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 human services programs of 2020? Here are our top 10:

Rank School Location
1 Northcentral Technical College Wausau, WI
2 Great Basin College Elko, NV
3 Bismarck State College Bismarck, ND
4 Clarkson College Omaha, NE
5 Holyoke Community College Holyoke, MA
6 Quinsigamond Community College Worcester, MA
7 Century College White Bear Lake, MN
8 Allan Hancock College Santa Maria, CA
9 Davidson County Community College Thomasville, NC
10 Coastline Community College Fountain Valley, CA

2020 Best Accredited Online Certificate in Human Services Programs

Rank School Location Cost Graduation Rate Description Toggle
1

Northcentral Technical College

Wausau, WI Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 31%

Founded in 1912 as an industrial school, NTC now offers a comprehensive catalog of academic and career training programs. Options include an online certificate in behavioral and social sciences that helps students strengthen communication and interpersonal skills. Graduates can pursue entry-level administrative jobs or pursue degrees in fields like business and psychology.

Unlike conventional certificates in human services, the NTC track allows students to personalize the curriculum with guided electives. They focus their behavioral science education in developmental psychology, abnormal psychology, or psychology of human relations. Candidates can prepare for counseling careers by delving into diversity studies or marriage/family dynamics.

NTC operates a streamlined admissions process that candidates can complete online. High school graduates in the college's service district may access free tuition based on academic merit through the NTC Promise initiative.

NTC is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

2

Great Basin College

Elko, NV Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 36%

GBC serves approximately 4,000 students annually, many of whom earn their credentials remotely. Its catalog includes an online certificate of achievement in human services. In addition to preparing candidates for careers in mental health centers and correctional institutions, this 15-credit program allows candidates to easily transfer into associate or bachelor's degree-completion tracks.

To earn their online certificates in human services, students take courses like technical mathematics and college-level composition. They also receive an introduction to the counseling profession, learning about ethical client interactions and substance abuse. This program requires each candidate to complete 180 hours of supervised practicum experience.

GBC maintains an open-door admissions policy that welcomes students of all social, economic, and educational backgrounds. The college provides affordable tuition and dedicated career services.

GBC is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

3

Bismarck State College

Bismarck, ND Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 50%

BSC powers distance education with the Blackboard platform. Programming consists of an online certificate for human services/eligibility workers that explores the fundamentals of program administration and service delivery. By completing this 30-credit program, graduates become well-equipped to obtain entry-level positions in community aid centers and government agencies.

The curriculum covers the development of U.S. social welfare, child care assistance, and Medicaid. Students also delve into specific programs, including Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and Low Income Home Energy Assistance. They gain practical skills for college composition and interpersonal communications.

To enroll in this certificate in human services program, each applicant completes an online form and submits a $35 processing fee. BSC provides around-the-clock IT support. Students can explore job options, find internships, and prepare for employment through its career services center.

BSC is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

4

Clarkson College

Omaha, NE Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 53%

Based in Omaha, Nebraska, Clarkson College offers affordable certificates and degrees across eight broad fields of study. Students may pursue an online certificate in human services to prepare for jobs in clinical environments and the nonprofit sector. With courses offered all year through part- and full-time enrollment options, distance learners enjoy added flexibility.

The 21-credit curriculum focuses on the skills needed to support vulnerable populations, including immigrants, people with addictions, and the homeless. Coursework explores community engagement/social change and human development across the lifespan. This certificate in human services program requires each candidate to complete a fieldwork experience or a capstone class in ethics, empathy, and advocacy.

Non-degree applicants only need to submit proof of high school graduation or a GED certificate. Online students access asynchronous courses through the Canvas platform.

Clarkson College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

5

Holyoke Community College

Holyoke, MA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 20%

HCC uses Moodle to deliver 13 remote academic and technical programs. Its offerings include an online human services certificate that provides the foundational knowledge students need to earn degrees in psychology and social work. Alternatively, graduates can pursue entry-level occupations in community organizing and public health settings.

The certificate in human services curriculum totals 24-25 credits. Required coursework includes college composition and introduction to psychology. Each enrollee chooses electives in conflict resolution and mediation; health, safety, and nutrition for young children; and deaf culture to round out their curriculum.

Depending on their academic records, an applicant may need to take a placement test. All students benefit from the one-on-one support of an advisor, who helps them select classes and seek professional development opportunities.

HCC is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

6

Quinsigamond Community College

Worcester, MA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 18%

QCC enrolls 13,000 students in more than 120 academic and career-training programs each year. The school provides an online human services certificate that allows candidates to transfer into an associate degree-completion track or pursue entry-level employment. Distance learners access their courses through Blackboard.

Coursework comprises 30 credits and covers gerontology, psychology and human development, and sociology principles. Students also delve into the major theoretical approaches to counseling and psychotherapy. To obtain an online certificate in human services, each candidate must complete either a direct support practicum or fieldwork with an agency in the Greater Worcester area.

QCC requires each applicant to possess a high school diploma, GED certificate, or a passing score on the HiSET. Candidates with five or more years of professional experience in the human services field can earn credit for prior learning.

QCC is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

7

Century College

White Bear Lake, MN Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 19%

Located in White Bear Lake, Minnesota, Century College serves about 20,000 credit and non-credit students every year. The school delivers remote learning opportunities through the Desire2Learn platform, including an online diploma in individualized studies. This customizable program allows candidates to work with counselors and faculty to design a course of study that supports their distinct academic interests and career goals.

Students take one communication course, with options for public speaking and intercultural communication. To align the 42-credit curriculum with conventional certificate in human services programs, candidates should choose electives like helping clients with disabilities, crisis assessment and intervention, and techniques of working with groups. They can also gain hands-on skills by completing an internship.

Applicants must either submit ACT/SAT/MCA scores or complete the ACCUPLACER entrance exam. Depending on the classes they choose, candidates may also need to fulfill prerequisite requirements.

Century College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

8

Allan Hancock College

Santa Maria, CA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 33%

As one of the top five community colleges in California, AHC provides career-focused certificates and degrees in over 100 areas of study. Options include an online certificate in family services that prepares students for entry-level positions as community program administrators and government service aides. Graduates can also pursue degrees in human services and early childhood studies.

Candidates fulfill curricular requirements by taking three classes from prescribed offerings. These options include basic nutrition for health, serving culturally diverse clients, and consumer and family science. Enrollees pursuing online certificates in human services also develop counseling and crisis intervention skills.

Each applicant completes a free online admissions process that requires them to submit high school transcripts. Based on their academic history, prospective learners may need to take math and English placement tests.

AHC is regionally accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges.

9

Davidson County Community College

Thomasville, NC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 32%

DCCC offers 17 remote academic and technical programs with Moodle. Its catalog includes an online human services certificate with a substance abuse emphasis. Through an 18-credit curriculum, students gain the program delivery and communication skills to work in community centers, addiction recovery programs, and educational settings.

Core coursework consists of general psychology and conflict resolution. Students also delve into the history of drug use/abuse and its effects on societal members. Additionally, this certificate in human services program covers the emotional, cultural, physical, and psychological aspects of addiction, along with treatment methods.

The admissions process requires candidates to submit official school transcripts and determine residency status. DCCC students can explore professional opportunities and access job search tools through the school's career development office.

Davidson County Community College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

10

Coastline Community College

Fountain Valley, CA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 21%

Coastline, headquartered in Fountain Valley, California, enrolls about 11,000 students annually. Distance learners can pursue over 70 academic options, including an online certificate of accomplishment in human services. By completing this 15-credit program, graduates can pursue work as mental health technicians, residential managers, and special education teacher aides.

Required courses explore helping theories and crisis intervention strategies. Candidates personalize their education with electives, choosing from options like child growth and development, care of frail elderly, and treatment issues in substance abuse. This certificate in human services program culminates with a practicum experience.

Applicants complete an online admissions process that includes residency determination. Candidates receive confirmation within 48 hours of applying and may enroll in classes five business days later.

Coastline Community College is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges.

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.


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