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PhD in Human Services Online Programs

PhD in Human Services Online Programs could be a flexible way to build human services leadership expertise. Programs may focus on the skills you might need to manage a human services organization. Some could focus on leadership in specific types of human services organizations. Others may look at the field in a more general sense.

Still more programs may focus on the academic side of human services. That could mean getting involved in research about how to help people and communities effectively. Whatever your human services goals, earning a PhD in human services online could be your path to achieving them.

PhD in Human Services Online Essentials

You might have a variety of reasons to choose to earn your PhD in human services online. One big one could be the flexibility. If you already work in human services, being able to fit your education in alongside your responsibilities could be a major factor. After all, you got into human services because you want to help people, right? Earning your human services degree online could enable you to be there for your clients and help your community, all while learning new ways to make an impact.

Online human services degree programs deliver courses digitally. You could access them via your compatible laptop, tablet, or other internet-enabled device. In other words, you might be able to do your coursework when and where is convenient for you. The specific technical requirements, course formats, and services offered may vary. Make sure you get in touch with your chosen schools to hear about all of the details.

What to Expect in PhD in Human Services Online Programs

Earning your PhD in human services is, ultimately, about learning how to help people more effectively. How you go about doing that could vary. That might depend on the program you choose, your career goals, and other factors. Regardless, the essential philosophy of working to help people remains the same. While a variety of human services doctoral programs may be available, they each tend to share the essential qualities.

Did You Know?

Human Services professionals might work in state and local government settings, hospitals, schools, and nonprofit organizations!i

PhD in Human Services Online Programs Focus on Leadership

Earning a PhD in Human Services is, on one level, about leadership. This is because human services doctoral programs focus on leading human services organizations, developing thought leadership, and more! 

Here are a few examples how they might do that:

  • Discuss how to lead a human services organization or program effectively.
  • Dissect human services-related research that could guide human services programs in the field.
  • Examine how human services programs can lead communities into a brighter future. You might discuss community development initiatives, and helping individuals and families succeed.

Each individual online PhD in human services program might approach the above in different ways. That could be influenced by the goals of that program, concentration areas, and other factors. For more information, get in touch with the representatives at the schools you’re considering and ask questions.

Expand Your Skill Set in an Online Doctorate in Human Services Program

PhD in human services online programs aim to help students learn new skills, so they can use those skills to help others. Some students might opt to earn a PhD in human services because they aspire to a new role to make a bigger impact. Others might want to hone their expertise to be as effective as possible in their current position. Whichever path you choose, online doctorate in human services programs could focus on the skills you want to develop.

Gain Experience Earning Your Human Services PhD

Another perk of earning your doctorate in human services is the experience. PhD in human services online programs may provide opportunities to gain valuable experience. That could include both working in the field and performing research. This might help to contextualize what you discuss in the classroom and apply it. They could also provide valuable material for your resume. Not to mention networking opportunities along the way.

Potential Online Doctorate in Human Services Concentrations

Some may prefer a human services doctoral program closely aligned with their experience and goals. To that end, some programs offer concentrations or program tracks. The specific options offered may vary between programs. In many cases, these concentrations align with certain types of human services organizations or roles. The following are examples of the types of concentrations you might find in different human services PhD programs.

  • Criminal Justice: This involves looking not only at the criminal justice system in itself, but also why people enter it in the first place. That could include the economic and social reasons for criminal behavior, how the law is enforced, and why people repeat that behavior. In a PhD program, you might also look at how to lead organizations related to criminal justice and prevention. This could include law enforcement, rehabilitation, and even programs to discourage criminal behavior.
  • Gerontology: This concentration examines the programs serving the elderly in your community. Some programs might focus on the sociological aspect of aging. Others might focus more on leading programs, organizations, and services that help the elderly every day.
  • Family Studies: If you want to learn more about helping real families in your community, concentrating in family studies may be a good fit. PhD programs might look at the needs of diverse families of all shapes and sizes. Courses might discuss intervention and therapy. They might also cover how to adapt different approaches to the needs of different kinds of families.
  • Nonprofit Administration: Focused on the organizational aspect of human services? Human services and nonprofit administration programs look at how to be an effective leader in those contexts. This could include fluency in legal and policy matters. Courses might also discuss personnel management, how to fund programs, and even develop them from the ground up.
  • Mental Health: These programs look at the organizational aspect of mental health services. PhD programs talk about the different types of mental health challenges, as well as treatment strategies. They also survey the different services available to help address those issues. PhD programs also discuss the challenges of administering mental health programs. More than that, they discuss how to overcome them and help as many people as possible.
  • Disaster Relief & Crisis Intervention: Want to help your community in an emergency. Maybe you aspire to help victims cope with crisis situations? Disaster relief and crisis intervention focused programs look at exactly that. They might focus on organizational strategies to make sure emergency services function efficiently. They might also look at intervention methods on an individual and family level. Programs may also discuss the psychology of how individuals and groups respond to crises.
  • Social Policy:  Want to use legal expertise to make a difference in your community? A PhD with a concentration in social policy could be a good fit. This involves learning about how legislation affects society. Classes might also discuss how social values impact legislation. And it might cover at how you could use that knowledge to shape policy or make organizational decisions.
  • Community Development & Leadership: Many human services programs focus on the needs of the individual. But some look at the bigger picture, and instead aim to improve the community as a whole. Some PhD programs focus on how to do that. This could involve studying things like infrastructure, economic development, and social change.  Course topics might also include social psychology, policy, project management, and more.

While this list may seem comprehensive, it might not reflect all the options that could be available. What’s more, some programs might not offer all of these. And how each program approaches different concentrations might vary depending on the goals of that school and their preferences. For more information about the options that might be open to you, reach out to your chosen schools for details.

Example PhD in Human Services Online Curriculum

Of course, the biggest reason you might want to earn your PhD in Human Services online is the knowledge you could learn in your classes. While the curriculum may vary widely by concentration, these are a few examples of the types of classes you might find in many human services programs.

  • Leadership and Personnel Management: As a leader in a human services or nonprofit setting, you could be responsible for leading a diverse team of professionals to success. That’s why many programs spend time discussing the roles and responsibilities of a leader, and how to help your team stay sharp.
  • Quantitative Reasoning and Analysis: One important part of effective human services management is understanding and utilizing data. Quantitative reasoning and analysis examines the ways in which we can take research data, understand it, and turn it into actionable knowledge.
  • Research Theory & Design: A doctor of human services might perform important research. What they learn in that research could impact the whole field of human services, and the success of many programs. Research theory courses look at how to do that. Classes might look at different ways to design research, conduct and analyze it. They might even talk about ethical considerations.
  • Grant Writing: One big leadership responsibility in human services is figuring out how to fund your programs.  That’s why some programs discuss and practice grant writing. Courses might talk about how to identify potential sources of funding. They might also practice preparing a budget, assessing needs, and composing an effective grant proposal.
  • Program Evaluation: As an expert, you might be asked to analyze programs, and make recommendations for improvement. Program evaluation courses focus on exactly that. Courses might discuss different strategies to evaluate program effectiveness.  They might also practice how to create evaluation plans, and ensure those evaluations are reliable.

These and other courses may vary by school, program and curriculum. What’s more, individual courses might vary in content and approach. If you’re looking for specific kinds of courses, or want to learn more about a certain program, get in touch with that school to ask questions.

Tips for Choosing Your PhD in Human Services Online Program

Choosing a PhD in human services online program is a big decision. How do you know which one is right for you? Balancing curriculum preferences, concentration options, your own schedule, your goals… It’s a lot to consider. Here are a few suggestions on questions to ask yourself during this search, to help identify what might work for you.

  • Does It Offer Your Concentration? Your goals are an important part of your school choice. If you want to work in a certain type of human services, it might be useful to look for schools whose programs can be tailored to those specific needs.
  • Does It Teach What You Need To Learn? You might be interested in learning more about certain things in your classes. If so, take a look at the curriculum in the schools you’re considering to see if they offer those courses.
  • Does It Work With Your Schedule? If you're already a busy human services professional, you might need to make sure your selected program works in your daily life. Some online programs emphasize flexibility. They might allow students to complete courses at whatever times each week work for them. Others might need you to be available at certain times for discussions and streamed lectures.
  • Are There Offline Requirements? Many programs could be completed one hundred percent online. But some online programs might still have things you’d need to do in person. Examples include field experience, observations, or even research presentations or other academic requirements.

These might not be your only considerations when you select your online human services PhD program. Feel free to add or remove any question from this list as you see fit! By thinking about your needs and goals, you might be able to narrow your list of contenders down to a few schools that really fit your preferences.

Search for PhD in Human Services Online Programs

If you’re ready to find your PhD in Human Services Online program, start your search with eLearners.com. Keep in mind your search criteria, personal goals, and other factors. Then read about the sponsored listings here! If you find one you think you might be interested in, click on “Request Info” to learn more or even apply.


[i] bls.gov/ooh/management/social-and-community-service-managers.htm#tab-3

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