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If you want to make a difference in the lives of underserved populations, consider earning an online doctorate in human services. This terminal degree prepares students to take on leadership roles in organizations that serve people in need, such as those who suffer from addiction, poverty, mental illness, or abuse. Earning a doctorate in human services online prepares you to apply specialized skills and research to create effective policies, protocols, and legislation within human services organizations.

In the coming years, growing populations of people requiring medical and mental health services will drive an increase in human services positions. As a result, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects the need for social services managers to increase 18% between 2016 and 2026 — more than twice the average rate of growth for all other occupations in the country.

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Featured Schools

The Best Online Doctorate in Human Services Programs

#1

Capella University

School Information
Location Minneapolis, Minnesota
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission

Doctoral students seeking an online program benefit from the doctor in human services program at Capella University. At the private institution, degree-seekers complete a doctorate in a flexible environment. Doctoral students participate in career counseling and benefit from research support.

Learners complete 92 credits of doctoral classes in the human services program. After passing comprehensive examinations, doctoral candidates develop a dissertation that contributes original research to the field. A human services doctorate leads to job opportunities in research, academia, and leadership.

Doctoral students pay for the program with federal financial aid, fellowships, and scholarships. Prospective applicants can contact the program to learn more about research support, financial aid opportunities, and admission requirements.

Capella University at a Glance:

Online Master's Programs: 76

Online Doctoral Programs: 60

Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 27-to-1

Graduate Tuition Rate: $14,767

Accepts Transfer Credits: Accepted

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#2

University of Arizona Global Campus

School Information
Location Chandler, California
Graduation Rate 8%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

The online Ph.D. in human services program at the University of Arizona Global Campus ranks among the best in the field. The private university helps degree-seekers complete a doctorate in a flexible format. Doctoral students participate in career advising and gain research skills.

During the online human services program, learners take doctoral courses to earn their degree. After passing comprehensive examinations, doctoral candidates conduct research for their dissertation. With a doctorate in human services, graduates pursue academic, research, and industry roles.

Online doctoral students can pay for their degree with scholarships, fellowships, and other forms of financial aid. Prospective applicants can contact the program to learn more about financial aid opportunities and the admission process.

University of Arizona Global Campus at a Glance:

Online Master's Programs: 26

Online Doctoral Programs: 5

Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 14-to-1

Graduate Tuition Rate: $12,060

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#3

Walden University

School Information
Location Minneapolis, Minnesota
Graduation Rate 33%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission

The online Ph.D. in human services program at Walden University ranks among the best in the field. The private university offers flexible enrollment options for degree-seekers. Doctoral students receive research support throughout the program.

In the online human services program, learners complete doctoral-level coursework. After passing comprehensive examinations, doctoral candidates conduct research for their dissertation. Graduates with a human services doctorate pursue roles in research, academia, and leadership.

Online doctoral students can pay for their degree with scholarships, fellowships, and other forms of financial aid. Contact the human services program for more information about financial aid and the admission process.

Walden University at a Glance:

Online Master's Programs: 39

Online Doctoral Programs: 20

Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 17-to-1

Graduate Tuition Rate: $12,039

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Best Online Doctorate

Online Doctorate in Human Services Programs Ranking Guidelines

We selected these degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.

Our Methodology

Here at TheBestSchools.org, we take the trust and welfare of our readers very seriously. When making our school and program rankings, our top priority is ensuring that our readers get accurate, unbiased information that can help them make informed decisions about online education. That's why we've developed a rigorous ranking methodology that keeps the needs of our readers front and center.

Our proprietary, multi-criteria ranking algorithm analyzes key data indicators — as collected by the federal government — for each school or program. What data we use depends on the focus of each specific ranking, but in all cases, our ranking methodology is impartial: Schools cannot buy better rankings at TBS.

While specific criteria under consideration can vary by ranking, there are a few data points that we value most highly. They are affordability, academic quality, and online enrollment. Below, we break down our algorithm to help you understand what you're getting when you use one of our rankings.

  • Academics
  • Affordability
  • Online Enrollment

Data Sources

The data used in TBS rankings comes primarily from the federal government, and much of it is provided by the schools themselves. We aggregate and analyze this data to build our rankings.

The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) is our primary source. Its data comes from annual surveys conducted by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Every college, university, or technical school with access to federal financial aid must participate in these surveys, which include questions about enrollment, graduation rates, finances, and faculty qualifications. This is publicly available data, which you can access yourself through the College Navigator.

Additionally, because we value a personal touch and the professional experience of our staff and Academic Advisory Board, we vet all results and adjust rankings as necessary based on our collected knowledge of schools and degree programs. Depending on the ranking, we may obtain additional input from AcademicInfluence.com, subject matter experts, prior TBS ranking lists, or other sources we deem relevant to a particular ranking.

Breakdown of Our Rankings Methodology

About Our Ranking Factors

Here at TBS, we value what you value: quality education, affordability, and the accessibility of online education. These factors guide all of our program rankings.

Each of these factors are further broken down into weighted subfactors. For example, retention rates are weighted more heavily than availability of program options because they are a better indicator of student success.

We chose the following factors for our rankings because of their influence on learning experiences and graduate outcomes. However, students should always balance our rankings against their personal priorities. For instance, a learner who needs a fully online program may prioritize online flexibility more than our rankings do. Our rankings are designed to help you make a decision — not to make a decision for you.

Academics - 75%
Affordability - 15%
Online Enrollment - 10%

In all our school rankings and recommendations, we work for objectivity and balance. We carefully research and compile each ranking list, and as stated in our advertising disclosure, we do NOT permit financial incentives to influence rankings. Our articles never promote or disregard a school for financial gain.

If you have questions about our ranking methodology, please feel free to connect with our staff through contact page.

We thank you for your readership and trust.

Choosing an Online Human Services Program

If you plan to earn your doctorate in human services online, make sure to research each program’s offerings to find a program that serves your academic interests and career goals. Although programs may focus on similar learning outcomes, each boasts unique course offerings and program formats. Explore what specializations a program offers. Some human services programs, for instance, offer concentrations in nonprofit management, gerontology, mental health, criminal justice, military families, or social policy analysis. Decide whether a program’s course offerings meet your career aspirations.

Most human services doctorate programs offer a selection of foundational courses related to management, ethics and decision-making, and research methods, providing a blend of courses that explore human services and skills for effective organizational leadership. Beyond these foundational courses, programs may differ in what classes they offer and what they require of students. Some programs require a dissertation while others require workshops or professional residencies. Students looking to earn their human services doctoral degree online should consider these factors when deciding on a program that fits their schedule. They should also look into how long a program takes. Some schools offer accelerated tracks that help students earn their doctorate faster.

What Else Can I Expect From an Online Doctorate in Human Services Program?

This section explores the concentrations and course offerings typically found in online doctorate programs in human services. Although students can anticipate similar foundational course offerings, every program offers a unique curriculum.

Concentrations Offered for an Online Doctoral Degree in Human Services

Curriculum for an Online Doctoral Degree in Human Services

Online Doctorate in Human Services Careers

Those who earn their doctorate in human services enter a variety of fulfilling careers. They can work in mental health administration, nonprofit management, and elder care, finding employment in homeless shelters, rehabilitation clinics, or halfway houses. They can also work primarily with certain populations, such as military families, abused women, or children. Whatever field they enter, their goal remains to improve conditions and services for people in need.

  1. Social and Community Service Manager:
    Social and community service managers supervise and organize programs that serve the community, typically those housed within nonprofit organizations or government agencies. They oversee community service workers, locate funding opportunities, and organize outreach programs, working to improve programs and create more effective operations.
    • Median Annual Salary: $64,100
    • Projected Growth Rate: 18%
  2. Social and Human Services Assistant:
    Social and human services assistants typically help other social service workers support clients and their family members. They may assist social workers or work in rehabilitation clinics, connecting people with other means of support. They coordinate services for clients, such as applying for food stamps, and may help clients navigate activities as simple as eating and bathing.
    • Median Annual Salary: $33,120
    • Projected Growth Rate: 16%
  3. Training and Development Managers:
    Training and development managers work with employees at an organization to increase their overall knowledge, productivity, and effectiveness. They develop and oversee staff training and manage training budgets. They pinpoint an organization’s goals and work with employees and training instructors to achieve these goals.
    • Median Annual Salary: $108,250
    • Projected Growth Rate: 10%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

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