2023 Best Online Human Services Degrees
|Rank||School||Salary Score||Median Starting Salary|
|# 1||Jacksonville State University||$50,026|
|# 2||SUNY Empire State University||94||$39,517|
|# 3||University of New Hampshire College of Professional Studies||92||$38,811|
|# 4||Ottawa University Online||86||$36,858|
|# 5||Fisher College||81||$35,767|
|# 6||Southern New Hampshire University Online||75||$34,785|
|# 7||Central Michigan University||75||$34,757|
|# 8||Colorado State University Global||69||$33,791|
|# 9||Mercer University||67||$33,426|
|# 10||University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh||65||$33,146|
What Is a Bachelor's in Human Services Degree?
An online bachelor's degree in human services prepares students to work directly with clients, families, and whole communities to identify their needs and help connect people with local resources and aid.
These degrees usually emphasize increasing access to resources for all community members and promoting equity and social justice through services.
A human services degree is similar to a degree in social work, but there are some key differences. Human services degrees usually don't lead to licensure and often focus on preparing students for a wide range of careers rather than just social work.
Students taking this degree will learn about human behavior and relationships, why people need services and how to provide them, how to assess what those needs are, and diversity and ethics in human services.
Some programs offer specializations, such as child and family services, substance abuse, emergency management, counseling, or health and human services management. Many programs also train students in the administrative side of human services, such as fundraising and program development.
You may also want to explore our ranking of the most affordable online bachelor's in human services degrees.
Bachelor's degrees in human services usually require 120 credits and are designed to take four years to complete. Students will take required classes in the social sciences and human services, electives based on personal interests, and general education courses in math, science, English, and other areas of study. Most programs require an internship or practicum in a local human services agency.
Aside from core knowledge in communications and social sciences, human services professionals also need to have a deep understanding of how people work, what types of issues they might encounter in the field, and what needs they can help meet to improve lives.
Here are some common classes in human services programs:
Applicants to an online bachelor's degree program will need a high school diploma or GED and transcripts from high school and any previous college courses. Some programs may require SAT or ACT scores, although this is becoming less common, especially for online schools that serve a high rate of adult students returning to education.
Usually, students should start applying for school about 6-12 months before starting their program. Some online schools offer more flexibility and accept applications year-round with multiple start dates throughout the year.
Human services degrees are closely related to several other fields, and you may be interested in learning more about these before making your college choices. Explore our related rankings: Best Online Social Work Degrees, Best Online Marriage and Family Therapy Degrees, and Best Online Substance Abuse Counseling Degrees.
What Can You Do With a Bachelor's in Human Services Degree?
After finishing a bachelor's degree in human services, students can continue on to graduate school or enter the workforce. Continuing education with a master's or doctoral degree can help students get specific jobs, especially those that require a master's degree for licensure, like becoming a clinical social worker or counselor. Students who want to enter the workforce might pursue jobs in social services, education, healthcare, or public administration.
Students might go on to graduate school to complete research, gain leadership skills, or pursue a specialization within human services. While a bachelor's degree is enough to enter the field, earning a master's or doctorate will qualify students for advanced positions in management and leadership and may open the door to licensure, depending on what they study.
Careers in Human Services
Bachelor's graduates in human services usually work in social services, often for nonprofit organizations or government agencies. Most often, these professionals are necessary to help facilitate community services, and graduates might work either in administration or directly with community members.
However, these programs also lead to careers in grant writing, fundraising, event planning, marketing, and public outreach. A background in human services can also be beneficial for careers in law, public policy, and advocacy.
Financing Your Bachelor's Degree in Human Services
As college tuition continues to rise, many students are left wondering if a bachelor's degree is worth the investment. However, research from The College Board shows today's students actually pay less on average for college than they did five years ago, after adjusting for inflation.
The true cost of a degree can be difficult to figure out because most students don't pay the advertised sticker price for tuition. Research from The College Board shows that the average net price students paid after scholarships and grants was less than half of the sticker price for the 2022-23 school year.
In-state students at public universities save the most money. While public universities charged an average of $10,940 in tuition and fees this year, students only paid an average of $2,250. Private nonprofit universities are usually the most expensive option, but those students also save money due to gift aid. Private schools charged an average of $39,400 for tuition and fees, but students only paid $14,630 on average.
Here are some things to consider when budgeting for a degree:
Financial aid is also a significant factor in the cost of college and varies depending on things like your financial situation, whether or not you are considered financially independent for aid purposes, and where you go to school.
About 85% of first-time, full-time college students use financial aid to pay for college, according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics. This aid usually comes in the form of either gift aid or student loans.
Gift aid is college funding that you don't need to repay as long as you stay in good academic standing. This usually looks like grants and scholarships from the government or your college. Students can also apply for extra scholarships to help pay for their degrees.
Many students use loans to bridge the gap between gift aid and the cost of their degree. Federal student loans tend to be the better option over private loans from colleges or banks because they offer fixed interest rates and more flexible options for repayment, including potential loan forgiveness and income-driven repayment plans.
While taking out loans for college might be intimidating, especially with student loans frequently making headlines, there are a few ways students can make sure they borrow responsibly and keep their debt down.
First, make sure you maximize gift aid. Filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or the FAFSA, is the most important thing you can do to make sure you get the aid you qualify for.
Then, apply for additional funding. Talk with your school about what scholarships are available and if there is a separate application process. Once you maximize your gift aid, borrow as little as possible to pay for school. It's also important to consider career paths after college to understand how much of your future salary might go to loan repayments and how long it might take you to pay them off. We offer a free student loan repayment calculator to help students with financial decisions.
What Else Should You Consider?
One of the most important considerations for an online degree is accreditation, which signals whether or not a college is legitimate. If a school is accredited, it means it is continuously reviewed by outside groups to make sure it meets academic standards. It also means you can use federal financial aid to pay for your degree there if you qualify.
Online students should also consider their learning style and what they need to succeed in college. Online schools offer different class and program styles to meet the unique needs of online learners.
Some students might want asynchronous classes, where they can watch recorded lectures and review class material on their own time. Others might need the structure of regular virtual meetings via Zoom and other platforms.
Finally, students should consider if a degree in human services is right for them. Working in human services can be extremely rewarding for those who are committed to helping others. However, it can also be a stressful and emotionally draining sector due to the high volume of people in need and a lack of available resources.
Students should do some research into the pros and cons of working in human services and potential career pathways before enrolling.
FAQs About Bachelor's in Human Services Programs
Why Is Human Services Important?
Human services play a critical role in society by helping those in need. They provide essentials like food and shelter, aid victims of natural disasters or fires, support military veterans and their families, help formerly incarcerated people re-enter society, treat those with addictions or mental health issues, and support victims of domestic violence. These services improve the quality of life in communities and ensure equal access to resources regardless of race, class, gender, sex, religion, socioeconomic status, or ability to pay.
Can I Get a Human Services Degree Online?
Yes, you can get a human services degree online. Today there are a wide variety to choose from. Most bachelor's degrees require 120 credit hours and take four years to finish when enrolled full time. There are also master's degrees and doctorates in human services available online.
Do You Need a Degree to Work in Human Services?
While there are job opportunities in human services that don't require a degree, professionals in the industry will usually need at least a bachelor's degree to qualify for higher positions and salaries. There are jobs in human services available for every education level, but many upper positions will require a bachelor's or master's degree.
What's the Difference Between Human Services and Social Work?
Social work is just one of many different types of services that fall under the human services umbrella. Social work is usually focused on case management and working directly with families and individuals to improve their lives and connect them with resources. Human services includes social work services alongside other social assistance programs like food banks, homeless shelters, and disaster relief.
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