15 Best Online PhD in Human Services for 2021

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Getting your online Ph.D. in human services can help open up a whole new world of possibilities to advance your career and really make a substantial difference in the world. Plenty of people go back to school to get their online degrees, and you may be able to join them.

Online PhD in Human Services

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If you’ve ever considered furthering your education, read on to discover the substantial rewards of getting your online Ph.D.

Online PhD in Human Services Degrees

PhD in Human Services student studying online

What constitutes the best human services PhD really depends on what you’re looking for in a school, and what you want to do after graduation. There are plenty of things that you can search for in the school of your choice, such as flexible class schedules, internship opportunities and specific concentrations.

Ultimately, most of the people who enter human services doctoral programs are committed to making a difference in the world through assisting vulnerable populations and communities. This online human services degree can help give you an insight into what needs to be done, as well as understand how organizational hierarchies work so you can move effectively within in.

Many people who take on advanced education in this field of study will craft policies that serve communities, or influence legislation that helps advance human services causes. Not only is this a noble field of study, but the job prospects are also very good.

PhD in Human Services student studying at home

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics there is double-digit projected growth for higher-level jobs in human services. This job security, plus the emotional rewards that come from doing something good for your community, are two reasons why many people get into this field in the first place.

Those who get their human services PhD often work managing large organizations or acting as liaisons between the private or public sector and the government. Many work in nonprofit organizations or social work. Some candidates go into teaching as well.

Having a deep sense of empathy and being able to work with people on all levels of an organization can help you succeed in this field. Beinng diplomatic, fair-minded, and ready to make crucial decisions swiftly are beneficial traits as well. Those who are thick-skinned and able to appreciate the bigger picture may have an easier time in this field.

If these qualities sound like you, a PhD in human services online might be right up your alley!

PhD in Human Services Curriculum & Courses

PhD in Human Services student searching for a book in the library

Of course, all schools are different, but there are some standard classes that you will probably end up taking as part of your degree. These classes represent just a small sample.

  • Higher-Level Human Services: This class can give you an overview of what to expect from your human services doctorate, as well as some real-life examples of working in human services. It’s a good foundational course for anyone who wants to pursue continuing education in human services.
  • Grant Management: Many nonprofits, and even some for-profit organizations, rely on grants to fund their programs. This class illustrates the grant writing process and allows students to get a glimpse of how organizations work.
  • Management and Leadership Development: Managing people is one critical aspect of human services, as many graduates go on to work as directors or managers of large organizations. This course is instrumental in learning how to deal with all types of people.
  • Ethics in Human Services: Like any other field, human services comes with its own set of rules, regulations and ethics. This class can help you learn the ethical challenges of working in this field.
  • Organization Management: Many organizations have similar structures, and comprehending how they are set up can help you succeed in human services. This class covers how most organizations are structured.
  • Financial Planning: Having an understanding of company finances is critical, especially when it comes to the nonprofit world. This class can help you learn how finances operate within different organizations.
  • Social Services Structures: Many people who work in human services wind up operating with the social work sphere. This class covers how social services function.
  • Understanding Organizational Structures: This class illustrates how different organizations work together. It’s especially important for those who work in policy planning.
  • Strategic Planning: An organization’s strategic plan governs how it will function. This class talks about how to set up a strategic plan that makes sense and can be implemented.
  • Research and Interpretation: Those who work at the higher-end of human services will need to conduct and interpret research often. This class reviews tried-and-true techniques for accomplishing this goal.

Check your individual school for a list of classes.

Human Services Careers & Salaries

Human Services Careers & Salaries

Human services is often a fairly lucrative career field, especially when you get into higher levels of education and advanced careers. Jobs in human services are almost always in demand.

The average wage for those who work in human services is relatively high, but that depends on what state you live in and the current job market. The statistics outlined below are just a jumping-off point, but they should give you a good indication of what to expect after graduation.

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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, some careers in the human services field include:

Careers Annual Median Salary
Human Resources Managers $121,220
Public Relations and Fundraising Managers $118,430
Training and Development Managers $115,640
Information Security Analysts $103,590
Administrative Services Managers $98,890
Budget Analysts $78,970
Social and Community Service Managers $69,600
Social Workers $51,760
Child, Family, and School Social Workers $48,430
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors $47,660

These jobs require a certain amount of soft skills and the ability to communicate with people on all levels of an organization. Those who excel at human services may quickly advance through the ranks and find themselves in many higher-paying positions.

PhD in Human Services Specializations & Concentrations

Social Service worker visiting the home of an elderly couple

Like any other type of field, human services has plenty of different kinds of disciplines affiliated with it. You may choose to specialize in one of these categories or keep your concentration more generalized. It’s ultimately up to you!

Some schools have different specializations and concentrations, so this is just a brief list of what you might come across as part of your human services degree.

  • Disaster, Crisis and Intervention: This specialty deals directly with the disaster relief and providing services for vulnerable people after catastrophic events.
  • Gerontology: This concentration revolves around understanding issues and concerns related specifically to the aging population.
  • Global Social Sciences: This international concentration deals with interactions on a larger scale, such as between specific countries.
  • Mental Health Administration: Those who specialize in this concentration tend to work with populations that experience mental health challenges.
  • Nonprofit Management: This concentration revolves specifically around the nonprofit world and how it functions, such as membership campaigns, donor relations and grant initiatives.

There are plenty of other concentrations to choose from, depending on the school that you decide to attend. Always check your specific school of choice for a detailed curriculum.

Choosing an Online PhD in Human Services Degree

PhD in Human services student studying in the library

What makes the perfect school? The answer to that question will be different for every student, but by in large, there are some common elements that you may want to look for when selecting your school.

Always look for a school that is accredited. We will get more into why accreditation is so important later on in the article, but you absolutely want to make sure that any school you attend is accredited. It’s essential for getting a job after graduation.

Many students also look for flexible class schedules and the ability to take classes on their own time. This is vital if you want to be able to balance school, work, and your family life. Plenty of schools offer flexible online classes with easy-to-use technology.

Cost is always a factor when choosing a school, so it’s good to see which colleges offer financial support in terms of loans, grants or scholarships. You can generally get financial assistance either through local or federal loans or through the school itself.

Admissions Requirements

PhD in Human Services Degree student studying at a cafe

Although every school has different admissions requirements, there are some standard elements that you will find across the board. It’s always better to be over-prepared than under-prepared, and it’s a good idea to check your school’s admission requirements to make sure that you have everything that you need well ahead of time.

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Generally speaking, you will need the following items when applying to the school of your choice:

  • A master’s degree in a related field, preferably from an accredited university.
  • Letters of recommendation from mentors, teachers, or coaches.
  • Some schools require you to submit test scores.
  • Your school transcripts.

Some schools require you to have a specific G.P.A., but others don’t necessarily need that. If you have any questions about what your particular school requires, don’t hesitate to contact them for more information.


PhD in Human Services Accreditation

Regional accreditation is one of the most vital things that you should look for when choosing a school to attend. Essentially, regional accreditation means that the school has been vetted by an independent panel of experts and found to have an excellent curriculum and track record.

Regional accreditation is a stamp of approval that indicates that a school is in good standing and that its graduates are good to hire. Many employers will not even look at candidates unless they graduated from a regionally accredited school, so make sure that your school has this classification.

You can check for regional accreditation by merely looking at the school of your choice’s website. If you can’t find the information there, don’t hesitate to call directly. If the school is evasive about its accreditation status, it’s a red flag, and you should reconsider going there.

Human Services Professional Organizations

HR Managers attending a meeting

Just like every other concentration, human services has its fair share of professional organizations. These organizations can help you get established in your field after graduation or do a little bit of networking while you are still in school.

Although there are plenty of jobs in human services, the field is still fairly competitive, so it’s worth considering joining a professional organization while in school.

These are just a few professional organizations that you may join. There are other regional or statewide ones in your area, as well. Ensure that you look at all of your options and choose the organization you want to join carefully.

Consider joining one of these or many other human services organizations, and you may be able to further your career and education through professional development. It may be an excellent way to kick off your career and really get your foot in the door in meaningful ways.

Financial Aid & Scholarships

Financial aid for human services students

There are plenty of financial aid options out there for those who want to work in human services. You may find local, regional, statewide, or federal financial aid opportunities if you look for them. Some schools even have their own financial aid opportunities available.

There are several different kinds of financial aid. You may qualify for loans, grants or scholarships. Students need to pay back their loans over time, so it’s advisable only to take out what you can reasonably pay back. You may get loans to cover all sorts of things like school, housing, bookings, or even living expenses while you’re at school.

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Always apply for scholarships and grants, even if you don’t think that you will qualify for them. You never know until you try, and you very well might surprise yourself. Grants and scholarships are given to exemplary students who show specific promise.

What Can I Do With a PhD in Human Services?

HR Manager meeting with colleagues

You may work in the for-profit or nonprofit world, interacting with different types of communities and impacting change. Many people who work in human services also help craft policy and create better systems for those who they serve.

If you get your advanced degree in human services, you may be working in the higher levels of an organization and running different departments, or even entire facilities.

Many people who graduate with their Ph.D. find that they are managing large groups of people, so having a certain amount of empathy and the ability to think quickly on your feet can be helpful. Those who work in human services must also be able to community effectively with people on all levels of an organization.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Doctorate After Masters?

Doctor of Human Services student studying on her laptop

It generally takes three to four years to get your doctorate degree, although individual results may vary depending on your existing familial or work commitments. Some people are able to accelerate their degrees, and others find that it takes a lot longer. It’s really up to you.

You can also take a break between getting your master’s degree in human services online and your doctorate. Some people prefer to go straight through, while others like to take a few years off to get some real-world or work experience. Use your own judgment and work at your own pace.

How Long Does It Take to Get a PhD in Human Resources?

It may take a few years to get your Ph.D. depending on your previous commitments. You may also have to write a dissertation at the end of your Ph.D., which some people find takes a little bit of extra time and effort. Plenty of folks like to draw out the time it takes to get their Ph.D. so that they can adequately take in all of the information available to them.

With online schooling, you can take as much or as little time as you need to get your Ph.D. These days, classes are flexible enough to give you plenty of different options when it comes to getting your degree.

What Is a Doctorate in Human Services?

Human services manager supervising his colleague in the office

Before answering this question, it is best to define what is a human services degree first. A human services degree is one that deals with making peoples’ lives better either through individual or community-based intervention.

A doctorate in this field is essentially the highest-level degree that you can get. It can help equip you to work in a managerial-level capacity in different types of organizations, including the public and private sector worlds. You may even work in different kinds of government jobs with this particular degree.

Those who get their doctorate in human services often go on to run different branches of companies or even entire facilities. They are usually very influential and have an ideal way to solve social problems.

Can I Get a PhD in Human Services Online?

Yes, you may get your Ph.D. in human services online, and many prestigious and accredited schools are offering online options for students these days. Get your online degree from the comfort of your own home and reap the benefits of higher education in the field of human services.

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One of the most significant benefits of getting your degree online is being able to take classes on your time table. This way, you can balance work and school with your online education.

Are there Requirements for a Doctorate in Human Services?

Doctorate in Human Services students studying in class

Most schools require that you have your master’s degree in a related field before you apply to get your doctorate. You should be able to prove that you have your master’s degree by providing the school with your diploma and transcript records.

Some schools, but not all of them, want to see your test scores before they will admit you into their universities. Make sure that you check out what your schools’ specific requirements are and furnish them with everything that they need. If you don’t, your application could be held up.

What Can I Expect from an Online PhD in Human Services Degree?

Many people who get their degree in human services find themselves working in fields that directly impact the public in significant ways. Graduates often manage public policy or work with communities or groups to help change things for the better.

Many people who get their degrees in human services will work in the nonprofit world. It is common for those with this degree to manage entire departments or handle certain functions, like getting applicable grants.

What Much Does an Online PhD in Human Services Cost?

PhD in Human Services student studying on his laptop

Costs vary depending on the school that you want to attend, how many scholarships you can get, and if you have any transferable credits. Some schools cost less than others, so always go online to check out what your options are before committing to a school.

Often you can get loans, grants or scholarships to offset the cost of your education. Many schools even offer private scholarships or grants to students that show a great deal of promise. Always apply for everything that you might qualify for because you never know what you’ll get.

University Offering Human Services Online PhD Degree Programs

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.

A.T. Still University

AT Still University

  • Doctor of Health Sciences

A.T. Still University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Amridge University

Amridge University

  • PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy

Amridge is a SACSCOC-accredited institution.

Bellevue University

Bellevue University

  • PhD in Human Capital Management

Bellevue University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Capella University

Capella University

  • PhD in Human Services – Multidisciplinary Human Services
  • PhD in Human Services – Social and Community Services

Capella is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Concordia University Chicago

Concordia University - Chicago

  • PhD in Health & Human Performance

CU Chicago is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Houston Baptist University

Houston Baptist University

  • EdD in Executive Leadership in Mental Health and Human Services

HBU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Nova Southeastern University

Nova Southeastern University

  • PhD in Health Science

NSU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions

Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions

  • PhD in Health Sciences

RMUoHP is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Rush University

Rush University

  • PhD in Health Sciences

Rush University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Trident University

Trident University

  • Online PhD in Health Sciences – Global Health
  • Online PhD in Health Sciences – Health Policy and Administration

Trident is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

University of Alabama – Birmingham

University of Alabama at Birmingham

  • PhD in Administration – Health Services

The University of Alabama at Birmingham is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of Colorado – Denver

University of Colorado - Denver

  • PhD in Education and Human Development

The University of Colorado – Denver is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of South Dakota

University of South Dakota

  • PhD in Health Sciences

USD is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

University of Washington

University of Washington

  • PhD in Health Sciences

The University of Washington is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Walden University

Walden University

  • PhD in Human and Social Services

Walden University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Getting Your PhD in Human Services Degree Online

PhD in Human Services Degree student studying at home

If you want to change your life for the better, and make a meaningful change in the lives of others, getting your human services degree online may be able to help. It’s easier than ever to go back to school, and you may take classes on your own schedule.

With online classrooms and flexible options, there’s are plenty of ways to take advantage of higher education degree programs.

People with advanced degrees tend to make more money in their careers than those without them, and human services is a growing field. There are tons of job opportunities out there for qualified candidates. Getting your degree in this highly sought after concentration can help you find a stable, lucrative, and rewarding job.

Take the first step today! Start applying to schools and begin down the road to get your human services doctorate now!

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Jordan Meeks
Jordan Meeks
Jordan is pursuing a Ph.D. in Public Policy and earned her Master of Business Administration in Strategic Management and her Bachelor's in Business Administration. Jordan's research focuses on adults returning to college and online degree programs.