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What is Human Services?
Human services refers to the area of employment and study that deals with individuals considered on the fringe of society and need of assistance. Groups often the focus of such assistance include the homeless, mentally ill, individuals with drug seeking behavior, the abused and more. Individuals working in this field will utilize a variety of methods to work with these groups and the individuals within them. This is accomplished through a variety of means, including direct assistance, policy change, long term planning, and more. Interaction and assistance is determined by the body or employer delivering such assistance, often through agencies at the local, state or federal level given a instruction to help ease the problems described above. Individuals in this field are often required to travel to various neighborhoods or regions that may be considered dangerous as part of their daily, weekly or monthly duties in order to provide assistance or perform a given service.
Degrees in Human Services
There are a variety of degree programs in human services to explore from top colleges and universities around the country. Instead of visiting each one, we have assembled an overview of the degree programs in one place to quickly allow you to gather information about degree options and school information in one place. After gathering key data about each school’s human services program, you will be able to narrow down schools based on your personal priorities and objectives. With a list of 3-8 schools in your proverbial quiver, you can then schedule a school tour or visit with their admissions team over the phone or via online communication tools. The degrees in human services include the following:
Certificate Programs in Human Services
Earning a certificate in human services online or in a classroom will come in two primary types: undergraduate and graduate. The undergraduate certificate in human services is a series of courses created to provide students with the essentials in human services. With foundational knowledge and a grasp on the key principles, students can continue their education to earn a degree or step into the work force in a variety of entry-level positions.
Graduate certificates in human services, on the other hand, are clusters of upper-level classes designed for experienced professionals or qualified students. Working professionals utilize certificate programs to continue their education, upskill, compete for jobs, prepare for a job transition, or to remain relevant in their current positions. Certificate programs can last a few weeks up to a year depending on the program’s design and curricular constructs.
Associate Degrees in Human Services
You can earn an associate’s degree in human services online or in class, depending on your preference and school’s offerings. An associate degree can be conferred as an Associate of Arts (AA) or Associate of Science (AS) as a function of the curricular design of the program. Both the AA and AS degree programs mix general education courses such as English composition, philosophy, communications, and math in conjunction with core degree programs. Core classes in the associate degree track in human services can include topics including: psychology, sociology, counseling, leadership, and criminal justice. Each school will provide a unique mix of core classes that color the overall program given the blend of classes taken towards degree completion.
Bachelor Degrees in Human Services
A bachelor’s degree in human services is available online or on-site at most schools. The bachelor’s degree is conferred as a Bachelor of Science (BS) or Bachelor of Arts (BA) depending on the school’s design and program emphasis. The bachelor’s degree in human services is a 4-year program for full-time students and will take part-time students a longer period of time to complete given the course load.
Students enrolled in an online bachelor’s degree program will have the opportunity to elect a self-directed degree program or one of the following tracks in human services: criminal justice, addictions, courts and the legal system, child and adolescent development, cultural studies, business, counseling, crisis response and trauma, health and wellness, life coaching, military resilience, psychology, leadership and administration, global social justice, and civic engagement. Each undergraduate pathway can be supplemented with an adjacent minor or minor in another field of study to help round out your desired skill set.
Master Degrees in Human Services
The master’s degree in human services is a graduate degree program conferred as a Master of Science (MS) or Master of Arts (MA) as a correlation to the program’s emphasis and design. The master’s degree program is a 1-2 year program for full-time students with areas of concentration in the following disciplines:
- Marriage and Family
- Children, Families, and the Law
- Addiction and Recovery
- Crisis Response and Trauma
- Christian Ministries
- Family Advocacy and Public Policy
- Life Coaching
- Health and Wellness
- Executive Leadership
Each area of concentration will have a unique set of curricula to prepare students to work with different people with various needs. Upon program completion, graduate students will be equipped to step into roles such as program director, addiction counselor, development director, human services professional, agency coordinator, foster care counselor, family services specialist, emergency management coordinator, social service manager, health services manager, medical manager, or community services advocate.
Doctorate Degrees in Human Services
A doctorate degree in human services can be conferred as a PhD in Human Services, PhD in Social Work, PhD in Social Services, or Doctor of Social Work (DSW). Doctorate degrees will take 4-6 years to complete depending on the course load, pace of the program, and time spent to complete the board-approved dissertation project. Graduates with a PhD or DSW will be equipped to enter the workforce in administrative, professional, and managerial capacities in roles such as program analyst, consultant, coordinator, manager, director, administrator, research specialist, agency leader, policy analyst, or program director.
A degree in human services prepares students with the skills and knowledge to work with individuals and groups with social, behavioral, or mental problems. Students will learn about the various groups that human services assists, the methods used for such assistance, and how to communicate and work with individuals within such groups. Students in the studying human services may take additional courses to specialize their training. A bachelor's degree is typically required for entry level positions, with higher level degrees opening up jobs in supervisory positions and teaching posts. Education in this field requires a cross section of study, utilizing skills used by psychologists, researchers, social workers, sociologists and criminologists in an attempt to better understand and thus better assist a given group.
A curriculum in human services may include:
- Children and Social Policy
- Community Organization
- Wealth and Poverty
- Behavioral Science
Benefits of Earning a Human Services Degree Online
As the fastest growing segment in higher education, online learning is a bona fide option for many students for a variety of reasons. In fact, colleges and universities across the country are rapidly adding distance learning degree programs to keep pace with student demand and employer requests. You can quickly find online degree options by selecting from the schools below or by using our proprietary online matching portal today. The top reasons to consider earning a human services degree online include:
- Reduced Costs – Overall costs associated with earning a human services degree online tend to be less than classroom based programs for a few key reasons. First, online learning provides students with the ability to continue working while earning a college degree which can save significant money in lost wages. Next, students taking college courses online are not required to live on-campus thereby saving on campus-based costs associated with room and board. Last and certainly not least, online students enrolled in a regionally or nationally accredited program still can qualify for financial aid. The combination of work, rent, financial aid savings can make online learning a viable option for students and working professionals.
- Ease of Use – A student enrolled in a college course via distance learning can hop online at any time without the traditional trappings of being in a specific location at a prescribed time found with classroom-based programs. With fewer physical restrictions, a student can study at MIT while living in Los Angeles.
- Accreditation – Quality programs have earned accreditation via regional or national accreditation entities. These accrediting agencies are third-parties that audit a school’s procedures, processes, curriculum, and overall quality to ensure they meet or exceed a set of standards. Simply put, enrolling in an online program offered by a regionally or nationally accredited college or university is critical to your success for employment, licensure, and financial aid purposes.
- Curricular Design – Overall quality of online programs have grown by leaps and bounds in the last two decades. Online degree programs will often mirror classroom-based degrees in lock-step with an organized instruction model, syllabus, capstone course, cumulative examination, final project, internship, thesis, and/or dissertation project. From certificate programs through PhD programs, colleges have added a robust line-up of courses online.
- Flexible Scheduling – Enrolling in an online degree program from a college or university will allow you to step in and out of class as it makes sense for you. This ability to have school fit your schedule is a major philosophical shift from the previous generation’s notion of college.
- Completion Time – Online degrees in human services can be self-paced programs to allow you to decide when and how much time to invest in your degree. Additionally, many schools offer programs every 6-8 weeks which allows students to enroll throughout the year versus fitting into the traditional school year cycle.
Online Schools Other Students Requested Information From:
Employment Opportunities and Licensure
A career in human services may require licensing depending on the state. States requiring licensure will have their own requirements, and it is recommended that individuals identify such requirements for their respective states. Positions at the entry level will have the human services worker utilizing methods outlined by a programs objective to assist individuals in need as defined by the program. Target groups may be defined broadly, but typically involve with illness, poverty, substance abuse problems, physical abuse, and so on. Human services workers will have an understanding of the methods used for assistance as well as the managerial aspects of the program. Human services follow a similar line as social work, with the difference being on programs targeting groups in a given area rather than solely on individuals. Individuals in this field should be compassionate and sensitive, able to navigate through the various groups being assisted with ease.
Job Growth, Salary and Related Fields
Human services jobs are expected to grow faster than average as the need for professionals to assist in resolving social issues increases. Some limitations may occur for positions based on government funding due budgetary constraints, but the overall demand for such services will allow for the creation of new jobs. Work opportunities will most likely be higher in densely populated areas. The average salary for individuals working in human services is approximately $42,000 per year, with experience and education commanding higher salaries.