An online human services degree is the perfect option for students who want to empower others and make a difference in their communities. Human services experts directly administer care services at social and community service centers. While hands-on service is at the core of human services, students have many career options and opportunities to advance their careers through further education. Career opportunities for those with human services degrees are on the rise. Because insurance companies are increasingly providing coverage for services like mental health counseling and addiction treatment, many positions are being created to meet demand. In fact, the rate of job growth is far outpacing the national average.
What are the best human services programs of 2020? Here are our top 10:
|1||Colorado State University Global Campus||Greenwood Village, CO|
|2||Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College||Saint Mary of the Woods, IN|
|3||LeTourneau University||Longview, TX|
|4||University of Wisconsin Oshkosh||Oshkosh, WI|
|5||Western Washington University||Bellingham, WA|
|6||Central Washington University||Ellensburg, WA|
|7||Bellevue University||Bellevue, NE|
|8||Anderson University||Anderson, SC|
|9||Southern Wesleyan University||Central, SC|
|10||Judson University||Elgin, IL|
- WHAT IS A HUMAN SERVICES DEGREE?
A bachelor's in human services teaches students how to help others through social and community care centers. Graduates have the skills to help entire communities and individuals. Read more here..
- WHAT CAN YOU DO WITH A HUMAN SERVICES DEGREE?
Graduates with a human services degree are prepared for many careers, including substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselor, social worker, home health aide, and social and community service manager. Read more here..
- IS SOCIOLOGY A HUMAN SERVICES DEGREE?
Yes. Sociology is considered a human service. Read more here..
- WHAT IS CONSIDERED A HUMAN SERVICES DEGREE?
A human services degree prepares students to help individuals, communities, or both. Examples of other human services degrees includes counseling, social work, psychology, and therapy. Read more here..
- WHAT JOBS REQUIRE A BACHELOR'S DEGREE IN HUMAN SERVICES?
Most substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselor, social work, and social and community service manager positions require applicants to have a bachelor's degree in a related field. Read more here..
Accredited Online Bachelor's in Human Services Degrees
Colorado State University Global Campus
|Greenwood Village, CO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 54%||
The online bachelor's in human services degree offered by CSU-Global features core courses in community development, fundraising and grant writing, and crisis intervention. Additional requirements include a practicum or a seminar in human services strategy. All learners also complete a capstone project in human services strategy and execution.
CSU-Global's graduates find jobs that pay, on average, about $20,000 more than typical entry-level positions in Colorado. The university helps students achieve career success by offering 50-minute career coaching sessions and resume critiques.
Admission requirements include two years of work experience and high school transcripts or GED scores. All online students pay the same per-credit tuition rate, regardless of residency. CSU-Global awards institutional scholarships to students who maintain an excellent undergraduate GPA.
Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College
|Saint Mary of the Woods, IN||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 57%||
SMWC's online bachelor's degree in human services includes a 55-credit major curriculum with coursework in general psychology, sociology, and racial and cultural minorities. Outside of class, students gain hands-on experience by completing two practica in their local community. Learners customize their experience by selecting four electives within the major.
SMWC provides students with a list of internship opportunities, self-assessments, and resume guides. Alumni partners assist current undergraduates with their job hunt.
Prospective students do not need to submit recommendation letters or standardized test scores. SMWC charges the same per-credit tuition rate to all learners. The college participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program.
|Longview, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 61%||
LETU's bachelor of human services program teaches coursework from a Christian perspective. During five-week courses, students analyze topics like abnormal psychology, criminal law, and addiction theory. The program prepares graduates for entry-level positions and graduate school.
LETU's career services office provides students with access to Handshake, Focus 2 Career, and resume guides. Additionally, recent alumni of LETU boast a 95% job placement rate.
Admission requirements include high school or undergraduate transcripts. Individuals who hold a GED certificate are also eligible for admission. LETU provides a significant tuition discount to Texas residents. The university awards three institutional scholarships to distance learners.
University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
|Oshkosh, WI||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 53%||
UW-Oshkosh's online bachelor's degree in human services leadership emphasizes transferable skills related to topics like program development. Distance learners use the Canvas platform to complete coursework, taking classes like globalization in human services, social issues and solutions, and financial sustainability. All students in the program also complete two internships.
UW-Oshkosh features a graduate job-placement rate that is 4% higher than the national average. The university achieves this impressive statistic by offering students resume samples, salary negotiation tips, and skill self-assessments.
Admission requirements include an associate degree from a Wisconsin technical college or at least 30 undergraduate credits from an accredited institution. All online students pay the same per-credit tuition rate. Financial aid options include payment plans, private scholarships, and federal grants.
Western Washington University
|Bellingham, WA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 68%||
Students who graduate from Western's bachelor's in human services program can find work as mental health professionals and nonprofit administrators. The 76-quarter-credit major features courses in applied research methods, grant writing, and mental health. Students personalize the program by selecting multiple electives.
Western's career center provides distance learners with virtual counseling sessions, workshops, and resume critiques. Eighty-nine percent of alumni find a job or enter a graduate program within six months of earning their degree.
Admission requirements include a minimum 2.75 undergraduate GPA, essays, and a criminal background check. Washington residents receive a significant tuition discount. The university awards merit-based scholarships to in-state, out-of-state, and transfer students.
Central Washington University
|Ellensburg, WA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 55%||
CWU's online bachelor's degree in social services features noteworthy elective classes, such as death and dying, the minority experience, and the sociology of families. The program includes a practicum component in which degree-seekers work at a food bank, vocational rehabilitation center, or a similar human services setting.
CWU's Wildcat Career Network connects students with the latest job opportunities throughout Washington and beyond. The network also offers an in-depth career guide to current students and alumni.
Prospective students should submit a CWU application before sending in transcripts or GED scores. The university also requires ACT or SAT scores. Out-of-state online learners pay in-state tuition rates. Incoming students can find institutional financial aid opportunities on CWU's Scholarship Central website.
|Bellevue, NE||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 0%||
Students who graduate from BU's bachelor's in behavioral science program can find entry-level work or enroll in a master's program in clinical mental health counseling. The 40-credit major curriculum of this program includes courses in research data and analysis, diversity in human services, and social deviance. All students create an e-portfolio as a capstone.
BU's career services office works one-on-one with students to craft a resume and practice interviewing skills. Additional online resources include an in-depth guide on how to create a LinkedIn profile.
Admission requirements include at least 60 undergraduate credits; these can be earned at BU or another accredited school. All students pay the same per-credit tuition rate. Merit-based scholarships require an additional application.
|Anderson, SC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 59%||
AU's online bachelor's in human services program allows students to take 1-4 courses per seven-week term. Some courses include synchronous sessions delivered through Zoom. Transfer students can earn this degree in just 18 months.
AU's career center features numerous resources for online learners, including career guides and Handshake. These services help nearly 90% of undergraduate alumni find a job or enter a graduate program within one year of earning their degree.
First-year applicants must submit ACT or SAT scores, and transfer applicants should have a 2.5 undergraduate GPA. Full-time and accelerated degree-seekers pay a per-semester tuition rate. All students in the program receive some form of financial aid.
Southern Wesleyan University
|Central, SC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 53%||
SWU's bachelor's in human services program provides students with a Christ-centered education and self-paced online learning. The degree offers five concentrations, including administration, criminal justice, and marriage and family services. Students can also work with an academic advisor to create a custom concentration.
Almost 90% of recent SWU graduates report a positive professional outcome. Current students can prepare for life after graduation by accessing internship opportunities and job search strategies through SWU's career center.
Prospective students must have at least 15 transferable credits and a minimum 2.0 undergraduate GPA. SWU charges the same per-credit tuition rate to all learners. Additionally, students who work for a corporate partner receive an automatic 10% tuition discount.
|Elgin, IL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 64%||
Judson's online bachelor's program in human services teaches the subject from a Christian perspective. The 46-credit major requires coursework in statistical theories, group practices and interventions, and faith and life issues. In their final year, students take a capstone course and create an academic portfolio.
Offered through Judson's Professional Studies Division, this program targets adult learners who want to build on their work experience and/or prior education as they pursue a bachelor's degree. Students can access a job board and a guide on how to obtain a purpose-driven career.
Judson accepts applications on a rolling basis. First-year applicants must submit high school transcripts and ACT or SAT scores. The university uses a 2.5 undergraduate GPA cutoff for transfer credit.
What Else Can I Expect From an Online Human Services Degree Program?
Although specific details and requirements of an online human services degree will vary depending on which school or program a student selects, the information below is intended to offer an overview of what students might expect from their curriculum, concentrations, and accreditation.
CONCENTRATIONS OFFERED FOR AN ONLINE BACHELOR'S IN HUMAN SERVICES
|Concentration||Description||Careers This Concentration Prepares For|
|Child and Family Services||A specialization in child and family services is designed for students with a particular interest in schools, child welfare, or family organizations. The specialization courses, focusing on subjects such as child development and public policy, will prepare graduates for successful human services careers.||Caseworker, crisis intervention worker, juvenile court liaison|
|Gerontology||Students who are enrolled in a gerontology specialization will learn and develop skills and strategies to work with the elderly population. The specialization prepares graduates for careers at assisted living facilities, home healthcare systems, and other institutions that provide positive aging services and programs.||Group home manager, community outreach manager, life skills instructor|
|Substance Abuse||An online human services degree with a specialization in substance abuse provides students with the tools and training they will need to successfully perform in compassionate social careers that support victims of substance abuse and addiction, helping them improve their lives and interpersonal relationships.||Drug and alcohol counselor, addictions counselor|
CURRICULUM FOR AN ONLINE BACHELOR'S IN HUMAN SERVICES
Online human services degree programs all have similarities, and listed below is a sample curriculum. This information is based on actual curricula, but it's important to remember that subject content will vary between programs.
- Child Growth and Cognitive Development: An important course to take while earning a human services degree online is one that focuses on child development, providing students with knowledge about the physical, cognitive, social, and emotional components of normal development. Professionals will then be able to detect situations in which normal development is not occurring.
- Family and Community Systems: Students enrolled in a family and community systems course learn to operate frequently-used tools and develop skills to help families negotiate the complicated system of support organizations within their communities. Organizations include medical and mental health provider and nonprofits, Family Court, and the Department of Human Services.
- Introduction to Human Services: Essential to earning a human services bachelor's degree online is an overview course that introduces students to the settings, roles, and functions within the human services field. Students are given a contextual understanding of behavioral and social theories, common social problems, ethical behavior, and personal values.
- Public Policy and Advocacy: In public policy and advocacy courses, students are introduced to human services policies as well as the processes involved in policy development, both in the government and the private sector. Further exploration is conducted into how advocacy influences social welfare and how students can effectively help develop policy and plan advocacy campaigns.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET AN ONLINE BACHELOR'S IN HUMAN SERVICES?
Online colleges for human services subscribe to different methods of distance learning, which can affect how long it might take for a student to complete their degree requirements. The majority of online degrees are designed to be taken at an individual pace, allowing flexibility to meet every student's schedule. As an alternative, cohort learning was developed to mimic the social atmosphere of traditional, on-campus courses, requiring students to move through the program at a set pace with their group. Although this may provide for a more pleasant learning atmosphere, it may not be as flexible as independent learning.
Another characteristic affecting the length of an online degree is the number of credits required to graduate. The average online bachelor's degree requires 180 credits, including major-specific classes and general education. Depending on how much of a student's previous education–such as the completion of an associate degree, or other college classes–is transferrable, the number of credits required to graduate will vary. Students can expect the completion of their human services degree online to take up to four years.
Accreditation for Online Bachelor's in Human Services Programs
One of the most important steps in deciding which school to apply to for your human services bachelor's degree online is in researching the institution's accreditation. The accreditation of a college or university is an official recognition that assures the institution meets certain educational requirements and standards. These requirements can be overseen by either a regional or national organization, both have their own unique benefits and drawbacks when compared to one another. Schools with regional accreditation often have a more simple admissions process and a higher rate of affordability, while nationally accredited schools make it easier for students to transfer credits from other institutions around the country. National accreditation is the most popular form of accreditation, which is mainly overseen by two entities: the United States Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.
As online colleges have become a more popular education option, there has been an increasing number of illegitimate or scam accreditation programs working to deceive students into applying for a program that will not result in a degree equivalent to those earned from properly-accredited online schools for human services. The Department of Education (DOE), which is a part of the federal government, and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), which is a non-governmental organization, establish operating procedures and investigate the adherence to procedures by institutions. The easiest way to ensure proper accreditation is by checking the websites of the DOE or the CHEA, each of which maintains a database to make all of their institutional information available to the public.
What Can I Do With a Bachelor's in Human Services Degree?
Graduates with an online human services degree have nearly endless options when it comes to choosing a career. Sitting at the intersection of healthcare and social services, human services graduates can be found filling a wide variety of roles across many industries. Human services professionals have the opportunity to work with many different groups of people based on their passions, from adolescent substance abusers to elderly clients who need extra support and care. The most successful and happy human services professionals are those who have a genuine passion for bettering the lives of their clients.
Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorders Counselor: Professionals in these roles provide counsel and support to patients dealing with addictions to alcohol and drugs, overcoming eating disorders, and working through other behavioral problems. They teach clients about recovery techniques and strategies while also working with them through the psychological aspects of their disorder.
Social Worker: Social workers can be found in a variety of health care settings including hospitals, schools, nonprofits, government agencies, and even large corporations. Clinical social workers diagnose and treat a range of behavioral, emotional, and mental issues, while those in non-clinical positions focus on helping clients overcome and solve everyday issues.
Social and Community Service Manager: Human services managers work to develop new programs, measure efficacy of current offerings, oversee staff providing services, manage budgets, and secure operating funds through grant proposals. They work in social services agencies or community-based nonprofits and are in charge of delegating administrative tasks to support staff within their organization.
Social and Human Service Assistant: Found in psychology, rehabilitation, and social work settings, assistants support other professionals in supervisory positions by providing aid and support to clients, assisting with the development of treatment plans, keeping track of government support programs and who they serve, and even providing transportation to clients.
Home Health Aides: These professionals visit clients in their homes and help them accomplish daily tasks. They help bathe and dress clients, and may do light housekeeping, arrange transportation, buy groceries and prepare meals, or arrange social outings. They are also tasked with basic health services, including monitoring vitals and administering medications.
|Position||Median Annual Salary||Projected Growth Rate|
|Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorders Counselor||$39,980||22%|
|Social and Community Service Manager||$63,530||10%|
|Social and Human Service Assistant||$30,830||11%|
|Home Health Aide||$21,920||38%|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Master's Degrees and Concentrations
Online human services degrees prepare graduates for a variety of entry-level roles, while executive and clinical roles often require a master's degree. Common graduate-level degree paths include social work, psychology, and counseling. Regardless of the level of study, graduates with human services online degrees can pursue many different career paths in the healthcare industry. A master's degree is a common choice for human services professionals seeking to advance their career.
- Child and Family Services
A common concentration within human services degrees, students who choose this path have a focused interest in supporting children, their families, and their communities. Coursework introduces concepts related to child welfare laws, juvenile corrections, family court, and support services for at-risk youth.
- Leadership and Administration
Students with a human services master's degree specializing in leadership and administration are prepared to pursue management-level positions in the industry. Topics covered in these programs include leadership, company culture, and group dynamics.
- Social Work
Master's degrees in social work go beyond generalist topics to provide students with advanced practical skills and competencies. These programs also prepare graduates for direct clinical services roles, and students can specialize their study in areas like substance abuse, youth and family, or veterans.
Similar in many ways to a social work program, a master's in counseling introduces students to clinical practice, research, ethics, and deepened practice skills to prepare them for state licensure. The main difference between these programs is that social work master's degrees tend to focus on providing a wider array of services, while counseling programs focus on treating a specific set of problems or disorders.
- Nonprofit Management
Given that many social and community services are provided by charities, master's degrees in nonprofit management have risen in popularity for those interested in administrative and advocacy-based roles. Common topics in these programs include working with the public sector, financial management and fundraising, board governance, and program evaluation.
What Will I Learn in My Bachelor's in Human Services Program?
- Adult Development: Describes the developmental phases related to the lifespan of adulthood while also discussing how treatments can be used effectively during different phases of life.
- Cultural Diversity: Introduces learners to competencies surrounding different cultures and helps them recognize their biases toward different beliefs and attitudes. Students also learn to interact with a wide variety of different populations and cultures.
- Alcohol and Drug Abuse: Provides basic frameworks and theories for understanding the context of drug and alcohol abuse, including symptomatology of abuse, characteristics of high-risk groups, and causes of abuse.
- Communications for Human Service Professionals: Teaches students how to effectively and compassionately communicate, both orally and in writing. Areas of focus include assessing and diffusing conflict, establishing open lines, and articulating issues clearly.
- Prevention and Crisis Intervention: Examines how to prevent or intervene in crisis situations as a human services professional and also teaches students about risk factors, supporting victims, and maintaining proper ethical and legal boundaries.
Employment Outlook for Bachelor's in Human Services Graduates
Bachelor's in Human Services SALARY
There are several factors that can determine a human services professional's salary: whether or not they have an advanced degree, where they live, their level of professional experience, and the type of role they currently have. The following table uses data from PayScale to provide a snapshot of the median salaries of several human services careers across a professional's career.
Human Services Careers by Experience
|Job Title||Overall Median Salary||Median Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 years)||Median Salary for Mid-Career Employees (5-10 years)||Median Salary for Late-Career Employees (20+ years)|
|Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorders Counselor||$37,847||$34,000||$38,000||$44,000|
|Social and Community Service Managers||$47,993||$41,000||$51,000||$60,000|
|Social and Human Service Assistants||$30,634||$29,000||$29,000||$34,000|
|Home Health Aides||$23,431||$21,000||$22,000||$25,000|
Human Services Licensure and Certification
Most human services graduates can find work with a mix of education, experience, and on-the-job training. However, some clinical roles where professionals provide direct services require an advanced degree, licensure, or certification. Earning a specialized license or certification can also help candidates stand out during the hiring process and achieve management-level positions. Certificates are an efficient way to gain professional development that are available in a variety of professions.
The National Organization for Human Services provides this voluntary certification for professionals looking to deepen their knowledge of the 11 core human services content areas.
Penn State offers this fully online certificate for human services professionals seeking a more nuanced understanding of topics related to proper care and support for young populations.
This 14-course program from the University of California at Berkeley may be the perfect fit for students who want to learn more about the biomedical, psychological, and cultural influences of chemical dependency and intervention.
Professional human services organizations offer members a full spectrum of benefits, ranging from networking opportunities to professional development programs designed to deepen knowledge and provide continuing education credit. Many of these organizations also publish studies to keep members aware of changes to ethical, legal, or medical laws and regulations in the industry.
- National Organization for Human Services: NOHA supports human services professionals by providing a national conference, local chapters, student scholarships, and a range of publications to all members.
- American Public Human Services Association: With a mission to represent and empower state and local agencies providing human services, APHSA focuses on advocacy and legislative issues within the field.
- Association for Addiction Professionals: Drug and substance abuse counselors will find membership with this organization very attractive. Membership benefits include certificates, continuing education, conferences, and a job board.
Financing Your Online Bachelor's in Human Services Program
Students looking to walk away from college without significant debt can lighten their burden by starting early and researching extensively. Their first step should be filling out the Free Application for Federal Aid. Because funds for grants and work-study programs are disbursed on a rolling basis, the application should be sent as close to January 1 as possible. Human services professionals are concerned with helping others and making communities stronger, and there are lots of foundations and nonprofits offering scholarships to help these Good Samaritans complete their educations.
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.