The master of science degree in human services prepares adults to creatively and incisively lead their communities forward; to be human service practitioners with clear vision, caring hearts and the competency to act; to acknowledge the problems of the past, work in the present and maintain faith in the future. Our interdisciplinary curriculum is designed to promote social analysis, critical and creative thinking, communications and leadership development. Building on what students already know, we link classroom learning to workplace and community issues, offering a powerful educational experience of integrating theory and practice. While teaching about the importance of respect for others and valuing the diversity within and among us all, we reflect these values by acknowledging the wisdom adults bring to education and building a community of leaders.
These principles find voice and form in the foundation curriculum, the concentrations and the graduate action research project.
Three foundation courses are required of all MSHS students. These courses explore theories related to how people, organizations and communities behave, grow, develop, and change.
Leadership: A Life-Long Journey offers participants opportunities to explore models of management and leadership in the context of personal development and ongoing struggles for social justice. Participants are expected to reflect upon their own social background, culture, identity and experiences to better understand their own and others’ strengths and approaches to leadership and change.
Economics of Change examines the history of and current thinking about the causes and consequences of economic inequities in the United States and across the globe, including an analysis of the ideologies and moral justifications for support of existing economic systems. Particular attention is paid to the increasing importance of globalization. Participants also have the opportunity to formulate their own ideas about what a just economic system might look like and to offer informed opinions about the changes that would be needed to achieve such a system.
Building Multicultural Organizations and Communities explores the many issues faced by organizations and communities as a result of the global nature of work activities and the increasing cultural diversity of people in today’s environments. Students examine the many examples, models, and visions of multiculturalism in the context of personal, organizational and community development.
Organizational Management and Leadership—The goal of this concentration is to develop the leadership and management skills of people who have caring hearts and the competency to act. OML courses provide students the opportunity to focus their studies on specific leadership skills needed to facilitate organizational change within the context of progressive management skills.
Community Counseling Psychology—The community psychology perspective serves as the framework for this concentration. Born in the wake of the community mental health and war on poverty movements of the 1960s, community psychology stresses the influence of external social forces on the individual. Course content develops an understanding of social and community systems within which people live and work and builds the skills necessary to intervene at various levels.
Action Research Project
The action research project is a central component of the graduate curriculum. Over the course of four terms, graduate students engage in an action research project that applies classroom knowledge to workplace and community issues. The project results in a tangible outcome, reflecting the knowledge, skills and values expressed throughout the MSHS Program. The project curriculum focuses on the application of research and technology skills to community development, organizational development, and personal development. For students with a particular content focus, the action research project and elective coursework provide opportunities for in-depth study in their area of interest.
Electives and Content Focus
Within the two concentrations (Organizational Management and Leadership and Community Counseling Psychology), students may also choose a content focus. Students with a special interest area may use the action research project to explore that interest.
Under the College’s charter, the School of Human Services degree program leads to a Master of Science (M.S.) degree in Human Services. Honorary degrees are granted in limited number by the Board of Trustees to recognize preeminent achievement in the fields for which the College is noted.
All students must complete 36 credit hours to graduate, no more than 6 of which may be transferred from another institution. Transfer credits may not be used to meet project or foundation course requirements. Upon the recommendation of the dean of the School of Human Services and the School of Graduate Studies, the College authorizes the awarding of the master’s degree for an approved program of study with a “B” average or better (3.00).
SHS employs full-time faculty who are responsible for teaching, service and scholarship. The SHS practice-oriented curriculum also includes contributions from part-time faculty who are directly involved in agency and community work. The result is that SHS has a faculty with the flexibility, resources and expertise required to address academics as well as new developments in human services practice and delivery.
The School of Human Services is a trimester program. Full-time study is nine credits per term. Students may complete the program in four terms (16 months); however, decisions to enroll part time lengthen the time needed for completion. Day-long classes generally meet one weekend per month on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Course structures include a pre-assignment, which helps the student establish a frame of reference for class discussion on the first day. Reading and writing assignments between classes help students reflect on the relation between their own experience, their work and the issues raised in the course. Assignments often include “field” work, such as interviewing people of different generations about their experiences or researching the nature of the economy in the student’s community.
Classroom sessions are considered to be a major integrative piece in the learning experience that happens when a student takes a course. Classes are small, with a maximum of 25 students for any class. This seminar type of structure allows for significant participation and, when combined with the length of the class day, creates an opportunity for considerable in-depth learning. Class sessions include guided discussion, film, music, simulations, lectures, research and other activities designed to help students deepen their active understanding of issues and their ability to apply what they have learned outside the classroom.
Graduate students are expected to complete the action research seminar during their first term to help them conceptualize their project and to develop the foundation for their action research skills. After completing their first term, graduate students are assigned a faculty member to mentor them in their learning process.
Participants who complete the MSHS program will be able to think critically and creatively by analyzing social, economic, political, educational, organizational, community and cultural contexts; solve problems and capitalize on strengths to achieve change for social justice; communicate effectively, both orally and in writing; conduct research and apply learning as leaders for social change efforts; and develop their own mind, body and spirit for personal growth and lifelong learning.