Online Health & Human Services Degree

Health and human services professionals hold a unique place in the field, combining health and wellbeing with aspects of social work and guidance. Read on to learn about education requirements, career and salary prospects, scholarships and more.

Online degree programs in health and human services fields combine self-paced asynchronous learning with real-time lectures and presentations. Since the online curriculum mirrors the academic quality and demands for the major, students should not expect their online degree program to be a breeze.

While students love the flexibility of online learning, they must be dedicated and self-disciplined to complete their courses. Online degree programs in health and human services may be comprised of streaming, multi-media lectures, email threads and discussions, and collaborative research projects. The online college and students determine the best location where distance learners can attend hands-on workshops or fieldwork near their homes.The ideal choice may vary based on each student’s ability to work independently.

Online Health & Human Services Degrees (by Level)

Employment in health and human services covers a range of fields with educational requirements and professional duties varying by state, county or federal agency. Some are with non-profit organizations, others are in education and research, and there are roles well suited for those holding an associate degree, bachelor’s degree, and graduate degree holders. Because education and career development are built in stages, professionals may take entry level jobs with a two-year degree and advance their specialty by completing additional degree work to assume management or directorship positions. For example, a graduate from an online associate degree program may take a job as a case management aide or social work assistant. With a bachelor’s degree, there are job titles including addiction/mental health counselor, family services advocate or career counselor. Add a master’s degree to qualify for work as a marriage and family therapist, early childhood center/director or occupational therapist. Grads from online doctoral degree programs are prepared for work as a clinical psychologist or university professor.

Case Study #1

Linda wanted to go into community counseling for a living, but wasn’t sure if she wanted to be an addictions specialist or a marriage and family therapist. To survey the field and to save money on education, she completed an online associate degree in human services. Through her practicum, Linda made professional contacts and, after graduation, she began work as a county social services intake assistant. She plans on working for a year before deciding on a career focus and whether she wants to complete a bachelor’s degree.

Online Associate Degree in Health & Human Services

The online associate degree in human services allows students to survey the range of the “helping professions” where workers are advocates for the physical/emotional health, occupational, and financial concerns of clients. During the two years, students complete fundamental courses in psychology, public administration, and personal communication skills. At the same time, students complete well-rounded general education requirements in the arts and sciences.

An associate degree in health and human services is the foundation degree for entry into many of the social and human service roles in the non-profit, healthcare and governmental sectors. Jobs can include social and human service assistants, gerontology workers, social services case aides, youth services workers and client intake staff. For those want to advance their careers, the on line associate degree can be instrumental in fulfilling the general education requirements toward a bachelor’s degree.

Example Curriculum:

Freshman Year Credits/Units Description
General Psychology 101 3 An overview of the history and development of psychology and an investigation into human behavior, disorders, and treatments.
English 101 3 An introduction to college writing, critical reading, and research methods.
Sociology 101 3 Introduction to the study of groups, societal problems, sub-cultures and social risk factors.
Human Services Program and Profession 3 Introduction to the human services field, necessary skills, and types of social service agencies.
Sophomore Year Credits/Units Description
Interpersonal Communications 3 Development of appropriate, professional levels of communication, including differences between social, cultural and personal factors.
Intermediate English 3 Formal application of critical thinking and research to create essays or other communications while adhering to academic principles.
Management Skills 3 Introduction to assessment, planning, and implementation of clients treatment plans or remedies.
Practicum 4 Students gain experience at a social services agency to explore career goals and integrate their learning. Arrangements are made so online students can conduct a practicum near home.
Case Study #2

Linda wanted to go into community counseling for a living, but wasn’t sure if she wanted to be an addictions specialist or a marriage and family therapist. To survey the field and to save money on education, she completed an associate degree in human services. Through her practicum, Linda made professional contacts and, after graduation, she began work as a county social services intake assistant. She plans on working for a year before deciding on a career focus and whether she wants to complete a bachelor’s degree.

Online Bachelor’s Degree in Health & Human Services

A bachelor’s degree in health and human services provides students with a foundation in college general studies along with a multidisciplinary academic view of fields like psychology, criminal justice, social work, education and management skills that comprise the broad health and human services field.

Many public-facing federal, state, and community service organizations require a bachelor’s degree for graduates applying for counseling, leadership, program development, social advocacy and other key positions in health and human services. Internships match students with organizations and professionals in the field where they can build lifelong mentoring relationships.

Example Curriculum:

Junior Year Credits/Units Description
Introduction to Social Policy 3 Understanding the guidelines, principles and political forces at play in the social policy arena.
Gerontology: Serving the Senior Population 3 A comprehensive review of aging topics including social needs, activism, health care, financial issues and legislation.
Economics: Organization and Public Policy 3 An examination of economic and political forces that shape public policy.
Family and Youth Advocacy 3 A study of roles that human services professionals play in conducting interventions or advocating for children and families in need.
Senior Year Credits/Units Description
Ethics and Legal Issues in Human Services 3 Studies into ethical and legal concerns in health and human service careers including patient rights and protections.
Case Management in Human Services 3 Overview of data management and client documentation. Study of time management and resources.
Loss and Grief in Family and Individual Counseling 3 An overview of cultural views on death and dying along with practical clinical applications for working with groups and individuals.
Social Services Field Practicum 4 Students volunteer in a social service setting under direct supervision of a health or human services professional. The practicum is arranged at a facility convenient to the student.
Case Study #3

Annette spent 12 years working as a staff director at a county housing office in her Midwest community. Despite building a large network of administrators, she hit a wall when applying for director/administrator positions with larger policy organizations. Annette held her job, but pursued an online master’s degree in human services administration that gave her the credentials she needed to open the next chapter in her career.

Online Master’s Degree in Health & Human Services

The master’s degree in health and human services takes from 2-3 years to complete and includes multidisciplinary education across a range of specialized subject matter including public health, emergency and crisis intervention, social policy planning, and family services administration.

As the health and human services field grows, qualified professionals will advance their careers to specialize in fields such as gerontology, education, community health, and health services management. The master’s degree is a traditional way to develop expertise for federal, state and community positions in developing intervention programs, writing grants, and directing advocacy/public policy initiatives.

Example Curriculum:

Year 1 Credits/Units Description
Research methods in Social Services 3 Use of theoretical models in overseeing staff counselors or therapists.
Race, Culture and Ethnicity in Human Services 3 Inquiry into factors that create discriminatory practices and policies in human service organizations.
Human Resources Administration 3 Development of practical skills for evaluating human resource needs and policy design methodology to meet goals.
Practicum 4 Supervised field experience (arranged at a location convenient to the online student) in health and human service specialties.
Year 2 Credits/Units Description
Supervising Counselors and Psychotherapists 3 Use of theoretical models in overseeing staff counselors or therapists.
Principles of Community Health Practice 3 How to follow community-based assessments to develop evidence-based public health policy.
Substance Abuse Evaluation and Treatment 3 Methodologies and models for assessing and treating alcoholism and drug addiction.
Thesis Option 4 Research toward and drafting of the master’s thesis.

Online Doctorate Degree in Health & Human Services

The online doctoral degree in health and human services is designed to prepare executive-level leadership in non-profit, governmental and research organizations, including colleges and universities. Students undertake advanced research into specialties including economic analysis, policy, change management, strategic planning, family systems, ethics and the law related to service and public healthcare organizations.

Colleges and universities offering a doctorate in health and human services offer students the opportunity to specialize and benchmark their expertise along several career pathways. For example, students can choose an online Human Services PhD in specialties such as social and community services, non-profit management, multidisciplinary human services, criminal justice, crisis and disaster intervention, or clinical social work. The following table shows some of the courses that make up a doctoral program in leadership.

Example Curriculum:

Core Course Description
HS 811 Program Development and Management Advanced skills in developing a scope, addressing funding issues and overseeing launch and assessment of new programming.
HS 865 Leadership and Advocacy for Counseling and Human Services Professionals An examination of social change, advocacy, and the factors that influence human services and counseling organizations.
HS 875 Crisis Management Understanding the models and practices used in responding to crisis and trauma in the community, among staff, and in individuals.
HS 890 Health Policy Economics Study into factors affecting health service delivery including government regulation, insurance and risk issues, federal, state and community-based funding avenues.
HS 900 Doctoral Dissertation Research, writing and dissertation defense.