consumer Sciences

Ames, Iowa

Website

Iowa State University - Top 20 Most Affordable Master’s in Human and Family Development Online Programs 2020
Iowa State University’s online master’s in human and family development is a non-thesis program.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $10,990

Iowa State University’s online master’s in human and family development is a non-thesis program that emphasizes family and consumer sciences. This fully online degree also offers three specializations that can also be completed online. Specializations in family financial planning, gerontology, and youth development help graduate students tailor their degree to fit with career goals and personal interests. Core courses cover topics like application of quantitative research methods, family theory, qualitative and quantitative research methods, and theories of human development. Iowa State ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report as a top institution. In fact, ISU’s rankings include #121 in best national universities and #101 in best value schools.

#12 – University of Missouri

Online Master’s in Human Development and Family Science

Columbia, Missouri

Website

University of Missouri - Top 20 Most Affordable Master’s in Human and Family Development Online Programs 2020
No GRE requirement! University of Missouri’s online master’s in human development.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $10,478

Looking for an affordable master’s degree in family studies that can be completed online? University of Missouri offers an online master’s in human development and family science that requires no campus visits. This 30-credit hour program offers online courses taught by the same professors who instruct on campus. Courses cover topics like administration and program management, family crisis intervention, family resource management, interpersonal relationships, and program design and implementation. Admission to the online master’s program requires a completed bachelor’s from a regionally accredited school, a minimum GPA of 3.0, and adequate TOEFL score if English is your second language. There is no GRE requirement for admission. University of Missouri ranks with U.S. News and World Report as the 139th best national university and 90th best value school in the country.

#11 – University of Southern Mississippi

Online Master’s in Child and Family Sciences

Hattiesburg, Mississippi

Website

University of Southern Mississippi - Top 20 Most Affordable Master’s in Human and Family Development Online Programs 2020
Ranked with U.S. News! University of Southern Mississippi – offering flexible online human and family development programs.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,896

The University of Southern Mississippi offers a uniquely designed master’s in human and family development online program that emphasizes child and family sciences. The program is affordable, military friendly, and entirely online. Flexible courses cover topics like advanced family theories, child and family life education, critical issues in child development, parenting across the lifespan, program evaluation and assessment, and seminar in child development. Admitted students typically hold an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0 and offer competitive GRE scores. The University of Southern Mississippi ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report as a top national university.

#10 – Wilmington University

Online Master’s in Applied Family Science

New Castle, Delaware

Website

Wilmington University - Top 20 Most Affordable Master’s in Human and Family Development Online Programs 2020
A top national university offering online master’s in human and family development programs! Wilmington University!

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,834

Wilmington University’s master’s degree in family studies is an online program designed for working professionals. The MS in applied family science provides an in-depth understanding of children, families, and youth. Through online classes, students take flexible courses that align with the balance of work and life obligations. Courses include topics such as families and crisis, family life education, human development across the lifespan, parent education, research in practice, and sexuality education. Admission to Wilmington’s program requires graduation from a nationally accredited baccalaureate program. In addition to offering quality and affordable programs, Wilmington ranks with U.S. News and World Report as a top national university.

#9 – Concordia University

Online Master’s in Family Science

Saint Paul, Minnesota

Website

Concordia University - Top 20 Most Affordable Master’s in Human and Family Development Online Programs 2020
100% online! Concordia University – a top choice for online human and family development programs.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,550

The master’s in human and family development online program at Concordia University prepares professionals to work with societal impacts on family. These impacts include economics, education, parenting, sexuality and gender, and work-family issues. By completing the 36 credit hours required of the program, students earn an online master’s in family science. Courses run seven weeks in length and are delivered entirely online. The courses cover topics like families in society, family decision making, intimate relationships, parent education, and public policy and applied ethics. A capstone requirement serves as the culminating experience of the program. According to U.S. News and World Report, Concordia ranks with U.S. News and World Report as the 76th best regional university in the Midwest and the 53rd best value school.

#8 – Oklahoma State University

Online Master’s in Human Development and Family Science

Stillwater, Oklahoma

Website

Oklahoma State University - Top 20 Most Affordable Master’s in Human and Family Development Online Programs 2020
Affordability! Oklahoma State University’s master’s in human development online!

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,460

Oklahoma State University offers an accredited and affordable online master’s in human and family development. This program, uniquely designed and flexibly delivered, consists of 36 credits. Courses cover topics in human development and family science, and are all delivered online. Courses include coping with family crises, dynamics of family interaction, foundations and principles of family and community services, lifespan development, and perspectives on parenting and parent education. Students are required to complete 30 credits of core courses, three hours of electives, and three hours of non-thesis credits. Oklahoma State ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report as a top national university. In fact, 2020 rankings include #192 in best national universities and #95 in top public schools.

#7 – Liberty University

Online Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy

Lynchburg, Virginia

Website

Liberty University - Top 20 Most Affordable Master’s in Human and Family Development Online Programs 2020
Ranked with U.S. News! Liberty University offers programs for those seeking human and family development online options.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,333

Liberty University’s master’s degree in family studies programs include the online master’s in marriage and family therapy. While focusing less on theory, the program uses application and counseling to help families navigate difficult situations. This program is ideally designed for individuals seeking an online master’s in family therapy. Online courses include advanced couple and marital counseling, counseling children and adolescents, human sexuality, and substance abuse. Military discounts and affordable graduate tuition earn the program a top spot on our list of budget-friendly master’s in human and family development online programs. Also, Liberty is fully accredited and ranked with major publications like U.S. News and World Report.

#6 – Texas Tech University

Online Master’s in Human Development and Family Studies

Lubbock, Texas

Website

Texas Tech University - Top 20 Most Affordable Master’s in Human and Family Development Online Programs 2020
Highly affordable master’s in human and family development online programs at Texas Tech!

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,181

Texas Tech University’s master’s in human and family development online degree program explores the science of development and relationships across the life span. While the program is delivered entirely online, students receive one-on-one mentoring and personalized attention from involved faculty. It is the nationally recognized faculty who lead online classes. These courses cover topics like family theories, research methods, statistics, and theories of human development. The school is fully accredited and offers highly affordable graduate tuition. In addition to Texas Tech’s credentials, the school ranks with U.S. News and World Report as the 218th best national university and 105th top public school.

#5 – University of Nebraska

Online Master’s in Human and Family Services Administration

Lincoln, Nebraska

Website

University of Nebraska - Top 20 Most Affordable Master’s in Human and Family Development Online Programs 2020
Ranked by U.S. News! University of Nebraska offers online human and family development programs.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $7,575

University of Nebraska’s online master’s in human and family development program requires completion of the GRE, a statement of professional goals, three letters of reference, and unofficial transcripts for admission. The 36-credit hour program offers online courses taught by the same university professors who instruct on campus. Courses cover topics in human and family services like family professionals as consumers of research, foundations in public service, introduction to the nonprofit sector, special topics in family and cultural diversity, and theories of human development and family relations. In addition to rigorous yet flexible online courses, the program requires a capstone project in public administration or scholarly practice and discovery. University of Nebraska is a top-ranked institution. In fact, U.S. News ranks UN #139 in best national universities.

#4 – North Carolina Central University

Online Master’s in Family and Consumer Sciences

Durham, North Carolina

Website

North Carolina Central University - Top 20 Most Affordable Master’s in Human and Family Development Online Programs 2020
NCCU offers fully accredited online options for a master’s in family and consumer sciences.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $7,546

North Carolina Central University (NCCU) offers unique programming for those seeking a master’s degree in family studies online. The online master’s in family and consumer sciences offers three concentrations designed to help students tailor their degree to align with career goals. These concentrations include human development and family studies, nutritional sciences, and textiles and apparel. The concentration in human development and family studies has both thesis and non-thesis completion options. For those seeking a non-thesis option, an internship is required. NCCU is a fully accredited, historically black university in Durham, North Carolina that has received rankings with U.S. News and World Report. In fact, 2020 rankings include #54 in best regional universities in the South and #44 in best value schools.

#3 – Texas Woman’s University

Online Master’s in Family Studies

Denton, Texas

Website

Texas Woman's University - Top 20 Most Affordable Master’s in Human and Family Development Online Programs 2020
A master’s degree in family studies online! Texas Woman’s University.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $7,497

Texas Woman’s University offers programs ideally suited for working students looking to complete online master’s in human and family development degrees. The master’s in family studies may be completed entirely online and prepares students for careers that involve improving the futures for family members. Approved by the National Council on Family Relations (NCFR) as meeting the standards and criteria required for Certified Family Life Educator (CFLE) designation, the program is one of the most reputable and affordable online programs of its kind. Students have the option of completing a thesis or professional paper, or a professional portfolio. All classes are delivered online and cover topics like family economics, lifespan human development, and theories of the family. Texas Woman’s University ranks with U.S. News and World Report as a top national university and top performer on social mobility. The school offers one of the most affordable human and family development online programs on our list.

#2 – Amberton University

Online Master’s in Family Studies

Garland, Texas

Website

Amberton University - Top 20 Most Affordable Master’s in Human and Family Development Online Programs 2020
Ranked and affordable! Amberton University – offering a master’s in family studies online!

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $6,390

Amberton University, an institution recognized as designed for working adults, offers online master’s in human and family development programs. The online master’s in family studies is an interdisciplinary degree that merges the fields of counseling and human behavior and development. This 36-credit hour program is available on campus or through the distance learning platform. Classes cover human development and family studies topics like aging and the end of life issues, ethics for decision making, family studies, life span development, and theory and application of research methods. Amberton has earned recognition by major publications like U.S. News and World Report among the top regional universities in the West.

#1 – Missouri State University

Online Master’s in Early Childhood and Family Development

Springfield, Missouri

Website

Missouri State University - Top 20 Most Affordable Master’s in Human and Family Development Online Programs 2020
100% online! Missouri State University offers the #1 most affordable master’s in human and family development online program on our list.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $6,250

The #1 most affordable master’s in human and family development online program on our list is offered by Missouri State University. For less than $6,500 per year, students take online courses that satisfy graduate degree requirements. These requirements lead to the completion of a master’s in early childhood and family development. Courses include topics such as advanced human development studies, children and families in a diverse society, inquiry in early childhood and family development, programming and policy issues for early childhood settings, and proposal development. Missouri State ranks with U.S. News and World Report as a top national university. In fact, recent rankings of Best Colleges places Missouri State #293-#381 in best national universities.

––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the admission requirements for master’s in human development and family studies online programs?

Admission requirements for master’s in human and family development online programs vary by school. However, many of the accredited programs on our list require candidates to hold a bachelor’s degree. For a lot of programs, you won’t need a bachelor’s degree in human and family development or even a closely related discipline. But you will need a bachelor’s degree from a regionally or nationally accredited college or university.

In addition to the bachelor’s degree, certain GPA requirements must be met. For top-ranked colleges and universities, minimum GPAs will be higher than less ranked schools. Top tier programs and leading research institutions ask for undergraduate GPAs of at least 3.0. In some cases, a 3.5 GPA may be required. While these top-ranked institutions require a higher GPA, they may also waive the GRE when GPA requirement are met. This means that an applicant with a 3.5 GPA won’t need to take the GRE to qualify for admission.

Additional admission requirements include a completed online application, a statement of purpose or goals, and recommendation letters. The number of recommendation letters varies by program, but most of the master’s in human and family development online programs on our list require two to three letters. Be sure to research the application checklist and criteria offered by the program before you apply.

What is the job outlook for individuals with a master’s in human development and family studies online degree?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of social and community service managers is expected to grow 13 percent between 2018 and 2028. The anticipated growth is almost double than that of all other management occupations.

With anticipated growth comes employment. Job prospects for human and family development managers and community service managers are expected to be favorable as demand for individual and family social services increases. With a growing age population and an increase in the number of adults requiring social services, employment for directors and managers will also increase. In addition to an expected increase in the services needed for the elderly and aging population, there will also be an increased demand for services that aid individuals with disabilities.

Another demographic of people relies on human and family development services. Children and youth services managers will be needed to accommodate the growing needs of young people and their families. As a result, hiring family services managers will be critical to serving the needs of this vulnerable population.

Of note, the median annual wage for social and community service managers as of May 2018 was $65,320. With a master’s in human and family development online degree, your earnings potential could increase.

What can I do with an online master’s in human development and family studies degree?

An online master’s in human and family development degree qualifies you to work with families, children, and youth tackling life issues. Career fields are plentiful with a master’s degree in the field of human and family development. By earning a master’s degree, you become eligible for positions in child care, community service, and education.

Graduates of human and family development programs with an online master’s degree have access to jobs in various settings. School often hire preschool directors, teachers, and service managers with master’s degrees in human and family development. These positions may also be available in child care centers, community agencies, or nonprofits.

The job of community service manager requires a master’s in human and family development online or traditional degree. The role of a community service manager is to organize and provide access to social service programs. Managers are also responsible for drafting proposals, planning budgets and outreach activities, and overseeing staff.

Another job that often requires a master’s degree in family studies or closely related discipline is a preschool director. Preschool directors lead staff, design daily activities, and supervise programs.

A number of other jobs are available in this field; however, to set yourself apart from your competition, a graduate degree helps.

Are there professional organizations I can join while earning a master’s in human development online degree?

Professional organizations and associations are plentiful for graduate students earning a master’s in human and family development online degrees. The benefits of membership, both for graduate students and recent graduates, include access to online publications, job listings, professional development opportunities, and networking or conference events. While there are several professional associations for individuals earning an online master’s in human and family development, we have outlined three of the most popular organizations.

Association for Early Learning Leaders:

The Association for Early Learning Leaders works to improve the education, skills, and abilities of early learning professionals. Membership to this organization includes access to various trainings and an annual conference and early learning leadership symposium. Also, members receive access to job postings, journals, and webinars.

National Council on Family Relations:

The National Council on Family Relations or NCFR is an organization dedicated to helping students, teachers, and public health workers throughout the United States and in 35 countries. The organization offers access to family research, practice, and continuing education. Members receive newsletters, journals, and access to job openings.

Society for Public Health Education:

With an active membership of approximately 4,000 health and human services professionals across the globe, the Society for Public Health Education is dedicated to promoting a healthy and educated society. SOPHE membership offers a variety of benefits, including access to fellowship, award, and scholarship opportunities. Additional benefits include bimonthly journal access, continuing education programs, and discounts for attending conferences. Members also get access to books, newsletters, and career guidance and resources.

What classes will I take while earning a master’s in human development and family studies online degree?

Since online degrees require the completion of online courses, working students benefit from this flexible format. In most master’s in human and family development online programs, courses are taught by the same university professors who instruct on campus. By taking online courses, students do not sacrifice quality for convenience.

Online courses, such as those offered in online master’s in human and family development programs cover a wide range of topics. But while programs vary by instruction, the courses required generally adhere to covering the same information. Typical online courses required in master’s in human and family development programs include critical issues in child development, educational research and methodology, research methods, and theories of human development. However, courses may vary depending on a student’s elected concentration.

For example, in a child or youth development specialization, courses will focus on child research. Also, these courses will teach students how to assess, evaluate, and understand the growth of a child into adolescence. Students may also learn how to develop and create their own assessments.

Upon completion of the required coursework, students often work on a project or thesis. In non-thesis programs, students complete a final or culminating project before earning their degree. Also, in some cases, an internship may be required.

BCO Staff
April 2020

Other Popular Online Master’s Degrees:

Executive Online MBA

Online Graduate Sports Administration

Online MBA Under 10k

This concludes our list of top 20 most affordable master’s in human and family development online programs of 2020.