Online Undergraduate Degrees in Human Services: Learning Options

Research online human services programs and which degrees are available. Get course descriptions, program info and online requirements to make an informed decision.

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Essential Information

Many schools offer online degree programs in human services at the undergraduate level. These programs may be completed entirely through online study or through a combination of online and on-campus courses.

In an associate's degree program, students take general education courses and get an understanding of the role of human services professionals. Courses in sociology, case management and psychology are part of the program, and students learn about counseling methods, addictions and family violence, among other topics. An associate's degree may open the door for entry-level positions, but most positions require higher degrees.

Bachelor's degree programs in human services may allow students to choose a concentration such as family and child welfare or gerontology. Courses in these programs give students information about human services agencies and their roles as well as social problems and policies. Other courses cover topics such as ethnic diversity and legal and ethical issues. Prerequisites are similar to associate's degree programs, usually requiring psychology and sociology coursework. While a bachelor's degree may be acceptable for some careers, many professions, such as social work or counseling, require at least a master's degree and licensing from the state.

Associate's Degree in Human Services

Prospective students of online human services associate's degree programs develop skills for entry-level employment as social and human service assistants. Graduates are awarded an Associate of Science (A.S.) or Associate of Arts (A.A.) degree. Prerequisites typically include coursework in psychology and sociology. Students learn about counseling methods, addictions, family violence, substance abuse and case management

Program Information and Requirements

Online associate's degree programs in human services take approximately two years to complete. All course delivery, communication and assignments are completed via the Internet, e-mail and virtual learning systems. In addition to textbooks, students may need to purchase specific software programs. Instructors educate students through DVD/CD players, audio and video streaming and online tutorials.

Course Topics

In addition to core human services courses, students are required to complete general education requirements in English, science and humanities. Courses provide students with foundational knowledge and skills that prepare them for continuing education opportunities.


Students learn about basic topics in psychology, including growth and development, personality, learning, intelligence, emotions and coping with stress. Other areas of concentration include social psychology and processes, research methods and abnormal psychology.


This class explores how groups, people and societies interact with one another. Students also examine issues related to sociology in health care, culture, race, age, gender and ethnicity throughout history.

Human Services Introduction

This course focuses on the roles associated in the human services field. Topics covered include human service goals, structure, philosophy and missions.

Bachelor's Degree in Human Services

Students of online human services bachelor's degree programs learn to identify and assess processes and issues facing society, as well as apply theory and practices to effectively manage them. Some programs offer an emphasis in child and family welfare, administration or gerontology, while others provide general studies degree programs with a human services specialization.

Program Information and Requirements

All courses are completed online in this program and take approximately four years to complete. Some programs offer on-campus sessions to accelerate the degree. Faculty and peers keep in contact via online-learning systems and e-mail. Students are held to the same standards of education as those taking courses on-campus.

Course Topics

Bachelor's degree courses focus on specific theoretical and application practices within human services. Courses teach students to recognize and treat issues facing children, teenagers and adults.

Human Services Applied Skills

Students of this course learn about verbal and non-verbal communications, goal-setting, interviewing, documenting techniques, needs assessment, cultural sensitivity and problem-solving. The course also teaches students about ethical decision-making when working with clients.

Social Problems and Policies in Human Services

This class teaches the relationship between government and human services agencies and policies. Students learn about the history of these policies and how the government has influenced various human services issues, such as marriage, family violence, elder abuse and neglect, prostitution, substance abuse and population growth.

Race, Ethnicity and Cultural Diversity

Participants of this class learn to identify and meet the needs of ethnically, racially and culturally diverse populations. The course also explores the resulting effects of integration, racial aggression, minority oppression and segregation.

Career Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), social and human service assistants earned a median annual wage of $30,830 in May of 2015 ( Employment was expected to grow by 11% from 2014-2024, and individuals with education after high school were expected to have the best job opportunities.

In May of 2015, the BLS reports that child, family and school social workers earned a median annual wage of $42,350 per year. All other social workers earned a median annual wage of $58,560, and the highest level of employment was in local government positions.

Continuing Education Information

Further education in the human services concentration is a necessity for advancement in the field. Most social worker or counselor positions require a bachelor's or master's degree for employment. All levels of degree programs, from undergraduate to doctoral, are available online in human services.

A master's degree in social work is required for some positions, typically in health care and schools. Health services master's degree programs are available and teach vital skills in clinical assessments and caseload management. Doctoral programs are also available in human services. All advanced degrees, along with work experience, can help provide more opportunities in human services supervisory, management, teaching, research or consulting positions.

Human services degree programs at both the bachelor's and associate's degree levels are widely available to study online. These programs teach students about issues that affect people and allows them to examine the relationship between the public and social services.

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