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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD): Online Human Services Degree

Get info about online doctorate degree programs in human services. Read about program requirements, course topics and degree levels, and check out career and continuing education options.

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Essential Information

Many schools offer Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Human Services programs that can be completed online. However, students typically must attend yearly colloquia on campus to fulfill program residency requirements. These sessions allow individuals to meet peers and faculty members, conduct research, attend conferences and present their dissertations publicly. A master's degree and three years of experience are typically required for experience. Students can enroll in classes covering social change, advocacy, ethics, leadership development and human motivation. Graduates can work in healthcare management, nonprofit management and community service management.

Ph.D. in Human Services

Online Ph.D. programs teach students leadership practices and procedures. They cover the complex issues that affect organizations and train candidates to develop and implement policy initiatives. Students also gain exposure to the standards and conventions of policy research. Some programs offer specializations, such as public health or social policy.

Information and Requirements

The coursework for a Ph.D. in Human Services program spans about three years. However, Ph.D. students are required to develop research and write a dissertation, which increases the time it takes to graduate. Prospective students need to have a master's degree and at least three years of professional experience.

Common Coursework

Other than the admissions requirements outlined above, there are no prerequisites for the Ph.D. in Human Services program. At the doctoral degree level, there are no general education requirements. Core courses of the program are described below.

Research Methods

Students study the fundamentals of qualitative and quantitative research, training in best approaches of data collection for particular research endeavors. Students design research plans and learn to interpret large data sets utilizing statistical software.

Social Change and Leadership

Students examine the tendencies and traits particular to human service leaders. They then utilize these characteristics to understand and approach solutions to multivariate social issues.

Strategic Planning and Organizations

This course approaches strategic planning as it applies to increasing organizational efficiency and improving resource allocation. Students develop skills for administration, including strategies for fund and policy development.

Ethics and Social Justice

This course teaches effective methods for principled decision-making, both at an individual and an institutional level. Additionally, students learn how economic disparity or power influences issues of social justice; they gain tools to improve organizational services while taking into account these considerations.


Career Information

Ph.D. in Human Services recipients may elect to work as health service managers, emergency service managers or social service managers. For the 2014-2024, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) anticipates faster-than-average growth of 17% for medical and health services managers due to the aging of the Baby Boomer generation. The BLS reported as of May 2015 that median salary for the nation's 314,950 medical and health services managers was $94,500.

During the same BLS reporting period, the median salary of the 119,770 social and community service managers employed nationally $63,530, and the BLS predicted an increase in job opportunities of 10% from 2014-2024.

Fully-online Ph.D. in Human Services programs provide students with the practical research and organization skills necessary to lead organizations that advocate public policy. Graduates may work in the health service, social service or emergency service fields as managers.

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