A health and human services degree prepares graduates to work in health administration, health management, and health services informatics. Graduates can also become health services assistants and case managers, connecting people with services they need. Many of these fields are in demand and offer lucrative opportunities for professionals with a bachelor's degree. For example, a bachelor's degree in health and human services meets the educational requirement for careers as a medical or health services manager. These jobs boast an average salary of $98,350, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the field will grow 20% by 2026.
Before enrolling in a bachelor's program, prospective students should consider which programs help them reach their career goals. This article walks through how to choose the best program, what steps students can take to increase their job prospects after graduation, and how to transition from school into the workforce.
Should I Get a Bachelor's in Health Services?
A health and human services degree can lead to jobs in many growing fields. Prospective students with experience in health services or those who want to pursue administrative or managerial positions benefit from earning a bachelor's degree in health and human services.
During a health and human services program, students build valuable skills in interviewing, assessing clients, and crisis intervention. These prepare graduates to work as case managers in health and human services organizations. Students also learn about community health, develop quantitative skills, and gain hands-on experience through an internship or practicum. As students near graduation, they can build a network with local professionals in their field and rely on job placement assistance through their program.
After graduation, health services professionals with a bachelor's degree benefit from increased competitiveness in the workforce. Many positions in medical and health services management require a bachelor's degree, as do most administrative positions. Students may also pursue graduate degrees in healthcare management, public health, or healthcare administration.
When evaluating health services degrees, prospective students must also decide between on-campus and online programs. An on-campus bachelor's may appeal to students moving directly to college from high school. Conversely, online programs may appeal to working professionals and students balancing school with family obligations. For these students, the flexibility of an online program lets them complete a bachelor's degree around their schedule.
What Can I Do With a Bachelor's in Health Services?
With a health and human services degree, graduates can work in health education, human services, or medical assisting. In these fields, individuals can promote wellness for communities in need. The degree also prepares professionals with experience in medical and health services to pursue managerial positions that oversee a department or agency. Health services professionals benefit from the training provided in a bachelor's degree as they pursue advanced positions.
- Medical and Health Services Managers
Medical and health services managers oversee a facility's medical and health services. They may plan and direct employees who provide services, design policies that meet healthcare laws and regulations, and coordinate services with other organizations. The position requires a bachelor's degree and work experience.
Median Annual Salary: $98,350
Projected Growth Rate: 20%
- Health Educators and Community Health Workers
Health educators and community health workers teach individuals and groups about healthy behaviors. They may create and implement plans to improve health, collect data on the community, and educate people on health problems. Health educators and community health workers may work for hospitals, government agencies, nonprofit organizations, or colleges. Most positions require a bachelor's degree.
Median Annual Salary: $45,360
Projected Growth Rate: 16%
- Human Service Assistant
Social and human service assistants work in nonprofit organizations, social service agencies, and government agencies, providing client services. They may work with social workers and healthcare professionals to offer support. A bachelor's degree in human services qualifies graduates for positions in this field.
Median Annual Salary: $33,120
Projected Growth Rate: 16%
How to Choose a Bachelor's Program in Health Services
When researching programs, students must consider which programs offer courses that prepare them for their desired careers. Students can also narrow their choices by researching cost, location, and program length. Considering these key factors can help prospective students identify the best program for their needs.
Location plays an important role in finding the right program. Some students, particularly those with work or family obligations, cannot afford to relocate to earn a bachelor's degree in health and human services. These students may prefer the accessibility and flexibility of an online program, which lets students enroll from anywhere in the country. Students considering an online option can research the top online health services programs.
Some students prefer to complete their degree as quickly as possible. Researching accelerated options and programs with generous transfer credit policies save students time and money. Students can also research concentrations, specialized practicum options, and graduation requirements to narrow their choices. Finally, students should always make sure they select an accredited school.
Programmatic Accreditation for Bachelor's Programs in Health Services
Accreditation ensures that degree-granting institutions follow the highest standards for education. During the accreditation process, a nonprofit, independent accrediting agency reviews a college, university, or program. Regional and national accrediting agencies assess an institution by reviewing student learning outcomes, graduation requirements, and faculty qualifications. Programmatic accreditation assesses a single program within the university, such as a business school, a social work program, or a teacher training program.
In health services, several different programmatic accrediting agencies may confer accreditation. The Association of University Programs in Health Administration (AUPHA) certifies bachelor of health services administration programs, while the Commission on Accreditation of Health Management Education (CAHME) reviews programs that offer health services management degrees. Both AUPHA and CAHME may also accredit programs that offer health and human services degrees. Accreditation lets students know that their education meets high standards, and signals to future employers that a job candidate's degree meets those standards.
Bachelor's in Health Services Program Admissions
During the admission process, health and human services programs evaluate prospective students to determine whether they can succeed in a bachelor's program. The admissions process gives applicants a chance to highlight their strengths and explain their background. Schools set different prerequisites, minimum GPAs, and material requirements for admission. Some schools -- such as online programs -- may require a more involved process, with an admissions adviser assigned to prospective students as they complete the requirements. In other cases, schools only admit students a few times a year, which means prospective applicants need to carefully check deadlines.
Because each school has a different admissions process, with different deadlines, prospective students need to ensure they've prepared the required admissions materials for each program. The entire process may require several weeks, as applicants request transcripts, contact people to write letters of recommendation, and fill out applications.
- Minimum GPA: Some programs require a minimum high school or college GPA for students, with policies on the minimum GPA for transfer credits. Students who do not meet the minimum GPA may apply for provisional admission.
- Application: Applications require prospective students to list their educational history, background, and relevant experience. The application may also require an essay. Students can use a single application through the Common App to apply to 800 colleges and universities.
- Transcripts: Applicants must submit transcripts showing their high school diploma and any college credits earned. Some schools waive the high school transcript requirement for transfer students with a minimum number of college credits.
- Letters of Recommendation: Many schools require two or three letters of recommendation that speak to the applicant's academic strengths, personal character, and likelihood of succeeding in college. Applicants should give their letter writers three weeks' notice.
- Test Scores: Many schools require SAT or ACT scores from applicants. Some programs may waive the test score requirement for transfer students.
- Application Fee: Most programs charge an application fee to cover the cost of reviewing the admission materials. Students can apply for a fee waiver.
What Else Can I Expect From a Bachelor's Program in Health Services?
Health services programs offer students several concentrations in order to focus their skills on a particular area within health and human services. Majors may build managerial and administrative skills, emphasize interview and intervention abilities, or study human services policy. By researching the concentrations and curriculum offered in this major, prospective students can tailor their education to their desired career path.
|Mental Health Services||A mental health services concentration emphasizes mental health support for clients, including case management, interviewing skills, and community development. Students may take classes in research methods, the aging process and mental health and wellness. The concentration prepares graduates for careers in mental health organizations, community services, and health and human services.||Case worker, mental health counselor, community health worker, human services assistant|
|Health Services Administration||In health services administration, students learn the organization of the health services profession, health services theory, and managerial theory. The administration track focuses on managing health organization policy and finances, overseeing health services personnel, and complying with regulations and laws. The focus can also include leadership and management courses.||Healthcare administrator, medical services manager|
|Health Services Management||The health services management track prepares students to move into managerial positions in healthcare systems, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations. Students study management theory, organizational behavior, and the health services system. Learners build skills to oversee employees and direct a branch, department, or organization.||Health service manager, healthcare administrator|
|Healthcare Informatics||A concentration in healthcare informatics trains students to use electronic health and medical records. The informatics focus emphasizes a data-driven approach to healthcare, and requires quantitative research abilities. This track prepares graduates to work in hospitals, doctors' offices, and other medical facilities. These professionals ensure that health records are accurate and organized to improve health outcomes.||Medical information worker, human services assistant|
|Health Services Policy||A health services policy concentration combines the study of health sciences with public administration and trains graduate students to design, implement, and evaluate health services policies. The coursework may include management, health economics, and public policy administration classes. Graduates work in healthcare systems or for organizations that monitor or oversee health services.||Healthcare administrator, healthcare analyst, human services assistant|
Courses in a Bachelor's in Health Services Program
Each bachelor's program sets its own curriculum that is aligned with the program's goals and specializations. For example, a health services administration degree offers a slightly different focus than a health services management degree. However, many programs include the courses listed in the following sample curriculum, and usually include an internship.
- Introduction to Human Services
The course introduces students to the history and development of the American human service system. The material may include different practitioners and their roles in human services, the variety of human services organizations, and challenges faced by human service providers in the future.
- Human Service Assessment
In this course, students learn to interview and assess clients through human service organizations. The class teaches datas collection skills, helps students create individualized service plans for clients, and demonstrates techniques to assess a client's wellbeing.
- Crisis Intervention
Health and human service professionals who work in case management benefit from classes in crisis intervention. Topics often include training in counseling, interviewing, and emergency situations, and covers high-needs populations, psychiatric emergencies, and other crisis situations that require interventions. Students may conduct research on theories of crisis intervention.
- Current Issues in Human Services
Health and human services majors study and discuss current problems in human services, events that affect the field, and scholarship on these issues. The course may blend current news with the most recent shifts in the field, and connects students with scholars who interpret the field.
Most health services programs include an internship component, where students work in a supervised environment to gain hands-on skills. Depending on the program, students may work in government agencies, for nonprofit organizations, or with college programs. The internship allows students to explore career opportunities and build a professional network.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Bachelor's in Health Services?
Typically, students must earn 120 credits to complete their bachelor's degree, which can take approximately four years of full-time study. However, the length of a health and human services degree varies depending on the program's requirements. Many programs, for example, require an internship to gain hands-on experience, and the internship requirement can add time to the degree. Students who bring transfer credits, on the other hand, may be able to earn their degree in as little as a year. When researching programs, students with high transfer credits may benefit from submitting a transcript for a transfer credit review. Institutions with more generous transfer credit policies can save students time and money.
Accelerated or part-time programs may also be an option for students, depending on their needs. Those with work or family obligations may prefer a part-time option, while others may simply wish to complete their degree as quickly as possible.
How Much Is a Bachelor's in Health Services?
The cost of a bachelor's degree depends on the school and a student's financial aid. In general, in-state, public schools offer the lowest tuition rates. According to College Board, in the 2017/2018 academic year, these institutions charged an average tuition rate of $9,970 per year. Out-of-state public tuition, in contrast, cost over $25,000 a year, and private school tuition exceeded $35,000 a year on average.
Tuition makes up just one part of the cost of a bachelor's degree. Other expenses -- such as fees, technology costs, and living expenses -- may add up. However, students can limit expenses by seeking financial aid. Some schools offer a tuition discount for fully online students. Prospective students can also consider completing their general education requirements at a community college to limit costs, ensuring that the credits transfer before enrolling.
Many students also benefit from scholarship and financial aid opportunities, such as the federal work study program. This financial support can help make an expensive program more feasible.
Certifications and Licenses a Bachelor's in Health Services Prepares For
- Human Services-Board Certified Practitioner
Offered by the National Organization for Human Services, board certification recognizes human service professionals who meet education and work experience requirements. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree in health and human services and must complete 350 hours of work experience after graduation.
- Certified Case Manager
Professionals with case manager experience can apply for the certified case manager designation, provided they hold a bachelor's in human services and demonstrate 12-24 months of full-time experience as a case manager. Candidates must pass an exam and complete continuing education requirements to renew the certification.
- Certified in Public Health
Graduates who go into public health qualify for the certified in public health title with a bachelor's degree and five years of work experience in public health. Applicants must pass a 200-question, four-hour exam and earn recertification credits every two years.
Resources for Health Services Students
The National Organization for Human Services (NOHS) runs a scholarship page with financial aid opportunities such as scholarships, grants, and awards, many of which benefit students earning a bachelor's in human services.
Created by the National Institute for Health, this page includes research on health services and databases and webcasts that provide valuable information for students.
Run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the internship program lets students build valuable experience working for a federal agency.
Professional Organizations in Health Services
Professional organizations help health services professionals build networks through conferences and events. They also offer member benefits such as job boards, scholarships, and professional development resources. Students often benefit from joining professional organizations while earning their degree, as many organizations offer a student membership discount and provide career planning and financial aid opportunities. By researching professional organizations while in school, graduates can easily transition into the workforce.
APHSA offers educational resources, webinars, and publications for professionals in health and human services fields. The association also provides policy papers on best practices in the field.
NOHS provides publications, conferences for networking events, and scholarships and grants for members. The organization also provides a student discount on membership.
Founded in 1920, ACHA promotes student health and wellness through advocacy, research, and education. The organization includes 3,000 college health and wellness professionals who benefit from professional development resources, publications, and networking opportunities.
An organization for black health services managers dating back to 1968, NAHSE offers meetings, conferences, and student support through scholarships and fellowships.
An advocacy group in the human services sector, the National Assembly brings together organizations that work in health and human services. The organization offers peer councils and annual meetings.