Human Services Degrees: Creating Pathways to Social Service Careers

Human services degree

A career in human and social services involves strengthening communities and serving individuals and families by helping them locate the resources they need to thrive. Areas in which human services graduates may work include advocacy, program evaluation, policy development, and case management. If you would like to build a rewarding career that involves helping disadvantaged, disabled, ill, elderly, and juvenile clients, learn about human and social services degrees.

Human and Social Services Degree Requirements

Earning a human services degree could be your first step to a fulfilling career path as a human services professional. Students are taught to assess clients’ needs, solve problems, advocate for their clients, and identify community resources with the goal of making a difference in people’s lives.

Degrees in human services are offered at the associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral level. The prerequisites for undergraduate degrees in human services include a high school diploma or GED, while graduate programs typically require a bachelor’s degree with adequate studies in the liberal arts and behavioral sciences, satisfactory GRE scores, and a minimum required GPA.

Associate’s degrees take two years to complete and a bachelor’s degree program generally takes four years. A master’s typically requires two years of study beyond the bachelor’s degree, and doctoral degree programs last three to five years. Courses may include discussion of the following topics:

  • Group dynamics
  • Ethics and the law
  • Adult development
  • Counseling
  • Criminal justice
  • Multiculturalism
  • Intake and referral

In order to graduate, students are usually required to get some hands-on experience interning at a human services agency or organization. Ideally, students will get placed at more than one agency throughout their course of study so that they can build relevant skills and decide which work setting suits them best. Many human services programs are offered online, though students would have to complete internships in their local area.

The minimum degree level for most entry-level human services jobs is a bachelor’s degree in the field, though some employers prefer hiring applicants who have additional education and experience. Positions in schools, healthcare or as a social worker frequently require students to have a master’s degree. Clinical social workers may be required to obtain state licensure in addition to their master’s degree, although requirements will vary by state.

Job Opportunities for Social Services Degree Holders

Degrees in social services give graduates the broad understanding and skill set needed to serve people in many different areas, including education, social services, mental health, rehabilitation, nursing homes, court systems, and public policy. Job titles for human services graduates may include some of the following:

  • Case manager
  • Human service manager
  • Human service assistant
  • Child welfare worker
  • Adult service worker
  • Social worker
  • Program officer
  • Elderly service provider
  • Probation officer
  • Alcohol counselor
  • Family support worker
  • Community organizer

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment for several human and social services positions are expected to grow at a rate that is faster than average through 2020. Positions for social workers are projected to increase by 25%, those for social and community service managers should grow by 27%, and employment for social and human service assistants should increase by 28%.

The growth of the field is a result of the increased demand for social services for those seeking treatment for drug additions, as well as the aging baby boomer population. There will also be a continued need for child and family services workers to investigate child abuse cases and place foster care children. In 2012, the median annual wage of various positions in social services were as follows:

Across multiple roles and settings, human services professionals typically work with individuals who are facing life transitions or social and emotional challenges. By blending theory and practice, human services programs prepare graduates to best intervene on behalf of diverse and underserved populations. Earn your human services degree if you would like to become a competent social services professional and make a difference in your community.