Affordable Online Bachelor's in Human Services Programs 2021

Updated November 15, 2022

Earning an online degree in human services can open up new career pathways. Here, we list the top affordable online programs. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Are you ready to discover your college program?

Credit: andresr/E+/Getty Images
Affordable Online Bachelor's in Human Services Programs badge

Human services professionals help prevent, analyze, and treat social and individual issues such as poverty, mental illness, and addiction. The interdisciplinary field of human services employs theory and practices from sociology, social work, and psychology. Many bachelor's in human services programs feature communications, education, and political science coursework.

Bachelor's in human services degrees traditionally take four years to finish, but applicants who hold transferable, accredited associate degrees often graduate sooner. Accelerated online programs also reduce graduation timelines by offering 4-6 intensive terms annually. Human services program applicants typically must submit ACT/SAT scores, recommendation letters, application essays, and official transcripts demonstrating a 2.5-3.0 GPA.

Featured Online Programs

Figuring out where to apply? These top, accredited schools offer a variety of online degrees. Consider one of these accredited programs, and discover their value today.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), human services specialists earned a median annual salary of $61,920 in 2019. BLS projects an above-average job growth of 7% for these professionals from 2019 to 2029. Meanwhile, the BLS projects 17% growth for social and community service managers, who earned a median salary of $67,150 in 2019.

What Can I Do With a Human Services Degree?

The diverse field of human services includes research, administrative, and direct service roles serving people who suffer from various problems. Many human services professionals work as social workers, community organizers, or probation officers.

Individuals with an associate degree qualify for many entry-level human services jobs, but some jobs require a bachelor's degree. Professionals with a bachelor's in human services often use their degree to transition from another field or discipline or to meet degree requirements for upper-level human services positions such as program developer, facility director, and social and community service manager. Some bachelor's degree-holders go on to earn advanced degrees in human services or fields such as sociology, counseling, or social work.

Human services students often benefit from specialization in a particular subfield or role. Human services bachelor's programs offering curriculum concentrations help enrollees gain access to niche fields such as emergency management, information technology, or applied behavioral science. Bilingual candidates stand out when applying for jobs. BLS projects particularly strong job prospects for child, family, and school social workers from 2019 to 2029.

Accreditation for a Human Services Degree

Schools often demonstrate their academic quality by undergoing a voluntary evaluation process known as accreditation. Good human services schools usually hold regional accreditation from one of the seven accrediting organizations approved by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. Regional accrediting agencies include the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, the Higher Learning Commission, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, and the New England Commission of Higher Education.

Academic colleges and universities typically hold regional accreditation, whereas many professional or religious schools hold national accreditation. Social work jobs requiring licensure expect applicants to hold degrees from regionally accredited schools. Many students at either regionally or nationally accredited schools qualify for federal financial aid.

Quality human services programs hold programmatic accreditation from the Council for Standards in Human Service Education, so prospective students should look for this quality indicator.


Question Answer
What is a degree in health and human services? Health and human services degrees include interdisciplinary social science and social services coursework and capstone internships and projects. Graduates often take jobs as social workers, advocates, counselors, and researchers.
What are examples of human services? Serving people facing chronic or situational crises, human services include health education, child welfare casework, correctional treatment, and occupational therapy.
What degrees fall under human services? Human services-related degrees include community mental health counseling, social work, rehabilitation, and speech therapy. The field also encompasses nursing, special education, child and family studies, and behavioral sciences.
Can you be a therapist with a human services degree? A degree in human services helps qualify graduates for some counseling roles, but to become licensed therapists, candidates typically need additional schooling. Many counselors and therapists hold at least a master's degree.

What Are the Requirements for a Human Services Degree?

To enroll in a human services bachelor's program, applicants typically need a 3.0 minimum GPA and decent SAT or ACT scores. Applications require official transcripts, application essays, and sometimes recommendation letters.

Human services bachelor's programs usually require 124 credits, including general education coursework, human services courses, and capstone credits. The capstone experience often includes a research project, usually connected to a real-world site. Many programs also incorporate supervised internships at approved sites such as community agencies, public schools, and health clinics.

Courses in a Human Services Program

Human services courses cultivate core skills in client assessment and outcome evaluation, care plan development, and policy advocacy. Bachelor's in human services program enrollees also usually complete capstone experiences in which students apply these skills at an approved site. Human services programs also teach students research, analysis, communication, and professional skills.

Many human services programs include specialized curriculum concentrations and courses in fields such as addictions, gerontology, and psychology. Other common concentrations include child development, child and family services, and administration. The following course samples appear in some human services programs, but keep in mind that course and concentration offerings vary significantly by program.

Introduction to Human Services
A core course and prerequisite for many other human services courses, this introductory course provides an overview of the field, including its history, systems, roles, and ethical practice standards. Learners gain a sense of how various social support systems and professionals interact and collaborate. Enrollees learn major behavioral and social issues, theories, and treatment methodologies.This course usually encourages students to examine their values and assumptions in relation to their human services aspirations.
Human Services Law and Ethics
This course appears in nearly all human services programs. Students learn the laws that influence and regulate human services organizations, approaches, and practices. Laws discussed often pertain to mandated reporting, involuntary commitment, guardianship, and advanced directives. Other key topics include confidentiality, parity, and parent and child rights. Enrollees also examine human services ethics principles and tensions in relation to existing laws.
Social Science Research Methods
Required in virtually every human services program, this course cultivates skills in data collection, analysis, and reporting. Learners explore various research methodologies including case studies, surveys, and experiments. This course emphasizes critical evaluation of research design, methods, and conclusions. Coursework often gives enrollees the training necessary for creating capstone research proposals and projects.
Family and Community Systems
Often a core human services course and curriculum concentration, this course introduces tools and cultivates skills for connecting families with community support. Enrollees learn about various support organizations and resources such as family court, community mental health and healthcare providers, and the Department of Human Services. The course also covers systems concepts to examine the composition and function of families and communities. Students cultivate skills for assessing these systems' needs, strengths, and approaches.
Human Development
This key course explores psychological development from birth to death, with particular emphasis on children and young adults. Topics include the cultural, historical, environmental, and genetic factors influencing human development across the lifespan. Enrollees survey major psychological development concepts, theories, and research methods. Aspiring counselors or social workers serving populations facing significant developmental milestones often find this course particularly important.

Certifications and Licensure for Human Services Majors

A bachelor's in human services meets degree requirements for many entry-level careers in the field. However, some positions demand additional training or professional credentials. Careers in some human services fields, such as social work, may even require state licensure. See below for descriptions of three common human services credentials.

Human Services-Board Certified Practitioner

The HS-BCP credential typically serves human services professionals seeking career advancement or salary increases. Candidates need at least an associate-level degree from a regionally accredited university or state-approved college. They must complete at least 350 post-degree experience hours and pass a certification exam by demonstrating competency in 11 core content areas.

National Certified Counselor

Administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors, this voluntary credential demonstrates that its recipient meets high professional counseling standards. Applicants need a regionally accredited master's degree in counseling; 100 supervised, postgraduate counseling hours spread over 24 months; 3,000 minimum professional counseling experience hours over 24 months; and a passing score on the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examinations or the National Counselor Examination. Experience requirements vary based on applicants' credentials.

Certified Case Manager

CCM candidates must meet education and experience requirements and pass the CCM examination. Acceptable education credentials include a qualifying, relevant license or certification or a qualifying health or human services bachelor's or graduate degree. Candidates also must meet one of the following experience requirements: 24 months of full-time case management experience with a non-CCM supervisor; 12 months of full-time, CCM-supervised case management experience; or 12 months of experience supervising case managers.

Professional Organizations for Human Services Majors

The professional organizations below benefit human services students and professionals by providing education, career resources, networking opportunities, and advocacy. These professional organizations often provide discounted student memberships, scholarships, and student chapters at colleges and universities.

This nonprofit sets professional and ethical standards, provides certifications and career development opportunities, and publishes various resources. NOHS offerings also include live and virtual conferences and webinars, networking events, and student memberships.

This association serves human services leaders working in local, state, and social governments. Focused on producing policies that support strong families, APHSA engages with state and local policymakers, runs educational conferences, and publishes relevant research and professional resources.

A nonprofit educational and professional association serving counseling professionals, ACA provides online resources, student scholarships, networking opportunities, and advocacy. ACA also features a career center and various continuing education opportunities.

CSHSE works to enhance human services education through a peer-review accreditation process and the application of evidence-based standards. The organization offers its members leadership opportunities, curriculum and program consultation, publications, and a professional network.

Committed to bolstering and supporting families, NCFR runs annual conferences, awards credentials, and provides career resources. NCFR also offers webinars, a resource library, and four journals.

College students often save money by qualifying for scholarships funded by various sources, including professional organizations, nonprofits, governments, and schools. Students qualify for these financial awards, which do not require repayment, through a combination of academic merit, financial need, field of study, or group membership. See below for some scholarships available to eligible human services bachelor's students.

David C. Maloney Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Enrollees in human services-titled programs with a 3.2 minimum GPA and NOHS membership may apply. Applicants with minority status or special needs receive precedence. Application requirements include official transcripts, resumes, recommendation letters, and brief essays.
Amount: Not specified

Outstanding Human Services Student Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Another NOHS scholarship, this financial award goes to a NOHS student member who has made a notable contribution to the field during a program. Applicants require nomination by a professional such as a faculty member or a social service organization employee. Other application requirements include a resume, recommendation letters, and documents demonstrating the applicant's contribution.
Amount: Not specified

Native Hawaiian Health Scholarship

Who Can Apply: This merit-based scholarship goes to full-time, native Hawaiian college students in health professions, including social work. Eligible applicants demonstrate Hawaiian ancestry and agree to serve for 2-4 years in underserved Hawaiian communities after graduation and licensure.
Amount: This scholarship covers tuition and school-related costs, plus a monthly stipend

Turco Muñoz Domestic Violence Survivor Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Eligible applicants possess domestic violence victim advocacy experience, enrollment in a relevant program, and career plans to serve domestic violence survivors. Application requirements include a recommendation letter and resume.
Amount: $1,000

Maryland Workforce Shortage Student Assistance Grant

Who Can Apply: This grant serves students planning careers in health, education, or human services-related fields and attending (or planning to attend) an eligible, accredited postsecondary school in Maryland. Applicants who submit a FAFSA demonstrating financial need gain precedence. All applicants submit official transcripts from all previous schools, and students in some majors must submit additional documentation.
Amount: $2,000

Affordable Online Bachelor's in Human Services Programs 2021

  1. Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College

    Saint Mary of the Woods, IN



    Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College is a Catholic liberal arts school located in Indiana. SMWC's bachelor of science in human services allows learners to transfer an associate degree or significant credit to meet the program's general education requirements.

    This affordable online bachelor's in human services program covers topics such as abnormal psychology, human services, techniques of counseling, and nonprofit administration. Two courses focus on professional skills, such as case planning and documentation. Students also complete a 350-hour internship at a social services agency.

    SMWC's tuition guarantee ensures that all online learners pay the same tuition while continuously enrolled. All distance learners pay a competitive flat tuition rate regardless of residency. Freshmen applicants must submit SAT or ACT scores while transfer applicants must submit college transcripts.

  2. Judson University

    Elgin, IL



    Judson University administers a suite of degree-completion programs designed for nontraditional learners. The Illinois-based evangelical Christian college offers an online bachelor of arts in human services that builds on enrollees' work or college experience. Students learn how to assess, counsel, and intervene to address the needs of vulnerable populations.

    The 46-credit program includes core courses in topics such as social welfare policy, advocacy and social justice, and human behavior and social environment.

    Students complete a series of courses that explore practices and interventions used to help individuals, groups, and older adults. They also build experience during an internship at a social services agency or other relevant organization. All enrollees pay the same tuition regardless of residency. Admission requires at least 40 transferable credits with a minimum 2.0 GPA.

  3. Lindsey Wilson College

    Columbia, KY



    Lindsey Wilson College is a Christian private college located in Kentucky. The degree-completion bachelor's in human services and counseling enrolls learners with a passion for helping others. Students with an associate of arts from a Kentucky college can complete the online degree in 18 months.

    The 48-credit program explores upper-division topics such as lifespan development; abnormal psychology; assessment in the helping professions; and case management, intake, and referral. A three-part practicum gives learners 360 hours of experience at a human services organization. Learners culminate the program with a comprehensive examination.

    Students can earn up to 30 credits for prior learning. Eight-week sessions accelerate degree completion. LWC lauds affordable tuition, and all online students pay the same rate regardless of residency. Admission requires at least one semester of college credit and a minimum cumulative 2.25 GPA.

  4. Dominican University

    River Forest, IL



    Located just minutes from downtown Chicago, Dominican University administers 50 undergraduate degrees to 2,100 students annually. The 120-credit bachelor of professional studies in human services is a degree-completion program designed for nontraditional learners. Students can complete the degree using a fully online or hybrid format.

    Enrollees learn to conduct research, analyze data, and write on issues in the social sciences. The 42-credit major includes coursework in social science research, statistics for social scientists, human services administration, and behavioral theory.

    Students can pursue a concentration such as disability advocacy or training and development. A sustainability concentration introduces students to issues involving the environment, environmental law, and how to build sustainable organizations. Learners can also design their own concentration to accommodate their career goals.

    All students pay the same affordable tuition regardless of residency. Admission requires at least 30 prior credits.

  5. Drury University

    Springfield, MO



    A small private college based in Missouri, Drury University offers evening and online degrees with customizable academic pathways through Drury GO. The 124-credit bachelor of science in human services is a degree-completion option that allows learners to transfer credits to meet general education and other requirements. Drury GO students can complete the degree entirely online or in hybrid format with some classes taken at one of nine locations. The degree requires 42 credits in topics such as lifespan development, social psychology, family therapy, and methods in social science research. Students learn to address the needs of specific populations such as aging populations. Enrollees culminate the degree with a research paper that examines a topic of personal or professional interest.

    All learners pay the same tuition regardless of residency. Transfer students qualify for a modest Drury GO scholarship to help pay for tuition. Admission requires a minimum C grade on transfer credits and college transcripts.

  6. Quincy University

    Quincy, IL



    Founded by Franciscan friars, Quincy University is a Catholic liberal arts college based in Illinois. The online bachelor of science in human services blends theoretical and conceptual knowledge to cultivate professionals who serve their communities. The 120-credit degree-completion option allows learners to transfer general education and other requirements from prior college education.

    The 48-credit major explores topics such as lifestyle and career development, appraisal of individuals/psychological testing, and substance abuse assessment and intervention. Required electives give learners complementary skills in victimology and/or crisis intervention. Twelve credits focus on psychology and sociology courses. All students complete a practicum that gives them 150 hours of practical experience working at human service agencies.

    QU charges a flat tuition rate for all of its degree-completion programs. Admission requires a minimum C- grade on transfer credits.

  7. LeTourneau University

    Longview, TX



    LeTourneau University is a Christian college with programs administered at three locations in Texas and online. The online bachelor of human services offers a versatile curriculum suitable for learners interested in fields such as criminal justice, child welfare, and substance abuse counseling. Faculty deliver the program using accelerated five-week sessions.

    The major explores topics such as criminology, case management, social psychology, and counseling theories and techniques. All students complete 12 credits of theology and vocation coursework, exploring concepts such as biblical literature and theological engagement. The program also includes 39 elective credits. Learners culminate the degree with a capstone that focuses on morality, values, and ethics in a criminal justice context.

    All enrollees pay the same affordable tuition regardless of residency. Admission requires a minimum 2.0 on transfer credits.

  8. Saint Joseph's College-New York

    Brooklyn, NY



    Saint Joseph's College-New York operates campuses in Brooklyn and Long Island. SJC's virtual campus offers a bachelor of science in human services. Students typically enter the program with some postsecondary education and human services training. The 120-credit curriculum requires core courses in subjects such as adults in transition, lifespan development, and problem-solving for professionals.

    The major develops learners' competencies in case management, counseling principles, and human services administration. A gerontology course examines sociological and health issues pertaining to older adults. Students may opt for a field experience in gerontology or alcoholism and addictions counseling. Enrollees culminate the degree by designing a research study in an interest area.

    All online students pay the same tuition regardless of residency. Admission to the online bachelor's in human services requires a minimum 2.0 GPA on transfer credits.

  9. Southern Wesleyan University

    Central, SC



    Affiliated with the Wesleyan Church, Southern Wesleyan University offers an online bachelor's in human services with a customizable curriculum. The program blends online coursework with hands-on projects that give learners real-world experience. The 120-credit degree meets the educational requirements for the human services board-certified practitioner credential administered by the National Organization for Human Services.

    The major covers topics such as applied psychopathology, case management, conflict resolution, and human growth and development. With elective credits, learners can pursue a complementary minor in early childhood and family studies. Students may also pursue one of four 12-credit concentrations, including marriage and family services.

    Students can finish the degree faster by transferring general education requirements. All online learners pay the same affordable tuition regardless of residency. Admission requires a minimum cumulative 2.0 GPA.

  10. Bay Path University

    Longmeadow, MA



    Established in 1897, Bay Path University is a Massachusetts-based institution that specializes in providing undergraduate education for women. Through Bay Path's American Women's College, students can earn a 120-credit online bachelor of arts in human services and rehabilitation. Enrollees develop the skills necessary for successful careers in healthcare, rehabilitation, and human services. The degree fulfills the educational requirements for the human services board-certified practitioner credential from the National Organization for Human Services.

    General education courses explore subjects such as literature, history, and statistics. The major builds knowledge in key areas such as child development, social psychology, interviewing and counseling, and addictions and interventions.

    A 120-hour practicum gives learners real-world experience. Students can transfer up to 90 credits toward the online bachelor's in human services degree. Admission requires a minimum 2.0 GPA.

Get prepared for your next steps

Use articles and resources to uncover answers to common questions, get guidance on your goals, and learn about applying to schools.

Discover a program that is right for you.

Explore different options for you based on your degree interests.