The Best Online Associate in Human Services Programs
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An online associate degree in human services can lead to a variety of roles in social work and healthcare.
The multidisciplinary degree examines foundational topics in psychology, social work, and biology, preparing graduates for entry-level human services jobs. Graduates can also pursue further study through a bachelor's program.
Human services professionals have strong job prospects. For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that jobs for social workers will increase 11% between 2018 and 2028.
This guide ranks the best online associate in human services programs to help students find the right programs for their needs. It also covers important information for prospective students, including common courses, educational options, and potential careers and salaries for graduates.
|#1||Cornerstone University Grand Rapids, MI|
|#2||Ohio Christian University Circleville, OH|
|#3||Columbia College Columbia, MO|
|#4||New England College Henniker, NH|
|#5||Western New Mexico University Silver City, NM|
|#6||Franklin Pierce University Rindge, NH|
|#7||Ocean County College Toms River, NJ|
|#8||Waukesha County Technical College Pewaukee, WI|
|#9||University of the Cumberlands Williamsburg, KY|
|#10||Madisonville Community College Madisonville, KY|
Featured Online Schools
The Best Online Associate in Human Services Programs
At Cornerstone University, students can earn a human services associate degree online, preparing them for entry-level roles in areas like counseling, youth services, social work, and education.
The 62-credit program covers topics like interviewing and counseling, introduction to human services, philosophy in culture, and current social issues. All students must complete a field experience or an applied project to culminate the degree. Students take one class at a time.
As a Christian university, Cornerstone's program appeals to students considering both religious and secular jobs. Many graduates work in ministry positions.
Admission requirements include an application fee, a high school diploma or GED, official transcripts, and at least two years of full-time work experience. International students must also supply TOEFL or IELTS scores. Regardless of where they live, all online students at Cornerstone pay the same tuition rate.
Ohio Christian University is affiliated with the Churches of Christ and offers an online associate degree in human services. The program features courses taught through a Christian lens, preparing graduates to use their faith to address human service needs.
The 60-credit program takes two years of full-time study to complete and does not lead to licensure. Classes include introduction to human services, applied skills for helping professions, opportunities in social issues, and public and private services.
Applicants need a high school diploma or GED. All online students pay the same tuition rate regardless of residency. Active-duty military receive a tuition discount.
Established in 1851, Columbia College is a private liberal arts institution that offers an online human services associate degree. Some learners may need to visit the Columbia campus to complete all degree requirements.
The 60-credit, online associate degree in human services features courses in working with communities and organizations, minority cultures and relations, introduction to human services, and working with groups and families. Learners can use 15 elective credits to tailor the degree to their interests.
Applicants must hold a high school diploma or equivalent and submit unofficial transcripts. All online students pay the same tuition rate regardless of residency. Military students enjoy a tuition discount. Graduates can pursue entry-level roles in case management, administration and planning, probation and
In this program, learners examine topics like overcoming prejudice and discrimination, writing and research in the social sciences, client assessment and planning, and delivery of human services. Learners can also choose from several electives to customize the degree to their interests and goals.
Graduates can pursue careers in social work, mental health, community outreach, and client advocacy. They can also pursue a bachelor's degree in a related field. The program offers seven start dates per year. Applicants must hold a high school diploma or GED and submit transcripts.
Founded in 1893, Western New Mexico University hosts around 3,500 students each year. The fully online associate in human services program features asynchronous coursework and emphasizes professional, generalist social work training.
The 64-credit program includes 34 general education credits and 26 human services core credits. Human services classes include introduction to human services, principles of diversity, individual and family development, and ethics in social work and human services.
Graduates can work in halfway houses, government offices, and correctional facilities. They can also transfer to a bachelor's program and earn degrees in areas like nursing, social work, criminal justice, or mental health counseling.
Founded in 1962, Franklin Pierce University is a private, nonprofit institution that hosts around 2,000 students each year. Franklin Pierce hosts a main campus in Rindge, several satellite campuses across the state, and an online learning platform.
Franklin Pierce's online associate of arts degree in human services focuses on individual and community empowerment while emphasizing the political, fiscal, and administrative infrastructures that allow human services systems to operate effectively.
The 60-credit, interdisciplinary program examines ideas and concepts from psychology, sociology, social work, criminology, and business. Students take courses like child and adolescent development, research methods, and grassroots activism for social change.
Applicants must hold a high school diploma or equivalent and submit transcripts.
Ocean County College hosts a main campus in Toms River, New Jersey; more than 20 satellite locations; and an online learning division. OCC's online associate of science in public service offers concentrations in human services, fire science, public administration, and social work.
The 60-credit program includes general education and public service courses alongside electives focused on the student's concentration. Human services courses include introduction to social work, developmental disabilities, and human behavior. Learners can choose from electives in areas like addiction counseling, homeland security, and emergency services.
Nearly 25% of the school's more than 8,000 students take online courses. Applicants must hold a high school diploma or GED and submit transcripts.
Located just west of Milwaukee, Waukesha County Technical College hosts approximately 23,000 students each year. The suburban institution offers a variety of degree and certificate programs, including many online options.
WCTC's 60-credit, online associate of applied science in human services offers two tracks: mental health and addictions studies. Both tracks combine practical experiences with coursework in social work, psychology, and sociology. The addiction studies track serves as a pathway into an accredited substance abuse counselor certification program. Along with the associate degree, WCTC offers certificates in developmental disabilities and youth care counseling.
Graduates can work as counselors, case managers, and human services technicians. They can also pursue further study with a bachelor's degree.
Located in southeastern Kentucky, University of the Cumberlands has offered academic and technical training since 1888. A private Christian university, the institution hosts more than 13,000 students each year. Students can choose from a variety of fully online degrees, including a human services associate degree that focuses on foundational social work skills and values.
The 60-credit program includes 18 human services core credits. Core classes include survey of human services, introduction to sociology, basic counseling skills, and human behavior and group dynamics.
As a religious university, Cumberlands delivers programs through a Christian lens, focusing on servant leadership. Propelled by the university's dedication to service, graduates can work as probation officers, drug abuse counselors, and life skills instructors. They can also transfer to a bachelor's program.
Madisonville Community College is one of 16 schools in the Kentucky Community College and Technical College System. MCC offers a variety of associate degrees, technical diplomas, and certificates, including many online options.
MCC's online human services associate degree trains students for careers in community support, mental health, and social services. In addition to general education courses, students take human services classes like human services survey, values of human services in a contemporary society, group dynamics, and theories and techniques in human services.
The 60-credit program takes two years of full-time study to complete. MCC also offers a variety of related certificates in areas like aging services, psychiatric mental health technician, recovery coach, and aging services. MCC maintains reciprocity agreements with several four-year institutions, such as University of Kentucky, University of Louisville, and Murray State University.
Founded in 1946 as the first community college in Maryland, Hagerstown Community College serves more than 15,000 students annually through approximately 100 academic programs. The school's 60-credit, online associate degree in human services prepares students to transfer to a four-year degree.
Students take both general education courses and human services classes, including courses like understanding diversity in the helping professions, social work with groups, and introduction to human services and social work. Students can tailor the degree to their interests using 13-15 elective credits. Elective options include personal health, macroeconomic principles, juvenile delinquency, and professionalism in the workplace.
The school holds articulation agreements with Shepherd University and Salisbury University, allowing graduates to seamlessly transfer to a bachelor's degree. Applicants need a high school diploma or equivalent.
Herkimer County Community College hosts more than 2,000 students annually in its degree, certificate, and diploma programs. Herkimer's Internet Academy offers 20 online degrees and more than 150 online classes. The school's online AAS in human services gives students the skills and knowledge they need to affect meaningful change working in for-profit and nonprofit organizations.
The program includes general education and human services requirements. Human services courses examine topics like introduction to case management, social problems, and biology of aging. During their final two semesters, students complete a 120-hour practicum at a human services organization.
Students can pursue an optional CarePath coach certification. This certification, offered in concert with the Mental Health Association of New York, prepares students to help families and individuals transition out of mental/physical rehabilitation environments.
Northcentral Technical College is part of the Wisconsin Technical College System. Founded in 1912, NTC educates approximately 6,000 students each year. The student-focused institution emphasizes diversity, ingenuity, and accessible educational opportunities.
NTC's 61-credit, fully online associate degree in human services helps students build cultural awareness and a compassionate understanding of diverse cultural groups. In addition to general education courses, students take human services classes like counseling methods, diversity studies, and interpersonal communication. Students culminate the degree with an internship at an approved human services site.
Students learn how to cultivate professional relationships, access community resources, and demonstrate ethical and professional standards. Graduates can pursue entry-level roles in human services or transfer to a four-year program.
Finger Lakes Community College is part of the State University of New York system and hosts about 6,000 students each year. FLCC offers affordable online and on-campus academic opportunities in more than 50 areas of study.
FLCC's online associate in human services degree focuses on professional development and community enrichment. The partially online program includes some on-campus requirements. Courses cover topics like human services in contemporary America, case management, and counseling. Students also gain practical experience through internships in settings such as children's centers, rape crisis centers, and reproductive rights organizations.
Additionally, human services students participate in community-focused projects, such as food and clothing drives, organized fundraising, and other volunteer work. Graduates can transfer to four-year institutions or work as counselors, caregivers, or advocates.
Founded in 1966, Iowa Central Community College hosts more than 5,000 students through diverse degree and certificate programs, including many online options. ICCC offers a fully online, 67-credit human services associate degree that includes general education, elective, and human services core classes.
Human services classes include introduction to human services, counseling theories, human behavior, and human disabilities and services. Students can tailor the degree to their interests through 12 elective credits, choosing from classes like social problems, child psychology, and women's issues. In addition to coursework, students participate in a practicum, gaining experience in the field.
Graduates can work as public health workers, fundraisers, counselors, and victim advocates. They can also transfer to a bachelor's program.
Rhodes State College specializes in associate degrees and shares a campus with The Ohio State University's Lima location. The college offers an online associate of applied science in human service technology that prepares learners to enter the workforce after graduation. The hybrid program offers more than 50% of its coursework online.
The 64-credit program examines case management practice, issues and ethics of helping, dynamics of mental illness, and crisis management. Students complete a community service requirement during their first year and a practicum during their final year. They must also develop a portfolio that demonstrates what they learned during the program.
Graduates can pursue social work assistant and human services board-certified professional credentials. The college features open enrollment. Applicants must pay a non-refundable application fee.
Niagara County Community College hosts around 5,000 students each year. The institution offers a fully online associate of arts in human services that admits new learners during the fall, spring, and summer semesters. Full-time students can graduate in two years.
The 64-credit program includes courses on disabilities and aging, human services research and synthesis, diversity in chemical dependency counseling, and the helping process. Students can use six elective credits to explore topics like chemical dependency counseling, disability studies, early childhood education, gerontology, and social work. Learners must also participate in a semester-long internship.
Admission to the online associate degree in human services requires high school transcripts, placement test scores, and a financial aid application. In-state students enjoy a tuition discount. NCCC holds articulation agreements with several schools in New York to facilitate seamless transfers to bachelor's programs.
Genesee Community College hosts six campuses across New York and has an online division. The school's Department of Human Services offers online AAS and AS in human services programs. The AS program prepares students to transfer to a bachelor's program, while the AAS program prepares students to enter the workforce immediately after graduation.
Both programs comprise 62 credits and offer about 75% of courses online. Students must complete the rest of the program requirements on campus in Batavia. Both programs include core courses in alcohol and drug use/abuse, introduction to human services, interpersonal skills, and general psychology. All students must participate in a human service internship during their final semester.
Applicants must hold a high school diploma or equivalent and submit ACT, SAT, or ACCUPLACER scores.
Part of the Maine Community College System, Central Maine Community College educates 2,700 students each year. The school's fully online associate degree in human services offers a flexible schedule that allows students to balance their studies with personal and professional responsibilities. The program offers concentrations in human services and addiction.
The 63-64-credit program covers developmental disabilities and psychosocial rehabilitation, aspects of disability and vocation, issues in diversity, and interviewing and counseling. Graduates can work in settings like hospitals, mental health centers, senior assistant homes, and substance abuse facilities. They can also transfer to a bachelor's program, though students intending to transfer to a bachelor's program are strongly encouraged to take a higher-level human services elective during the program.
Applicants must submit a non-refundable application fee, official transcripts, and ACT, SAT, or ACCUPLACER scores. CMCC offers some of the lowest tuition rates in the region. Maine residents enjoy a tuition discount.
Minot State University hosts nearly 4,000 undergraduate and graduate learners each year. The school's online associate degree in human services offers a unique concentration in intellectual and developmental disabilities.
The 66-credit program covers topics like healthcare for developmental disabilities, intro to positive behavior supports, assisting people with traumatic brain injuries, and dual diagnoses: ID and mental health disorders. The degree concludes with a field experience at a clinic or agency focused on intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Applicants must hold a high school diploma or equivalent and submit transcripts and ACT or SAT test results. All online learners pay the same tuition rate regardless of residency. Online students receive access to an online library, academic advising and support, technology assistance, and disability support.
Founded as the first public community college in New Jersey, Union County College dates back to 1933. Today, the institution serves more than 11,000 online and in-person students. Degree-seekers looking for an online associate degree in human services can enroll in the school's AS in social services.
The 60-credit program includes classes like introduction to social policy and welfare, psychology of adulthood and aging, psychology of personality, and minorities in American life. Students also participate in a co-op requirement during their final year to gain practical experience in the field.
UCC maintains reciprocity agreements with several schools that offer bachelor's programs in complementary subjects. Applicants must hold a high school diploma or GED and submit transcripts and SAT scores. Union County residents enjoy a tuition discount.
Monroe Community College is part of the State University of New York system and hosts about 12,000 students annually. The online associate degree in human services is designed for learners who want to transfer to a bachelor's program after graduation.
The 62-64-credit hybrid program offers more than 50% of its coursework online. Classes include studies in models of helping, introduction to human services, small group communication, and basic helping skills. During their first three semesters, students complete fieldwork at an approved local site.
Applicants need a high school diploma or equivalent. In-state students enjoy a tuition discount.
SUNY Broome Community College serves more than 6,000 learners annually through both traditional and online degree paths. Established in 1946, the school is part of the State University of New York system. Students at SUNY Broome can earn a human services associate degree online, preparing them to transfer to a four-year program.
The 64-credit program includes courses such as human exceptionalism and its assessment, introduction to counseling theory and practice, communicating about ideas and values, and human services public policy. Students culminate the degree with a human service field experience at an approved local organization.
The school offers open enrollment. Admission requirements include a high school diploma or GED/TASC and eligibility for Federal Ability to Benefit. SUNY Broome offers several scholarships and grants for students, and New York residents receive a tuition discount.
Onondaga Community College is part of the State University of New York system. The college offers an online associate of science in human services that leads to professional and academic opportunities in areas like case management, social work, and counseling.
The 62-credit program takes two years of full-time study to complete. Learners study topics like human services theory and resources, introduction to counseling, and introduction to social work practice. Students culminate the degree with a semester-long practicum at an approved local site, gaining experience in the field. Learners must maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA to graduate.
Applicants need a high school diploma or GED. Some candidates must complete an admission interview. In-state students enjoy a tuition discount.
Bluegrass Community and Technical College is a public institution and one of 16 schools in the Kentucky Community and Technical College System. At BCTC, students can earn a human services associate degree online, preparing them for entry-level roles in mental health, chemical dependency, child and youth services, and family support.
The 60-credit program takes two years of full-time study to complete. Major topics include values of human services in a contemporary society, foundational skills in paraprofessional practice, service coordination for human services professionals, and working with disabilities in human services. Learners can tailor the degree to their interests through nine elective credits.
Applicants must hold a high school diploma or GED and submit transcripts and SAT or ACT scores. In-state students enjoy a tuition discount.
Online Associate in Human Services Programs Ranking Guidelines
We selected the following human services degree programs based on their quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.
Frequently Asked Questions
Human services focuses on improving the lives of diverse populations by connecting individuals and communities with resources and services to meet their needs. Many healthcare and social work jobs are considered human services professions.
A human services degree teaches students how to help various populations — particularly vulnerable individuals and communities — use services and resources to get their needs met.
Most associate degrees in human services take two years of full-time study to complete, though accelerated programs also exist.
Graduates with an associate degree in human services may work in jobs related to social work, but professional social workers typically need at least a bachelor's degree to practice. Some states require social workers to have a master's degree and a license.
The best colleges for human services degrees offer accredited programs that adequately prepare students for their intended career paths.
A bachelor of science in human services includes courses in case management, lifespan development, and public policy. Graduates can pursue entry-level social work jobs or go on to a master's degree in social work program.
Salaries vary by experience, job, and education, but the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that social workers made median annual salaries that ranged between $44,000 and $64,000 in 2018.
What Is Human Services
Human services professionals include counselors, psychologists, and social workers — careers unified in their dedication to serving individuals and communities, especially in times of crisis. Most places require human services workers, especially in low-income, high-risk communities. People with patience, compassion, and a commitment to serving others are prime candidates for human services jobs.
Human services professionals typically specialize in particular populations, needs, or services, such as substance abuse counseling, child and family social work, or health education. They may also assume roles as social services administrators, school social workers, or probation officers.
Earning an associate in human services degree provides students with knowledge and skills in areas like client interaction, public policy, and ethics, preparing them for a variety of entry-level human services roles. Graduates can also pursue further study through a bachelor's or master's program.
What Is a Human Services Associate Degree?
A human services associate degree introduces students to foundational topics in psychology, sociology, and social work. The degree typically takes two years of full-time study to complete, and graduates qualify for positions like social services assistant and human services assistant. Graduates can also pursue further study through a bachelor's program, often earning the degree with just two additional years of study.
Most associate in human services programs require a high school diploma or equivalent and high school transcripts for admission. Some schools have a minimum GPA requirement and request letters of recommendation and SAT or ACT scores to apply.
Choosing an Online Associate in Human Services Program
Students should consider the following factors when researching the best online associate in human services programs.
While costs vary by program, associate degrees tend to cost less than bachelor's degrees. It is also usually cheaper to attend a school in your home state than it is to enroll out of state. However, some schools allow all online students to pay the same tuition rate regardless of residency.
Students with prior experience should research each prospective program's transfer policies. Many programs offer transfer credit for prior experience, including academic, professional, or military experience, which can minimize the length and cost of a degree.
A school's size and type — such as whether it is a small private school or a large public institution — can affect class sizes, tuition rates, and student engagement. Smaller schools offer more personalized experiences, but they also tend to cost more than larger schools. Community colleges also tend to cost less than four-year schools.
While most associate degrees take two years to complete, many programs offer accelerated timelines that allow students to graduate sooner.
Though rare, some online associate degrees in human resources have on-campus requirements. Students should ensure they can meet these requirements before committing to a program.
Some associate degrees require a capstone experience to close the degree, though this is more common in a bachelor's program. Students may also need to complete clinical or practicum requirements.
What Will I Learn in an Online Associate in Human Services Program?
Courses vary by program, but the following list outlines several common courses found in human services programs.
- Developmental Psychology: This course explores growth and development across the human lifespan. Coursework covers social, emotional, moral, physical, and intellectual development and developmental theories. Many programs require students to complete a prerequisite in introductory psychology before enrolling in this course.
- Introduction to Social Work: Students in this course study foundational social work theories, competencies, and values. Learners also examine various types of social work — like case work or community organization — and potential career paths for social workers.
- Social Issues in Diversity: This course teaches students how to apply their knowledge in a equitable way when serving diverse populations. Students typically examine case studies and perform research to better understand the needs of minority populations like Native Americans, religious minorities, or the LGBTQ community.
Human Services Careers
A human services degree qualifies graduates for positions in human services, social work, and community leadership. Graduates with an associate in human services can pursue entry-level jobs — like a human services assistant — or further study through a bachelor's degree, which expands career and salary opportunities. We cover several common human services careers and potential salaries below.
Social and human services assistants typically work under the supervision of a licensed social worker or psychologist to provide guidance and support to various populations. These professionals often collaborate with other social and human services workers to ensure their clients have access to resources and services.
They may conduct interviews with clients to determine their needs and help clients complete paperwork and apply for resources like Medicaid, food stamps, and social security benefits. Students with an associate in human services qualify for entry-level assistant positions.
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Social and community service managers develop and implement public service programs tailored to community needs. They may work in settings like nonprofit organizations, neighborhood youth centers, or community recreation programs.
These professionals often oversee fundraising for an organization, collect data on community needs and services, develop and implement community programs, and represent organizations through speaking engagements. Most social and community service management jobs require a bachelor's degree in social work or a related field.
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Social workers assist individuals and families enduring financial, medical, social, or interpersonal challenges. They may serve individuals through direct service or through clinical social work. Direct-service social workers help clients with personal issues like divorce, illness, or unemployment. This type of social work job typically requires a bachelor's in social work.
Clinical social workers diagnose and treat emotional, mental, and behavioral disorders, such as anxiety, substance abuse, or depression. They consult with physicians and other healthcare professionals to develop comprehensive treatment plans for clients. Clinical social workers typically need a master's degree in social work and a state-issued license.
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Educational Paths for Online Human Services Associate Programs
In addition to entry-level jobs, an online associate in human services prepares students to pursue a bachelor's degree in disciplines like psychology, sociology, or human services. Generally, bachelor's degrees in human services and related majors enable students to pursue more specialized study than associate degrees. These programs also expand employment and salary potential. The following list outlines several common bachelor's majors for graduates with an associate in human services.
- Human Services: Bachelor's in human services programs expand on the knowledge and skills students gain in associate programs by examining more advanced concepts. Courses cover topics like abnormal psychology, addiction, and intervention strategies. In addition to coursework, many bachelor's degrees in human services require an internship to give students practical experience.
- Psychology: A bachelor's in psychology emphasizes research and critical thinking skills, preparing students for jobs like substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselor. The degree also prepares students to pursue graduate study. Coursework examines various aspects of psychology, such as emotional, social, and behavioral psychology. Some programs require a practicum or field experience; most culminate in a capstone or thesis.
- Sociology: Bachelor's in sociology programs examine social groups, social behavior, and social services. Students build research, communication, and problem-solving skills through coursework in statistics, psychological theory, and principles of sociology. Some programs require a capstone course to culminate the degree.
Accreditation for Online Associate in Human Services Degrees
When researching the best online associate degree in human services, students should only consider accredited schools. Accreditation indicates that a school meets high standards with respect to faculty qualifications, academic rigor, and student learning outcomes. Accreditation expands students' employment, education, and financial aid opportunities.
In general, schools can be regionally or nationally accredited, with regional accreditation generally considered the more prestigious of the two. The U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation oversee accrediting bodies. For a human services degree, students should choose a regionally accredited school.
Individual programs within a school may also receive accreditation. Human services programs sometimes hold accreditation from the Council for Standards in Human Service Education (CSHSE). CSHSE accredits associate, bachelor's, and master's programs in human services. Students seeking the human services board-certified practitioner credential must complete a human services program with CSHSE accreditation.
Human Services Professional Organizations
Human services students and professionals can take advantage of professional organizations. Many organizations offer benefits like networking, professional development, financial aid, and continuing education opportunities.
American Public Health Association
APHA serves more than 25,000 health professionals and advocates about public health issues. Members have access to special interest groups, an annual meeting and expo, exclusive webinars, and discounts on continuing education opportunities.
American Public Health Services Association
APHSA represents both state and local health and human service agencies, connecting its members with human services policymakers and organizations. APHSA members also have access to exclusive networking and research opportunities.
National Organization for Human Services
NOHS promotes systematic policy change for the greater good. NOHS members can access exclusive publications, NOHS web content, scholarships and grants, and discounted national conferences. There is also a membership discount for students.
Health Resources and Services Administration
An agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, HRSA provides aid for vulnerable populations. It offers medical practitioner and health center directories on its website and funds human services research through grants and scholarships.
National Human Services Assembly
Based in Washington, D.C., the National Assembly comprises some of the nation's largest nonprofit organizations. Members have access to discounts on professional products and services, networking events, industry publications, and policy research.
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