What is a Human Services Degree? [2021 Guide]

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What is a human services degree? Combining the skills of multiple fields, this degree can help prepare you for jobs like counselor, social worker, addiction therapist and community program director.

What is a Human Services Degree

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It’s an area of study for people who want to make the world a better place, and it offers many flexible degree options for future professionals.

What is a Human Services Degree?

volunteers helping during a community donation drive

A human services degree is usually considered a social science degree. It may teach you everything from psychology and sociology to criminal justice and human resources management.

Potential careers are typically related to social or community services, and depending on your degree type, they may range from entry-level office jobs to high-level manager and director positions.

There are several ways to get a human services degree. The first option is a “general” degree without a specialization, and the second option is concentrating your studies on a specific sub-field of human services.

Online Human Services Degrees

Human Services Degrees student studying online

If you’re interested in pursuing a career in human services, a number of accredited universities now offer online human services degrees.

  • Bachelor’s in Human Services
  • Bachelor’s in Health Services

If your goal is to help people, a bachelor’s in human services or health services can help you achieve your goal.

Online Bachelor’s in Human Services

Human Services Degrees student attending an online class

A bachelor’s in human services is an interdisciplinary degree. Rather than preparing you for a particular career, it can help you build a broad foundation of knowledge that you may apply to many different jobs and industries.

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Your classes will depend on your school, but generally speaking, you can expect to see these kinds of courses in your curriculum:

  • Introduction to Human Services
  • Developmental Psychology
  • Elements of Counseling
  • Grant Writing
  • Public Policy and Advocacy
  • Mental Health Awareness
  • Community Organization and Development

Human services degrees are available at every level of education, so you can decide for yourself if you want an associate, bachelor’s, master’s or doctorate. However, you should know that many employers will expect a bachelor’s degree at the minimum.

Another option is getting your human services degree online. Programs will vary, but many of them offer open-schedule or self-paced courses that can be completed on your own timetable, so they have a lot more flexibility than traditional college classes.

Online Bachelor’s in Health Services

doctor and nurse walking in hospital hallway

Health services is a field that’s closely related to human services. In fact, some colleges combine them into a health and human services degree. Others might offer human services as the major and health services as the concentration.

What is health services? Like its name suggests, it revolves around the healthcare industry. It’s a field of study that focuses on things like informatics, administration and case management.

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Common classes can include the following:

  • Financial Reporting
  • Healthcare Administration and Management
  • Foundations of Health Informatics
  • Social Welfare Policy
  • Dynamics of Community Health Practices
  • Social Science Research Methods

Jobs can range from administrators to nonprofit managers. Most of them involve behind-the-scenes work in the healthcare industry, but if you’re a people person, there are health services careers with a human element as well.

Human Services Careers & Salaries

Human Services Careers & Salaries

Human services jobs include everything from entry-level clerking jobs to senior-level managers and program directors, so their salaries can be just as diverse. Things like age, education, experience, location and job demand can also play a role in your wages.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are just a few potential careers for human services majors:

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Human Resources Managers $121,220
Social and Community Service Managers $69,600
Social Workers $51,760
Social and Human Service Assistants $35,960
Medical Assistants $35,850

As you can see, salaries can be quite different depending on your field of interest and the amount of time that you’re willing to dedicate to your education and career. Directors and managers typically earn more money than assistants, but those jobs usually require more schooling as well.

If you already know where you want to work after graduation, check out the human services salary averages for your particular industry. That’ll provide the most accurate estimations of your future earnings.

Human Services Degree Requirements

Human Services Degree student studying at home

Every college has their own admissions process. The good news is that most of them don’t have any special requirements for human services degrees, so you won’t need any prerequisites to enroll. You’ll just need to meet their standard admission criteria.

What materials will you need to apply? Again, every school is different, but here’s a look at some of the most common requirements:

  • Transcripts: Colleges will want to see your high school transcripts, especially if you’re hoping to transfer AP credits.
  • Test scores: While some schools have been experimenting with “test-optional” applications, it’s still standard for them to require SAT or ACT scores.
  • Letters of recommendation: You’ll need 2 – 3 letters of recommendation from teachers, coaches, bosses, mentors or other figures of authority in your city or community.
  • Essay: Essays can cover a wide range of topics. You might want to look up sample essay questions from your college that have been shared by previous applicants.
  • Application: If you’re applying to multiple colleges, you can fill out a Common App that will transfer your basic information to all of the necessary forms. You can personalize them later with your essays.

Pay attention to deadlines when you’re considering college admissions. It can take weeks to order official transcripts or hear back from prospective letter writers, so you’ll want to give yourself plenty of time.

Human Services Certifications and Licenses

Human Service Assistant taking certification online

Professional certifications aren’t a necessity in the field of human services, but they can be an effective way to shore up your resume. They can also help you gain more skills and qualifications for a specialized field of work. If you plan on entering a competitive industry, you might need every advantage that you can get.

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Here are just a few certifications that might interest you as a human services student:

There are other titles that you can pursue as well. If you’re studying health services, for example, there are many certifications geared towards informaticists and medical records technicians. Your certification options will depend on the specifics of what you’re studying.

Is Human Services a Good Degree?

Human Resources Director welcoming a new employee to the company

Everyone will have their own opinion on human services degrees. However, it’s an industry where you may earn an above-average salary, and there’s plenty of job demand.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that community and social service occupations will grow by a whopping 12 percent in the next decade. That translates to more than 300,000 new jobs.

What Type of Degree Is Human Services?

A human services degree is usually classified as a social science degree.

If you specialize in something like health informatics or health administration, it can also be considered a healthcare degree.

What Jobs Are in the Human Services Field?

counselor listening to a patient during therapy

There are many potential career options that you can do with a human services degree, including:

  • Social worker
  • Guidance counselor
  • Probation officer
  • Healthcare administrator
  • Community program director
  • Crisis intervention specialist
  • Child welfare advocate
  • Marriage counselor
  • Fundraiser

Depending on your career path, you might find work in a school, hospital, prison, clinic, rehab facility or nonprofit organization.

Is Psychology a Human Services Degree?

psychologist working in his office

Psychology is a separate field from human services, but there can be a lot of overlap in its skills, classes and careers.

The same goes for things like social work or healthcare administration. Many of these degree tracks can help you learn the same things.

Are There Any High Paying Jobs With a Bachelors Degree in Human Services?

Human Resources Director congratulating an employee during a meeting

If you’re looking for the highest-paid human services jobs, look for anything with “manager” or “director” in the title. These senior-level positions often have much better paydays than average, but they may also require a higher level of education like an online masters or online PhD in human services.

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For example, a human resources director may make as much as $121,220 per year, so that might be a viable option for students who want to maximize their return of investment for their degree.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Human Services Degree Online?

Human Services Degree student studying at a cafe

A bachelor’s degree in human services usually requires 120 credits to graduate. If you’re a full-time student, you may finish in four years or less.

Just remember that some certifications and licensing programs can take additional time. For example, the Human Services Board-Certified Practitioner (HS-BCP) requires 350 hours of fieldwork from all applicants. If you haven’t already earned these hours through school-based internships or residencies, you’ll need to do it after graduation.

What is a Human Services Degree?

addiction therapist listening to her patient

A human services degree can help prepare you for community-minded careers in health, education, policy, advocacy and social work. You’ll have several degree options depending on your school:

  • An associate degree is usually offered as an Associate of Science (AS) or an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in human services. It’s somewhat rare, but it does exist in select schools.
  • A bachelor’s degree usually comes in the form of a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BS) in human services or health services. Some schools will combine the two disciplines into a single degree program.
  • A master’s degree can take several different forms, including a Master of Health Science (MHS), a Master’s in Health Service Administration (MSHA) and a Master of Science (MS) in human services. They might have additional specialties for human services fields.
  • On the doctorate level, you can earn a PhD in human services, healthcare administration, healthcare management and more.

Talk to your university to learn more about your options. They’ll have different degree options depending on how they classify their human and health services courses.

Human Services Professional Organizations

Human Services Professionals in a meeting

If you want to network with other human services professionals, here are a few organizations that may be of use:

Whether you’re interested in pursuing a career in social work or are more interested in counseling, a professional organization can help you connect with others in your field.

Is an Online Bachelor’s in Human Services Degree Worth it?

Bachelor's in Human Services Degree student studying at home

Yes, an online bachelor’s in human services degree is worth it for many students. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, community and social service jobs are set to grow at 12% over the next 10 years, much faster than the average for all occupations. Common careers in this field include medical assistant, social and human service assistant, social worker, social and community service manager, and human resources manager.

Online degrees can be a great option for students who aren’t able to take traditional, campus-based courses. They often offer a lot more flexibility, and depending on the school, they might have lower tuition rates as well.

The only drawback of an online human services degree is that it might not be 100 percent online. Since this is a degree program that often requires fieldwork, you might need to make special arrangements to earn all of your credits. Talk to your chosen school to learn more.

Getting Your Human Services Degree Online

Human Services Degree student studying online

Human services is a fast-growing field with a lot of opportunity. If you’re ready to give back to your community through education, advocacy or social work, enrolling in a university program to earn your human services degree may be your next step towards a new career.

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Jordan Meeks
WRITTEN BY
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.