2019 Best Accredited Online Human Services Degrees
Accredited online human services degree programs are offered at the associate, bachelor's, master's, doctoral, and certificate levels. Online human services degree programs train students to serve the public in a variety of capacities including alcohol and drug counseling, rehabilitation counseling, family and marriage therapy, social work, and school counseling. Aspiring undergraduate students looking to tailor their search may want to focus on the schools on our best colleges rankings list, which highlights top schools, based on tuition rates and alumni salaries reported by PayScale.
Prospective students should consider the accreditation of their online degree programs. Depending on their career plans, accreditation may be a requirement. Counseling, social work, and other clinically focused programs require state licensure so students should consult their state board for relevant accreditation requirements.
Comprehensive List of Accredited Online Schools - Human Services Degrees (57)
2019 Best Online Colleges Offering Bachelor's in Human Services Degrees
The 25 schools on this list offer the best online human services degrees. With affordable tuitions and high median salaries, all of these schools are strong choices for prospective students. Top-ranked University of Massachusetts - Amherst offers a B.A. in Human Services for only $11,700 per year. Graduates of Western Washington University have the highest potential earnings, with a median salary of $84,353. Students looking to specialize their human services degrees will find a variety of options at Dominican University, which offers degree concentrations such as disability advocacy, labor relations, and sustainability studies.
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- Annual Tuition: $11,700
- Median Salary: $83,820
Through UMassOnline, the University of Massachusetts Amherst offers a Bachelor of Arts program with a human services concentration. The university uses the Blackboard Learning Platform, where students can access the syllabus and course content, send messages, locate assignments, participate in discussion boards, and review their grades. To be admitted to the undergraduate program, students must have at least 12 college credits, a minimum 2.0 cumulative GPA (former UMass students are exempt from this requirement), and not have already earned a bachelor’s degree from a different U.S. college or university. Up to 105 credits can be transferred, which can come from prior coursework, portfolio, professional trainings and certifications, military training, and credit exams and evaluations.
- Annual Tuition: $15,300
- Median Salary: $83,950
The Bachelor of Science in Social Sciences with a human services concentration at Excelsior College in Albany, N.Y., prepares students to work in health services and elder care, family services, nonprofit administration, public policy, and other related fields. This undergraduate program was designed for working adults with family responsibilities. Students can study whenever and wherever it is convenient, receive maximum credit transfer from previous college work, and get academic credit for military service and job experience. The bachelor’s degree requires a total of 120 credits: 60 in arts and sciences and 60 in applied professional courses or additional arts and sciences courses. The concentration is a minimum of 33 credits, with at least 18 at the upper level.
- Annual Tuition: $23,544
- Median Salary: $84,353
The Bachelor of Arts in Human Services at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Wash., prepares students to work professionally as case managers, advocates, grant writers, youth workers, volunteer coordinators, or advocacy specialists for victims of child abuse, domestic violence, homelessness, or other social issues. Undergraduate courses are offered online and at WWU's Bellingham and Everett campuses. The bachelor’s degree requires 76 credits, and students (with some exceptions) must have a cumulative GPA of 2.75. The program requires 80 hours of field experience to help students integrate theory, knowledge, and skills through work in human services organizations. A grade of "C-" is needed in all courses that count toward the major.
- Annual Tuition: $12,090
- Median Salary: $79,100
Southeastern University, a Christian college located in Central Florida, offers an online Bachelor of Science in Human Services, where graduates can enter the field immediately or move on to graduate programs in human services, counseling, and social work. The bachelor’s program prepares students to work in clinics, nursing homes, social services agencies, substance abuse programs, homeless shelters, and community organizations. A total of 124 credit hours is needed to complete the degree, with 54 dedicated to general education, 39 to core courses, and 31 to general electives. Classes are offered in four-week increments. The undergraduate program is delivered as an online cohort.
- Annual Tuition: $9,600
- Median Salary: $78,300
Students can increase the human element in law enforcement with Southern New Hampshire University’s Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice with a concentration in human services. Applicants who have completed basic law enforcement academy training may receive up to 12 credits toward their bachelor’s degree at this university. A total of 120 credit hours are required to complete the degree. SNHU also offers a BA in Human Services with the option to choose a concentration in Child and Family Services, Gerontology, or Substance Abuse. Graduates of this 120 credit program will understand the challenges facing society and will be prepared to meet the needs of their clients and implement strategies that will improve their welfare.
- Annual Tuition: $27,230
- Median Salary: $74,950
The online, 120-credit Bachelor of Science in Human Services at Saint Joseph’s College offers courses in addiction counseling, case management, family and child welfare, gerontology, and human services administration. Applicants should have a high school diploma or its equivalent, and those with a post-secondary education should have a minimum GPA of 2.0. Field experience is not required of online students, but a minimum of 21 credits with a human services identifier must be taken at SJC. SJC also offers online students a BS/MS dual degree that only requires students who have completed their BS in Human Services to take six more classes (18 credits) to earn their MS in Human Services. This combined degree provides a foundation of human services while teaching students managerial and leadership skills.
- Annual Tuition: $10,633
- Median Salary: $65,700
State University of New York (SUNY) Empire State College offers online students an array of choices with their Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Professional Studies degrees in Community and Human Services. Popular undergraduate concentrations in these programs include children and family services, criminal justice services, disability services, health and human services, and substance abuse services. Students can focus on a single area or create an interdisciplinary concentration that connects or combines perspectives exploring a theme or topic. Graduates are prepared to, among other things, enter or continue in community-service professions, pursue graduate study, manage social service organizations, teach, and enter jobs in government.
- Annual Tuition: $13,080
- Median Salary: $65,850
The 42-credit-hour, human services bachelor’s degree at Iowa's Buena Vista University combines courses in psychology, sociology, and human services among others to create an integrated approach to understanding theory and applying human services concepts. Class topics range from aging populations and family issues to addictions and mental health issues. The undergraduate program requires three prerequisite courses, six major courses, two psychology courses, four human services courses, and two upper-level courses. Graduates can pursue a graduate degree or enter the workforce as a medical and health services manager, a long-term care facilitator, or as a manager at public health departments, governmental agencies, and medical group practices.
- Annual Tuition: $20,520
- Median Salary: $66,500
The Bachelor of Arts in Human Services at City University of Seattle in Seattle, Wash., can be earned online and requires 180 credits to complete. Students can choose between a comprehensive program and a specialized study emphasis that allows them to focus their studies around their specific interests. CityU's multidisciplinary, undergraduate program includes courses in psychology, sociology, counseling, social work, criminal justice, and business, along with preparatory courses, core courses, and electives. The standard Bachelor of Arts degree also includes upper-level courses, while the specialized version features special study requirements. Graduates should be prepared for careers in human services, healthcare, and social work once they've completed their program.
- Annual Tuition: $10,800
- Median Salary: $59,844
For those who wish to lead people and organizations to improve the human condition, the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh offers an online Bachelor of Science in Human Services Leadership. The program emphasizes professional leadership and administration; intervention strategies; program development, implementation, and evaluation; legal and ethical issues; and grant writing. Students are able to interact with their professors and classmates through online discussion and use a drop box to upload assignments. There are no scheduled meeting times for online classes, but students are expected to adhere to deadlines for projects, assignments, and discussions. To start the bachelor’s degree, students must have at least 30 earned credits with a 2.5 GPA or have an approved associate degree from a Wisconsin Technical College with a 2.75 GPA.
- Annual Tuition: $40,208
- Median Salary: $59,800
Assumption College in Worcester, Mass., offers an online bachelor’s degree in human services rehabilitation studies. To earn this degree, undergraduates are required to complete 10 courses in this field of study as well as three courses from related disciplines. Students can focus on such specialty areas as working with children and adolescents, communication sciences and disorders, and occupational or physical therapy. Undergraduates who have completed their general education requirements and the required courses toward their bachelor's degree can begin working toward a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling during their senior year.
- Annual Tuition: $8,453
- Median Salary: $51,425
North Dakota's Minot State University offers an online Bachelor of Science in Human Services with a concentration in intellectual and developmental disabilities. Students gain the knowledge and skills needed to provide effective services and support that enables individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to lead self-determined and personally satisfying lives. Since agencies often seek to promote from within, students who already work in a human services environment can earn their bachelor’s degree online and look forward to career advancement without leaving their present employer. Graduates must meet the federal degree requirements for a Qualified Intellectual Disabilities Professional and typically work as program coordinators or case managers. The undergraduate program requires 120 to 126 credit hours, with 38 of those hours dedicated to general education, 57 to required core courses, between 18 and 24 to a concentration, and eight to electives.
- Annual Tuition: $11,670
- Median Salary: $49,200
More than 100 degree-programs are offered at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va., including the online Bachelor of Science in Human Services, which is designed to prepare graduates for entry-level positions in a variety of community service agencies. Students will delve into the ethical, legal, and multicultural issues related to the responsibilities of the human services professional. A total of 120 credit hours is required, and at least 30 must be completed at ODU. A 12-credit supervised internship is completed in the last semester. A number of online courses at ODU are live streamed through web conferencing, and others are asynchronous. Most live online classes are streamed from classrooms on the main campus, and remote students can participate in class discussions.
- Annual Tuition: $15,655
- Median Salary: $49,080
For undergraduates majoring in community health and human services, the University of Alabama at Birmingham offers an online degree with concentrations in both community health and human services. Upon successful completion of the major, students graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree. The human services concentration prepares students for entry into professions such as caseworker, community coordinator, and drug abuse counselor, while the community health concentration prepares students for careers such as health policy coordinator and public health educator. Graduates are eligible to provide therapeutic mental health care or pursue a master’s degree. Students must complete an internship, usually in the second half of their senior year. The bachelor’s degree requires a total of 121 credit hours, and is comprised of core curriculum courses and major course requirements.
- Annual Tuition: $13,837
- Median Salary: $48,600
At Dominican University in River Forest, Ill., students can enroll in the online Bachelor of Arts in Human Services program and choose up to two concentrations in areas such as disability advocacy, international studies, labor relations, sustainability studies, and training and development. Each week, the accelerated undergraduate program requires that students read about 100 pages of course materials, take a short online quiz, engage in online discussions with classmates and the instructor, and complete a written assignment. All students in DU’s online programs begin with an Adult Learning Seminar, which includes lessons in navigating the online learning environment. The bachelor’s degree can be completed in approximately 20 months. The eight-week format and ability to begin anytime during the year is perfect for busy adults with work and family responsibilities.
#16 Troy University
- Annual Tuition: $20,280
- Median Salary: $48,600
#16 Troy University
Alabama's Troy University offers an online Bachelor of Science in Human Services with its curriculum broken into nine-week terms. A total of 120 credit hours are needed to complete the bachelor’s degree, while the human services major itself is 36 hours and comprised of eight courses. Up to 75 percent of the degree can be transferred in, and up to 50 hours of military credits, CLEP, Dantes, DSST, and other non-traditional credits are accepted.
- Annual Tuition: $12,150
- Median Salary: $47,500
New England College offers an online BS in Human Services, as well as BA degrees in Criminal Justice-Human Services, and BA degrees in Psychology with concentrations in Addiction and Substance Abuse, Human Services, and Marriage Therapy and Family Counseling. Students enrolled in these programs will explore topics unique to the degree such as substance abuse, social problems from psychological perspectives, and interpersonal communication skills. A total of 120 credit hours are needed to complete the bachelor’s degrees, and up to 90 credits can be transferred in toward the degree. Each of these programs provide students the flexibility to balance their studies around their busy schedules. The programs deliver the same quality education, and students receive the same degree as their on-campus peers.
- Annual Tuition: $28,980
- Median Salary: $47,200
Core courses in the online Bachelor of Science in Human Services Administration at Nova Southeastern University in Davie, Fla., cover a range of applicable fields, from management to counseling to business communications. Students can also select a highly specialized concentration such as non-profit management, philanthropy, and grantsmanship; advocacy/case management; health administration; social work; and substance abuse studies. Flexibility is combined with frequent interactions with faculty members, threaded discussion boards, chat rooms, and multimedia presentations. The bachelor’s program comprises 120 credit hours, made up of general education, core courses, and concentration courses. Graduates are prepared to enter the workforce in non-profit agencies, community-based organizations, and government.
- Annual Tuition: $6,560
- Median Salary: $43,900
The online Bachelor of General Studies degree at Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kan., is an undergraduate liberal arts degree available through FHSU’s College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. It is an option for students who do not require a course-specific or career-specific degree, and it can be taken with 11 different concentrations, one of which is human services. The total hours required for the bachelor’s degree are 120, while the concentration is 21 credit hours, and electives make up 54 credit hours. At least 60 hours must come from a four-year school, no modern language or mathematics courses are required, and a minimum of 30 hours of coursework must be taken from FHSU. A minimum GPA of 2.0 is required to complete the undergraduate degree.
#20 Columbia College
- Annual Tuition: $11,250
- Median Salary: $43,500
#20 Columbia College
The online Bachelor of Arts in Human Services at Missouri's Columbia College is recommended for students currently working in the field of human services or who otherwise have considerable work experience. With the flexible online bachelor’s degree program, students can fit their degree around the life, not the other way around. Weekly assignments and deadlines are part of the program, but students can choose when to do the work. The total hours required for the undergraduate degree are 120, with 38 to 41 dedicated to general education, six to a foreign language, three to a multicultural requirement, 33 to core requirements, 12 to human services electives, and 25 to 28 to electives. All courses must be completed with a grade of C or higher.
#21 Drury University
- Annual Tuition: $9,548
- Median Salary: $41,900
#21 Drury University
Drury University in Springfield, Mo., offers an online Bachelor of Science in Human Services that includes courses related to counseling, diversity, human development, relationships and group dynamics, and helping people in various capacities. Many human services careers require additional training or certification, but graduates with a human services degree typically gain employment as social workers, mental health counselors, human service assistants, caseworkers, and public administrators. A total of 124 credit hours are needed to complete the degree, with a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0. The degree requires a minimum of 42 credit hours taken in the major, at least 36 hours of upper-division courses, and the last 30 semester hours must be taken in residence.
- Annual Tuition: $12,245
- Median Salary: $41,700
The online Bachelor of Applied Science at Wayland Baptist University in Plainview, Texas, is an inverted degree program which allows individuals to apply a vocational/technical field (courses, training, or work experience) as credit toward an applied associate degree and, in turn, to apply the associate degree toward the bachelor's degree. The undergraduate degree is offered with 10 different majors, one of which is human services. Students majoring in human services for a bachelor’s degree must complete 36 semester hours, of which 18 must be upper-level credit. Two courses necessary for an undergraduate degree in human services are Psychology and Sociology. The degree is a minimum 124-semester-hour program.
- Annual Tuition: $12,900
- Median Salary: $40,800
Lesley University in Cambridge, Mass., offers an online Bachelor of Science in Human Services, which students can complete on a full-time or part-time basis. Undergraduates will gain a strong foundation in liberal arts, human growth and lifespan development, and human services delivery systems. Topics covered in the undergraduate program include ethics, sociology of family, micro and macro assessment, case management, and race, class, and gender. The bachelor’s program also includes two internships that give students practical, hands-on experience in applying the things they are learning. Graduates are prepared to enter the professional field as case workers, grant writers, child welfare workers, probation officers, health educators, and public administrators.
- Annual Tuition: $8,730
- Median Salary: $39,500
The University of Maine at Augusta offers an online Bachelor of Science in Mental Health and Human Services that allows undergraduates to tailor the curriculum to match their career goals, whether that is working with young children, adolescents, adults, or the elderly. Students can choose a generalist degree or focus on one of three concentrations: adult mental health rehabilitation, addiction counseling, or child and family services. The bachelor’s program is available both on campus and online, and students can study part-time or full-time. An internship is included, offering students practical, out-of-classroom experience in a supervised setting. Graduation requires 121 credit hours, a minimum cumulative 2.0 GPA, and 30 credit hours of residency courses.
- Annual Tuition: $13,330
- Median Salary: $34,986
A private, evangelical-Christian school in Arden Hills, Minn., Bethel University’s online Bachelor of Arts in Human Services prepares graduates for entry-level work in churches and faith-based settings, correctional and probation facilities, and mental health and social service agencies. Students with prior experience can save both time and money, as professional and military training, college classes, and scores on AP, UExcel/ECE, and IB exams can count as credits toward the undergraduate degree. The degree at BU is 48 credits, and an additional 60 are required to begin the program. Courses start every six weeks, and all coursework is done online. The bachelor’s degree can be completed in 21 to 24 months.
Online Human Services Degree Overview & Career Information
Undergraduate certificate and associate degrees in human services can prepare graduates for administrative roles and assistant clinical work in areas like social work or alcohol and substance abuse counseling. While coursework varies by degree, common classes in these programs include counseling theory and techniques, interviewing, legal and ethical issues, psychopathology, and multicultural issues.
Online bachelor’s degree programs in areas such as social work, counseling, and family and marriage therapy prepare students to work on cases for clients or patients, usually under the direction of a professional with graduate-level credentials or a state license. Other degrees in public administration areas such as emergency management and homeland security cover topics like management, finance, and human resources, as they apply to public service organizations.
An online master’s degree in human services can prepare students to conduct clinical work with patients to help them overcome life challenges or find the public services they need. Students learn about topics like human behavior, case management, and the structure of the welfare system. Master’s programs in public administration usually cover topics like human services management, non-profit management, or public policy and administration.
Students can earn online doctoral degrees in human services specifically or in closely related fields like psychology, public health, marriage and family therapy or social work. These programs can prepare graduates to diagnose and treat individuals with mental illnesses, conduct research or teach at the college level, or work in executive roles at public service institutions.
The human services associate degree program provides graduates with the skills to serve and assist clients from a variety of cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. Graduates of an associate human services degree online may go on to work in entry-level nonclinical positions in human services settings. Possible roles include clinical manager, administrative assistant, human services assistant, child care worker, or life skills educator. Depending on their state’s counseling licensing laws, graduates may also be able to pursue roles as addiction and substance abuse counselors.
Students in online associate programs will need complete about 20 to 25 classes which usually takes about two years. Applicants need a high school diploma or GED to be eligible for admission and may need to submit high school transcripts and/or transcripts from any college coursework they have previously completed.
The curriculum in an online human services associate degree program covers the skills for advising and advocating for individuals in a human services or social services capacity. Students learn how to work with groups and individuals to provide them with useful information and nonclinical counseling. Core classes in these degrees cover human services populations, social justice, and the psychology of human relations. Other courses provide skills for direct contact with clients, such as client interviewing, counseling skills, case management, and crisis intervention. Many human services associate degree programs require an internship or practical experience in a human services agency. These experiences may take place in social services agencies, individual and family services, public health clinics, hospitals, or other outreach settings.
The bachelor’s degree in human services prepares graduates to work in direct contact with clients or in administrative positions in service-oriented organizations. These programs contain a core of humanities and science courses, as well as the human services theory and skills-based classes.
Applicants to an online bachelor's degree program will need a high school diploma or GED. They will need to submit transcripts from high school and from any previous college-level coursework. Some schools will also require SAT or ACT scores. Online bachelor's degrees in human services take about four years to complete. Students can expect to take roughly 120 semester credit hours of coursework.
The online human services bachelor’s curriculum provides a well-rounded introduction to the skills of the helping professions. Students learn the skills for effecting change at the individual, group, and community level. Core classes explore interpersonal communication, human services methods, and assisting in diverse communities. Other courses focus on the skills of counseling, client interviewing, and intervention. Many programs also train students in the administrative aspects of human services organizations, such as fundraising and program development.
Many human services bachelor’s programs include the opportunity to specialize in a particular aspect of the helping professions, such as child and family services, substance abuse, emergency management, or health and human services management. Most programs require an internship or practicum in a local human services agency.
Individuals with an online human service bachelor’s degree can go on to become social workers, case managers, substance abuse counselors, career counselors, and human services specialists in non-profits, public agencies, and the private sector. Besides direct-contact positions, the bachelor’s degree can also lead to work as a general administrator, program director, or supervisor in a human services agency after some years of professional experience.
Master’s programs in human services provide students with the skills to help and counsel individuals in nontherapeutic settings. These degrees can also be used to study administrative issues involved in running a human services organization, such as a social services agency or non-profit.
Online master's degrees in human services take about two years to complete and require 12 to 15 courses. Applicants need a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college and demonstrated interest in the helping professions. Some schools have minimum GPA requirements and require letters of recommendation in addition to transcripts from applicants' undergraduate degree programs.
Graduate-level human services courses cover the structure of the human services sector, skills for working directly with clients, and business principles for running a human services organization. Classes focus on human services policy, the structure of the social services industry, and development issues faced throughout the lifespan. Other courses cover topics such as the skills for interviewing clients, providing them with useful information, and directing them to other useful services. The administrative core of the degree is primarily focused on program evaluation, legal issues in human services, and organizational behavior.
Many master’s programs in human services allow students to select a specialization in an area like gerontology, public health, or human services management. Most programs require an internship or supervised work experience in a human services setting.
Graduates of these online programs may go on to work in administrative roles in community outreach, social services, healthcare, and other helping organizations in the public, private, and non-profit sectors. Those new to the field can use the skills of the program to enter positions as lay counselors, nonclinical social workers, and other roles that involve direct contact with clients.
Online doctoral degrees in human services prepare students for senior leadership roles as social service practitioners. Program emphasis is on development of action-oriented research skills for application in a diverse service delivery system. After completing a doctoral degree in the field, graduates may go on to work in the public sector, non-profit organizations, and private sector including settings such as community health centers, homeless shelters, hospitals, mental health centers, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, and senior community centers. Areas of practice for graduates include addiction recovery, administration, child advocacy, child care assistance, consultancy, policy analysis, research, and teaching.
Applicants to an online doctoral degree in human services should have an accredited master’s degree in a social sciences discipline. Programs require completion of 90 to 102 credits, including dissertation research, which takes approximately three to five years.
The doctoral curriculum allows students to develop a comprehensive knowledge base in human services theory, research, and practice. Key focus areas in doctoral training include ethics, leading change, program development and management, research, and strategic planning. Programs adopt a multidisciplinary approach in teaching students how to solve complex social problems. Core areas covered by the curriculum include administrative issues, culture and psychology, ethics, historical analysis of human services, leadership, organizational management, public sector finance issues, social change for human services professionals, and social justice.
Doctoral specializations include clinical social work, counseling, criminal justice, disaster management, family studies, human services administration, public health, and social policy analysis and planning. Students are required to take a comprehensive exam after completion of coursework. Those who take the exam successfully proceed to conduct dissertation research and writing. Residencies are common in many online doctoral programs; these help to foster academic and professional development.
Online human services certificates are usually aimed at specific areas of human service work, such as communities, social outreach, non-profit work, mental health, or healthcare in general. Within these specifications, certification areas differ in level and may require that you've completed previous work in the field or have a related associate or bachelor's degree. Certifications in human services usually take just a few months to complete (one semester) and require anywhere between 15 and 20 units.
Depending on the human services specialty you plan on working in, your courses will vary; however, some of the most common courses you can expect to take include philosophy of social work, communication, clinical sociology, and utilizing community resources. Other courses that you may be able to choose from include non-profit fund management and organization, accountability, leadership, strategic response, and healthcare or facility management.
Those who earn a certificate in human services have an advantage of specializing in a particular area of the field, but their certificate will need to be accompanied by additional education in order to become eligible for most jobs. Certificate holders are well suited for nonclinical positions in healthcare facilities supporting patients with mental illnesses or physical disabilities; they may also work within community outreach programs or non-profits helping those in need.
Accreditation is an evaluation process that schools and individual degree programs may choose to participate in to demonstrate to the public that they meet established standards of excellence. Programmatic accreditation is granted by trade-specific accrediting bodies, and institutional accreditation is granted by regional or national accrediting bodies. Students who choose to enroll in an accredited degree program can feel confident that they are receiving a high-quality education that will be worth their time and monetary investment. Attending an accredited program will benefit students who plan to apply for federal financial aid or transfer credits to another school, as accreditation is a requirement for both of these things.
Certification and licensing requirements for many careers in the human services field often include a degree from an accredited program. The Council on Social Work Education is an important accrediting body for social work programs, and the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP) accredits counseling-related degree programs. In areas such as public administration, programmatic accreditation may not be required, but it can be useful for pinpointing quality programs. Specialized accreditation for programs is awarded by agencies such as the Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) and the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA).
While the US Department of Education does not perform any accreditation services of its own, it does formally recognize several independent accrediting agencies. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation is another reliable authority that offers a list of recognized agencies and accredited schools and programs. For more information about accreditation, please visit Guide to Online Schools' accreditation hub.
Because human service professionals contribute to the well-being and safety of clients who are often in a vulnerable state, some positions require certification or licensure. It's always best to verify any legal requirements necessary for your profession in your particular state, but clinical social work and counseling are two human service careers that do typically require certification or a license.
While nonclinical or direct-contact social workers aren't usually required to have a license, all US states require that clinical social workers obtain registration or licensure of some sort. Clinical social workers typically need a two-year Master of Social Work degree from an accredited institution and at least two years of supervised work experience before they can be eligible to take the licensing exam. Once they have a license, social workers must complete continuing education hours to keep their skills and their certification current. Please visit our Complete Guide to an Online Social Work Degree for further details about certification and licensure for social workers.
Another common career path for human services graduates is professional counseling. All US states require counselors who provide direct patient care to obtain some sort of certification or license to practice. Licensed counselors must usually complete a two-year master's degree program, two years of supervised clinical experience, and an exam. They must also complete continuing education hours to maintain their license. Optional professional certification provides counselors with additional credentials in general counseling or in a counseling specialization such as school counseling, mental health counseling, addictions counseling, or rehabilitation counseling. Please visit our Complete Guide to Online Counseling Degrees for more information about certification and licensing requirements for counselors.
Online degree programs in public administration equip students with the skills and expertise that allow them to effectively tackle issues associated with economic development, social justice, and sustainability. If you have a keen interest in the diverse issues that inform the public agenda and are committed to upholding social justice, working in public administration will give you many opportunities to make a difference. Numerous career opportunities are available for public administration graduates in government, non-profit organizations, and in the private sector. Graduates can take up leadership and management roles at various levels in advocacy, consultancy, project implementation, research, or policy making.
Bachelor’s programs focus on administrative management, community dynamics, disaster recovery, fiscal budgeting, government structure, politics, and public policy. The coursework gives students sharp insights into social issues and teaches them how to effect change through government systems. Most bachelor’s programs require students to complete a capstone course.
Master’s programs can enhance students' leadership potential and provide them with a unique set of analytical and management tools that can be applied across a broad range of sectors. Core areas in master’s programs include governmental fiscal decision making, human resources in public and non-profit sectors, management information systems, organizational behavior, public organization and management, and research methods. Programs also offer students the opportunity to specialize in areas such as criminal justice, emergency management, government administration, healthcare management and policy, and policy analysis. A capstone project is a typical requirement of master’s programs.
Doctoral programs are ideal for those looking to engage in sophisticated research. These programs allow students to develop their understanding of the foundations of public administration and other key areas in the field, such as methodology, organizational theory, program and policy evaluation, public sector financial analysis, and strategic management. Programs offer students the opportunity to specialize in a specific area and complete a dissertation project. Graduates can find leadership positions in consultancy firms or think tanks, or take up teaching positions in universities.
Public safety management degree programs help students develop the skill set necessary for a broad range of careers, such as law enforcement, community organizing, homeland security, disaster preparedness, and crime prevention social work. Graduates will have an understanding of what it takes to keep the public safe, the improvements that can be made, and the measures that are taken every day to maintain public safety. Those who are seeking careers in public safety management must have a strong interest in helping people and an understanding of how communities (and even nations) are organized. An interest in politics is also beneficial for students of public safety management.
The degree level a person chooses in public safety management will have a significant impact on what career choices they have after graduating. An associate degree is best for those careers that don't technically require a college education, but where a college education may prove valuable. For example, a police officer with an associate degree in public safety management may qualify for promotions to sheriff or squad leader. Some may become instructors or trainers within the police force. Other careers for these graduates include head of security and corrections officer.
A bachelor's degree provides similar opportunities, but those who earn bachelor's degrees in public safety management may also qualify for careers with the government. As undergraduates, students will study police science, fire science, homeland security, terrorism, criminal justice, and criminology. Programs may have specialization options or certain emphases.
Public safety management graduates with a master's or doctoral degree hold top jobs with large-scale police forces -- particularly those in major cities -- or with government agencies like the National Guard or National Security Council. Those who want to lead police departments, work for the CIA, or become top military professionals are most likely to benefit from graduate degree programs. Public safety management graduate students often complete theses or dissertations based on their own experiences in the field and their own research. After earning a doctorate in public safety management, some graduates may choose to become professors rather than agency directors.
Employment opportunities for individuals in the human services industry are varied. There are many determining factors, such as education, level of experience, and scope of practice. However, all positions have one aspect in common: they each focus on enhancing life conditions for others. Your career may involve working with children and families, elderly people, former prison inmates, homeless people, immigrants, individuals suffering from mental illnesses or other disabilities, persons with addictions, or veterans.
Some of the career specializations available for human services professionals include addictions counselor, case work aide, clinical social work aide, family services assistant, human services worker, or social work assistant. Below, we've highlighted three common professional roles in the human services field:
Life Skills Counselor
Also known as life skills coaches, these individuals advise children, adolescents, adults, and the elderly on how to improve their lifestyle. They mostly work with underprivileged groups in a wide array of circumstances and settings. They provide a host of educational classes, help build self-esteem, support anger management, and assist clients in developing goals for their future. They also closely monitor the growth of their clients and make assessments that help determine their personal needs. Life skills counselors are likely to find employment in community centers and schools, or some of them have their own private practices. Most employers require professionals in this arena to have a master’s degree in human services or another career-related field. Certification is not necessary, but it confirms an individual’s competency level.
Group Home Manager
Workers in this sector oversee the daily operations of group homes, facilities that provide 24-hour care to juvenile delinquents, disabled citizens or ex-convicts. They are involved in planning budget expenses, initiating programs and services, and coordinating schedules. They also are responsible for hiring, training, and terminating group home staff. Group home managers typically need a bachelor’s degree in human services or another career-related field.
Entry-level positions in this field are open to high school graduates, as most employers are willing to offer on-the-job training. Individuals care for elderly citizens who are not able to be self-reliant. They bathe, feed, and administer medication to their clients. They also provide physical therapy and oversee social activities. Nursing homes, adult day cares and hospitals are the most common sites for gerontology aides. They may be required to have a driver’s license and undergo a background check. Certification and degree programs are essential to career advancement.
- About CRC Certification. Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification. Accessed February 1, 2018. http://www.crccertification.com/pages/aboutcertification/46.php.
- Mental Health Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Bureau of Labor Statistics of the US Department of Labor. Accessed February 1, 2018. http://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/mental-health-counselors-and-marriage-and-family-therapists.htm.
- NASPAA Accreditation. Accessed February 1, 2018. http://accreditation.naspaa.org.
- Social and Community Service Managers. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Bureau of Labor Statistics of the US Department of Labor. Accessed February 1, 2018. http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/social-and-community-service-managers.htm.
- Social and Human Service Assistants. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Bureau of Labor Statistics of the US Department of Labor. Accessed February 1, 2018. http://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/social-and-human-service-assistants.htm.
- Social Workers. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Bureau of Labor Statistics of the US Department of Labor. Accessed February 1, 2018. http://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/social-workers.htm.
- Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Bureau of Labor Statistics of the US Department of Labor. Accessed February 1, 2018. http://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/substance-abuse-and-behavioral-disorder-counselors.htm.