Human Services Degree and Course Information

Degree programs in human services equip students with the techniques and knowledge to help and counsel individuals in their community. Studies can be pursued at the bachelor's, master's and doctorate levels.

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Essential Information

A Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Human Services prepares students for entry into the field in a variety of settings, while a Master of Science (M.S.) equips graduates for advanced positions in the operation of human services organizations. Applicants to master's programs must hold a bachelor's degree. In addition, candidates generally are required to have completed undergraduate coursework in areas such as family guidance, group behavior sociology and organizational psychology.

A Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) is required for candidates seeking senior-level roles or teaching placement at the postsecondary level. While candidates must generally hold a master's degree before applying, some institutions may consider bachelor's degree holders. However, their undergraduate coursework must meet department requirements in areas such as research design, community psychology and case management.

Field experience is generally required to complete graduate degrees in human services.

Bachelor of Science in Human Services

Students in a human services program explore concepts in helping people cope with a variety of concerns and problems that affect their lives, such as substance abuse, disability and domestic violence. Areas of focus include instruction in human services skills such as counseling, social work and psychology.

This baccalaureate program is comprised of classes that emphasize the roles and responsibilities of human services professionals and their application in a variety of community services settings. Possible subjects covered in the curriculum are:

  • Introduction to human services
  • Social and developmental psychology
  • Professional skills for counseling
  • Models of effective helping
  • Advocacy and mediation

Master of Science in Human Services

Master's degree candidates study advanced theoretical and practical concepts in human behavior systems in both individuals and groups. Topics of discussion include models of intervention and treatment, core values of the human services worker and the needs of clients. Students gain experience in effective operation of human service programs from grant writing, management of staff, budgeting and organizational communications.

Students in this program have the ability specialize in disciplines such as social service, education, government, public safety and health care. Some possible subjects covered include:

  • Professional ethics
  • Applied research methods
  • Financial modeling of human service programs
  • Interviewing and assessment skills
  • Social service administration

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  • Adult Development and Aging
  • Child Care Management
  • Child Care Services
  • Child Development
  • Community Organization and Advocacy
  • Family and Community Services
  • Family Systems
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  • Social Work
  • Youth Services

Ph.D. in Human Services

Doctoral degree programs generally provide the highest level of study and research in the human services field. Program lengths vary; however, most require 35-50 hours of upper-tier coursework in addition to previously completed master's degree credits in the field. Most institutions require the completion and defense of a doctoral dissertation to fulfill the degree curriculum.

Classes comprise of advanced studies and specialized research in areas including adult development, diversity, counseling and public health. Course subjects include:

  • Organizational management and leadership
  • Human services administration
  • Fundamentals of social science research
  • Ethics and decision-making in health care
  • Social theory

Popular Career Options

Graduates are generally equipped to seek advanced and senior-level positions in a variety of settings where human services are required to serve the needs of the community. Some career options include:

  • Social work manager
  • Residential counselor
  • Child advocate

Employment and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that, from 2014 to 2024, employment of social and human service workers is expected to grow by 11%, faster than the average for all occupations. This is due to an increasing elderly population and demand for mental health and substance-abuse counselors. According to, the median annual salary for an entry-level human services worker as of October 2016 was $26,431, with community organizers earning a median annual salary of $34,179.

Job applicants holding a Ph.D. are generally qualified to seek advanced positions in the human services field as well as teaching positions at the postsecondary level. In October 2016, reported that the median annual salary for a university professor of social work was $89,077.

A bachelor's degree in human services provides applicants with the knowledge and techniques to enter the field, while the master's and doctorate degrees enable further specialization. These also provide access to higher salaries.

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