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Online PhD in Human Services
Human services professionals are on the forefront of caring and providing for the most needy populations and improving their lives. An accredited online PhD in Human Services is designed to simultaneously aid these professionals in broadening expertise in the chosen field while maintaining a clinical practice. A top online doctoral program in human services is tailored for professionals in a wide array of situations including social services, healthcare, and treatment facilities to develop management and leadership skills which will support the chosen area of service.

Online PhD in Human Services Requirements

The best online doctoral programs in human services require candidates to deliver a tightly focused, timely performance. Students who wish to pursue a good online PhD program in human services will learn to think critically about real-world settings, behave appropriately in the workplace, apply technology to manage and deliver human services, comprehend the diverse impact of gender and culture on the client base, and will recognize historical and current trends relating to the field. The online doctorate program in human services seeks to broaden the knowledge base previously acquired when the master’s degree was conferred.

Professionals who are seeking an accredited online doctorate degree in human services should typically have a master degree in one of the following areas:

  • Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling
  • Master of Arts in Human Services – Business Management
  • Master of Arts in Human Services – Health and Wellness
  • Master of Science — Criminal Justice

Additionally, a human services PhD candidate will generally have clinical experience in a variety of settings such as school counselor, mental health counselor, criminal justice, public health, social services, or family and marriage counseling.


Although some candidates can complete the coursework required for an online doctorate in human services in fewer than 36 months, most candidates will need between 4-5 years to finish. Coursework is completed online and a mentor is available for individual, one-on-one consultation.

Course Information

A good PhD online curriculum is rigorous. Core courses are designed to provide an overview of the human service field’s most pertinent subjects such as:

  • Counseling: This course teaches specific models of therapy.
  • Adult Development: This course reviews adult development theories and examines three ways of knowing: instrumental, socializing, and self-authoring.
  • Ethics: This course reviews morality and appropriate codes of conduct as well as ethical theory.
  • Diversity: This course deals with such sensitive topics such as race, power, discrimination, and diversity, as well as how to effectively deal with conflict.
  • Strategic Planning: This course teaches methods to define strengths and weaknesses, goal setting, and how to encourage a positive outcome.

Specializations and Concentrations

An online doctorate in human services provides for several sub-specialties or concentrations within the field. Many professionals prefer to specialize in a certain area such as counseling, education, family and marriage, or criminal justice. Some of the more common specializations are:

  • Clinical Social Work
  • Counseling
  • Criminal Justice
  • Family Studies and Intervention Strategies
  • Human Services Administration
  • Social Policy Analysis and Planning


The human services field embraces a wide array of careers which work to improve the overall welfare of the chosen client group. Persons who seek an online PhD and choose this field, regardless of the specialty, work to ameliorate or eliminate the numerous problems that challenge clients. A human services professional also seeks to cultivate improved access to the services available to the client group. Since the human services field is far-reaching, a number of sub-specialties exist under its umbrella:

  • Elder Care: Human services professionals working in this career field encourage elderly clients to preserve their highest level of independence by providing individual, social, and emotional support. Professionals who choose this sub-specialty will typically earn a mean salary of $59,000 annually. According to, this career field serves the largest demographic in the United States and is expected to grow even further.
  • Drug and Alcohol Treatment Counseling: Professionals who choose this sub-specialty target primarily clients with a substance abuse problem and can further specialize to work solely with youth or criminal offenders. Drug and alcohol treatment counselors typically earn a mean salary of $52,000 per year. This career field is projected to grow nearly as fast as elder care, due primarily to more offenders being placed in treatment programs as well as more addicts seeking treatment.
  • Youth Care: Professionals within youth care help overcome teen troubles by forming a healthy relationship which fosters positive, lasting change in the teen’s life. Workers within this group can expect to earn a mean salary of $47,000 annually. Although the number of children born each year is expected to decline, the growth rate is projected to remain steady due, among other things, to the decline in parental responsibility.
  • Social Services Coordinator: Dedicated human services professionals who choose this client group can expect to plan, organize, and assess a client’s need for social services, to counsel clients, and assist with obtaining all social services which are available to the client. A social services coordinator will typically earn a mean salary of $47,000 per year. Growth rate for this specialty is expected to increase steadily.
  • Mentally Challenged Adults Counselor: Caring professionals who choose this client group provide a myriad of services such as counseling, job placement, help with daily living activities, and procurement of social services. One of the lowest paid specialties, a supervisor can expect to earn a mean salary of $38,000 annually. As the mentally challenged population remains steady at nearly 3 percent of the population, the job growth rate is stable.

An online PhD in human services is a worthy goal. Students who pursue a top online doctorate in human services are generally dedicated, talented individuals who wish to serve others in a fulfilling way, and obtaining a PhD online often translates into better job security and an increased salary. The best online PhD programs in human services will prepare the candidate to master and overcome challenges. The best online schools can be the starting point to rewarding careers in the field of human services.