Graduates of human services certificate online programs are prepared for a variety of professions. Whether you want to work with children, the elderly, or individuals who require specific social services, you'll be qualified for employment at health and welfare agencies, educational institutions, hospitals, and community centers.
Due to the aging baby-boomer population, the demand for home services is growing; employment of home health aides is projected to grow by a staggering 38%, which is much faster than the average job in the U.S. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of social and human service assistants is also projected to grow considerably (by 11%) by 2024.
What are the Best Online Certificate in Human Services Programs?
|NE, Omaha||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 74%||
A private, Episcopalian-affiliated college based out of Omaha, Nebraska, Clarkson College enrolled approximately 1,250 total students in 2016. Associated with the University of Nebraska Medical Center, Clarkson College primarily excels in and earns renown for health or health-adjacent programs in fields such as physical therapy assistance, healthcare services, health information management, nursing, radiology, and imaging. In addition to its urban Omaha campus, Clarkson College enrolls students in various distance learning programs, including an online human services certificate.
The human services program at Clarkson requires students to complete a 21-credit program to graduate. Most learners complete the certificate within a year of full-time study, although some students opt to enroll part time to keep their day jobs. To better accommodate these enrollees, Clarkson College delivers all of the program's coursework asynchronously and never requires students to visit campus.
To provide additional flexibility, the program allows students to choose between a fieldwork course or an ethics, empathy, and advocacy (EA) course during their final semester. Students who already possess experience in the field can complete the EA course, while students without practical experience complete the fieldwork course at placement sites in their own communities. Other notable courses in the curriculum include family dynamics, vulnerable populations, social policy and human services, and a crisis intervention seminar.
To earn admission to the program, each student must submit evidence of a high school diploma or GED, plus SAT or ACT scores. Clarkson College accepts admissions on a rolling basis, and students may begin the program in the fall or spring semesters.
Madisonville Community College
|KY, Madisonville||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 43%||
Enrolling approximately 2,700 total students, Madisonville Community College counts itself among the 16 members of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, and it offers both associate degrees and various technical and trade-focused certificates. These programs further MCC's original mission of making postsecondary education accessible for Kentucky's workforce and general citizenry.
MCC has also reached a wider student population in recent years by making several of its programs available through distance learning, including various online human services certificate programs. MCC's human services certificate programs include 15 credits of direct support work, 18 credits of aging services, 27 credits of psychiatric mental health technician work, and 24 credits of substance abuse recovery coach work. Each program allows students to enroll part time or full time and eliminates all on-campus requirements. Students can also complete associate of applied sciences degrees in human services at MCC.
To cater to students who want to continue to work full time while earning their certificates, MCC delivers all of the human services program's coursework asynchronously. None of the certificate programs list any special admission requirements beyond a high school diploma or GED, as MCC is a community college that runs on open enrollment. MCC holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Northcentral Technical College
|WI, Wausau||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 33%||
Opening its doors in 1912 as an industrial school, Northcentral Technical College currently operates a central campus in Wausau, Wisconsin in addition to satellite centers in Medford, Phillips, Antigo, Wittenberg, Spencer, and Merrill. NTC is one of 16 members in the regionally acclaimed Wisconsin Technical College System. The college enrolls approximately 5,000 full-time and part-time students across all of its campuses and through distance learning.
Thanks to distance learning, NTC now offers a technical diploma of human services online. The human services program at NTC requires students to complete a 27-credit curriculum before earning their technical diplomas, which takes most full-time students two semesters. Many students also choose to enroll part time and keep their full-time jobs while earning their degrees. To better accommodate these students, NTC delivers all of the program's online coursework asynchronously and never requires students in the program to visit campus.
The program's curriculum covers foundational topics such as understanding addiction, introduction to counseling, methods of social casework, developmental psychology, and group counseling methods. Students who complete the program and want to expand their career opportunities even further can use their credits as a pathway to completing NTC's 61-credit associate degree in human services.
Quinsigamond Community College
|MA, Worcester||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 19%||
Based out of Worcester, Massachusetts, Quinsigamond Community College primarily functions as a commuter school, with the majority of the college's 13,000-student population hailing from the surrounding area. QCC earns the most acclaim locally for associate programs that students can transfer into local four-year universities. QCC also provides several strong certificate programs and offers many of its best programs through distance learning.
To that end, QCC offers a human services worker certificate online. The human services program at QCC uses a hybrid delivery method, allowing distance learners to complete over 80% of the program's required coursework online through asynchronous coursework. Students complete the remaining 20% of the program through fieldwork and in-person courses on campus in Worcester or at QCC's Southbridge campus.
The human services program's curriculum consists of 30 total credits. Students can complete the program in two semesters if they enroll full time, but many students in the program also keep their full-time jobs and enroll at QCC part time. Notable and relevant courses in the curriculum include group process for human services, introduction to aging, the helping relationship: delivering human services, and community service: delivering human services.
Students may apply all of the credits they earn throughout the certificate program toward an associate degree in human services at QCC. As a community college, QCC runs on open enrollment and accepts all students with a high school diploma or a GED.
Forsyth Technical Community College
|NC, Winston-Salem||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 17%||
Based in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Forsyth Technical Community College is among the largest members of the North Carolina Community College System, enrolling approximately 11,000 credit-seeking students and 24,000 additional students in continuing education and workforce-development programs. Forsyth Tech offers nearly 70 different associate degrees and certificate programs at a dozen campuses throughout the eponymous Forsyth and Stokes Counties.
In recent years, the college has greatly expanded its distance learning offerings. As a result, Forsyth Tech now offers one of the nation's strongest human services online certificate programs. The human services program at Forsyth Tech includes a concentration in human services technology and social gerontology. Most students enroll in the program part time, keeping their full-time jobs as they earn their degrees. Students can graduate in three semesters by taking two courses per term.
The program's curriculum consists of 18 credits in total. Noteworthy courses in the curriculum include substance use and aging; gerontology; psychological and social aspects of aging; health, wellness, and nutrition; and aging policies, programs, and services. To better fit the needs of part-time students with full-time jobs, Forsyth Tech delivers all of the program's coursework asynchronously and does not include any in-person requirements in the curriculum.
As a community college, Forsyth Tech runs on open enrollment and accepts all students with high school diplomas or GEDs.
Allan Hancock College
|CA, Santa Maria||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 31%||
A community college based in Santa Barbara County, California, Allan Hancock College used to train fighter pilots during the World War II era. In the 1960s, the college constructed buildings specifically for business, fine arts, and performing arts, significantly expanding the diversity of its programs. In the years since, AHC has added a community education building and increased its focus on workforce development and continuing education. AHC has also expanded its distance learning programs and now offers a human services certificate online.
The human services program at AHC includes certificate options in general human services, addiction studies, family studies, co-occurring disorders, family services worker, and specialized helping approaches. Currently, the family services worker program is the only one offered online and without in-person or on-campus requirements. To better meet the needs of working professionals who enroll in this program, AHC delivers all of the program's coursework asynchronously.
Noteworthy courses in the curriculum include becoming a helping professional; case management of diverse populations; basic counseling skills; group dynamics; and family systems, addictions, and trauma. As a community college, AHC runs on open enrollment and accepts each student 18 or older with a high school diploma or GED.
Davidson County Community College
|NC, Lexington||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 30%||
Based in the city of Lexington in the eponymous Davidson County, North Carolina, Davidson County Community College also operates a satellite campus in Mocksville in Davie County. Originally opening its doors in 1958 under the name Industrial Education Center, DCCC has evolved over the years, adding general education programs to its career and vocational diplomas. As of 2013, the school enrolled almost 6,000 students in all of its programs. DCCC has also greatly expanded its distance learning offerings and now provides a human services certificate online to interested students.
The human services program at DCCC requires students to complete 15 credits to earn their certificate. Students can complete the required five courses in two semesters or approximately 6-8 months. The five courses in the curriculum are conflict resolution, substance abuse overview, addictive behaviors, addictive processes, and co-dependencies. The program does not include a capstone or thesis requirement, eliminates in-person requirements, and delivers coursework asynchronously.
DCCC is a member of the North Carolina Community College System, so credits earned at DCCC transfer seamlessly to four-year universities in the University of North Carolina System. As a community college, DCCC accepts students under a policy of open enrollment, admitting any student with a high school diploma or GED.
Coastline Community College
|CA, Fountain Valley||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 19%||
Based out of Orange County, California, Coastline Community College operates its administrative center out of Fountain Valley -- in addition to campuses in Garden Grove, Westminster, and Newport Beach. Originally opening its doors in the 1970s, Coastline is a member of the California Community College System and maintains a sister college relationship with Golden West College in Huntington Beach and Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa.
Despite its thoroughly local presence, Coastline reaches students across the region and the nation by making several of its programs available through distance learning, including a human services certificate online. The human services program at Coastline requires students to complete 18 credits. Most full-time students finish the certificate in two semesters, although many working professional students enroll part time and continue working full time.
To better accommodate part-time, working students, Coastline delivers all of the program's coursework asynchronously and does not require students to visit campus. The core curriculum consists of five courses: introduction to human services, helping theories and intervention strategies, introduction to crisis intervention, treatment issues in substance abuse, and a human services practicum that students can complete at placement sites in their own communities.
Elective courses include options in fields such as psychology, sociology, and anthropology. Sticking to open enrollment, Coastline admits all students with a high school diploma or a GED.
Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College
|NC, Asheville||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 33%||
Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College, known locally as A-B Tech, originally opened its doors in 1959. The college enrolls nearly 25,000 total students in degree, certificate, and community-based continuing education courses, making A-B Tech one of the largest schools by enrollment in the Tar Heel State.
A-B Tech has recently expanded its distance learning offerings, allowing the college to access a wider geographic population in terms of its student body. A-B Tech now offers a human services certificate online. Awarding a certificate in human services and substance abuse, the program requires students to complete an 18-credit curriculum before graduating. Full-time students can finish the program in a semester or two. Nevertheless, many students continue to work full time while earning their certificates and opt for part-time study.
The program's 18-credit curriculum includes three required courses: addictive process, substance abuse counseling, and pharmacology. Students complete an additional three elective courses to round out the curriculum. A-B Tech strives for flexibility and delivers all of the program's coursework asynchronously. Students who select certain elective courses can complete the program without ever visiting campus.
As a community college running on open enrollment, A-B Tech does not list any admission requirements for the program beyond a high school diploma or a GED.
Franklin Pierce University
|NH, Rindge||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 49%||
A private university based in the rural town of Rindge, New Hampshire, Franklin Pierce University prides itself on blending a foundational liberal arts curriculum with opportunities to pursue pre-professional study. Originally beginning operations in the 1960s, Franklin Pierce has always remained small by design and currently enrolls approximately 2,300 total graduate and undergraduate students.
As the university has evolved over the years, Franklin Pierce has added several distance learning programs, allowing students beyond New England to access the college's programs. As a result, Franklin Pierce now offers a human services certificate online. According to the university's course catalog, full-time students can complete the program in approximately 1.6 years. Nevertheless, many students who enroll in the program continue to maintain familial and professional obligations and opt to enroll part time instead.
To better meet the needs of students in the program, Franklin Pierce delivers all of the program's coursework asynchronously and never requires students to visit campus for any reason. The program's 24-credit curriculum includes five required courses: social psychology, techniques of counseling I, introduction to social work, the family, and introduction to sociology. Students also complete three of the following four elective courses: organizational behavior, introduction to psychology, psychology of aging, and race and ethnic relations.
As a four-year university, Franklin Pierce maintains different admission standards than most community colleges. Nevertheless, the university does not list any admission requirements for the human services certificate beyond a high school diploma or a GED.
Holyoke Community College
|MA, Holyoke||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 27%||
Holyoke Community College opened its doors in the 1940s as the result of efforts from the local school board. The college offers over 100 different programs, including associate degrees, certificates, and continuing education courses for local working professionals. Statistically, HCC graduates the highest percentage of students with associate degrees and certificates out of all 15 Massachusetts community colleges.
Moreover, a study by Columbia University's Teachers College revealed that HCC had the best practices for getting transfer students into UMass Amherst. Distance education plays a large role in these honors, and HCC now offers a human services certificate online. Full-time students can complete the program in 1-2 years of full-time study. Nevertheless, as many of HCC's students continue to work full time while enrolling, many students opt for part-time study.
HCC welcomes all of these students by delivering coursework asynchronously and eliminating all of the program's potential in-person and on-campus requirements. The program's curriculum consists of 24-25 credits and includes three required courses: composition I, introduction to human services, and introduction to psychology. Beyond those core courses, students can choose from elective courses such as public speaking, deaf culture, introduction to nutrition, introduction to the study of aging, and conflict resolution. HCC does not list any admission requirements for the program beyond a high school diploma or a GED.
|MN, White Bear Lake||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 18%||
Century College, a community college based out of the city of White Bear Lake, Minnesota, has historically focused on technical and vocational programs since its inception in 1967. The college boasts remarkable diversity, enrolling approximately 42% of its 12,000-person population as students of color. Moreover, Century caters to working professionals in particular, as the average age of enrolled students is 25.
Century has expanded on these two pillars by making several of its programs available through distance learning, including an online human services certificate. The human services program at Century consists of two certificate options: a 30-credit human services technician certificate and a 16-credit human services volunteer certificate. In both cases, Century uses a hybrid delivery method, blending on-campus evening courses with asynchronous online coursework.
Beyond its delivery method, the program provides plenty of flexibility, as students can opt to enroll at Century and begin their studies in the fall, spring, or summer terms. Students may also choose between full-time and part-time tracks, as most of the students who enroll in the program continue to work full time. Both the volunteer and technician programs include the same core courses, including helping skills, crisis assessment and intervention, techniques of working with groups, and a seminar in current issues and topics in the field. All students in both programs also complete an internship at a human services organization in the field.
Century does not list any admission requirements for the program beyond a high school diploma or a GED.
Montgomery County Community College
|PA, Pottstown||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 21%||
Based on a 186-acre campus in the town of Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, Montgomery County Community College also operates a satellite campus in Pottstown, a Culinary Arts Institute in Lansdale, and a public safety training campus. Montco enrolls nearly 13,000 students in a multiple associate degree, certificate, and continuing education programs. It also offers several of its programs through distance learning, including an online human services certificate.
The human services program at Montco requires students to complete 36 credits before graduating. Most full-time students manage to earn their certificates within two years, although many learners opt to enroll part time and keep their jobs while going to school. To accommodate all types of learners, Montco delivers the program's coursework asynchronously and never requires students to visit campus.
The program's 36-credit curriculum includes a broader general education grounding than other human services certificates, as students complete introductory courses in English composition, sociology, and psychology. Notable human services-specific courses include professional development in human services, assessment and documentation in human services, and volunteer administration. Each student can also complete a practicum experience at a placement site in their own community.
Montco runs on open enrollment and accepts all students with a high school diploma or a GED.
SUNY Broome Community College
|NY, Binghamton||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 27%||
Located in the town of Dickinson in the eponymous Broome County, New York, SUNY Broome Community College is a member of the State University of New York System. SUNY Broome enrolls approximately 6,500 students and offers multiple certificate, associate degree, vocational, and continuing education programs. In recent years, the college has expanded its distance learning programs and now offers a human services certificate online.
The human services certificate program at SUNY Broome requires students to complete 25 credits before graduating. For full-time students, the program generally takes two semesters, although many students with familial or professional obligations can opt to enroll part time instead. SUNY Broome delivers all of the program's coursework asynchronously and never requires students to visit campus.
Notable courses in the 25-credit curriculum include a seminar in human potential, abnormal psychology, introduction to counseling theory and practice, and human exceptionality and its assessment. All students can also complete field experiences at human service organizations in their local communities.
As a community college, SUNY Broome accepts all students with high school diplomas or GEDs. For students who want to pursue more advanced degrees in human studies, SUNY Broome maintains articulation agreements with several four-year universities throughout the Empire State. Many local students opt to attend Binghamton University after graduating from SUNY Broome.
University of Maine at Augusta
|ME, Augusta||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 17%||
Based in the Pine Tree State's capital city of Augusta, the University of Maine at Augusta caters to a variety of students, including both recent high school graduates and working professionals returning to school. To better serve the needs of these students, UMA offers many programs, including liberal arts, science, and career-focused options. UMA also offers several of its strongest programs through distance learning, including a human services certificate online.
The human services certificate program at UMA requires students to complete a 30-credit curriculum before graduating. Full-time students can finish the program in 18-24 months, while completion times vary for part-time students, many of whom continue to work or raise families full time. To accommodate all types of distance learners, UMA provides students with flexibility by delivering all coursework asynchronously and eliminating all on-campus requirements.
The program's 30-credit curriculum blends general education courses, such as public speaking and college writing, with field-specific human services coursework. Particularly relevant courses in the curriculum include interviewing skills for human services, counseling in human services, family interaction, and social problems. The program does not list any capstone or thesis requirements. UMA does not list any admission requirements for the program beyond a high school diploma or a GED.
What Else can I Expect From an Online Certificate in Human Services Program?
Curriculum For an Online Certificate in Human Services
Depending on the program you choose, the specific courses you take will vary; however, all human services certificate curricula include classes in human development, sociology, and psychology. Individuals who want to work in human services should have a solid background and understanding of child and adolescent development, marriage and family studies, and aging. Below are a few common courses you can expect to take:
- Infant and Child Development: Child development courses examine the physical, cognitive, psychosocial, behavioral, biological, and psychological developmental processes that occur during infancy and childhood. Topics include historical philosophies, contemporary issues, and intervention methodologies.
- Marriage and Family: Marriage and family courses examine the social functions of a family. Topics include issues in contemporary society, intimacy, love, dating, cohabitation, family planning, child birth, child-rearing, parenting, divorce, and family violence.
- Death, Dying, and Grief: Death and dying courses examine the conceptual framework of death, grief, and bereavement. Students learn about theoretical, developmental, and cultural perspectives of death with regards to attitudes, reactions, funeral practices, services, and coping mechanisms.
How Long Does it Take to Get an Online Certificate in Human Services?
Several factors can affect the length of your human services certificate online program. Distance courses tend to be the most flexible option for learning; many students work full-time jobs and earn their certificates by taking classes on a part-time basis.
Some distance learners obtain their certificates while simultaneously working towards their associate or bachelor's degrees. Alternatively, other students prefer to complete their certificates first, on a full-time basis, with the option of eventually applying their earned credits towards a degree.
Because of these factors, certificate programs do not tend to be cohort based. Instead, they are completed at a personalized pace at your convenience. Most undergraduate certificate programs require the completion of 15 to 18 credits and can be finished in fewer than 12 months.
What Can I Do With a Human Services Certificate?
Earning a certificate and earning a degree are not the same. While both are academic endeavors that can increase your chances of finding a job, certificate programs are highly specialized, focus on practical training, and include limited coursework. Alternatively, degree programs require more of a time commitment and are more expensive.
Career Paths for Online Human Services Certificates
Individuals who pursue a human services certificate can work in a variety of roles in service settings, such as preschools or daycare centers, welfare agencies, home care settings, and hospitals. Human service professionals care for babies and young children or adults and the elderly. Alternatively, some concentrate on helping specific populations, such as abused or neglected children or individuals with substance abuse issues. Five of the most common career pathways are described below:
- Social and Human Service Assistants
Social and human service assistants work with social workers and psychologists to find and obtain benefits and community services for their clients. Human service assistants may also be referred to as case work aides, clinical social work aides, family service assistants, social work assistants, addiction counselor assistants, and human service workers.
Median Annual Salary: $31,810
Projected Growth Rate: 11%
- Childcare Workers
Childcare workers Childcare workers tend to young children. Duties include bathing and feeding, homework help, reading, playing, and teaching children how to solve problems and improve their social skills. Professionals may work in private or public daycare or preschool settings.
Median Annual Salary: $21,170
Projected Growth Rate: 5%
- Home Health Aides
Working under the direct supervision of nurses, home health aides are typically employed by certified home health or hospice agencies. They help people with chronic illness, disabilities, and cognitive impairment with daily life activities by providing medication, checking vital signs, changing bandages or dressings, and keeping records of care.
Median Annual Salary: $22,600
Projected Growth Rate: 38%
- Personal Care Aides
Personal care aides, also called caregivers and personal attendants, provide self-care support and assistance for their clients. This includes hygiene-related tasks, housekeeping chores, shopping, budgeting, and transportation. They may engage clients in games, walks, or conversation; however, personal aides do not provide any medical services.
Median Annual Salary: $21,920
Projected Growth Rate: 26%
- Mental Health/Psychiatric Technicians and Aides
Mental health/psychiatric technicians and aides provide therapeutic care and support for individuals with developmental disabilities and mental illnesses. They observe, listen, and record the behavior of their clients; help with daily activities; and provide medication and treatment.
Median Annual Salary: $28,670
Projected Growth Rate: 5%
Educational Paths for Human Services Certificate Graduates
Many students view their human services certificate online program as a pathway to pursue an associate or bachelor's degree. Certificates holders, who have learned professional helping skills and information about human services, are better prepared to succeed in a college program. While you may not need a degree to work in most human service settings, it can help qualify you for more advanced positions (e.g., social and community service managers, preschool teachers, and health educators). Three of the most common advanced degrees that students with a certificate in human services pursue are mentioned below:
- Associate in Science in Human Development and Family Studies: Human development and family studies associate degrees provide foundational knowledge about the human lifespan and family development. Some programs focus on adult development and aging, while others emphasize children, youth, and family services.
- Bachelor's of Arts in Human Services: A bachelor's of arts in human services teaches individuals how to improve the lives of children and adults through support, compassion, advocacy, and planned services. Students gain the knowledge and skills needed to work with various age groups at agencies, centers, and institutions.
- Bachelor's of Arts in Human Development: A human development degree focuses on the relationships that exist between individuals, families, social groups, and communities. Students in these programs learn about gerontology as well as how individuals develop skills and handle life challenges.
Accreditation for Certificate and Diploma Programs
Accreditation is a process that assures the quality of education at an institution. Regional accreditation is a comprehensive review of an entire school and is recognized across the country. It is important to choose an accredited school before pursuing an online human services certificate; if you're planning to go on and earn an advanced degree, most schools won't allow you to transfer credits from an unaccredited school. Additionally, potential employers might not accept a certificate from an unaccredited institution.
There are several regional accreditation agencies in the United States, including the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, New England Association of Colleges and Schools, Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, and Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Human services majors should also look for schools that have been accredited by the Council for Standards in Human Service Education (CSHSE), Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, and/or the The Higher Learning Commission.
Financing Your Online Certificate in Human Services Program
Individuals pursuing a human services certificate online are not considered degree-seeking students; therefore, they are ineligible for federal financial aid, such as the Federal Direct Stafford Loan program. However, some schools offer deferred payments or installment plans for nondegree-seeking students in addition to private loans, grants, and scholarships. Applicants should apply for financial aid while they are applying for admittance into a program.
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 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.
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.