By: Counselor-License.com Staff
Last Updated: November 2019
Earning a bachelor's degree in human services can lead to a rewarding career helping others. Graduates can qualify for entry-level human services positions in a variety of settings, including community agencies, nonprofits, prisons, nursing homes, schools, and healthcare facilities. This guide explores the benefits and requirements related to earning a human services degree.
|Time to Complete||Internship/Practicum Component|
|4 Years||Dependent on Program|
Why Get a Bachelor's Degree in Human Services?
Bachelor's in human services programs help students develop a general understanding of the field and the role of human services providers. Learners gain skills necessary for positions and professional certification in human services jobs such as social work and nonprofit administration.
Equips You With the Skills to Help Others in a Wide Variety of Ways
Human services curricula cover the challenges people face, as well as how human services professionals support individuals and communities. Learners gain skills in areas such as psychology, sociology, and social work to prepare to work in various settings.
Allows You to Become a Human Services-Board Certified Practitioner (HS-BCP)
Graduates with a degree in human services can demonstrate professional expertise and stand out among job seekers by earning professional certification. A bachelor's in human services qualifies candidates to pursue the HS-BCP credential from the Center for Credentialing and Education.
Helps You Make the World a Better Place
Human services professionals make communities stronger and help people cope with challenges. Graduates with a human services degree can qualify for positions helping others to lead safe, happy, and healthy lives.
Example Courses in a Human Services Bachelor's Program
Human services programs take an interdisciplinary approach to the study of society, human behavior, and human needs. Curricula often draw on fields such as psychology, sociology, criminal justice, and social work. In addition to major coursework, undergraduates typically complete general education requirements in the humanities and sciences.
Human services courses introduce students to theories, skills, and administrative practices in the field. Because human services jobs often require direct work with clients, most programs include experiential learning opportunities, such as a practicum, internship, or capstone project. Although course requirements vary by school, the classes below are common to many programs in the field.
Introduction to Human Services
This course provides an overview of the history, functions, and practice of human services. Students explore the roles and skills of human services professionals. Topics include social theories, current social problems, human services delivery systems, and professional ethics.
Human services students generally take at least one course to develop written and oral communication skills. These skills are crucial for effective human services practitioners. Learners study topics such as appropriate written communication for the workplace, effective communication styles, communication with people from diverse backgrounds, and group dynamics.
Ethical and Legal Issues
This course introduces students to ethical guidelines, legal standards, and professional codes related to human services. Students explore their personal values as they prepare to implement a professional code of ethics. Coursework examines the rights of minors, mandatory reporting, confidentiality, and current events.
This course prepares aspiring human services providers to serve people from diverse backgrounds. Learners explore the contributions of diverse communities, along with their personal beliefs and biases. Coursework examines the needs of underserved populations and the application of culturally responsive practices.
This course explores the theories and practices that form the foundation of human services delivery. Students learn how human services professionals support and engage clients and manage cases. Learners also practice essential skills such as interviewing and counseling, assessing client needs, and designing care plans and interventions.
Learners researching human services degree programs should consider school and program accreditation. The accreditation process involves a voluntary review by a third party to evaluate the school's academic quality. Many employers and graduate schools only recognize degrees from accredited institutions.
Schools may hold national or regional accreditation, with regional accreditation considered the more prestigious of the two. Human services programs may also hold programmatic accreditation from the Council for Standards in Human Services Accreditation (CSHSE). Additionally, earning a degree from a CSHSE-accredited program can make it easier for graduates to obtain the HS-BCP credential.
What Can You Do With a Bachelor's Degree in Human Services?
A bachelor's degree in human services qualifies graduates for a variety of jobs helping others. Graduates often work in human services agencies as case managers, youth advocates, and community outreach workers. Graduates can also pursue roles as entry-level social workers or counselors and can work in the correctional system as probation or parole officers.
Bachelor's degree-holders also qualify to apply for the HS-BCP credential. However, licensed therapists and counselors must hold an advanced degree.
Common Work Environments
- Social services agencies
- Senior and nursing homes
Career Advancement in Human Services
Become a Human Services-Board Certified Practitioner (HS-BCP)
The Center for Credentialing and Education offers the HS-BCP certification for human services professionals. The credential demonstrates expertise and education in the field and can help professionals stand out to employers and advance their career.
HS-BCP candidates must meet the educational and experience requirements, pay a $210 application fee, and pass the HS-BCP exam. This exam costs $100 and covers critical areas of human services practice, including needs assessment, treatment planning, case management, professional ethics, and program development. Graduates of CSHSE-accredited programs are exempt from the 350-hour postgraduate work experience requirement.
To maintain the HS-BCP credential, professionals must comply with the center's policies, pay $40 annually, and complete 60 clock hours of continuing education every five years.
Pursue a Master's or Ph.D. Program in Human Services
A master's degree in human services qualifies graduates for many positions in the field. However, professionals who want to provide direct clinical care or pursue leadership positions typically need a graduate degree, such as a Ph.D. in human services. Graduate programs in the field provide advanced training in counseling, program management, and research.
Join A Professional Organization
Joining a professional organization demonstrates commitment to the field. These organizations offer a variety of benefits, including resources, professional development, career services, and networking opportunities.
- American Case Management Association This association advocates for the needs of case managers and promotes best practices in case management. ACMA offers continuing education, conferences, workshops, and professional certification. The organization also provides resources for job seekers and professional case managers.
- American Public Human Services Association This nonprofit organization represents state and local human service agency leaders and advocates for public policies that benefit children and families. APHSA offers conferences, professional development resources, publications, and a career center.
- National Association of Social Workers This membership organization promotes best practices in social work. NASW offers continuing education opportunities, conferences, and professional certification. Members can also access resources in practice areas such as child welfare and behavioral health.
- National Council on Family Relations Members of this nonprofit organization work to understand and strengthen families through interdisciplinary research. NCFR offers networking opportunities, including discussion groups and conferences. The council also provides professional certification, journals, and continuing education classes.
- National Organization for Human Services NOHS offers national, regional, and virtual conferences. The organization also provides awards and scholarships, webinars, and publications, including a journal and a magazine. NOHS promotes professional standards and certification in human services.