The Most Affordable Online Bachelor’s in Human Services Degree Programs

The Most Affordable Online Bachelor’s in Human Services Degree Programs

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With a focus on the prevention and treatment of social and personal problems, an online bachelor's degree in human services trains students for work as counselors, social workers, community organizers, client advocates, program developers, facility directors, or probation officers.

An online bachelor's degree in human services offers an excitingly interdisciplinary approach to social wellbeing, and it trains students to improve the lives of others. This degree includes courses from disciplines as varied as psychology, sociology, communications, social work, education, criminal justice, political science, economics, health, and management disciplines. Internships give students additional practice in real-world environments such as public schools, community agencies, health clinics, or long-term care facilities.

Due to rampant mental health and substance abuse issues, the nation requires increasing numbers of human services workers, and the career outlook for professionals in this field is quite favorable. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects an 18% increase in demand for social and community service managers by 2026.

The Most Affordable Online Bachelor's in Human Services Degree Programs

Affordable Online Bachelor's in Human Services Degree Program Ranking Guidelines: We selected the online human services programs based on the quality of the program, the types of online classes offered for human services, the faculty, rankings, awards, and the school's reputation — including whether the school effectively provides quality online degree programs.

The Most Affordable Online Bachelor’s in Human Services Degree Programs

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Western Washington University 

Bellingham, WA Apply Now

About this school

Western began as a state-funded normal school in 1893. Today, the school is the northernmost university in the contiguous United States. Among its plethora of program offerings, Western provides a bachelor's degree in human services.

The bachelor of arts in human services encompasses focal points in education, criminal justice, international studies, social service, and advocacy. Human services degree-seekers can pursue their degree through Western's flexible and convenient online format. Graduates can go on to pursue a variety of meaningful career opportunities after graduation, including positions in government, nonprofit, and community services working as trainers, youth workers, case managers, and advocacy specialists. Graduates may focus on homelessness, domestic violence, child abuse, and other social issues.

The distance learning human services program at Western connects human services faculty members to learners around Washington. The rigorous curriculum provides students with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the human services industry. The program emphasizes the use of technology and presents mixed modalities to learners, exposing them to the unique benefits associated with online learning. Degree-seekers can access the academic advising department to schedule an appointment with faculty.


East Central University 

Ada, OK Apply Now

About this school

ECU is one of six universities belonging to the Oklahoma Regional University system. The school maintains campuses in Ada (its flagship campus), Shawnee, McAlester, Durant, and Ardmore; the university also offers various online learning opportunities. ECU was founded in 1909 as East Central State Normal School and adopted its current name in 1985. Degree-seekers at ECU can choose from a variety of programs, including a bachelor's degree in human services counseling.

ECU's bachelor's degree in human services counseling allows students to tailor their program to their career goals and personal interests. Learners can choose from concentration options such as aging services, rehabilitation, and services to the deaf. The program equips students with the skills they need to seek entry-level employment opportunities in the human services field, including with civic, government, and private organizations.

ECU encourages human services degree-seekers to participate in professional organizations, such as the National Rehabilitation Association, and get involved with on-campus organizations, such as the Student Rehabilitation Association and the Human Resources Club. Students can also pursue scholarship opportunities specific to their university and area of study.


City University of Seattle 

Seattle, WA Apply Now

About this school

A private university located in Seattle, Washington, CityU belongs to the private nonprofit National University system. CityU maintains the Albright School of Education, the School of Management, the School of Applied Leadership, the School of Arts and Sciences, the Washington Academy of Languages, and the Technology Institute. Within CityU's colleges, students can pursue a variety of degree offerings, including a bachelor's degree in human services.

CityU's online bachelor of arts in human services equips students with the knowledge and skills they need to pursue careers in social work, counseling, or psychology. Although all coursework is available entirely online, degree-seekers must satisfy an internship requirement before graduation. The program accepts new students every quarter. Graduates with their human services degree can explore careers as mental health aides, case managers, child development workers, and community outreach workers.

The internship requirement allows students to gain experience at a human services agency focusing on their area of emphasis. Combining theories learned in the classroom with practical experiences through an agency, these internships allow learners to work under the supervision of an experienced professional in the human services industry as they deepen their skills and knowledge of the field. Coursework encompasses a variety of valuable topics, including understanding human development, fundamentals of research methods in social sciences, and critical thinking and writing skills in social sciences.


University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh 

Oshkosh, WI Apply Now

About this school

The third-largest university in Wisconsin, UWO belongs to the University of Wisconsin system. The school offers bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in both on-campus and online formats. Degree-seekers enjoy a variety of academic disciplines across programs, including a prestigious bachelor's degree in human services leadership.

Offered by UWO's Division of Online and Continuing Education, the human service leadership program prepares students for careers leading organizations that work to improve human conditions. Throughout the curriculum, students focus on ethical and legal issues, professional administration and leadership, intervention strategies, program implementation, evaluation, development, and grant writing.

Graduates of certain associate programs can transfer into their human services leadership program with an extra block of credits. Prospective students should connect with their advisor to explore their options. The online program provides students with the flexibility they need to earn their degree while opening them up to the same high quality education as on-campus counterparts. Online courses are delivered through the Canvas learning platform. Although the online format does not require students to log in at a scheduled meeting time, learners must meet deadlines and due dates for assignments, discussions, and projects.


SUNY Empire State College 

Saratoga Springs, NY Apply Now

About this school

One of the 13 arts and science colleges belonging to the State University of New York, ESC is the only SUNY institution that features open admissions. The college provides bachelor's, master's, and doctoral programs across disciplines, including a bachelor's degree in community and human services.

ESC's human services program exposes students to the relationship between human values and needs and social conditions. Throughout their coursework, students develop communication and analytical skills. Learners gain the knowledge and skills they need to contribute to the maintenance and development of healthy individuals, groups, and communities.

Human services graduates can go on to work in community service professions; pursue graduate studies; teach; obtain jobs in government; lobby to affect social change and policy; and solve problems to benefit the well-being of groups, individuals, and communities. Degree-seekers can tailor their degree to specific interests and career goals by choosing a concentration in an area such as criminal justice services, disability services, children and family services, substance abuse services, and health and human services.

ESC features a bachelor of arts, bachelor of science, and bachelor of professional studies in human services. These programs build upon the associate of arts and associate of science opportunities in the same field.


Excelsior College 

Albany, NY Apply Now

About this school

Excelsior is a private online college headquartered in Albany, New York. The school offers undergraduate and graduate opportunities across three schools: the School of Nursing, the School of Graduate Studies, and the School of Undergraduate Studies. Excelsior primarily serves nontraditional students such as working adults and international learners. Among its various program opportunities, Excelsior provides a bachelor's degree in social sciences with a concentration in human services.

Students who pursue the bachelor's degree in human services online can transfer in up to 117 credits of approved coursework. The program emphasizes critical reasoning and analysis skills. Students learn to address issues in the global economy, healthcare, national security, public policy, and environmentalism. Graduates who hold a social sciences bachelor's degree can pursue career opportunities across a variety of fields, including government, law, administration, nonprofit work, and business management.

The online program boasts an interdisciplinary focus, covering topics in political science, sociology, and economics. The 120-credit curriculum combines general education requirements with social sciences core courses and concentration courses. Course topics include social science research, organizational behavior, and multicultural issues in criminal justice. Graduates often pursue careers in public policy, international relations, and environmental services.


Ottawa University-Online 

Ottawa, KS Apply Now

About this school

A private liberal arts university located in Ottawa, Kansas, OU features a variety of locations throughout the country, as well as an online campus. Boasting an affiliation with the American Baptist Churches USA, OU features bachelor's degrees in more than 25 areas of study, including a bachelor's degree in human services.

OU's human and social services bachelor's degree benefits students interested in learning how to help those facing challenges such as substance abuse, relational crises, mental health, and poverty. Many students go on to pursue graduate studies in public health, public administration, social work, and urban studies. Coursework covers topics such as social policy and the community, psychopathology, human behavior in the social environment, and ethnic relations and multiculturalism.

Students can tailor their degree to personal interests and career goals by choosing a concentration in child and family services, advocacy, gerontology, mental health programs, or corrections. Degree-seekers develop their skills in counseling, data gathering, interviewing, consulting, and case management.

Online programs at OU boast affordable tuition and flexible formats and schedules. Applicants should connect with an enrollment advisor to schedule a campus visit, as this will allow them to learn more about the university before submitting an application.


University of Arizona 

Tucson, AZ Apply Now

About this school

A public research university in Tucson, UA features 19 colleges and schools. UA was the first university in the Arizona territory, and is now a member of the Association of American Universities. Students can pursue bachelor's, master's, doctoral, and professional degrees across a variety of disciplines, including an online bachelor's degree in human services.

The bachelor of applied science in human services prepares degree-seekers to work in private and public outreach agencies serving clients of all backgrounds. Graduates can go on to pursue careers in law enforcement, healthcare, social work, and emergency response.

Students enjoy a high quality education through the online format while also experiencing maximum levels of convenience and flexibility. The online program is designed for students who have prior coursework from regionally accredited institutions or military colleges. The flexible online format highlights an asynchronous delivery, allowing learners to complete their work at any time from any location.

Applicants must provide a goal statement and a resume. UA advises applicants to work with an admissions advisor to discuss their background before submitting a formal application to ensure they qualify for their desired program.


Saint Joseph's College-New York 

Brooklyn, NY Apply Now

About this school

A liberal arts college, SJCNY features campuses in Patchogue, Long Island, and the Clinton Hill area of Brooklyn. SJCNY provides undergraduate and graduate opportunities in more than 54 major areas of study, including a bachelor's degree in human services.

The online human services program equips students with the skills and knowledge they need to thrive in a diverse array of career paths, including mental health counseling, social work, and human services administration. Specialized courses cover topics such as family and child welfare, addictions counseling, case management, human services administration, and gerontology.

Students can also consider a dual degree bachelor's in human services and master's in human services leadership. This dual option allows bachelor's students to earn a master's by completing 18 additional credits across six courses. The dual degree boasts an accelerated format and a lower total program cost. The curriculum focuses on the legal, regulatory, financial, social, historical, and political aspects of the human services industry.


Florida State College at Jacksonville 

Jacksonville, FL Apply Now

About this school

Part of the Florida College System, FSCJ offers a greater number of four-year bachelor's degrees than traditional two-year community colleges. Degree-seekers can pursue a variety of opportunities at FSCJ, including a bachelor's degree in human services online.

Students in this human services bachelor's degree gain a solid foundation in assessment and problem-solving through coursework requirements and an internship in the field. The program is a great fit for individuals who are passionate about helping others and able to demonstrate patience and understanding.

As part of the curriculum, degree-seekers must complete 36 credit hours of general education coursework focusing on mathematics, humanities, communications, natural sciences, and social and behavioral sciences. Learners must also satisfy 24 credit hours of lower division coursework and 30 credits of upper division coursework, maintaining a minimum C grade in each upper division course. Additionally, students complete 15 credit hours of upper division generalist concentration coursework and 15 credit hours of upper division elective coursework.

The program consistently ranks as one of the most affordable online human services degrees in the country.


Old Dominion University 

Norfolk, VA Apply Now

About this school

A public research university located in Norfolk, Virginia, ODU was established in 1930 as the College of William and Mary. Today, ODU is one of the biggest universities in the state, with an enrollment of nearly 25,000 students each year. The main campus sprawls across 251 acres bordering Highland Park, Larchmont, and Lambert's Point. Classified as a doctoral university with higher research activity, ODU highlights undergraduate and graduate programs and distance learning opportunities across disciplines, including an online bachelor's degree in human services.

ODU boasts an online bachelor of science in human services within the university's Darden College of Education and Professional Studies and the Department of Counseling and Human Services. The degree completion program prepares graduates for entry-level positions across community services agencies. Students learn about the essential functions and roles of human services professionals, characteristics of human services agencies, and human growth and development.

Through the rigorous curriculum, degree-seekers develop basic skills in program evaluation, fundraising, and grant writing and learn to understand the skills and theories associated with human services. Coursework emphasizes the legal, ethical, and multicultural issues surrounding the responsibilities of human services professionals.

Individuals interested in becoming a certified substance abuse counselor can complete the residency requirement and the exam set by the Virginia Board of Psychology after graduation. ODU is approved by the Virginia Certification Board and the Virginia Board of Counseling as a provider for addiction education leading to field-specific certifications.


University of Maine at Augusta 

Augusta, ME Apply Now

About this school

Located in the state capital with an additional campus in Bangor, UMA provides associate and baccalaureate degrees for students in central Maine. The school's online courses cater to traditional and returning adult students who seek a more flexible degree format. Among its various programs, UMA offers a bachelor's degree in mental health and human services.

UMA's human services bachelor's program benefits students interested in careers within social service settings. Students can specialize the curriculum and mold it to their specific career goals. Learners can choose courses that allow them to focus on working with the elderly, adults, adolescents, or young children. During their program, students develop skills in providing psychological rehabilitation and advocacy, managing caseloads, and providing support.

The mental health and human services program highlights four concentration opportunities: addictions counseling, adult mental health rehabilitation, mental health and human services generalist, and child and family services. The bachelor's program meets the academic requirements for the licensed social worker-conditional (LSX) credential. Students who complete the adult mental health rehabilitation concentration also qualify for the mental health rehabilitation/community credential.


University of Alabama at Birmingham 

Birmingham, AL Apply Now

About this school

A public R1 research university, UAB began as an academic extension center in 1936. The school became a four-year campus in 1966 and gained full autonomy within the University of Alabama system in 1969. UAB provides 140 academic programs across 12 divisions, offering bachelor's, master's, doctoral, and professional degrees in liberal arts, social and behavioral sciences, education, business, and engineering. Among the school's variety of program opportunities, degree-seekers can pursue a bachelor's degree in community health and human services.

UAB allows learners in the program to choose a concentration in either community health or human services. The program trains degree-seekers to improve and promote health services to a wide population base. During their program, learners focus on human development and behavior, case management, interviewing and intervention, and ethics among helping professions.

All students should meet with an advisor to review student services. The graduation planning system helps learners avoid delays in program completion or graduation. Students complete an internship during the second half of their senior year, allowing them to work in an area that matches their career goals and personal interests.

Graduates of the human services program leave fully prepared to sit for the Human Services-Board Certified Practitioner Examination, allowing them to further build upon their skills and seek professional development avenues.


University of South Carolina-Columbia 

Columbia, SC Apply Now

About this school

Boasting seven satellite campuses throughout the state, UofSC is a public research university headquartered in Columbia. The 359-acre main campus is located near the South Carolina State House. The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching classifies the university as having the highest research activity. Students can pursue a variety of academic opportunities, including a bachelor's degree in human services.

UofSC's Palmetto College offers an online bachelor of science in human services to prepare students with the knowledge and skills they need to pursue careers in counseling, helping professions, and child mediation or advocacy. The liberal arts degree focuses largely upon psychology and sociology. Learners focused on human services at the bachelor's level hone their skills as they work with individuals, families, and communities.

Human services degree-seekers must complete experience-based internships, enhancing their chances of employment after graduation and setting them apart from other candidates in their field. Internships allow students to develop in-the-field experiences to connect the skills and knowledge they learn during their courses to the daily operations of human services professionals across workplace settings.

To apply for the online degree option, degree-seekers must hold 45-60 hours of college-level coursework with a 2.0 minimum GPA.


East Tennessee State University 

Johnson City, TN Apply Now

About this school

A public university, ETSU belongs to the State University and Community College System of Tennessee. The fourth-largest university in the state, ETSU highlights off-campus centers in Elizabethton and Kingsport, not far from the main campus in Johnson City. ETSU boasts a variety of prestigious, well-known programs such as the bachelor's degree in human services.

The online bachelor of science in human services provides students with a background in behavioral and human science. Learners explore careers in case management, administration, counseling, and related helping professions. During their program, students develop the skills and knowledge they need to understand the roles and essential job functions of human services professionals. Topics include the importance of human growth and development and the elements of human service agencies. The curriculum highlights the legal, ethical, and multicultural issues that human services professionals must balance in their work.

Throughout their coursework, students develop oral and professional writing skills, with a focus on the importance of communication requirements in the field. The fully online format focuses primarily on the following core components: child, adolescent, or adult psychology and development; interpersonal skills; administration of human services organizations; social and cultural foundations; introduction to human services; research in learning and development; developmental psychology; and counseling theory and practice.

ETSU offers an accelerated program option for students who want to enroll in more credits each semester in order to graduate sooner.


Gordon State College 

Barnesville, GA Apply Now

About this school

Located in Barnesville, GSC belongs to the University System of Georgia. The college features three 15-week semesters in the fall, spring, and summer. The 235-acre campus houses residence halls, an indoor swimming facility, a recreation center for student activities, walking trails, and athletic fields. GSC offers associate and bachelor's programs to students across disciplines, including a bachelor's degree in human services.

The online bachelor's in human services prepares students to work with communities and individuals in order to improve the delivery and function of services at regional, local, and state levels. Graduates of the program can pursue job opportunities across a variety of settings, including vocational and rehabilitation facilities, government and private social service agencies, residential facilities treating the intellectually challenged and the elderly, and rehabilitation centers.

Unique among human services programs, the curriculum encompasses economics, business, and government courses, along with standard psychology and sociology courses. Graduates leave the program equipped to pursue graduate studies in the field; however, the primary focus of the curriculum is to provide degree-seekers with the practical real-world training they need to obtain employment in the field immediately upon graduating.

Throughout their courses, students learn to use a broad skill set to address human service needs and take on leadership roles. Graduates leave the program with the ability to effectively address human service challenges through a variety of contexts.


Touro University Worldwide 

Los Alamitos, CA Apply Now

About this school

A nonprofit university, TUW provides on-campus and online opportunities for students of all backgrounds. The university boasts cutting-edge technology and highly skilled academic faculty members and instructors. TUW belongs to a Jewish-sponsored system and promotes a military-friendly environment. Students can explore a variety of program opportunities at TUW, including a bachelor of arts in psychology with a concentration in human services.

The bachelor's degree in human services features an entirely online format with a rigorous curriculum to prepare students for graduate studies and careers across the human services field. Graduates often go on to work in a variety of settings, including churches, clinics, and social agencies. Career options include counseling, social work, and psychology.

In the human services concentration, degree-seekers integrate social work, psychology, and counseling as they develop the skills they need to help families and individuals navigate the challenges of society. Instructors in the program use their real-world experience to provide students with personal support.

The asynchronous online format caters to students who want to earn their degree while still working a full-time job. Full-time students who transfer in 60 credits can complete the program within two years. TUW highlights affordable tuition rates with no additional costs for textbooks, as well as plenty of scholarship opportunities.


Granite State College 

Concord, NH Apply Now

About this school

A public college located in Concord, GSC belongs to the University System of New Hampshire. Learners can pursue associate, bachelor's, master's, and post-baccalaureate programs for teacher education. The college boasts ample opportunities for transfer students, as well as online options for students who require a more flexible format as they earn their degree. Students can choose from a variety of programs, including a bachelor's degree in human services.

GSC's bachelor of science in human services features a rigorous curriculum which prepares learners to work with communities and individuals at local and state levels, providing various types of support. In order to tailor the degree to their career goals and personal interests, degree-seekers can pursue a concentration from the following areas: psychology, addictions studies, wellness and prevention, adult court advocacy, family studies, child court advocacy, education advocacy, and counseling foundations.

Throughout the program, learners develop skills in case management, human services and the helping process, social stratification and inequality, and law and ethics for healthcare and human services. Graduates leave the program ready to apply ethical principles to human services and related fields. Students learn how to communicate through different modes in order to fit the diverse needs of their clients.

Students can explore the transfer pathway as long as they hold a C grade or higher in their courses from their associate program.


Southern Wesleyan University 

Central, SC Apply Now

About this school

SWU in Central, South Carolina, is a private Christian university that provides students with the opportunity to earn associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees. Founded in 1906 by the Wesleyan Church, SWU offers around 35 major areas of study for undergraduate students, including a bachelor's degree in human services.

SWU's Social Sciences Division focuses on teaching students to understand corporate and individual human experiences and behaviors throughout cultural and historical contexts. The bachelor's in human services is a broad-based program based on a Christian viewpoint. The program's mission is to provide students with the knowledge and skills they need to thrive in positions across the social services field. Along with preparing learners for career opportunities, the program also serves as a gateway into graduate studies in the field.

Degree-seekers at SWU benefit can mold their degree to fit their personal interests and career goals by choosing a concentration. Concentration opportunities include counseling, administration, marriage and family services, and criminal justice. The 120-credit curriculum requires coursework, a capstone experience, and an internship requirement or an individually designed research project.

Coursework in the university's human services program meets the expected learning outcomes put in place by the Council for Standards in Human Services Education, allowing students to meet the requirements to become a human services board-certified practitioner.


Quincy University 

Quincy, IL Apply Now

About this school

A private liberal arts university located in Quincy, Illinois, QU features specialized schools for business and education. The Franciscan university also maintains four divisions: science and technology, fine arts and communication, humanities, and behavioral and social sciences. Degree-seekers at QU can pursue associate, bachelor's, and master's opportunities across a plethora of academic disciplines, including a prestigious bachelor's degree in human services.

QU's human services program provides students with a deeper perspective of the human services field, allowing them to prepare to best serve individuals, families, and communities across backgrounds. Throughout the rigorous curriculum, students explore a variety of topics, including leadership through organizational changes, appraisal and psychological testing, case management, and statistics and research methods.

QU's Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences boasts experienced faculty members dedicated to providing the highest quality education to students. The program offers internship and practicum opportunities to provide students with valuable in-the-field experience. Learners in the program have completed internships at Blessing Hospital, Recovery Resource, and the Department of Children and Family Services.

Applicants to QU can apply online or download a mail-in application. In addition to submitting their completed admissions application, students must provide their official high school transcripts, official ACT or SAT test scores, and a recommendation from their school counselor explaining why they would be a good fit for their program and what qualifications they possess.


University of Massachusetts-Amherst 

Amherst, MA Apply Now

About this school

A public research and land-grant university, UMass Amherst is the flagship campus of the University of Massachusetts system. Students can pursue over 100 undergraduate degrees, nearly 80 master's programs, and almost 50 doctoral degrees. Among its widespread program offerings, the university features a bachelor's degree in human services online.

The UMass bachelor of arts in human services emphasizes the skills and knowledge graduates need to thrive across careers such as social work, human services administration, child protective services, victim advocacy, disability services, mental health and substance abuse, counseling, and family support.

Applicants to UMass Amherst's bachelor's degree in human services must hold a minimum of 12 college credits with a 2.0 minimum GPA. Additionally, they must not have already earned a bachelor's degree from a United States college or university. Former UMass Amherst students do not need to meet the 2.0 minimum GPA requirement to regain admission. Application deadlines are in April and October.

UMass Amherst promotes credit for life experience, allowing students to earn up to 105 academic credits for military training, professional certifications and trainings, a portfolio, previous coursework, and credit exams and evaluations.


End of list, bravo!

The Advantages of an Human Services Education

An associate degree in human services can qualify individuals for entry-level job tasks such as interviewing clients, keeping track of case details, referring clients to resources, and completing paperwork. However, earning a bachelor's degree prepares graduates to offer some clinical support and case management. Bachelor's degree-holders usually earn higher salaries, and as they accrue work experience, they can compete for higher-paying administrative positions typically unavailable to those with associate degrees.

An online bachelor's degree in human services also provides a solid foundation for an advanced degree in human services or a related field, such as social work, public health, public administration, psychology, sociology, and others. Those interested in counseling clients often go on to earn their master's or doctoral degree in the field. These advanced graduate degrees require additional, specialized counseling coursework, as well as significant work experience under the supervision of a licensed clinical supervisor.

Average Salary by Degree Level

Degree Level Average Salary
Associate Degree in Human Services $36,000
Bachelor's Degree in Human Services $50,000

Source: PayScale

Human Services Degree Salary Information

An online human services bachelor's degree qualifies graduates for various human services roles within institutional, residential, and community contexts. These professionals often work directly with clients to provide support, organization, and resource referrals to clients facing environmental or mental health difficulties. The profession also requires individuals to demonstrate compassion, patience, and resilience in the face of daunting situations.

Some of the positions that work directly with clients include caseworkers, group home workers, elder care workers, youth workers, home health aids, or victims' advocacy specialists.

Meanwhile, those who do not wish to work directly with clients typically find work in the administration of a human services institution, organization, or system. Specialized human services management or administrative support positions — such as community coordinator or grant writer — play an essential role in making a human services organization run smoothly and efficiently.

Case Manager
A specific category of social worker, the case manager or case worker performs assessment of clients' needs and collaborates with them to create treatment plans. The case manager informs the client of available resources and aids the client in selecting the resources they need. Case workers and managers usually work full-time, carry a caseload of multiple clients with whom they work for extended periods of time, and track their clients' progress while also cultivating a professional relationship.
Social Worker
Social workers work directly with clients, helping them develop strategies for resolving the organizational, behavioral, vocational, relational, environmental, and other types of daily problems a client faces. Social workers refer clients to resources and actively advocate for clients to obtain the resources they need. Social workers typically work in human service agencies, schools, hospitals, mental health clinics, settlement houses, and private practices.
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselor
These counselors offer direct emotional and decision-making support to clients struggling with addiction, behavioral disorders, or other mental health issues. Counselors listen to clients' problems, diagnose and treat specific mental health conditions, and coach clients through navigating relationship, career, and other general life difficulties.
Social and Community Service Manager or Program Director
These professionals usually work at social service companies, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations. They oversee planning and daily operations for social service programs or community organizations, as well as supervise other staff, ensure that their organizations meet federal and state requirements, and gather data.
Grant Writer
Grant writers research and write grants to procure funding for the programs or organizations they serve. Grant writers search for grants that overlap in values or objectives to those of their program or organization, and then compose proposals which explain how the organization aligns with the mission or objectives of the foundation, donor, government program, or other funding source. After the organization secures and uses the funding, grant writers usually need to report on the funding's impact and outcomes for the organization or program.

Salary by Experience Level for Human Services Careers

Careers Entry Level(0-12 Months) Early Career(1-4 Years) Midcareer(5-9 Years) Experienced(10-19 Years)
Human Resources Manager $50,000 $58,000 $66,000 $72,000
Top Executive $53,000 $59,000 $70,000 $87,000
Management Analyst or Consultant $52,000 $60,000 $71,000 $75,000
Training and Development Manager $55,000 $63,000 $74,000 $85,000
Administrative Manager $49,000 $51,000 $58,000 $60,000

Source: PayScale

Choosing an Online Human Services Degree Program

Students have numerous options for their online human services bachelor's degree. However, learners should thoroughly research their options to ensure they select the best program for their specific career goals and schedule needs. For instance, in-state schools are typically more affordable and may allow those within a reasonable distance to supplement their online work with occasional in-person attendance.

Most distance programs feature an online curriculum that students can complete without ever visiting campus, although learners should plan to complete a required internship at a site near their home. Below we list an overview of factors to consider when choosing the best online human services bachelor's program.

  • Program Cost: Although online programs are typically more affordable than their brick-and-mortar equivalents, tuition prices can still add up, so students should choose a well-reputed, accredited, affordable program. They should also explore all possible funding avenues, such as scholarships, grants, and loans. Those who work in a related field should learn whether their employer will pay for some of their continuing education tuition, and those who already have some college credits should look for programs that will transfer those credits — thereby reducing the overall cost of a bachelor's degree.
  • Transfer Policies: Transferring credits can save you time and money, so if you have some previous college credits, you will benefit from choosing a program that accepts your prior credits. Keep in mind that many schools only accept credits from equivalently accredited schools, so prospective bachelor's degree students need to verify any transfer credit with a school's registrar. Some schools may have transfer agreements with one another, so learners should find out if their alma mater holds such agreements with any of your prospective bachelor's programs.
  • School Size and Type: Schools with smaller student-teacher ratios tend to offer more opportunities for mentorship, while larger schools give students a larger peer network. Excelling in a well-known private school or program can signal intelligence and ambition; however, for those planning a national job search, lesser-known private universities often do not boast the name recognition as bigger schools.
  • Program Length: Most programs take about four years to complete, but learners should consider whether intensive study in an accelerated program suits their schedule and desired graduation date. For those with time-consuming work or family obligations, a longer, slower-paced program — or even part-time attendance — may be the best approach.
  • On-Campus Requirements: Bachelor's programs with 100% online coursework options are available, though some online programs may be listed as hybrids and require partial attendance on campus. These requirements vary considerably, and they can include attendance one evening per week, one weekend residency per month, or one-week residencies in the summer. Depending on your schedule, a hybrid program's on-campus requirements can prove tricky, so take those expectations into consideration as you decide where to apply.

Accreditation for Online Human Services Degrees

As you research potential online human services degrees, consider each program's accreditation status. Many careers — including those in counseling and social work — require that you hold a degree from an accredited university or college in order to obtain clinical licensure. In addition, if you wish to pursue an advanced degree, earning your bachelor's degree from an accredited program is essential, as many master's and doctoral programs do not consider students who hold non-accredited bachelor's degrees.

Consider prioritizing schools that boast regional accreditation from agencies certified by the Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. Regionally accredited schools have voluntarily undergone an accreditation process that measures the school's academic rigor and resources. Consequently, students should look for schools accredited by regional accreditation agencies such as the Higher Learning Commission, the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, or the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Nationally accredited schools typically do not meet the rigorous regional standards, but they do undergo an accreditation process from national accrediting agencies. For-profit and vocational schools often hold national accreditation.

Human Services Concentrations

The field of human services includes a variety of job titles and work environments; therefore, most online human services bachelor's degree programs offer several concentrations to prepare learners for their career. These tracks allow students to specialize in areas such as applied behavioral science, child and family services, emergency management, health, and information technology.

  • Applied Behavioral Science: This concentration examines social issues and behavioral problems, with a focus on problem-solving, relationships, and building community. Interdisciplinary in nature, applied behavioral science concentrations involve coursework from psychology, law, ethics, and sociology disciplines. Students learn to act ethically and respect diversity, use concepts and research in problem-solving, communicate effectively using the formats common to human services, and apply the scientific method when assessing and designing interventions for social and behavioral problems.
    • Careers this concentration prepares for: Social worker; case manager; therapist; counselor; community coordinator; advocacy specialist
  • Child and Family Services: A concentration in child and family services explores how social issues influence child, family, and community well-being, as well as how federal and state policy affects human services delivery. Students also learn about child development and the effects of trauma and stress on adults and young people. Students who pursue this concentration are typically interested in schools, child and youth welfare, domestic violence agencies, family court, juvenile corrections, or family support agencies.
    • Careers this concentration prepares for: Case management, youth worker; social worker; marriage and family therapist
  • Emergency Management: The emergency management concentration prepares degree-holders to provide leadership in emergency situations caused by natural disasters, accidents, illness, violence, resource shortages, and many other factors. This concentration examines existing national, state, and local emergency response laws and systems. Learners also focus on strategies for preventing, stopping, and finding safety from emergency situations.
    • Careers this concentration prepares for: Public information officer; hospital emergency preparedness administrator; emergency management specialist; emergency management coordinator
  • Health: A health and human services concentration typically may serve as a terrific option for those interested in healthcare management, healthcare administration, health education, medical assisting, or medical technology careers in the healthcare industry. Healthcare careers often pay more than social work career tracks. According to the BLS, medical or health services managers earned a median annual salary of $99,730 in 2018.
    • Careers this concentration prepares for: Case manager; public health educator; health services assistant; health or medical services manager
  • Information Technology: Given that nearly all U.S. human service operations rely on electronic technologies, a concentration in information technology prepares learners with skills that translate into a variety of human services contexts. This combined knowledge of human services and technology makes students uniquely attractive to human service agencies.
    • Careers this concentration prepares for: Data engineer; network administrator; information security specialist

How Long Does It Take to Get a Degree in Human Services?

A bachelor's degree in human services is usually about 124 credits, which includes 54 credits of general education, 31 credits of electives, and 39 credits in core human services courses. Students also fulfill some of these credits through a supervised field experience — a requirement of many human services programs. Depending on the program, prior relevant work experience hours may count toward a bachelor's degree.

Those who hold an accredited associate degree with a minimum 2.75 GPA often qualify to transfer many of their prior credits; this can dramatically reduce the time-to-degree from four years to about two. Credit transfer also allows students to save considerably in tuition costs.

Some programs allow students to determine their own pace. For instance, students with considerable family or work obligations can attend courses part time, stretching their degree over a number of years. On the other hand, those who wish to take a faster track sometimes can take more courses simultaneously, reducing the time it takes to earn a degree. Consult the course descriptions below to learn more about common core human service courses.

Courses in an Online Bachelor's in Human Services Program

  • Case Management In a case management course, students explore human services-related theories and practices. The course unpacks topics such as ethics, boundaries, client engagement, group dynamics, and various support systems. Students have opportunities to apply this knowledge to real-world scenarios in which they assess client problems, prepare interventions and treatment plans, and refer clients to appropriate resources.
  • Introduction to Human Services This introductory course outlines the history, systems, and ethics of human services, as well as the variety of contexts and capacities in which human services professionals assist clients. The course also reviews social and behavioral theories and problems. Students reflect on their own personal values and how these influence their approach to human services.
  • Human Services Organizational Systems This course explores human service organizations' purpose, structure, and operational systems. Students also gain insight into behavioral principles, staff management, and funding processes common to human services organizations. The course demonstrates the big picture by explaining strategic planning and outcome assessment systems.
  • Social Science Research Methods Social science research methods courses introduce students to social science experiments, case studies, surveys, and other research modalities. The course highlights research flaws and other issues, and it teaches learners to think critically about conclusions drawn from research studies and other social science evidence. Students also learn to create professional social science research proposals.
  • Law and Ethics in Human Services To gain fluency in the laws that shape much of human services practice, students learn about topics such as parity, confidentiality, minor and parent rights, mandated reporting, guardianship, and involuntary commitment. The course also teaches students ethical principles and examines tensions that arise between ethics and law in human services work.

Paying for Your Online Bachelor's in Human Services Degree Program

Students pursuing an online bachelor's degree in human services can choose from a variety of financial aid resources. Most colleges encourage or even require their students to complete a FAFSA to determine how much and what types of federal aid they can receive. Federal aid includes student loans, which learners must repay after graduation, and grants, which don't require repayment. Degree-seekers can also pursue merit- and need-based scholarships, which don't mandate repayment after graduation either.

Scholarships for Accounting Students

Alex Esclamado Scholarship for Human Services

Who Can Apply: The National Federation of Filipino American Associations offers this scholarship annually to five Filipino students enrolled in accredited bachelor's programs to study human services, counseling, social work, sociology, or psychology. Applicants must hold a minimum 2.7 GPA and submit a letter of recommendation from a community service organization.

Amount: $1,000

Bethesda Lutheran Communities Scholarships

Who Can Apply: Available to active members of the Lutheran congregation pursuing bachelor's degrees in human services, these scholarships serve learners planning to work with people with intellectual or developmental disabilities. Applicants must meet a 3.0 minimum GPA, submit four letters of recommendation, provide a 300-word essay, and complete 100 hours of paid or volunteer service.

Amount: $3,000

Caroline Rose Foster Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Open to undergraduate and graduate students studying human services, this scholarship is offered by the Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired of New Jersey. Applicants must hold a 2.5 minimum GPA and submit a 300-word personal statement along with SAT/ACT scores.

Amount: $1,000

David C. Maloney Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Offered by the National Organization for Human Services, the David C. Maloney Scholarship provides financial assistance for students enrolled in associate, bachelor's, or master's programs for human services. Applicants must demonstrate a 3.2 minimum GPA at an accredited institution and submit two letters of recommendation, plus a 500-word personal essay.

Amount: $2,000

Derivative Duo Scholarship Program

Who Can Apply: The Derivative Duo Scholarship Program provides financial assistance to Washington residents pursuing undergraduate or graduate degrees in human services, mental health, or social services. Applicants must be part of the LGBTQ community and plan to pursue a human services career within that community.

Amount: $2,500