Best Online Associate in Human Services

TBS Staff Writers
by
Updated July 3, 2024
Find the best online associate in human services degree with our list of top-rated schools that offer accredited online associate degrees.

Are you ready to discover your college program?

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.

Featured Online Human Services Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

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Best Online Associate in Human Services Programs

#1 Best Online Associate in Human Services

Cornerstone University

  • Location-markerGrand Rapids, MI
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$27,040
  • Out-of-state$27,040
  • Retention Rate80%
  • Acceptance Rate82%
  • Students Enrolled1,781
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment26%
  • AccreditationYes
#2 Best Online Associate in Human Services

Ohio Christian University

  • Location-markerCircleville, OH
  • 2 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$13,045
  • Out-of-state$13,045
  • Retention Rate61%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled1,600
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment81%
  • AccreditationYes
#3 Best Online Associate in Human Services

Columbia College

  • Location-markerColumbia, MO
  • 2 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$11,636
  • Out-of-state$11,636
  • Retention Rate65%
  • Acceptance Rate73%
  • Students Enrolled895
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment77%
  • AccreditationYes
#4 Best Online Associate in Human Services

New England College

  • Location-markerHenniker, NH
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$27,108
  • Out-of-state$27,108
  • Retention Rate61%
  • Acceptance Rate96%
  • Students Enrolled2,815
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment45%
  • AccreditationYes
#5 Best Online Associate in Human Services

Western New Mexico University

  • Location-markerSilver City, NM
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$4,417
  • Out-of-state$11,400
  • Retention Rate71%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled3,013
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment82%
  • AccreditationYes
#6 Best Online Associate in Human Services

Franklin Pierce University

  • Location-markerRindge, NH
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$38,100
  • Out-of-state$38,100
  • Retention Rate73%
  • Acceptance Rate89%
  • Students Enrolled1,777
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment29%
  • AccreditationYes
#7 Best Online Associate in Human Services

Ocean County College

  • Location-markerToms River, NJ
  • 2 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$5,790
  • Out-of-state$8,100
  • Retention Rate69%
  • Acceptance Rate100%
  • Students Enrolled7,321
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment40%
  • AccreditationYes
#8 Best Online Associate in Human Services

Waukesha County Technical College

  • Location-markerPewaukee, WI
  • 2 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$4,303
  • Out-of-state$6,455
  • Retention Rate71%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled7,357
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment22%
  • AccreditationYes
#9 Best Online Associate in Human Services

University of the Cumberlands

  • Location-markerWilliamsburg, KY
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$9,875
  • Out-of-state$9,875
  • Retention Rate67%
  • Acceptance Rate85%
  • Students Enrolled19,272
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment95%
  • AccreditationYes
#10 Best Online Associate in Human Services

Madisonville Community College

  • Location-markerMadisonville, KY
  • 2 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$4,296
  • Out-of-state$15,048
  • Retention Rate67%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled3,239
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment55%
  • AccreditationYes

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.

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 include counselors, psychologists, and social workers — careers unified in their dedication to serving individuals and communities, especially in times of crisis.

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.

  • Program Cost: 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.
  • Transfer Policies: 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.
  • School Size and Type: 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.
  • Program Length: While most associate degrees take two years to complete, many programs offer accelerated timelines that allow students to graduate sooner.
  • On-Campus Requirements: 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.
  • Thesis, Fellowship, and Work Requirements: 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

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.

Median Annual Salary

$33,750

Projected Growth Rate

13%

Social and Community Service Managers

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.

Median Annual Salary

$65,320

Projected Growth Rate

13%

Social Workers

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.

Median Annual Salary

$49,470

Projected Growth Rate

11%

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.

Featured Online Human Services Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Human Services?

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.

What Is a Human Services Degree?

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.

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

Most associate degrees in human services take two years of full-time study to complete, though accelerated programs also exist.

Can You Be a Social Worker With a Human Services Degree?

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.

What Is the Best College for Human Services?

The best colleges for human services degrees offer accredited programs that adequately prepare students for their intended career paths.

What Is a BS in Human Services?

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.

How Much Can You Make With a Human Services Degree?

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.

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