Best Online Bachelor’s in Human Services Programs

An online human services degree is the perfect option for students who want to empower others and make a difference in their communities. Human services experts directly administer care services at social and community service centers. While hands-on service is at the core of human services, students have many career options and opportunities to advance their careers through further education. Career opportunities for those with human services degrees are on the rise. Because insurance companies are increasingly providing coverage for services like mental health counseling and addiction treatment, many positions are being created to meet demand. In fact, the rate of job growth is far outpacing the national average.

Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description
1 Colorado State University-Global Campus 77.00 3/5 63% Greenwood Village, CO

Colorado University-Global Campus allows students to earn a bachelor's degree online at an accelerated pace. CUGC classes have monthly start dates, allowing students to earn their degree much faster than they could in-person. The entirely online bachelor's of science in human services is a 120-credit program that prepares students for careers in psychology, social work, rehabilitation, or family support. The curriculum in this online human services degree covers human development, case management, and intervention methods, as students learn to help clients in various settings. The program offers 19 different specializations that can customize the degree, including: business administration, criminology, computer programming, project management, emergency management, strategic communications, project management, and more. CUGC offers student resources, including tutoring services, a career center, and technical support. Applicants must have at least 12 transferable credit hours with a minimum GPA of 2.3 to be considered.

Tweet this Share this School Profile
2 LeTourneau University 71.00 4/5 61% Longview, TX

LeTourneau University was founded in 1946 to educate veterans returning from World War II. The Texas-based non-denominational Christian institution offers undergraduate and graduate degrees at its Longview main campus, centers in Houston, and online. Online degree programs at LETU are offered in fields including aviation and aeronautical science, criminal justice, and psychology. The bachelor's of human services is a multidisciplinary program where students learn the value of the Christian faith as it relates to the workplace. The curriculum for this human services degree online includes courses in abnormal psychology, theories and techniques of counseling, criminal law or criminology, and addiction theory. The 124-credit program can be taken in an accelerated format where courses can each be completed in only five weeks. Graduates enter the workforce qualified for careers as case workers, case managers, grant writers, or human service department directors.

Tweet this Share this School Profile
3 Indiana Wesleyan University-Marion 69.00 4/5 70% Marion, IN

Indiana Wesleyan University is an evangelical Christian institution located in Marion. Outside of Marion, IWU offers courses at learning centers scattered throughout Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio. The school also offers several distance learning programs, including a human service degree online. The 120-credit bachelor's of science in human services aims to teach students advocacy, service delivery, management, and more through a biblical perspective. The core 45-credit curriculum covers topics including addiction counseling, developmental psychology, crisis intervention, youth and crime, and a culminating capstone project. The program offers several start dates per year and can be completed in 18-20 months. IWU offers a variety of financial aid options, including scholarships, loans, and veterans benefits. Applicants must transfer at least 60 credit hours from another regionally accredited school to be considered for a bachelor core program.

Tweet this Share this School Profile
4 Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College 67.00 3/5 62% Saint Mary of the Woods, IN

Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College is a Catholic, liberal arts college located in West Terre Haute, Indiana. The school offers liberal arts educations designed to equally stimulate students' intellects, spiritual lives, and ambitions. Woods Online provides adult learners with affordable degree programs in disciplines like accounting, criminology, marketing, and humanities. The 49-credit bachelor's of science in human services prepares students for careers as social workers, nonprofit leaders, community wellness educators, or abuse counselors. The curriculum for this human services bachelor's degree online includes courses in abnormal psychology, techniques of counseling, sociology of families, contemporary social issues, and more. At Woods Online, students receive academic support from academic advisors, and also have access to online tutoring and peer mentors. Students can transfer qualifying college credits to meet general studies or major requirements as long as they have at least a "C" average.

Tweet this Share this School Profile
5 Anderson University 63.00 3/5 48% Anderson, SC

Anderson University was founded in 1911 as a four-year college for women. The school partnered with the South Carolina Baptist Convention and opened one year later. Today, AU offers a wide variety of degrees both on-campus or through its online program, AU Online. The 120-credit bachelor's of human services emphasizes a Christian perspective and teaches students about the social issues facing clients in the human services field. Topics covered in the core curriculum include human development, social welfare policies and services, administration in human services, and substance abuse and treatment. A concentration in behavioral science is also available. AU has a generous credit transfer program. Students with an associate degree may be able to transfer up to 64 credits towards their online human services degree. Students have access to academic resources like a writing center, counseling center, center for student success, and more.

Tweet this Share this School Profile
6 Saint Joseph's College-New York 62.00 3/5 68% Brooklyn, NY

Saint Joseph's College-New York is a liberal arts college with campuses in Long Island, Brooklyn, and online through the SJC Online program. SJC Online offers programs in a variety of disciplines that are designed to cater to adult learners. The 120-credit bachelor's of science in human services prepares students for entry-level careers as addiction counselors, mental health workers, assisted living managers, and outreach workers. The curriculum includes courses in addictions counseling, gerontology, case management, and human services administration. SJC Online also offers a dual BS/MS online human services degree. After students have completed the BS, they only need to take six more classes to earn the MS. Students at Saint Joseph's have access to a generous transfer credit system, dedicated academic advisers, and online tech support. Applicants transferring credits from another post-secondary school must have a minimum GPA of 2.0 to be considered.

Tweet this Share this School Profile
7 Northeastern University 62.00 4/5 79% Boston, MA

Northeastern University was founded in 1898 and now has five campuses across the United States and Canada. Northeastern University Online offers more than 60 degree programs and certificates in disciplines such as media and design, engineering, business, and health sciences. The 120-credit online bachelor's of science in human services includes specialized coursework in public health, human services, sociology, and counseling. A practicum at a human services agency is also required to help students obtain hands-on experience assisting clients. After completing this online human services degree, graduates will be prepared to pursue entry-level jobs in the human services industry or to earn a graduate degree. The program can be completed in four years by full-time students and in seven years by part-time students. Northeastern has many resources and financial aid opportunities for active military members and veterans, and is a member of the Yellow Ribbon Program.

Tweet this Share this School Profile
8 Saint Joseph's College of Maine 62.00 4/5 51% Standish, ME

Saint Joseph's College of Maine was founded in 1912 and is Maine's only Catholic college. The school offers several entirely online programs in fields like business administration, criminal justice, and health administration. The bachelor's of science in interdisciplinary studies, human services minor is designed for those who wish to work with underrepresented populations in human services. In this 128-credit human services online degree, students receive a strong foundation in the fundamentals of human services. The program includes an industry-specific core curriculum, with the 18-credit human services minor including courses in case management, psychopathology, lifespan development, and social problems. SJC accepts transfer credits, but requires that at least 25% of the 128 credits must be completed through the school. The flexible online format makes this program ideal for adult learners, and there is no on-campus residency requirement.

Tweet this Share this School Profile
9 Southern New Hampshire University 61.00 4/5 59% Manchester, NH

Southern New Hampshire University is one of the fastest-growing colleges in the United States, with 3,000 on-campus students and more than 75,000 online learners. The school offers roughly 200 online degrees and certificates in diverse areas, from anthropology and data analytics to environmental science and game programming. The 120-credit bachelor of arts in human services is perfect for those looking to work with underrepresented populations. This online human services degree offers three concentrations: child and family services, substance abuse, or gerontology. The core curriculum includes courses on public policy and advocacy, contemporary social problems, law and ethics, and case management. A culminating capstone project that incorporates students' skills in a real-world setting is also required. SNHU's online learners have 24/7 online access to coursework, and have support from admission and academic advisors. Students can transfer up to 90 credits toward this affordable degree.

Tweet this Share this School Profile
10 University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh 61.00 3/5 50% Oshkosh, WI

The UW-Oshkosh is part of the University of Wisconsin System, one of the largest educational systems in the nation that educates more than one million students every year. The school offers 74 programs in a variety of disciplines, including an online human services degree. The bachelor's of science in human services leadership is a multidisciplinary degree program that emphasizes interpersonal relations, strategies for intervention, program evaluation, and the ethical aspects of human services. The program prepares students for careers as advocates, criminal justice workers, community planners, and administrators. Courses are delivered asynchronously using the Desire2Learn platform. Online learners have access to personalized support, academic advising, and several financial aid opportunities. Applicants must have at least 65 transfer credits and a 2.6 GPA, or an associate degree from a technical college and a 2.75 GPA to be considered.

Tweet this Share this School Profile
11 Western Washington University 60.00 3/5 67% Bellingham, WA

Western Washington University is the northernmost college in the contiguous United States, and has about 15,000 students. The school offers over 160 academic programs for students to choose from, including an online human services degree. The 76-credit bachelor's of arts in human services degree is perfect for those planning to pursue careers involving social change and social justice for individuals, groups, and communities. The curriculum includes courses in healthcare and human services, addictions and dependencies, children and families, and mental health. Three internships are also required at field sites with supervision given by Western faculty. To earn enough credits to graduate, students will need to transfer up to 104 credits from a two-year college into the program. Applicants must have a cumulative 2.75 GPA for college-level work to be considered.

Tweet this Share this School Profile
12 Granite State College 60.00 3/5 50% Concord, NH

Granite State College was founded in 1972 in Concord, New Hampshire, with the goal of providing a quality education to all regardless of age, income, or location. Today, the school offers several entirely online associate, bachelor's, and master's degrees, including an online human services degree. The 120-credit bachelor's of science in human services at GSC trains students to meet the needs of the growing health services industry, especially organizations that focus on aging populations, addiction therapy, and child and family services. The curriculum includes courses on law and ethics, research methods, psychology, biology, and human development. GSC offers a generous credit transfer program, and 84% of the student body are transfers from other institutions. Students can transfer in up to 90 credits. GSC also offers career advising and financial aid opportunities.

Tweet this Share this School Profile
13 Ottawa University-Online 59.00 3/5 40% Ottawa, KS

Ottawa University is a Christ-inspired learning community located in Ottawa, Kansas. The school offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs at multiple in-person locations, as well as online. Learning at Ottawa's accredited online college includes entirely online degree programs, 24/7 access to course material, and a student-to-faculty ratio of 4-to-1. The bachelor's of arts in human services prepares students to help individuals dealing with poverty, substance abuse, troubled relationships, mental health challenges, and more. The curriculum includes courses in case management, client interviewing, gathering data, and counseling. Students can add any of the university's minors to the program, in areas ranging from health care management and communication to business administration and sociology. Graduates with an online human services degree enter the workforce prepared for careers in counseling, social work, community outreach, rehabilitation, elder care, and more.

Tweet this Share this School Profile
14 Southeastern University 59.00 4/5 40% Lakeland, FL

Southeastern University is a private Christian college in Lakeland, Florida. The college offers more than 70 academic degree programs in education, the arts, health care, and ministry. Southeastern also offers online degree programs in criminal justice, business, and behavioral and social sciences. The bachelor's of science in human services is a 124-credit interdisciplinary program that includes a 54-credit general education core and 39 credits in the major. The curriculum includes courses on group dynamics, human diversity, management in human services, faith integration, and research methods. Students must also take 31 hours of elective courses. Classes are organized in an online cohort model and are offered in four-week increments. Graduates leave the online human services degree program prepared to pursue entry-level jobs, such as child advocates or community health workers, or further study in graduate school.

Tweet this Share this School Profile
15 Grace Bible College 59.00 3/5 32% Wyoming, MI

Grace Bible College is an evangelical Christian college in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Grace has created an online learning environment that allows the school to offer accelerated programs. The accelerated bachelor's of science in human services is designed to equip students with the necessary skills to serve individuals and families. This online human services degree typically takes 2 years to complete and requires the transfer of at least 42 prior credits into the program, with at least a cumulative 2.0 GPA. The human services major requires 60 credits, 48 of which are from the human services core. The curriculum includes courses in abnormal psychology, marriage and family, marketplace ministry, and biblical counseling. Students are organized into cohorts that meet entirely online one night per week. Grace offers military service members, veterans, and dependents under 23 tuition assistance.

Tweet this Share this School Profile
16 Southwestern Assemblies of God University 58.00 4/5 38% Waxahachie, TX

Texas-based Southwestern Assemblies of God University offers degree programs in disciplines like history, social studies, Bible and church ministry, business, and education. The bachelor's of science in human services is a 126-credit program that includes general education studies, biblical studies, and a specialization in one of four fields: counseling, social work, psychology, or criminal justice. A field practicum is also required for all specializations, except psychology. This online human services degree is offered entirely online and coursework is accessible 24/7. Online students have access to the same resources as their on-campus counterparts, including academic advising and career services. SAGU also has a generous credit transfer system that includes military credit, vocational, and technical credit. The school offers students a 20% tuition grant for bachelor's degrees which, combined with transferred credits, can make the program quite affordable.

Tweet this Share this School Profile
17 University of the Cumberlands 56.00 3/5 45% Williamsburg, KY

The University of the Cumberlands provides its students with a broad liberal arts education rooted in Christian values. Online learning at UC features cutting-edge technologies, a variety of student resources, and flexible scheduling. The 128-credit bachelor's of science in human services emphasizes professional helping skills, behavioral therapy, and current social issues. The curriculum includes coursework in case management, social policy analysis, ethics, race and diversity, and addictions and recovery. Students earning their human service degree online can transfer up to 90 credits from another school, but at least 25% of a student's total credit hours must be earned at UC. Applicants with 0-11 credits need only to submit a high school transcript, while students with 12+ credits must provide college transcripts and have a minimum GPA of 2.0 to be considered.

Tweet this Share this School Profile
18 Drury University 55.00 4/5 48% Springfield, MO

Drury University offers almost 70 majors and boasts a small 13-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio. Drury offers online bachelor's degree programs in fields like business administration, sociology, criminal justice, and public administration. The school also offers online learning that is designed with the working adult in mind. Online programs at Drury offer flexibility, affordability, staff trained in online instructional methods, and a generous transfer credit system. The entirely online bachelor's of science in human services prepares students for careers in a variety of health service organizations. This human services online degree emphasizes sociology and psychology in areas like family, human sexuality, gerontology, and behavioral sciences. There is also a leadership concentration option that focuses on theories and models of leadership, conflict resolution, organizational relations, and grant writing. Drury has partnerships with three area community colleges, allowing credits to easily transfer between the schools.

Tweet this Share this School Profile
19 East Tennessee State University 54.00 3/5 41% Johnson City, TN

East Tennessee State University, the fourth largest institution in the state, is located in Johnson city and serves more than 14,500 students each year. ETSU offers several online degree programs, including a bachelor's of science in human services. The curriculum includes a 27-credit human services core in child psychology, family relations, counseling theory and practice, and administration of human services. There is also a three-credit human services practicum and a three-credit human services internship that must be arranged with the school. The online human services degree prepares students to pursue careers in counseling, administration, case management, and other related fields. Students must take a senior exit exam before graduation. After being accepted to ETSU, applicants should apply directly to the program after having completed 30 credits of college work.

Tweet this Share this School Profile
20 Shorter University 50.00 3/5 47% Rome, GA

Shorter University is a private Christian university affiliated with the Georgia Baptist Convention. The school, with campuses in Rome, Georgia, and across Atlanta, offers more than 40 academic programs, including an online human services degree. The 120-credit bachelor's of science in human services includes 39 credits in the major and covers topics like domestic social problems, diversity, ethics in human services, and behavioral issues. Graduates leave the program ready to pursue careers in a variety of human service roles, including adult services worker, substance abuse worker, case manager, and more. Coursework is offered entirely online, but there are required clinical hours that must be served at an approved organization. The online format at Shorter offers flexibility and courses are delivered in an accelerated eight-week format. Shorter is a Military Friendly School with a dedicated enrollment counselor, academic advisor, and financial aid assistance for veterans.

Tweet this Share this School Profile
21 Quincy University 46.00 3/5 56% Quincy, IL

Quincy University is a private Catholic university in the Franciscan tradition, founded in 1860. Two bachelor's degree programs are delivered online, including the bachelor's of human services degree. The human services bachelor's degree online focuses on counseling theories and techniques, and group and family dynamics. The program prepares students through a mixture of classroom instruction and hands-on experience. The program has four main areas of emphasis: case management, appraisal and psychological testing, statistics and research methods, and needs assessment and program evaluation. Quincy faculty work with community leaders to arrange student internships and practicums at well-respected organizations. Past students have interned with local hospitals, public schools, and government organizations. The school offers a wide variety of scholarship, grants, and other financial assistance. In fact, 98% of Quincy students receiving some form of financial aid.

Tweet this Share this School Profile
22 Bluefield College 44.00 4/5 34% Bluefield, VA

Virginia's Bluefield College is the state's top Christian liberal arts college and offers 45 academic programs. The school's online learning program is designed for adult learners working full-time, as well as military personnel. Bluefield offers online degrees in criminal justice, early childhood education, management and leadership, and nursing. The online bachelor's in human services examines human behavior as a result of relationships, mental processes, and environmental factors. The human services degree online emphasizes social justice, multicultural populations, and the integration of technology into the workplace. The program prepares students for careers such as case workers, community organizers, juvenile court liaisons, and eligibility counselors. Online courses at Bluefield are offered in an eight-week format, which allows for an accelerated pace. Transfer students must have an average GPA of at least 2.0 to be considered.

Tweet this Share this School Profile
23 Indiana Institute of Technology 43.00 4/5 31% Fort Wayne, IN

Indiana tech was founded in 1930 as an engineering college for men. Today, the school provides a wide variety of programs to roughly 7,500 men and women each year, and the vast majority engage in evening, weekend, or online learning. The school's most popular degree programs include engineering, business, computer science, criminal justice, and education. The bachelor's of science in human services is a 120-credit program that prepares students to address behavioral issues in a variety of settings. The curriculum includes courses in diversity, aging, social problems, relationships, and community and social movements. Students who have earned their human services bachelor's degree online are qualified to either enter the workforce or to pursue further education in graduate school. Online classes are delivered in an accelerated format using Blackboard, with most classes only lasting five weeks. IT offers a number of institutional scholarships, as well as grants and student loans.

Tweet this Share this School Profile
24 Fisher College 40.00 4/5 37% Boston, MA

Fisher College is a nonprofit college located in Boston that offers courses at four campuses and online. The bachelor's of science in human services is perfect for those with an interest in counseling, psychology, social work, or sociology. The curriculum includes courses in counseling, crisis intervention, research methods, and ethics in the field. Students also have opportunities for internships at a number of organizations in the Boston area, ranging from hospitals and courts to homeless shelters and residential homes. The 120-credit program is delivered in eight-week terms and all course materials can be purchased through the online bookstore. The human service degree online also prepares students for graduate study specializing in marriage and family therapy, social work, psychology, and counseling. Fisher College offers a wide variety of financial aid to active military members, and has been recognized as a Military Friendly Institution for the past seven years.

Tweet this Share this School Profile
25 Iowa Wesleyan University 34.20 3/5 30% Mount Pleasant, IA

Iowa Wesleyan University is one of the oldest four year, coeducational, church related liberal arts schools west of the Mississippi River. In addition to courses at the main Mt. Pleasant campus, IW offers classes at community colleges in West Burlington and Muscatine as well as online. IW has a growing online learning division that includes the bachelor's in human services, with three areas of focus: criminal justice, sociology, and psychology. This program prepares students for careers in several human services settings, including alcohol and drug treatment centers, nonprofits, hospitals and community centers, human resource departments, and more. Students enrolling in this human services online degree can transfer up to 64 credits from an accredited community college or 94 credits from a four-year institution. Applicants must have a minimum GPA of 2.0 to be considered.

Tweet this Share this School Profile

Although specific details and requirements of an online human services degree will vary depending on which school or program a student selects, the information below is intended to offer an overview of what students might expect from their curriculum, concentrations, and accreditation.

CONCENTRATIONS OFFERED FOR AN ONLINE BACHELOR’S IN HUMAN SERVICES

Concentration Description Careers This Concentration Prepares For
Child and Family Services A specialization in child and family services is designed for students with a particular interest in schools, child welfare, or family organizations. The specialization courses, focusing on subjects such as child development and public policy, will prepare graduates for successful human services careers. Caseworker, crisis intervention worker, juvenile court liaison
Gerontology Students who are enrolled in a gerontology specialization will learn and develop skills and strategies to work with the elderly population. The specialization prepares graduates for careers at assisted living facilities, home healthcare systems, and other institutions that provide positive aging services and programs. Group home manager, community outreach manager, life skills instructor
Substance Abuse An online human services degree with a specialization in substance abuse provides students with the tools and training they will need to successfully perform in compassionate social careers that support victims of substance abuse and addiction, helping them improve their lives and interpersonal relationships. Drug and alcohol counselor, addictions counselor

CURRICULUM FOR AN ONLINE BACHELOR’S IN HUMAN SERVICES

Online human services degree programs all have similarities, and listed below is a sample curriculum. This information is based on actual curricula, but it’s important to remember that subject content will vary between programs.

  • Child Growth and Cognitive Development: An important course to take while earning a human services degree online is one that focuses on child development, providing students with knowledge about the physical, cognitive, social, and emotional components of normal development. Professionals will then be able to detect situations in which normal development is not occurring.
  • Family and Community Systems: Students enrolled in a family and community systems course learn to operate frequently-used tools and develop skills to help families negotiate the complicated system of support organizations within their communities. Organizations include medical and mental health provider and nonprofits, Family Court, and the Department of Human Services.
  • Introduction to Human Services: Essential to earning a human services bachelor’s degree online is an overview course that introduces students to the settings, roles, and functions within the human services field. Students are given a contextual understanding of behavioral and social theories, common social problems, ethical behavior, and personal values.
  • Public Policy and Advocacy: In public policy and advocacy courses, students are introduced to human services policies as well as the processes involved in policy development, both in the government and the private sector. Further exploration is conducted into how advocacy influences social welfare and how students can effectively help develop policy and plan advocacy campaigns.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET AN ONLINE BACHELOR’S IN HUMAN SERVICES?

Online colleges for human services subscribe to different methods of distance learning, which can affect how long it might take for a student to complete their degree requirements. The majority of online degrees are designed to be taken at an individual pace, allowing flexibility to meet every student’s schedule. As an alternative, cohort learning was developed to mimic the social atmosphere of traditional, on-campus courses, requiring students to move through the program at a set pace with their group. Although this may provide for a more pleasant learning atmosphere, it may not be as flexible as independent learning.

Another characteristic affecting the length of an online degree is the number of credits required to graduate. The average online bachelor’s degree requires 180 credits, including major-specific classes and general education. Depending on how much of a student’s previous education–such as the completion of an associate degree, or other college classes–is transferrable, the number of credits required to graduate will vary. Students can expect the completion of their human services degree online to take up to four years.

One of the most important steps in deciding which school to apply to for your human services bachelor’s degree online is in researching the institution’s accreditation. The accreditation of a college or university is an official recognition that assures the institution meets certain educational requirements and standards. These requirements can be overseen by either a regional or national organization, both have their own unique benefits and drawbacks when compared to one another. Schools with regional accreditation often have a more simple admissions process and a higher rate of affordability, while nationally accredited schools make it easier for students to transfer credits from other institutions around the country. National accreditation is the most popular form of accreditation, which is mainly overseen by two entities: the United States Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

As online colleges have become a more popular education option, there has been an increasing number of illegitimate or scam accreditation programs working to deceive students into applying for a program that will not result in a degree equivalent to those earned from properly-accredited online schools for human services. The Department of Education (DOE), which is a part of the federal government, and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), which is a non-governmental organization, establish operating procedures and investigate the adherence to procedures by institutions. The easiest way to ensure proper accreditation is by checking the websites of the DOE or the CHEA, each of which maintains a database to make all of their institutional information available to the public.

Graduates with an online human services degree have nearly endless options when it comes to choosing a career. Sitting at the intersection of healthcare and social services, human services graduates can be found filling a wide variety of roles across many industries. Human services professionals have the opportunity to work with many different groups of people based on their passions, from adolescent substance abusers to elderly clients who need extra support and care. The most successful and happy human services professionals are those who have a genuine passion for bettering the lives of their clients.

Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorders Counselor: Professionals in these roles provide counsel and support to patients dealing with addictions to alcohol and drugs, overcoming eating disorders, and working through other behavioral problems. They teach clients about recovery techniques and strategies while also working with them through the psychological aspects of their disorder.

Social Worker: Social workers can be found in a variety of health care settings including hospitals, schools, nonprofits, government agencies, and even large corporations. Clinical social workers diagnose and treat a range of behavioral, emotional, and mental issues, while those in non-clinical positions focus on helping clients overcome and solve everyday issues.

Social and Community Service Manager: Human services managers work to develop new programs, measure efficacy of current offerings, oversee staff providing services, manage budgets, and secure operating funds through grant proposals. They work in social services agencies or community-based nonprofits and are in charge of delegating administrative tasks to support staff within their organization.

Social and Human Service Assistant: Found in psychology, rehabilitation, and social work settings, assistants support other professionals in supervisory positions by providing aid and support to clients, assisting with the development of treatment plans, keeping track of government support programs and who they serve, and even providing transportation to clients.

Home Health Aides: These professionals visit clients in their homes and help them accomplish daily tasks. They help bathe and dress clients, and may do light housekeeping, arrange transportation, buy groceries and prepare meals, or arrange social outings. They are also tasked with basic health services, including monitoring vitals and administering medications.

Position Median Annual Salary Projected Growth Rate
Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorders Counselor $39,980 22%
Social Worker $45,900 12%
Social and Community Service Manager $63,530 10%
Social and Human Service Assistant $30,830 11%
Home Health Aide $21,920 38%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

EDUCATIONAL PATHS

Master’s Degrees and Concentrations

Online human services degrees prepare graduates for a variety of entry-level roles, while executive and clinical roles often require a master’s degree. Common graduate-level degree paths include social work, psychology, and counseling. Regardless of the level of study, graduates with human services online degrees can pursue many different career paths in the healthcare industry. A master’s degree is a common choice for human services professionals seeking to advance their career.

Child and Family Services

A common concentration within human services degrees, students who choose this path have a focused interest in supporting children, their families, and their communities. Coursework introduces concepts related to child welfare laws, juvenile corrections, family court, and support services for at-risk youth.

Leadership and Administration

Students with a human services master’s degree specializing in leadership and administration are prepared to pursue management-level positions in the industry. Topics covered in these programs include leadership, company culture, and group dynamics.

Social Work

Master’s degrees in social work go beyond generalist topics to provide students with advanced practical skills and competencies. These programs also prepare graduates for direct clinical services roles, and students can specialize their study in areas like substance abuse, youth and family, or veterans.

Counseling

Similar in many ways to a social work program, a master’s in counseling introduces students to clinical practice, research, ethics, and deepened practice skills to prepare them for state licensure. The main difference between these programs is that social work master’s degrees tend to focus on providing a wider array of services, while counseling programs focus on treating a specific set of problems or disorders.

Nonprofit Management

Given that many social and community services are provided by charities, master’s degrees in nonprofit management have risen in popularity for those interested in administrative and advocacy-based roles. Common topics in these programs include working with the public sector, financial management and fundraising, board governance, and program evaluation.

Sample Coursework

  1. Adult Development: Describes the developmental phases related to the lifespan of adulthood while also discussing how treatments can be used effectively during different phases of life.
  2. Cultural Diversity: Introduces learners to competencies surrounding different cultures and helps them recognize their biases toward different beliefs and attitudes. Students also learn to interact with a wide variety of different populations and cultures.
  3. Alcohol and Drug Abuse: Provides basic frameworks and theories for understanding the context of drug and alcohol abuse, including symptomatology of abuse, characteristics of high-risk groups, and causes of abuse.
  4. Communications for Human Service Professionals: Teaches students how to effectively and compassionately communicate, both orally and in writing. Areas of focus include assessing and diffusing conflict, establishing open lines, and articulating issues clearly.
  5. Prevention and Crisis Intervention: Examines how to prevent or intervene in crisis situations as a human services professional and also teaches students about risk factors, supporting victims, and maintaining proper ethical and legal boundaries.

Employment Outlook for Bachelor’s in Human Services Graduates

Bachelor’s in Human Services SALARY

There are several factors that can determine a human services professional’s salary: whether or not they have an advanced degree, where they live, their level of professional experience, and the type of role they currently have. The following table uses data from PayScale to provide a snapshot of the median salaries of several human services careers across a professional’s career.

Human Services Careers by Experience

Job Title Overall Median Salary Median Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 years) Median Salary for Mid-Career Employees (5-10 years) Median Salary for Late-Career Employees (20+ years)
Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorders Counselor $37,847 $34,000 $38,000 $44,000
Social Worker $43,619 $40,000 $46,000 $55,000
Social and Community Service Managers $47,993 $41,000 $51,000 $60,000
Social and Human Service Assistants $30,634 $29,000 $29,000 $34,000
Home Health Aides $23,431 $21,000 $22,000 $25,000

Source: PayScale

Human Services Licensure and Certification

Most human services graduates can find work with a mix of education, experience, and on-the-job training. However, some clinical roles where professionals provide direct services require an advanced degree, licensure, or certification. Earning a specialized license or certification can also help candidates stand out during the hiring process and achieve management-level positions. Certificates are an efficient way to gain professional development that are available in a variety of professions.

Human Services Board-Certified Practitioner: The National Organization for Human Services provides this voluntary certification for professionals looking to deepen their knowledge of the 11 core human services content areas.

Children, Youth, and Family Services: Penn State offers this fully online certificate for human services professionals seeking a more nuanced understanding of topics related to proper care and support for young populations.

Alcohol and Drug Abuse Studies: This 14-course program from the University of California at Berkeley may be the perfect fit for students who want to learn more about the biomedical, psychological, and cultural influences of chemical dependency and intervention.

PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS

Professional human services organizations offer members a full spectrum of benefits, ranging from networking opportunities to professional development programs designed to deepen knowledge and provide continuing education credit. Many of these organizations also publish studies to keep members aware of changes to ethical, legal, or medical laws and regulations in the industry.

  • National Organization for Human Services: NOHA supports human services professionals by providing a national conference, local chapters, student scholarships, and a range of publications to all members.
  • American Public Human Services Association: With a mission to represent and empower state and local agencies providing human services, APHSA focuses on advocacy and legislative issues within the field.
  • Association for Addiction Professionals: Drug and substance abuse counselors will find membership with this organization very attractive. Membership benefits include certificates, continuing education, conferences, and a job board.

Students looking to walk away from college without significant debt can lighten their burden by starting early and researching extensively. Their first step should be filling out the Free Application for Federal Aid. Because funds for grants and work-study programs are disbursed on a rolling basis, the application should be sent as close to January 1 as possible. Human services professionals are concerned with helping others and making communities stronger, and there are lots of foundations and nonprofits offering scholarships to help these Good Samaritans complete their educations.

AN OVERVIEW OF FINANCIAL AID

Approximately two-thirds of today’s college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.

UNDERSTANDING THE FAFSA

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.

FINANCIAL AID FOR ONLINE STUDENTS

Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you’ll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn’t always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.

SCHOLARSHIPS FOR SINGLE PARENTS

Online college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree and securing their family’s financial future. We’ve compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.

FINANCIAL AID FOR VETERANS AND ACTIVE MILITARY

Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.