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Online Bachelor's Degree Programs in Human Services

Finding the Right Human Services Program & Exploring Careers

Updated on: 12/12/2018
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Professionals working in human services help people with challenges, such as substance abuse and learning disabilities. Earning a human services degree online can be the first step towards a rewarding career of helping people and improving systems that help others. Studying online allows you the freedom to schedule classes around existing obligations, like work and family. This page is designed to help you find an online program that works for you, it contains advice as well as rankings of the best options for an online bachelor's degree in human services.

How Much Can You Make in a Human Services Career?

An online human services degree can help you start a career in a variety of fields. Five possible careers have been provided in the table below. This table describes the position, median yearly income, and the expected growth rate for these positions. While your degree will not guarantee you a specific career or salary, there are many variables that impact the job market. Having a degree opens up many options that are otherwise unavailable.

JOB GROWTH 2016-2026: 16%
Job Description

Professionals in these entry-level positions assist social workers and other human service professionals in their work. They might help clients find benefits or assist with research as determined by their supervisors. They often work in nonprofit organizations, state or local governments, or at for-profit companies. Most work full time, and occasionally nights or weekends.

JOB GROWTH 2016-2026: 18%
Job Description

These professionals coordinate and supervise organizations, such as nonprofits, social services, and other organizations which work closely with individual clients. They manage work by professionals in their field, and usually have some work experience themselves.

JOB GROWTH 2016-2026: 6%
Job Description

These professionals work with incarcerated or recently released persons. They might work within a prison to help prisoners adapt to incarceration or prepare for release. They also might work with prisoners who have been released under probation or otherwise need to maintain contact with the correctional system.

JOB GROWTH 2016-2026: 16%
Job Description

These professionals help community members improve their health and general wellness through educational programs. They might work in hospitals, for nonprofits, or the government, and may teach classes or plan and implement programs within communities. These positions often require the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) credential, especially in education.

JOB GROWTH 2016-2026: 9%
Job Description

These professionals evaluate and manage compensation, benefits, or job classifications within their organization. This career shares much with human resources, and success within this career requires some human resource knowledge, as well as on-the-job experience. Entry-level positions may be difficult to find, and may require degree specialization.

Sources: BLS

Where you work can have as big of an impact on your salary as your job field. Population density, cost of living, and the median income of other jobs can influence your salary. Earning your human services bachelor's degree online means you can work and study anywhere in the country. The information below answers questions about courses and online instruction.

What Courses Can be Taken for an Online Human Services Degree?

Earning your human services bachelor's degree online means you will be engaging in the same material as on-campus students. Every school and program offers different courses, but many tend to share similarities. We've listed five sample courses that you might see in your program curriculum, though details may vary from one program to the next.

Delivery of Human Services

This course addresses the skills, knowledge, and ethical practices required to effectively deliver services to clients within a multidisciplinary field. Students discuss leadership, organizational structure, and social policies.

Substance Abuse

In this course learners discuss the causes and effects of substance abuse, including internal and external factors which can lead to, and perpetuate, abuse.

Social Welfare Policy

This course addresses social, economic, and political factors which impact the operation of social and human services. The course may focus on the national, state, or local level.

Assessment and Planning

In this course students study the process of assessing the problems and needs of clients, as well as determining how to proceed with assistance.

Research Methodologies

This course addresses the methods used by social scientists to conduct research. This class generally requires students to complete a research project in order to pass the class.

How to Choose the Best Online Human Services Program

When choosing a program, there are a number of questions you should ask. Does the school have a good reputation for teaching human services? Who is teaching the courses, and do their methods or interests mesh with your own? Does the school offer specializations or courses that will further your career goals? This section includes some common questions and answers about online human services degrees.

How long will it take to earn my degree?

A bachelor's degree typically takes four years to complete with full-time enrollment. You can reduce this time by taking more classes each term or summer courses. Some online programs are also accelerated, meaning they fit more classes into each term to finish the program faster.

How should I choose my courses?

Aside from required courses, you should have some choice in the classes you take to complete your degree. A specialization might offer less room for electives. Choose courses that seem interesting to you or match a specific career path. Faculty and peers should be able to help you choose courses as well.

Will I have to choose a concentration?

A concentration depends on the program. Since human services can be a broad degree, you may be required or encouraged to choose a concentration. Some programs offer a set of choices, while others are more flexible. You should consider possible concentrations while choosing a school, but keep an open mind as you might discover something more interesting during your studies.

Are internships required for a bachelor's in human services?

Internships, practicums, and other hands-on experiences are common for a bachelor's degree, but whether or not they are required varies by program. If an internship is required for an online program, you should be able to find an option near you to fulfill the requirement regardless of location.

Will there be a capstone or other large project?

Most likely, yes. You will likely be required to complete multiple projects, such as research papers, during the course of the degree, since it is important that students learn to apply what they've learned. Details will vary, but you should expect to have a final course where you create a piece of unique research.

Scholarships & Financial Aid for Human Services Programs

College is expensive, but luckily there are a number of scholarships out there to help pay for your bachelor's degree in human services. We've included five below, to give you an idea of available options and where to start looking. Scholarships are often aimed at very specific populations, such as women, people of color, or people with disabilities, and some are geared towards specific fields or degrees.

Bethesda Lutheran Scholarships

These scholarships offer $3,000 to students who are training to work with people with intellectual or developmental disabilities. While you have to be an active member of a Lutheran church to qualify, the specific program of study isn't important. You must have a cumulative 3.0 GPA to qualify. The scholarship is open to freshmen, sophomores, or juniors at any accredited university. These scholarships are awarded to ten students each year.

David C. Maloney Scholarship

Offered by the National Organization for Human Services and open to their members, this scholarship is intended for students who are pursuing a program with human services in the title. The application requires two letters of reference, a 3.2 GPA at minimum, a resume, transcripts, and a 500-word essay. One scholarship is awarded each year, and the winner can be studying at the associate, bachelor's, or master's level.

Davis-Putter Scholarship

This scholarship awards up to $10,000 a year to students pursuing a degree in human services who are active in human rights activism and intend to pursue a career in human rights within the United States. Applicants must show financial need and provide letters of recommendation and a 1,000-word personal statement. The scholarship is open to students who are entering college or already enrolled in a program.

Frederick J. Krause Scholarship on Health and Disability

The American Association on Health and Disability offers this scholarship to students with disabilities who are studying human services with the intention of working to support people with disabilities in the future. Multiple awards totalling up to $1,000 are granted each year. Applicants must submit a personal statement, transcripts, letters of recommendation, and documentation of disability. Preference is given to students with a history of community service.

New Jersey Department of Human Services Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired Scholarships

The New Jersey DHS awards five scholarships each year to students who are planning to work with blind or visually impaired people, and who are blind or visually impaired themselves. If you are a resident of New Jersey and qualify for help from the commission, you can apply for one of these scholarships for any school in the country, which is ideal for New Jersey residents who want to study online.