Online Human Services Degree

Many online colleges offer human services degree programs. Human service workers link in need groups with a plan of care. The groups they help typically include the homeless, aging, veterans, refugees and victims of abuse. As this takes specific skill sets, it may be useful to earn a human services degree online.

A human service degree studies local, state and federal policies, systems and resources. And, how to link under served groups with the outreach and support to meet their basic needs. One may find online human services degrees at all levels. Bachelors, masters and PhDs.

Bachelor’s Degree in Human Services

Online bachelors in human services programs award a bachelor of arts (BA) or science (BS). A BS may focus more on data, research and admin. While a BA may focus on mental health and interpersonal skills. Either a BA or BS is an entry level degree. So, it may help you launch a career in the community and social service sector.  

As such, a main goal is to frame daily human services tasks and the skills needed for them. Things like how to manage cases, interview clients, and act on their behalf. You are also likely to study the public and private policies that drive daily operations of human services agencies.

Many programs cover these areas in about 120 credits. You may also have a final project or internship, depending on the program. If you wonder how long this will take, the average student may need about four years, full time. But if you have prior credits or an associate degree, it could take 18 months to 2 years.  

To enroll in an online bachelors program, you must have a high school diploma or GED. Along with an acceptable GPA, some schools run a background check too. Another variable is tuition, according to the NCES. They report for the 2018–19 academic year, prices for undergraduate tuition, fees, room, and board were estimated to be $18,383 at public institutions, $47,419 at private nonprofit institutions, and $27,040 at private for profit institutions.  

Master’s Degree in Human Services

Online masters in human services award a master of arts or science. A Master of Art tends to focus on managerial skills and admin. While a Master of Science may offer a focus in health promotion or informatics. Either a Master of Art or Master of Science is a graduate level degree. So, they often appeal to people who may want to advance or switch careers.  

As such, you may find programs that discuss the basics early on. Things like how to interview, assess, social policy, ethics and critical issues. Then you may move onto more complex topics. And these tend to cover managerial issues. Such as funding, staffing and grant writing. Many programs cover these areas in about 36 credits. You may also have a final project, thesis and internship, depending on the program.  

For a full time student, it may take about two years to complete these credits. Online colleges may also have part time options. To enroll in an online human services masters, you may be required to have a bachelors degree. Some schools might also set approved majors, GPA and other standards. These standards typically vary from one school to the next. And may include the need to send in a resume, reference letters and proof of employment.

Another thing that varies is tuition. With this in mind, the NCES  reports the average cost of a grad degree at a public college in 2019 was $12,171.

PhD in Human Services

An online PhD in human services is the highest award in this field. It is also a research degree that aims to nurture expertise. Some people pursue a PhD to teach, research and publish. While others may seek an executive role, counseling career or to impact public policy. That said, many programs build on your experience and education. And, expand your grasp of major themes, policies and practices.  

As a PhD typically demands original theory, you may work on your own too. To cover all these areas may entail from 36 credits up. So, while some people may need about 3 years, it may take longer.

What can I do with an Online Human Services Degree?

As the need for social services rises, it fuels demand for people who may navigate programs, people and resources. Human services pros typically work with children, families, seniors, the homeless, immigrants and veterans. And many may also deal with issues like addiction, abuse, a criminal record, disability or mental illness. This means that there may be jobs for all levels of education.

1. Human Service Worker 

As a human service worker, you typically serve as a case worker aide. You may figure out what type of care, services and benefits a client needs. Then you may help the person in charge to make sure they get this help. You might also manage a group home or direct activities too.

2. Social and Community Service Manager 

A social and community service manager tends to direct programs and agencies. In this role, you may choose to work with a focal group. Like children, the homeless, seniors or veterans. Or, help those who face a challenge such as substance abuse, domestic violence, hunger or poverty. In either niche, you might run and assess a program.

3. Social Worker 

A social worker helps people solve and cope with problems that arise in their life. Above all, you typically have to be able to assess a client’s needs and goals. Then, link them with resources or a treatment plan. But there are specific rules about who may do what. Bachelors prepared social workers may work on teams that craft policies and programs. But if you want to diagnose and treat as a clinician, you tend to need a masters degree and state license.

4. Community Health Worker 

As a community health worker, you may reach residents where they live, eat, play, work and worship. You may also be an agent of change who helps lesson the health risks for in need areas. And as their advocate, may offer informal counseling, interpret or translate. It is also likely you may have to teach them how to adopt healthier actions.

5. Substance Abuse Counselor 

As a substance abuse counselor, your clients might be alcoholics and drug addicts. They might also be people who suffer from behavior or mental health problems. To work with these groups, you may need to know how to assess clients and about specific addictions. You may also need to understand therapeutic options like the 12 step program. And, likely be able to teach people about recovery and ways to better cope with stress.

6. Adoption Services Manager 

An adoption service manager is a type of community service manager. But in this role, typically must comply with all the rules that pertain to adoption and foster care. Apart from a deep grasp of the adoption system, this role tends to be an active one. You may have to visit an adoptive resource home to assess it. Then you may also visit adopted children and youth to ensure their needs are met.

Is a Degree in Human Services worth it?

Expertise in human services may provide flexible skills, prospects and above average earning potential. Community and social service jobs are on an uptick, with much faster than average growth. Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, if you have a social or human services degree, the future is bright. They predict 17% more jobs for human service assistants by 2029. And this is much faster growth than the norm which is 4%. 

If you also have the training to work with drug addicts, this may be even more useful. The BLS predicts a 25% surge in the number of jobs for substance abuse counselors by 2029. So, this may be one option. Salaries in these sectors vary, as does the education needed for entry. The median annual wage for community and social service jobs was $47,520 in May 2020 as reported by the BLS. And social service managers earned a median annual wage of $69,600 in May 2020 as per the BLS.  

Human Services Degree Jobs & Salary

Occupation Median Annual Salary Jobs
Social and Human Service Assistants $35,060 413,700
Social and Community Service Managers $67,150 168,800
Social Workers $50,470 707,400
Health Educators and Community Health Workers $67,960 44,440

Top States for Jobs as a Social and Human Service Assistant

State Jobs Annual Mean Wage
CA 50,600 $43,330
NY 37,340 $37,180
NJ 27,220 $36,470
TX 19,970 $36,000
PA 18,480 $34,320

What classes may I take with an Online Human Services Degree?

Many online human services programs draw from sociology, psychology and public policy. These areas help you grasp social problems, deviant behavior and US welfare programs. Then also tend to cover the ethics and practices that go into providing help to marginal groups. Below are some of the classes you may find at the bachelors, masters and PhD levels. 

Bachelors Degree Courses 

Classes in an online bachelors degree program in human services often focus on how to meet basic needs of people and groups. Like the homeless, victims of abuse, and addicts. Human services workers also assist the poor, jobless, aging, veterans and their families. So, you may learn about the challenges these groups face along with outreach systems. To address these issues, you may study behavior theory, welfare systems and policies. These classes frame social problems and available services to deal with them.  

This tends to mean a balanced program that draws from many subject areas. Like psychology, public policy, sociology, criminal justice, counseling, and ethics. Here are a few other popular topics you may find in an online bachelors in human services degree program.

Intro to Human Services

This intro level course often provides an overview of the creation of human services. It may provide an overview of the settings, roles, and functions in this area. Students often gain the knowledge and skills they need to help support others.

Human Services Organizational Systems

This course often helps students to learn how to operate within organizations. This often includes how human services work in private and public organizations. Students may learn more insight into the structure and functions in these systems.

Case Management

At the heart of the Human Services field is the ability to understand client engagement, interviewing, and models of service delivery. Case management also often includes ethics and professional responsibility in these fields.

Communication Skills for Human Service Pros

This type of class often focuses on skills to effectively and efficiently communicate as human services pros have to do. This may include oral and written communications. Students learn tools to help them clearly articulate these issues and how to manage conflict.

Graduate Degree Courses 

Classes in an online masters degree program in human services tend to focus on the skills needed for admin roles. Things like management theory, funding and staffing. That said, many do cover basic concepts and practices early on. As such, you may learn about direct client care, US policies and diverse marginal groups.  

From there, you may study professional conduct, including ethics. Through these subjects, you may learn how to make critical decisions, lead and make an impact. Another likely topic is how to research. A broad topic, it tends to cover social statistics, program design and evaluation.  

Other than these core areas, many online colleges offer areas of emphasis. Drug and alcohol counseling, forensic mental health and nonprofit management are a few. Choosing a focus makes your program more personal and relevant to your career.

Classes in an online PhD in human services are typically broad and deep. Broad because they look at the history, systems, theories, strategies and policies of human services. And deep, through a focus in leadership, professional practice, research, and ethics.

Here are a few other topics you may find in an online graduate human services degree program.

Theory and Application of Human Services

Students in this field often need to take a course like this. They may learn how to address modern social problems as it relates to this field. They may also look at the role of human service professionals in a diverse setting.

Ethical Practice in Human Services

In this field, students often analyze the ethics standards that are required in human service professionals. Students may also learn about expectations in this field. They may sometime develop problem solving skills to help with various ethical dilemmas and issues.

Diversity and Inclusion

This course often focuses on the theories and concepts related to topics like race, culture, and ethnicity. It also may look at socioeconomic factors and considers the effects of gender, religion, and social class. You may also learn about the multicultural needs of clients and use real life scenarios to understand these concepts.

Interpersonal and Leadership Skills

This type of course often will include skill development for professional communication. You may learn problem solving as it relates to interpersonal needs. This may include topics related to collaboration and information sharing. You may also learn to develop goals and recommend strategies in this field.

Because there are many types of human services careers, you may want to focus your studies. Here are a few common areas that online schools may offer. 

1. Child and Family Services

This area explores how social issues and trauma affect children and families. It may suit the person who cares about child welfare and domestic violence.

2. Gerontology

In this focus, you study the older adult and services for the aging. Things like how to improve quality of life. Also, long term care and policies that impact the elderly.

3. Addictions

A deeper look at the substances people abuse and the effects they have. You tend to study drug and alcohol abuse. Plus ways to screen, consult, prevent relapse and treat.

4. Advocacy and Policy

Policy has an impact on social welfare. Along with advocacy courses you may learn how to plan campaigns and craft policies. Both for the private sector and government.

5. Nonprofit Management

Many public sector services receive help from charities. In this focal area, you study fundraising. Plus, more about budgeting and board governance. 

6. Human Services Administration

Leaders oversee case managers. So, in this area, you may gain managerial skills. Also, a more solid grasp of company culture and group dynamics.

How long does it take to earn a Human Services Degree online?

The time it takes to earn a human services degree online varies. Many full time students need four years to earn a bachelor’s degree in human services online. Once you graduate, it may take another two years to earn a masters degree in human services. And from 2.5 to eight years to earn a PhD in human services. Naturally, your course load and prior learning credits may impact length up or down.  

University Level of Degree # of Credits Required Starts Per Year Minimum Months to Complete
University of Phoenix Bachelors 120 Multiple 48
Purdue University Global Bachelors 180 4 48
Ashford University Bachelors 120 Multiple 48
Clemson University Masters 30 3 24
Concordia University Saint Paul Masters 36 3 24
University of Toledo Masters 36 3 24
Capella University PhD 92 QC Multiple 36
Walden University PhD 83 QC Multiple 30
Ashford University PhD 60 Multiple 43

Scholarships For Human Services Majors

Many online students may qualify for financial aid such as scholarships. Many colleges offer them as do nonprofit organizations. Here are a few to start you out. 

UNF College of Education and Human Services Endowed

For U.S. undergraduate seniors enrolled in this college at U North Florida. To qualify you must also have a 3.0 GPA. Preference goes to students who are active in their field of study. One recipient receives a $1,000 scholarship.

Deadline: February 14, 2021

UNF College of Education and Human Services Fellowship

For graduate students with a 3.0 GPA. Applicants must be 80% through their classes in this college at U North Florida. Students who already work in their field of study may have preference. The winner receives a $1,000 scholarship.

Deadline: February 14, 2021

Silicon Valley Community Foundation Social Justice

For students in Sequoia Union High School District. Or East Side College Preparatory in East Palo Alto, California. Applicants need a proven interest in advocacy for social justice. For e.g. immigrant causes or if applicants are from a first generation family. Each winner may receive up to $12,000. 

Deadline: February 14, 2021

Plainfield Muslim Women for Better Society Scholarship

There are two awards of $500 each. One goes to a Plainfield High School senior. And one goes to a full-time Indianapolis Islamic High School senior that meet the criteria. Criteria include a human services major and 20 hours of service in the community.

Deadline: March 15, 2021

Turco Muñoz Domestic Violence Survivor Scholarship

For domestic violence survivors currently enrolled in a bachelor’s, graduate or law school program. Those students with a history of advocacy for domestic abuse survivors are also eligible. As are those going for a related career path. One selectee receives $1,000 towards tuition. 

Deadline: August 15, 2021

15 Online Human Services Degrees

We have ranked our top 15 schools based on the number of graduates from the program in 2019. Our process looks at 2019 data from the NCES. And, it may help you narrow your search down.

  1. University of Phoenix Arizona
  2. Grand Canyon University 
  3. Walden University 
  4. Purdue University Global
  5. Southern New Hampshire University
  6. Ohio Christian University 
  7. Western Washington University 
  8. Rasmussen College 
  9. Post University
  10. Wilmington University 
  11. Saint Leo University 
  12. Capella University
  13. Touro University
  14. Colorado State University Global
  15. University of the Cumberlands


Take the next step with a more detailed look at the 15 online colleges with human services degrees at all levels.  


University of Phoenix – Arizona

Bachelor of Science in Correctional Program Support Services

Fully Online

UOPX offers a 120 credit online BS-CPSS program. In it you study at the crossroads of three areas. Community support, human services and criminal justice. These topics may equip you with the skills to manage cases and support in need groups. 

Courses Include:

  • Social Psychology
  • Facilitation 
  • Program Evaluation

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $9,552
Grad $16,752
Special rates available for military students.

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Grand Canyon University

Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Health Science

Fully Online

GCU’s program spans 120 credits. It studies human behavior and interaction through a Christian lens. That includes a look at techniques, practices and trends. Other classes discuss the DSM manual and ICD codes. Plus laws and rules that people in behavioral health need to know. Focus your studies even more with an area of emphasis. Substance use, family, dynamics, early childhood, adolescent disorders or trauma.

Courses Include:

  • Ethics of BHS
  • Cultural and Social Diversity
  • Intro to Family Dynamics 

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $17,800
Grad $11,074
Special rates available for military students.

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Walden University

Bachelor of Science in Human Services

Fully Online

Walden’s coursework reflects standards set by the Council for Standards in Human Service Education (CSHSE). That said it aims to prep you to thrive in a non licensed but direct service role. Six areas including a self designed option allow for greater expertise. These span criminal justice, addictions, psychology, leadership and child/adolescent.

Courses Include:

  • The Helping Relationship
  • Brain and Behavior
  • Social Influences

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $12,150
Grad $12,539
Special rates available for military students.

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Purdue University Global

Bachelor of Science in Human Services

Fully Online

Purdue’s program entails 180 quarter credits and there are four start dates each year. It stresses youth / family services admin. The classes in this area draw from human services, psychology, sociology, law and criminal justice. These areas tend to fill the education needs to sit for the HS-BCP TM exam.

Courses Include:

  • Crisis intervention
  • Family and Domestic Violence 
  • Public Personnel Admin

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $8,037 / $14,358
Grad $9,603 / $10,580
Special rates available for military students.

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Southern new Hampshire University

Bachelor of Arts in Human Services

Fully Online

SNHU offers a 120 credit hour program. You may tailor the basic course plan with a focus in child and family, older adult or substance issues and abuse. Any of these also studies ways to advocate for policy change. There is a capstone. 

Courses Include:

  • Human Development
  • Social Problems
  • Research Methods  

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $31,136
Grad $18,810
Special rates available for military students.

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Ohio Christian University

Bachelor of Arts in Human Services


OCU’s 120 credit program takes a Christian lens the health and human services field.  It does this through readings, written and oral presentations. Along with the core program, you choose electives. Some in psychology. And others in criminal justice.

Courses Include:

  • Public and Private Services 
  • Advocacy and Policy
  • Ethics in HS   

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $11,084 / $32,061
Grad $12,425 / $36,009
Special rates available for military students.

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Western Washington University

Bachelor of Arts in Human Services

Fully Online

WWU’s program entails 180 credits. The classes meld areas of social work and psychology. While also leaning into social justice and pressing social issues. Apart from online learning, you must complete 260 hours of field experience. Many students bring in up to 105 transfer credits from Washington State Community College to speed up time to earn the degree.

Courses Include:

  • Human Services Professionals 
  • Social Justice and Equity
  • Program Planning 

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $11,084 / $32,061
Grad $12,425 / $36,009
Special rates available for military students.

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Rasmussen College

Online Bachelor of Arts in Human Services

Fully Online

Rasmussen’s program is about the human services skills needed in four areas. Interpersonal skills and working with others. Organization and leadership. Crisis response strategies, and real-life scenarios. As a result, you may learn how to communicate via tele health as well as manage cases electronically.

Courses Include:

  • Program Design
  • Social Problems
  • Admin and Mgmt.   

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $10,935
Grad $9,690
Special rates available for military students.

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Post U offers a 37 credit program that ends with an internship, practicum and capstone. During classes, you tend to study the ways to prevent, remediate, diagnose, assess and intervene with clients. You may also gain analytical skills. These may help you to problem solve as well as better understand your own reaction patterns. You may tailor studies with a focus in clinical mental health, alcohol and drug counseling or forensic counseling.  

Courses Include:

  • Counseling and Human Services Mgmt. 
  • Human Growth and Sexuality
  • Ethics and Diversity 

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $16,610
Grad $7,700
Special rates available for military students.

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Master of Science in Human Services

Fully Online

This program follows Council for Standards in Human Services Education guides. It melds core courses with free electives to help you meet career plans. In all, there are 33 credits and two tracks. One in admin, the other in human services practice. Along with classes in theory, you apply advanced skills in a 120 field experience.

Courses Include:

  • Law and Practice in HS
  • Financial Mgmt. 
  • Human Services Helping Skills 

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $8,834
Grad $15,233
Special rates available for military students.

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Saint Leo University

Bachelor of Arts in Human Services

Fully Online

Saint Leo’s BA is an applied program that promotes service to others. There are 120 credits in all and a field placement. The course plan touches on other behavior sciences. And, focuses on helping and group skills.

Courses Include:

  • Drugs, Society 
  • Diversity Issues
  • Social Research 

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $23,750
Grad $7,296
Special rates available for military students.

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Capella University

PhD in Human Services

Online / Residency

Capella offers a 92 quarter credit program with a few residency needs. Of the classes, most focus on human service leadership. Including skills for professional practice, research, and ethics. You also focus on your own original research.

Courses Include:

  • Advanced Ethics
  • Social Influences
  • Advanced Program Design   

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $14,540
Grad $15,233
Special rates available for military students.

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Touro College

Online Master of Science in Human Services

Fully Online

Touro’s MS requires 36 credits. It is a non licensure program which focuses less on helping skills and more on leadership. Students learn how to communicate in a professional way. And, how to make ethical decisions. There is a final capstone too.

Courses Include:

  • Theories of Behavior
  • Cultural and Diversity 
  • Nonprofit Mgmt. 

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $20,550
Grad $12,760
Special rates available for military students.

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Colorado State University Global

Bachelor of Science in Human Services


CSU Global offers a 120 credit program. It may help you learn how to intervene, manage cases and lead case workers. Along side, you take a class in grant writing. To make your studies more personal a broad array of focal areas are available. Dive into human resources or emergency mgmt. and many in between.

Courses Include:

  • Ethical Issues
  • Human Growth
  • Community Outreach 

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $8,400
Grad $9,000

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University of the Cumberlands

Bachelor of Arts in Human Services

Fully Online

U Cumberlands offers a generalist program. Either the BA or BSc is available and entails 120 credits. There are areas of emphasis for the BSc option. Addictions or mental wellness. You study these areas through the Christian lens. While also going into core values and skills that help people.

Courses Include:

  • Group Dynamics
  • Assessment
  • Basic Counseling Skills      

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $9,875
Grad $5,670
Special rates available for military students.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Online Human Services Degree Programs

Are human services majors in demand?

According to the BLS, the social and human services fields is expected to grow 17% between 2019 and 2029. This is much faster than the average for all occupations. A growing elderly population and rising demand for social services are expected to drive demand for these workers.

What are the top industries for a bachelor’s in human services?

Per the BLS, in May 2020, the median annual wages for social and human service assistants in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Local government, excluding education and hospitals: $41,620
State government, excluding education and hospitals: $38,010
Individual and family services: $35,190
Community and vocational rehabilitation services: $32,640
Nursing and residential care facilities: $32,320

How much money could I make with a bachelor’s in human services?

According to the BLS, in 2020 human services professionals earn a median annual wage of $35,960. Salaries may vary depending on experience, education, and location.

*Unemployment Earnings.  Sources for school stats and data include the NCES and IPEDS.