Human Services Degree

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What is Human Services?

Human services refers to the area of employment and study dealing 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.

Top 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:

Human Services Certificate Programs

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.

Human Services Associate's Degrees

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.

Human Services Bachelor's Degrees

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.

Human Services Master's Degrees

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:

  • Business
  • 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.

PhD 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.

Human Services Requirements

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
  • Psychology

Benefits of Earning a Human Services Degree Online

As the quickest segment in postsecondary education, online learning is a bona fide option for many students for a variety of reasons.  In fact, colleges across the nation 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 utilizing our proprietary online matching portal today.  The top reasons to consider earning a human services degree online include:

  1. Reduced Costs – The overall cost associated with a human services degree online tend to be less than classroom-based degree programs.  The primary reasons for this difference include opportunity cost, room & board costs, and access to financial aid.  More specifically, distance learning allows students to work and attend school concurrently thus saving on lost wages.  In terms of rent savings, students enrolled in an online course are not required to live on campus saving on room and board costs.  Lastly, by enrolling in an accredited distance learning program students have access to federal financial aid.
  2. Ease of Use – A student enrolled in a college course via distance learning can hop online any time without restrictions of attending class at a prescribed time found with classroom-based programs. With fewer physical restrictions, a student can study at MIT while living in Los Angeles.
  3. Accreditation – Colleges holding a regional and national accreditation is key to online degrees.  In essence, accrediting agencies are independent entities charged with auditing a school’s curriculum, procedures, and processes to determine quality outcomes.  In most cases, students enrolled in an online human services degree will need to earn a degree from an accredited college.  Lack of accreditation can potentially impact enrollment, financial aid, employment, and licensing.
  4. Curricular Design – The sheer quality of human services online degrees have been found to be on par with traditional degree programs.  You will find that distance learning degrees in human services parallel on-campus degrees with similar academic elements.  Curriculum for certificate programs through graduate degrees can be found at most accredited universities and colleges.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

Employment in Human Services

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.

Human Services Jobs & Salary Outlook

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.

Human Services Resources

Individuals interested in human services may also be interested in social worksubstance abuse and addiction counseling, counseling psychology, guidance counselor, or clinical psychology.  More information about the industry can be obtained through national associations such as the Human Services Association (HSA) or the National Organization for Human Services (NOHS).  You will find topic-specific information along with member benefits such as research publications, conferences, and professional networking opportunities for individuals in the human services domain.

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Career Summary: Human services Major




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