2023 Best Online Human Services Degrees
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Online bachelor's degrees in human services are intended for people who want to work in social services or community outreach. A typical program has courses on social policy, U.S. ethnic and cultural history, and economics. Instructors usually discuss the roles and ethical responsibilities of human service employees. Graduates of human services bachelor's degree programs online might find jobs as health education specialists, fundraisers or fundraising managers, or social and community service managers at nonprofit organizations or government agencies. Human services degrees may feature a general curriculum or a choice of specialized concentrations, such as health education or child and family services.
Our list of the most affordable human services degrees online may have additional options for you to consider. You might also consider an online bachelor's degree in sociology or social work if you're interested in human services. View our methodology for more details about our list, or learn about OnlineU.
Online Human Services Bachelor's Degrees You May Be Interested In
Arizona State University
Annual Tuition: $19,398 - $29,428
4 Programs (view all)
Southern New Hampshire University Online
Annual Tuition: $9,600
3 Programs (view all)
Grand Canyon University
Annual Tuition: $17,800
7 Programs (view all)
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||Granite State College||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|
#1 Jacksonville State University
Jacksonville State University (JSU) is a public school featuring an online Bachelor of Science in Family & Consumer Sciences - Human Sciences degree with 121 required credit hours. This program may take full-time students at least four years to complete. The university has a 64% acceptance rate for bachelor's degree candidates, and 47% of its bachelor's degree students end up graduating with their degrees.
Online learners at JSU sign in to the Canvas digital learning platform to complete coursework. This program's faculty discuss sociology and psychology in a human services context, family dynamics, and the microeconomics of family groups. Some core classes include Introductory Nutrition, Child Growth and Development, and Social Cultural Aspects of Apparel.
#2 SUNY Empire State University
SUNY Empire State College (SUNYES), a public institution, features three options for human services undergraduates. The university's Health and Human Services department offers three customizable paths for students to earn a Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, or Bachelor of Professional Studies degree in community and human services. SUNYES has an open admissions policy. Forty-seven percent of the school's bachelor's degree candidates eventually graduate.
SUNYES delivers online courses through the Brightspace learning management system (LMS). Community and human services students can customize their curriculum to a large extent as long as they cover the five foundations of human behavior, service delivery, skills and application, ethics, and diversity.
#3 Granite State College
The public Granite State College (GSC) provides a few program choices for undergraduates interested in human services. The Bachelor of Science in Human Services degree features a choice of eight concentrations. The customizable Bachelor of Science in Individualized Studies degree can include a concentration in health and human services. Finally, the Bachelor of Science in Psychology program has an optional concentration in human services. Each degree requires 120 credit hours and might take four years to complete with a full-time schedule.
Granite State uses the Canvas LMS to host online courses. The curriculum differs among these three degrees, but they each require some of the same core classes. These include Human Services and the Helping Process and Case Management.
#4 Ottawa University Online
Ottawa University Online is a private school affiliated with the Baptist Church. The university's Bachelor of Arts in Human and Social Services degree has 46 required credit hours in the major on top of general education credits. This program might take four years to complete if students take a full-time course load. Ottawa has an open admissions policy and a 46% undergraduate graduation rate.
The university's online students complete coursework using the Blackboard platform. Faculty for this program discuss a full range of issues relating to social services, such as social welfare, substance use disorder, and ethnic relations. Required courses include Human Behavior in the Social Environment, Skills and Techniques in Human Services, and the capstone Seminar in Human Services.
#5 Fisher College
The private Fisher College offers a Bachelor of Science in Human Services degree for 120 credit hours. Students might finish this degree program in three-and-a-half years if they take a full-time schedule of two courses per eight-week term. The college accepts 78% of candidates for its bachelor's programs, but only 27% of bachelor's learners finish their degrees.
Fisher uses the Blackboard LMS to host online courses. The human services curriculum covers the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in the workforce, including psychology knowledge and soft skills in communication and empathy. Students are required to take courses that include Practice of Counseling and Interviewing, Ethical Issues, and Research Methods in Social Sciences.
#6 Southern New Hampshire University Online
New England's Southern New Hampshire University Online (SNHU) is a public institution offering an online Bachelor of Arts in Human Services to help students understand how compassion intersects with process and policy. Concentration options include Child and Family Services, Gerontology, and Substance Abuse. Graduating requires completing 120 credits, which generally takes full-time students four years. SNHU has a generous transfer policy, allowing students to transfer up to 90 credits into this online bachelor's program. An online Bachelor of Arts in General Studies - Essentials of Human Services is also available. SNHU has a 94% acceptance rate and a 40% graduation rate.
SNHU's distance learners access Brightspace to receive coursework and instruction. Depending on the concentration, online human services students take classes such as Child Growth and Cognitive Development, Aging and Wellness, Foundations of Addictions, and Role and Impact of Trauma on Children and Families.
#7 Central Michigan University
Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant is a public institution offering an online Bachelor of Science in Community Development - Community Services to help students develop the skills to foster better health, economic, and political opportunities for diverse populations. Full-time students can typically complete this 120-credit program in four years. CMU accepts 77% of applicants, and 61% of students graduate with degrees.
CMU delivers its online programming via Blackboard. The community service curriculum is designed to help students develop fiscal management and leadership skills and deepen cultural diversity knowledge. Online community services distance learners choose from courses such as Racism and Inequality, Community Health, Criminology, and The Family. Students also complete a practicum to practice applying skills in real-life situations. Potential careers include community planner, community relations director, and social and community services manager.
#8 Colorado State University Global
Colorado State University Global (CSU Global) is a public institution offering an online Bachelor of Science in Human Services that can help equip distance learners with the skills they need to serve their communities. Specializations are also available, such as Organizational Leadership, Emergency Management, Fundraising, and Healthcare Management. Graduating requires completing 120 credits and generally takes four years of full-time study. CSU Global accepts 96% of applicants, and 46% of students graduate with degrees.
CSU Global provides access to Canvas so students can access its online program curriculum. Depending on the specialization, courses in the human services program may include Leading Through Conflict Resolution, Comprehensive Emergency Planning, Population Health Management, and Public Relations Techniques.
#9 Mercer University
Macon, Georgia's Mercer University (MU) is a private nonprofit institution offering an online Bachelor of Science in Human Services to help students develop problem-solving, case management, and client-centered mental health practice skills. This 120-credit program takes full-time students about four years to complete. There are two eight-week terms in the fall and spring semesters and one eight-week and one four-week term in the summer. Students may be eligible to accelerate the completion of a Master of Science in Human Services by completing two graduate courses instead of two undergraduate courses and apply credits to both degrees. MU has a 75% acceptance rate and a 61% graduation rate.
Canvas is MU's choice for delivering online coursework and instruction to distance learners. Those enrolled in the online human services bachelor's program choose from courses such as Advanced Grant Proposal Development, Family and the Court System, Multicultural Issues and Professional Practice, and Older Adults in the 21st Century. An internship is also required for students to earn their degrees.
#10 University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh
The University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh (UWO) is one of 26 campuses in the UW system. It offers an online Bachelor of Science in Human Services Leadership in an accelerated format so students may finish faster to start serving their communities as quickly as possible. Graduating from this 120-credit program may take full-time students less than four years due to its seven-week course format, and they may start the program at any time. UWO accepts 90% of applicants, and 58% of students graduate with degrees.
UWO delivers its online programming via Canvas. The online human services leadership program courses include Globalization in Human Services, Interpersonal Relationships in the Helping Professions, Program Evaluation and Grant Writing, and Legal and Ethical Aspects of Human Services. An internship is also required once students complete a minimum of 65 credits.
#11 Central Washington University
Central Washington University (CWU) in Ellensburg is a public institution offering an online Bachelor of Science in Social Services for students interested in working for government agencies and nonprofits assisting populations in need. This is a 120-credit program that takes full-time students approximately four years to complete. CWU has an 88% acceptance and a 64% graduation rate.
CWU uses the Canvas learning management system for online program delivery. Online social services students take courses such as Minority Experience, Death and Dying, Sociology of Food, and Urban Sociology. Students must also complete four credits of cooperative education to prepare for careers in environments, including vocational rehabilitation services, food delivery programs, transitional housing centers, and recreational programs for children and teenagers.
#12 Texas Tech University
Texas Tech University (TTU) in Lubbock is a Hispanic-serving public institution offering an online Bachelor of Science in Human Sciences, allowing students to integrate courses from multiple departments for an interdisciplinary educational experience. Students choose three concentrations, including two from the College of Human Services and one from any of TTU's 13 colleges. Concentrations may include Addictive Disorders & Recovery Studies, Family & Consumer Sciences Education, and Human Development & Family Services. Full-time students can generally complete this 120-credit program in four years. TTU is relatively competitive, accepting 68% of applicants. It has a higher-than-average 63% graduation rate.
TTU delivers its online curriculum through Blackboard. Depending on the concentrations chosen, human services distance learners complete courses such as Development in Cross-Cultural Perspectives; Culture and Gender Diversity in Personal Finance; Contemporary Families; and Love, Life, and Money. It's important to note that some courses, such as lab sciences, aren't available online and must be completed at a school near the student's home.
#13 Upper Iowa University
Upper Iowa University (UIU) in rural Fayette is a private, nonprofit institution offering an online Bachelor of Science in Human Services, including minors such as Psychology, Criminal Justice, Management, and Public Administration. Graduating requires 120 credits, which full-time students may complete in four years or less if transferring credits. Courses are eight weeks with an accelerated six-week summer session. Students can take two courses at a time to help maintain school/work/life balance. UIU is relatively competitive, accepting 65% of applicants. It has a 50% graduation rate.
UIU delivers its online programming via uiuLearn powered by Brightspace. Coursework will depend on whether a minor is chosen. However, human services distance learners generally take courses such as Marriage and the Family, Social Gerontology, Social Welfare Programs/Policies, and Issues/Ethics: Helping Professions. A program advisor can help determine if an internship is required.
#14 Shorter University
Baptist faith-based Shorter University (SU) in Georgia is a private, nonprofit institution offering an online Bachelor of Science in Human Services with coursework grounded in social work, psychology, and sociology. A minor in Criminal Justice, Sport Management, or General Business is required. It generally takes full-time students four years to complete 120 credits and a 16-week internship near their home. SU accepts 81% of applicants, and 52% of students graduate with degrees.
SU uses Canvas for online curriculum delivery. The online human services bachelor's program courses include Psychopathology, Lifespan Development, Social Psychology, and Addictive Behaviors. Students also choose electives based on their minor. Graduates often pursue careers as adult services workers, intake coordinators, elderly services providers, and case managers, to name a few options.
#15 Purdue Global
Indiana-based Purdue Global (PG) is a public institution offering an online Bachelor of Science in Human Services to help students develop skills relevant to settings, including mental health centers, social service agencies, nursing homes, and local communities. Concentrations include the following: Human Services Administration, Gerontology, Child and Family Welfare, and Community Organization and Advocacy. The program curriculum helps prepare students to sit for the Human Services Board Certified Practitioner (HS-BCP) exam. This 120-credit program takes approximately four years of full-time study. PG has an open admission policy that accepts all applicants, and 30% of students graduate.
PG delivers its online coursework and instruction via Brightspace. Depending on the concentration, human services distance learners take classes such as Advocacy for Families and Youth, Restorative Justice in Human Services, Psychology of Aging, and Public Personnel Administration.
#16 Ohio University - Main Campus
Ohio University - Main Campus (OU) in Athens is a public institution offering an online Bachelor of Applied Human and Consumer Sciences in Human Services (BAHCS) through Patton College that can help prepare students for career advancement in social services and public health roles. Areas of emphasis include Leadership and Organization as well as Diversity and Communication. Graduating requires 120 credits and can take full-time students as little as two years. OU has an 89% acceptance and a 66% graduation rate.
Canvas is the learning management system OU uses to deliver its online program content to distance learners. Depending on the emphasis, courses in the online BAHCS program include Cross-Cultural Communication, Introduction to LGBTQ Studies, Marketing Principles, and Women and Leadership: Roles and Responsibilities.
#17 Florida State College at Jacksonville
Florida State College at Jacksonville (FSCJ) is a public institution offering an online Bachelor of Science in Human Services that aims to help students build a solid foundation in human needs assessment and problem-solving. Concentrations include Advocacy, Education, and Human Services. This 120-credit program typically takes full-time students four years or possibly less if applying transfer credits. FSCJ has an open admission policy that accepts all applicants, and 37% of students graduate with degrees.
FSCJ delivers its online coursework and instruction via Canvas. Depending on the concentration, human services distance learners choose from classes, such as Issues in Domestic Violence, Relations Across Family-School-Community, Drug Awareness and Education, and Classroom and Behavior Management. An internship is also required once a student has passed a background check.
#18 University of Arizona
Tuscon's University of Arizona (UA) is a Hispanic-serving public institution offering an online Bachelor of Applied Science in Human Services as a socially-focused, community-driven degree program focusing on diversity, inclusion, empowerment, and social justice. Five areas of interest are available: Education & Human Development; Health, Nutrition, & Fitness; Interdisciplinary Studies; Psychology & Human Behavior; and Social & Behavioral Sciences. Graduating requires completing 120 credits — up to 60 credits are accepted — generally taking four years of full-time study. UA has an 87% acceptance and a 65% graduation rate.
UA uses Desire2Learn (D2L) to deliver online coursework and instruction to distance learners. Depending on the area of interest, courses in the online human services bachelor's program include Transitional Resiliency; Identity, Personality, and Cultural Humility; Program Planning and Evaluation; and Leadership, Ethics, and Professional Practices.
#19 Baker College Online
The Midwest's Baker College Online (BC) in Missouri is a private nonprofit institution offering an online Bachelor of Science in Human Services created using input from working professionals to help ensure students learn practical and relevant skills. This is a 120-credit program that includes a combination of psychology, general education, and human services courses, culminating in two 180-hour internships. Full-time students generally finish in four years. BC is competitive and accepts 41% of applicants. It has a 22% graduation rate, which is considerably lower than average.
BC delivers its online programming via Canvas. Human services distance learners take courses such as Trauma-Informed Care in Crisis Intervention, Family Systems and Support Strategies, The DSM System and Mental Health Services, and Psychology of Drug Use and Addiction.
#20 Bluefield College
Virginia's Bluefield University is a private Baptist faith-based institution offering an online Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science in Psychology & Human Services, a hybrid program instructed through the lens of the Christian faith. Minors include Psychology, Substance Abuse Counselor, Christian Mental Health, Trauma Informed Care, Marriage and Family Studies, and Life Coaching. Graduating requires completing 120 credits, typically taking full-time students for years. BU has a 72% acceptance and a 44% graduation rate.
Distance learners log into Canvas to access BU's online curriculum. Depending on the minor, online psychology and human services students participate in courses, such as Spiritual Formation for the Helping Individual, Trauma-Responsive Interventions, Modern Parenting, Professional Coaching: Coaching Individuals for Transformational Change, and Abnormal Psychology. At least one biblical studies course is also required.
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.
Master's in Human Services
A master's in human services can open the door to careers in the nonprofit sector, program management, or other upper-level positions that don't require professional licensure. Students may pursue specializations in areas such as organizational leadership, military families, criminal justice, or addiction and recovery. Those who are interested in licensure may also opt for master's programs in social work or counseling, which focus on working directly with clients in a more clinical setting.
Doctorate in Human Services
A doctoral degree in human services might give students the opportunity to focus on organizational management within human services for leadership roles. Doctoral programs can also lead to jobs in academia, higher education, and research.
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:
Where you go to school. Tuition and fees are one of the biggest expenses associated with college. Some universities are far more expensive than others, and some have much more aid to give out than others do. As the table above shows, going to a public school in your state tends to be the most affordable option. However, online students often pay lower tuition rates than campus students and can qualify for in-state tuition regardless of where they live at some schools.
Living expenses. Rent and other living expenses add up while you're in college, especially if you aren't able to work as much during the school year. The ability to complete classwork from anywhere with a wifi connection means online students can often save money by living in more affordable areas when possible.
Books and supplies. On average, students spend an estimated $1,250 per year on textbooks and other school supplies. Online students should consider additional costs, such as a laptop computer or webcam. This cost also depends on what program you're in. For example, nursing students may need to factor in the cost of scrubs and footwear necessary for clinicals.
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.
Earning your degree in human services can lead to a successful career that helps others and changes society for the better. Human services is a versatile degree that can be applied in any industry that works with people, especially those in need. Professionals in the industry have a lot of potential for further education and career advancement. While the work can be taxing, the opportunity to make a difference in people's lives could mean a fulfilling career for those who are passionate about helping others.
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