Human Services Management Degrees: Bachelor, Associate & Online Info

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What kind of job can you get with an associate or a bachelor's degree in human services management? Find out degree program requirements, online options and info on courses and human services management training programs.
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Studying Human Services Management: Degrees at a Glance

People in the human services field work in various occupations in counseling, outreach, substance abuse and program administration, to name a few. Specialists in the industry understand the complexities of human psychology and apply their knowledge of case and resource management in multiple environments. Employees may work in social services programs, correctional facilities and substance abuse rehabilitation centers. Employers may seek job candidates who express compassion and tolerance for people managing personal crises.

The associate degree program delivers the basic knowledge required for entry-level support careers, while graduates with a bachelor's degree generally have the education required to pursue administration or management occupations. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that social and community service managers, as well as substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors, could expect a 27% employment growth between 2010 and 2020. Over the same period, social and human service assistants are projected to see a 28% growth in employment.

Associate Bachelor's
Who is this degree for? People interested in entry-level human services support positions Individuals who want to pursue a career in human services management
Common Career Paths (with approximate median annual salary) - Social and human service assistant ($29,000)*
- Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselor ($39,000 - salary may vary based on level of education and experience)*
- Probation officer or correctional treatment specialist ($48,000)*
- Social and community services manager ($59,000)*
Time to Completion Two years full-time Four years full-time
Common Graduation Requirements - Roughly 60 credits
- Practicum
Roughly 120 credits
- Internship
Prerequisites High school diploma or equivalent High school diploma or equivalent
Online Availability Yes Yes

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).

Associate in Human Services Management

Pursuing an associate degree in this field can prepare you for entry-level positions through clinical coursework, as well as supervised training in healthcare environments. You will take skills-based courses that develop your understanding of client assessment and interviewing techniques, group facilitation and behavior management. Programs emphasize an education in human psychology, sociology and crisis intervention. Some schools offer mental health, early childhood and social services concentrations. You might take training in first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in order to prepare for certification in these areas.

Pros and Cons


  • Social and human service assistant jobs will grow 28% over the 2010-2020 decade*
  • Several positions in the field, including social and human service assistants, only require a high school diploma
  • Programs can offer the educational foundation required to pursue higher education


  • Median annual salaries in the industry are relatively low; social and human service assistants earned $29,000 as of May 2011*
  • Some employers prefer candidates with a bachelor's degree in counseling or rehabilitation for substance abuse counseling careers
  • Pursuing certification to boost your marketability will require additional time and financial resources

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Courses and Requirements

The associate degree program can teach you skills in ethics, human development and social services principles. Programs emphasize the importance of treating people with dignity, respect and compassion. You will gain an understanding of the case management process, resource development and the general client population. Programs generally offer the following courses:

  • Group dynamics
  • Abnormal psychology
  • Community resources
  • Helping techniques
  • Counseling and interviewing
  • Drug and alcohol services
  • Behavior management techniques

Online Degree Info

Online programs in human services are available. Similar to campus-based human services management programs, you can gain training in crisis counseling, case management, sociology and other related areas. These programs generally havee the same required coursework, which includes general education and human services classes. You may look for accredited programs, such as those accredited by the Council for Standards in Human Service Education (CSHSE), to prepare for certification.

Stand Out with This Degree

Competition for advancement opportunities might present a challenge. The BLS reveals that advancement usually requires higher education. If you do not plan to pursue a bachelor's degree, obtaining certification might improve your marketability. The Center for Credentialing and Education offers the Human Services-Board Certified Practitioner (HS-BCP) designation, which can demonstrate your knowledge, skills and education in the industry. Qualification to take the examination relies significantly on the quality of your coursework, so seeking a program accredited by the CSHSE might improve your HS-BCP application.

Bachelor's in Human Services Management

The bachelor's degree program emphasizes program management, administration and direct care services. Focusing on management or administration can provide training in topics like social service program funding, resource management and community development. Programs may provide specialization options in alcohol and drug abuse, elderly care or criminal justice, to name a few. You can tailor your program to provide an education in youth development, crisis intervention or social work. Keep in mind that the human services management degree will not prepare you for social work opportunities.

Pros and Cons


  • Social and community services managers earned relatively competitive median annual salaries of approximately $59,000, as of May 2011*
  • The generalist approach taken by many programs might offer you a broader range of career opportunities
  • Social and community services managers would see a 27% increase in job growth over the 2010-2020 decade*


  • Competition against master's degree holders might present a challenge for some positions
  • You may be competing for positions against applicants with less education and more experience
  • The economy might affect job availability; many social service programs receive significant funding from the government

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Courses and Requirements

Bachelor's degree programs deliver theoretical and practical training in social and human services topics. Programs emphasize knowledge of human development, needs assessment, intervention and case management. You will take courses in counseling and interviewing theories, systems and policies, psychology research methods, ethical issues, race and ethnic relations, psychopathology and social problems. Many programs require the completion of an internship that develops skills in the interaction with clients in multiple settings. You will also choose from multiple electives in the social sciences and human service management disciplines.

Online Degree Info

Online programs in human services management and human services are also available at this level. You can find 100% online programs, as well as those in a degree completion format, which will require that you have an associate degree or have completed all general education and prerequisite coursework. Similar to the campus-based program, online programs generally require the same amount of credits. You can expect courses in human service practice methodologies, intervention methods, social problems and other related topics.

Stand Out with This Degree

Gaining experience and pursuing certification might enhance your employment prospects. The BLS notes that job growth will continue for individuals who provide services to the elderly or those with chemical dependencies. You could take elective courses gerontology or elderly services to gain skills in these areas.

Employers typically prefer job candidates with general or clinical experience in their specific industry. For example, employers that provide services for social service programs might prefer candidates with knowledge of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. You may look for internships that offer hands-on experience with the population that reflects your career goals.

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