The multidisciplinary field of 'human services' is dedicated to three overarching goals: assisting people in need using applied knowledge and best-practice methods; placing equal emphasis on prevention of and solutions to common societal problems; and improving the quality of life of as many assistance-seeking people as possible. At the collegiate level, degree programs in this field explore the various tools, organizations and theories guiding today's human services systems. Students also learn how to encourage and motivate vulnerable people to become independent and less reliant on institutionalized assistance through education, employment and increased self-worth.
What are the best human services programs of 2020? Here are our top 10:
|1||Great Basin College||Elko, NV|
|2||Madisonville Community College||Madisonville, KY|
|3||Ocean County College||Toms River, NJ|
|4||Minot State University||Minot, ND|
|5||Union County College||Cranford, NJ|
|6||Brescia University||Owensboro, KY|
|7||Cornerstone University||Grand Rapids, MI|
|8||Columbia College||Columbia, MO|
|9||Herkimer County Community College||Herkimer, NY|
|10||University of the Cumberlands||Williamsburg, KY|
Most careers in human services are attainable with a high school diploma or less, although positions often require extensive on-the-job training. An associate degree in human services program equips students with the skills, knowledge and insights to assist people with different problems and issues. Courses cover a wide range of subjects, including sociology, anthropology, economics, history, psychology and urban studies. Associate in human services degree pathways also typically include internships, which allow students to receive supervised, hands-on training from experienced professionals. Many of today's students are choosing to earn their associate degree in human services online, rather than in a classroom. Web-based students follow the same rigorous curriculum as their brick-and-mortar counterparts, often leading to the same number of post-degree job opportunities. The asynchronous (or self-paced) format and flexible, study-from-home schedule are ideal for students with part-time jobs, childcare duties and other important commitments.
Learn more about what you can do with an online associate degree in human services and what kind of career opportunities you can look forward to with this comprehensive guide.
Choosing a Program
WILL AN ONLINE ASSOCIATE IN HUMAN SERVICES PROGRAM PROVIDE ME WITH THE SKILLS I NEED TO ADVANCE MY CAREER?
An associate degree in human services will prepare students for this demanding ― yet highly rewarding ― professional pathway. The curriculum will focus on how human services have evolved over the years, as well as the individuals and ideas that have impacted the way people receive social assistance. Internships also give students the opportunity to apply what they have learned to real-world problems in working facilities.
WILL AN ONLINE ASSOCIATE IN HUMAN SERVICES PROGRAM WORK WITH MY SCHEDULE?
Online associate degree programs offer a flexible, easily accessible alternative to traditional college education. Students can download course lectures and readings, participate in virtual discussions with other students, submit written assignments, take exams and communicate with their professors from the comfort of their home computer. Current technology also enables them to study on the go using a laptop, tablet, smartphone and other portable devices with Wi-Fi capabilities.
WHAT JOBS CAN I GET WITH MY ASSOCIATE DEGREE IN HUMAN SERVICES?
Although some careers in human services (such as social work) require at least a bachelor's degree, those who leave school with an associate in human services will be qualified to fulfill various roles in the field. Common job titles include social and human service assistants, social and community service managers, corrections officers and youth counselors, as well as clerks, office administrators and other clerical personnel that work in offices. The associate degree will also serve as a stepping-stone for those who plan to advance in their education and pursue a bachelor's degree.
WHAT ARE THE BEST ONLINE ASSOCIATE IN HUMAN SERVICES PROGRAMS?
Choosing a program is an incredibly personal decision, and only you can properly evaluate whether a target school's strengths match your educational needs. The following ranked list of schools should serve as a helpful starting point in your search for the best online associate degree in human services programs in the United States. Our ranking is based on the courses schools offer, available specializations, student outcomes, career support services, and other criteria used to determine academic excellence. If you are considering an online associate in human services, be sure to contact admissions specialists at different colleges and universities to learn more their about specific requirements and offerings.
2020 Best Accredited Online Associate in Human Services Programs
Great Basin College
|Elko, NV||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 36%||
Great Basin College enrolls about 4,000 students across multiple campuses in Nevada and online. Students can choose from more than 75 degree, diploma, and certificate programs at nine major schools, including more than 30 available through GBC Online.
GBC's 61-credit associate in human services can be completed online in four semesters. Course topics include substance abuse fundamentals, introduction to counseling, and ethics in human services. Students must complete a two-part practicum and a human services seminar to conclude the program.
Over the past five years, graduates of this AAS in human services program have a cumulative GPA of 3.38. Students can also pursue related programs at GBC, including a bachelor's in human services and a substance abuse counselor certificate program.College
Madisonville Community College
|Madisonville, KY||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 40%||
Comprising three campuses across Kentucky and an online division, Madisonville Community College offers multiple education and training programs in fields like business, technology, healthcare, and arts and sciences. Students may also choose from a variety of online AAS degrees.
MCC offers an online associate of applied science in human services. This 60-credit program includes general education, technical core, and elective coursework in topics such as psychology, communication, and quantitative reasoning. Students must also satisfy a digital literacy requirement and complete a course in clinical practice, paraprofessional practice, or cooperative education in human services.
Students may begin the program in the fall or spring semester. Applicants must hold a high school diploma or the GED equivalent and provide ACT/SAT scores or submit to placement testing.
Ocean County College
|Toms River, NJ||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 34%||
Ocean County College enrolls more than 8,000 students online and at its campus in Toms River, New Jersey. Students may choose from more than 40 associate degrees and certificate programs, including nearly 20 that are available online.
OCC's 60-credit associate of science in public service can be completed in four semesters. Students can choose from eight concentrations, including human services/social work. Core concentration coursework explores topics like introduction to social work, gerontology, and human behavior and the social environment. This online program culminates with a social work seminar and practicum.
OCC accepts applications on a rolling basis and admits students at the beginning of each semester. Online learners enjoy the same support resources as on-campus students, including library, advising, counseling, and career services.
Minot State University
|Minot, ND||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 46%||
Located in its namesake city in North Dakota, Minot State University enrolls more than 3,000 graduate and undergraduate students. MSU offers dozens of programs through five major academic colleges. It also delivers more than 20 degrees and certificates online.
MSU's online associate of science in human services features a major in intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Students must complete 66 credits of general education and core coursework. The curriculum explores topics like human development, healthcare in IDD, and dual diagnoses. The program culminates in a field experience.
MSU offers most IDD courses once every two years. Students may also choose to pursue a certificate or bachelor's degree in IDD through MSU.
Union County College
|Cranford, NJ||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 30%||
Established as New Jersey's first community college, Union County College now hosts students across three campuses, two learning centers, and online. Students may choose from more than a dozen degrees and certificates offered fully online or through hybrid classes.
Union offers an online associate of science in social services to prepare aspiring social workers and human services professionals for entry-level careers. The 60-credit program spans four semesters and includes coursework in psychology and sociology. Students explore topics such as social inequality, community resources in human services, and social policy and welfare.
Students may submit their application at any time, and the program enrolls new learners in the fall and spring. Union offers various types of support to distance learners, including tutoring, advising, counseling, and career services.
|Owensboro, KY||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 35%||
One of the nation's leading Catholic liberal arts institutions, Brescia University offers more than 50 graduate and undergraduate programs. Students can attend classes on campus in Owensboro, Kentucky, or pursue one of 10 degrees and certificates available through BUonline.
Brescia's 63-credit associate in human services can be completed online in two years. The curriculum incorporates coursework from fields like social and behavioral science, religion and philosophy, and social work. Additionally, students must satisfy general education requirements in topics like English and public speaking.
Students interested in earning an online associate degree in human services can enroll at one of five start dates throughout the year. Experienced students may transfer in up to 42 credits from a regionally accredited school toward this associate program.
|Grand Rapids, MI||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 55%||
Based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Cornerstone University is a Christian liberal arts institution that oversees a seminary and distance programs delivered through CU Online. Students may choose from more than 20 online programs in areas like business, counseling and psychology, ministry, education, and human services.
CU's online associate in human services prepares graduates for secular or faith-based human services careers. The 62-credit program emphasizes professional skills, offering classes related to digital literacy, leadership, sociology, and intercultural relations. Students conclude the program with a field experience or an applied project.
Participants usually graduate in 28 months. Students pursuing this AS in human services pay a universal per-credit tuition rate, regardless of their state of residence. CU boasts a graduate employment rate of 92%.
|Columbia, MO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 30%||
Originally named Christian Female College, Columbia College hosts roughly 18,000 students through 30 national locations, a main campus in Missouri, and an online division. Learners can choose from more than 40 graduate and undergraduate programs.
CC's associate of science in human services can be completed entirely online or through a hybrid format. The 60-credit program includes a general education core and major area requirements, as well as electives and prerequisites. Students must also complete first-year writing and general education foundations seminars.
CC accepts applications on a rolling basis and admits students at the beginning of each semester. Applicants must have a high school diploma (or the GED equivalent) and a minimum 2.5 GPA. They must also meet minimum SAT or ACT score requirements.College
Herkimer County Community College
|Herkimer, NY||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 33%||
A member of the State University system of New York (SUNY) system, Herkimer County Community College enrolls more than 3,000 students on campus and online. Students can pursue more than 20 associate degrees and certificates -- as well as hundreds of individual courses -- through Herkimer's Internet Academy.
Although the school's online AAS in human services was not developed exclusively as a bridge program, graduates qualify to enter bachelor's programs at other SUNY schools. The 64-credit program can be completed in two years. Coursework explores topics like psychology, sociology, communication, and case management.
Students may begin the program in the fall, spring, or summer term. Submitting ACT or SAT scores is optional. Transfer students may bring in credits from classes that they passed with a "C" or higher. However, they must earn at least 30 credits at Herkimer.Cumberlands
University of the Cumberlands
|Williamsburg, KY||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 33%||
The University of the Cumberlands enrolls nearly 17,000 students across two campuses in Kentucky and online. UC offers dozens of graduate, undergraduate, and certificate programs, including more than 40 online programs.
UC's online associate in human services emphasizes behavioral theory, current social awareness, and professional helping skills. The 61-credit program includes general education requirements from six areas, including Christian faith and values and the humanities. Major coursework explores topics like basic counseling skills, case management, and human diversity and ethics. The program culminates in an internship and a seminar or professionalism class.
UC charges the same per-credit tuition, regardless of a student's state of residence. Classes are delivered in eight-week terms throughout the year.
WHAT ELSE CAN I EXPECT FROM AN ONLINE ASSOCIATE IN HUMAN SERVICES?
The coursework of an associate in human services degree program online will largely revolve around the fields of sociology, psychology and economics. Specific courses may include topics related to aging, cultural diversity, law and ethics, counseling and substance abuse/addiction. Courses in foreign language ― particularly Spanish ― are also usually offered. Concentrations at the associate level are somewhat rare, but programs may allow students to focus their studies on fields like youth and family services, substance abuse counseling, community outreach or corrections. Capstone research projects are also relatively uncommon, but students should expect at least one on-site internship or field experience during their two-year program.
It's crucial to research the accreditation status of an MBA program before making a final decision. In the U.S., online associate degree in human services programs usually receive accreditation from the associate degree division of the Council for Standards in Human Service Education (CSHSE). In addition to programmatic accreditation, make sure that the college or university has received regional or national accreditation.
JOB PLACEMENT: ASSOCIATE DEGREE IN HUMAN SERVICES
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in the 'community and social service' sector (including human services) are expected to rise 10% between 2014 and 2024, resulting in a total of roughly 257,700 new positions. Comparatively, the average growth rate for all occupations currently sits at 6%.
The table below features a more detailed job growth breakdown for four common careers in human services.
|Occupation||Current Number of Jobs||Projected Industry Growth||Projected Number of New Jobs|
|Social and Human Service Assistants||386,600||11%||44,200|
|Correctional Officers and Bailiffs||474,800||4%||17,900|
|Health Educators and Community Health Workers||115,700||13%||15,600|
|Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists||91,700||4%||3,300|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
EARNING A LIVING
Like unemployment rates, the earning potential of an employee with an MBA in sustainability will largely depend on their specific professional title. Other factors to consider include experience level, employer size and city/state of employment. The next table looks at career salary growth expectations for five of the most common job titles for sustainability MBA recipients.
|Occupation||Median Salary for Entry-Level||Median Salary for Mid-Career||Median Salary for Experienced||Median Salary for Late-Career|
|Social/Human Service Assistant||$29,000||$37,000||$33,000||$27,000|
|Family Support Worker||$29,854||$32,804||$30,619||$33,000|
|Community Support Specialist||$31,443||$34,921||$37,649||$38,194|
As the table indicates, all five occupations experience minimal salary growth — and in the case of social/human service assistants, a $2,000 loss in annual earnings after 20 years on the job. Case managers reported the highest rate of salary growth: a 62.4% increase between the entry-level and late-career stages. Corrections officers placed second with 46.8% career salary growth, followed by community support specialists with 21.5% growth.
Those who earn an associate degree in human services online will be eligible for a wide range of entry-level positions. Three common career paths for these degree-holders are outlined in detail below.
Correctional Officers and Bailiffs: Correctional officers oversee prisons where convicted offenders are kept (also known as correctional facilities); they ensure safety, security and prisoner wellbeing throughout the facility. Bailiffs are responsible for maintaining order and safety in courtrooms during trials and other legal proceedings. Many human services associate degree recipients will be qualified for either of these positions with some on-the-job training.
Social and Human Service Assistants: These personnel provide services for people who need assistance in different areas, such as employment and financial support, education or counseling. According to the BLS, roughly 28% work in individual and family services; 20% are employed through state and local government agencies; and 16% offer their services in nursing and residential care facilities.
Health Educators and Community Health Workers: These employees work at the community level to educate people about topics like diet and nutrition, exercise, disease prevention and positive lifestyle choices. The associate degree track is perfect for community health workers, who collect different types of data from community members and use these findings to develop impactful education programs and services.
|Profession||Median Annual Salary||Median Hourly Wage|
|Correctional Officers and Bailiffs||$40,580||$19.51|
|Social and Human Service Assistants||$30,830||$14.82|
|Health Educators and Community Health Workers||$43,840||$21.08|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
Making professional connections and learning about different approaches to human services is crucial to your success. Professional organizations offer a great entry point for students who want to learn more about their chosen career path. Below you'll find three of the country's most prominent organizations established for human services professionals. These organizations host networking events, provide online trainings, maintain active job boards, and offer other services for career-ready college graduates. Resources like these often prove invaluable as you complete your degree requirements and prepare to enter the job market.
- National Organization for Human Services: The NOHS is home to the Human Services-Board Certified Practitioner, a voluntary credential that can help associate degree-holders boost their professional standing and advance in their careers. The organization also publishes a peer-reviewed online journal, sponsors six regional U.S. chapters and hosts an annual nationwide conference.
- American Public Human Services Association: Established in 1930, the APHSA strives to create "better, healthier lives for children, adults, families and communities". Membership options are available for individuals, associate members and industry partners; the association also maintains affiliate partnerships with nine other organizations working in the field of human services.
- National Human Services Assembly: The NHSA is the organization behind the Extra Mile Pathway, a memorial in Washington DC honoring notable Americans in the human services field. Other projects include the National Reframing Human Services Initiative, the National Collaboration for Youth and the National Collaboration for Families.
Financing Your Online Associate Degree in Human Services
Despite the relative affordability of online associate degree programs, most students still need financial assistance. Students should complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to learn more about loans, grants, and other opportunities offered through the U.S. government. Additionally, private grants and scholarships are widely available through nonprofit organizations, companies, and other sources. Check out our collection of resources below to learn more about financial aid options.
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.
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 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.
Online programs can provide an affordable and flexible option for women trying to balance the demands of work, family, and earning their degree. We've curated a list of valuable scholarships specifically for women.
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.
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Students who pursue online degrees will be eligible for scholarships, grants and other financial aid that is unavailable to their brick-and-mortar counterparts. Learn more about these financial opportunities for web-based learners.
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