Human services is a broad field, addressing the ills of society via channels such as social work, community relations, advocacy, human resources, and educational institutions. It is also a rapidly growing field; the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 22% increase in jobs by 2020. A bachelor’s degree in human services provides its graduates with knowledge and applied skills in psychology, public policy, case management, and community collaboration. Upon completion of a human services bachelor’s degree, students can expect to find work in public or private service agencies, corrections, the court system, rehabilitation facilities or family assistance programs.
Why a Bachelor’s Degree?
A human services bachelor’s degree prepares students to successfully develop a career based upon helping people who are unable to do it for themselves. This four-year program may build on an existing associate degree, or be taken directly out of high school. Attendees learn to assess the needs of a client, and then solve problems on the client’s behalf using available resources. Course work is heavily based in psychology and socio-political studies, along with an examination of the public policy that drives resources.
Many bachelor’s degree programs offer students the opportunity to specialize. Sub-fields in the industry include child and family studies, human development, socio-economic studies, addiction behavior and others, any of which may be chosen for specialized study. Extra course work within a specialization and an internship component round out bachelor’s degree students’ exposure to the human services industry.
Getting Into a Bachelor’s Program
Though requirements vary from one academic institution to another, most bachelor’s degree programs in human services will expect the following upon application:
- High school diploma or GED equivalent
- GPA of 2.0 or better
- High school transcript
- Proof of age; some online schools require students to be at least 24, with a few exceptions
Applicants who are continuing study after earning an associate degree must provide a transcript and meet all credit transfer requirements established by the program.
Inside a Human Services Bachelor’s Degree Program
A Bachelor of Science in Human Services prepares its students for leadership positions in the industry. General education requirements do apply and consist of social science, composition, philosophy, and humanities studies. The core requirements explore the policy that is behind human services programs, the inner workings of the available resources and how best to use them for clients’ benefit. Graduates of this degree program are trained to deliver human services while still meeting ethical and legal best practices.
Core classwork commonly seen in a bachelor’s in human services program may include:
- Introduction to Public Health
- Politics and Sociology
- Human Services Ethics
- Family Function
- Young Adult Health
- Human Sexuality
- Gender in Society
- Language and Cognition
- Sociology of Addiction
Many degree programs offer students the opportunity to choose an area of emphasis or specialization. In so doing, a student might identify an area for further study, such as a master’s degree program, or gain knowledge specific to a particular sector of human services. These specializations vary depending on the school, but each of them requires 15 hours of additional study. For example, a student who specializes in health and social issues might do additional course work in deviant behavior, poverty, women’s health, juvenile delinquency, nutrition, and/or the social power of drinking.
What’s Next for Human Services Bachelor’s Degree Holders?
Thanks to the explosive growth in this industry, bachelor’s degree in human services jobs are expected to be plentiful. The career outlook for human services professionals is brighter for students with more advanced training, and is brightest for students who specialize in gerontology or are willing to work in less-populated areas. Changing governmental standards for retirement plans, family leave, health insurance, wages, occupational safety, and other areas are creating a greater need for human services than the U.S. has ever seen.
Titles that a graduate of a bachelor’s degree program in human services might hold include:
- Adolescent Counselor
- Civil Services Agent
- Juvenile Detention Coordinator
- Human Resources Representative
- Domestic Violence Case Manager
- Marriage Counselor
- Substance Abuse Program Coordinator
- Victim Advocate
- Medicare Specialist
Educationally, the next step is a master’s degree in human services. Continuing study of the human services field imparts more detailed knowledge of social systems and prepares graduates to be agents of social change. Master’s degree holders can expect greater ability to provide direct services and the skills to hold management positions.