Best Online Associate in Human Services Degrees for 2023

Associates Degree in Human Services Career Options & Salary

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Overview of an Associate in Human Services

Human service degrees are all about one central thing: helping individuals improve their lives. Typically, this degree focuses on helping people find the resources and support they need to get a fresh start or simply maintain their lives. You can also use an online or traditional human services degree to jump-start a career as an addiction or substance abuse counselor. Some social workers get their start in general human services careers.

A degree in human services will set the foundation for a rewarding career helping others. Your coursework will set the stage both for fantastic entry-level positions and for a bachelor’s degree if you choose that later. In fact, an associate's from a human services program can prepare you for many paths: psychology, sociology, social service or social work, mental health, substance abuse, etc.

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An online or traditional degree in human services has much to recommend it. The skills you will learn will help you land a job helping people through a non-profit or a government agency, but you’ll find that those skills are also applicable in other settings. Thus, your two-year degree is both specific enough to help you get to work immediately in your field, move into continuing education, and a good general background for a variety of other employment, should you decide on a career change or if you're want to explore a move into a leadership position.

The degree also benefits from the fact that it’s relatively quick to complete. After two years, or less with an accelerated online program, earning your diploma, you will be sending resumes to employers/organizations or applications to bachelor's degree programs. This field also lends itself easily to either online study or traditional classrooms, no matter which you are most interested in after finishing high school.

This degree may be enough to allow you to become a Human Services Board Certified Practitioner, which cah help you move your career forward.


While there are so many positive aspects of a human services associate degree, there are also drawbacks. One chief drawback is that many states won’t allow you to attain any sort of state licensure with only a two-year degree rather than a bachelor's degree. You may also find it difficult to find professional certifications to add to your degree.

On top of that, you will likely need a Bachelor of Arts (or Science) so that you can be promoted. While a two-year degree puts you virtually halfway to a BA, you will still need to rearrange your life for two or more years to finish your courses and move up.

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What are the Best Online Associate in Human Services College Programs?


Purdue University

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $9,992
    • Out-of-state: $28,794
  • Net Price: $12,294
  • Retention Rate: 93%
  • Graduation Rate: 83%
  • Total Enrollment: 46,655
  • Undergrad Students: 35,706
  • Graduate Students: 10,949
  • Diplomas Awarded: NA
  • Grads Salary: $55,100
  • Student-to-faculty: 13:1
  • Purdue University

Indiana Wesleyan University

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $28,184
    • Out-of-state: $28,184
  • Net Price: $21,827
  • Retention Rate: 81%
  • Graduation Rate: 72%
  • Total Enrollment: 3,108
  • Undergrad Students: 2,677
  • Graduate Students: 431
  • Diplomas Awarded: NA
  • Grads Salary: $49,900
  • Student-to-faculty: 13:1
  • Indiana Wesleyan University

Elizabethtown College

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $32,960
    • Out-of-state: $32,960
  • Net Price: $25,767
  • Retention Rate: 89%
  • Graduation Rate: 72%
  • Total Enrollment: 1,881
  • Undergrad Students: 1,688
  • Graduate Students: 193
  • Diplomas Awarded: 4
  • Grads Salary: $44,800
  • Student-to-faculty: 12:1
  • Elizabethtown College

Bismarck State College

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $4,731
    • Out-of-state: $6,657
  • Net Price: $10,350
  • Retention Rate: 68%
  • Graduation Rate: 48%
  • Total Enrollment: 3,716
  • Undergrad Students: 3,716
  • Graduate Students: 0
  • Diplomas Awarded: 3
  • Grads Salary: $44,800
  • Student-to-faculty: 14:1
  • Bismarck State College

Minot State University

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $7,896
    • Out-of-state: $7,896
  • Net Price: $11,949
  • Retention Rate: 71%
  • Graduation Rate: 55%
  • Total Enrollment: 2,920
  • Undergrad Students: 2,656
  • Graduate Students: 264
  • Diplomas Awarded: NA
  • Grads Salary: $41,200
  • Student-to-faculty: 11:1
  • Minot State University

Alexandria Technical & Community College

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $5,649
    • Out-of-state: $5,649
  • Net Price: $12,976
  • Retention Rate: 68%
  • Graduation Rate: 61%
  • Total Enrollment: 2,549
  • Undergrad Students: 2,549
  • Graduate Students: 0
  • Diplomas Awarded: 2
  • Grads Salary: $38,500
  • Student-to-faculty: 20:1
  • Alexandria Technical & Community College

Cornerstone University

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $26,250
    • Out-of-state: $26,250
  • Net Price: $20,112
  • Retention Rate: 86%
  • Graduation Rate: 65%
  • Total Enrollment: 1,917
  • Undergrad Students: 1,461
  • Graduate Students: 456
  • Diplomas Awarded: 12
  • Grads Salary: $35,400
  • Student-to-faculty: 15:1
  • Cornerstone University

Monroe College

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $16,536
    • Out-of-state: $16,536
  • Net Price: $12,330
  • Retention Rate: 80%
  • Graduation Rate: 62%
  • Total Enrollment: 6,541
  • Undergrad Students: 5,739
  • Graduate Students: 802
  • Diplomas Awarded: 92
  • Grads Salary: $30,300
  • Student-to-faculty: 16:1
  • Monroe College

Brescia University

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $25,100
    • Out-of-state: $25,100
  • Net Price: $14,464
  • Retention Rate: 71%
  • Graduation Rate: 36%
  • Total Enrollment: 986
  • Undergrad Students: 893
  • Graduate Students: 93
  • Diplomas Awarded: 6
  • Grads Salary: $40,100
  • Student-to-faculty: 11:1
  • Brescia University

Waukesha County Technical College

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $4,588
    • Out-of-state: $6,682
  • Net Price: $9,714
  • Retention Rate: 73%
  • Graduation Rate: 40%
  • Total Enrollment: 6,952
  • Undergrad Students: 6,952
  • Graduate Students: 0
  • Diplomas Awarded: NA
  • Grads Salary: $35,900
  • Student-to-faculty: 22:1
  • Waukesha County Technical College
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Certificate vs. Associate's

There are many programs these days that offer certificates in human services. They also typically offer online associate degrees. The chief advantage of a certificate is that you can often complete these programs in a year, sometimes faster. However, you'll need to consider your long-term opportunities. That is, if you spend one additional year in school to attain an online associate degree, you can complete most, if not all, of the core curriculum you will need for a baccalaureate degree. Both of these are available through online learning formats. Once you have a degree, you will find that it’s easier to find a better job with higher pay.

What Human Services Associates Degrees are Available Online?

  • Associate of Arts in Human Services
    An AA in Human Services is generally aimed at topics such as policy, law, counseling, or other non-STEM courses. You can certainly launch a career with an AA degree and use it as a foundation for a BA as well.
  • Associate of Science in Human Services
    AS degrees don’t often differ much from AA degrees, especially in the field of human services. However, an AS degree could put more weight on statistics or other analytical metrics.
  • Associate of Applied Arts in Human Services
    An AAA is an arts degree that is designed specifically for preparing you to work in the human services field. Your transcript might not include all the purely academic courses a baccalaureate program would like to see. This is because applied degrees often rely more heavily on non-academic, occupational sources than texts and papers that have been peer-reviewed and/or written by degreed social scientists.
  • Associate of Applied Sciences in Human Services
    In terms of coursework and overall degree efficacy, your AAS degree might look almost identical to its arts equivalent. Your applied science courses are sure to focus more on occupational information. As such, you will receive great job training, but you may need to take more courses if you decide to apply for a BS degree.

Online Admission Requirements

To enter an online associate degree program for human services, you will need to complete an application packet that includes your academic transcripts, letters of recommendation, and a personal essay that details your motivations and plans for the degree. This is true for online and traditional programs. For an online associate-level degree, you typically need a high school diploma, or the equivalent. Your letter of recommendation might come from an employer, a teacher, or some respected member of the community, but not a friend. If you have any experience working in human services, or even any related experience, you should be sure to include that in an essay or during an interview as well.

How long does it take to earn an online Human Services Associate's?

Most online associate degrees are created with a two-year time frame in mind. However, some, especially those offered online or through hybrid programs (with online and in-person courses) provid accelerated pathways to graduation that take 18 months. You should strive to meet at least the two-year time frame. The faster you complete your AA degree, the faster you can land a job in your field or begin considering the next chapter in your academic career.

In order to expedite your coursework, you should start off with a plan for how you intend to manage classes and your other obligations. This plan might involve a mixture of classroom and online classes, taking heavier loads of classes for some terms, and other strategies. You can also discuss your plans with an academic adviser.

Potential Careers in Human Services with an Associates

  • Addiction Counselor
    In this position, you will work with men and women who suffer from addiction. You might work in a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility or in a stand-alone office where you see clients on an hourly basis. Depending on your state’s regulations, there may be an extended period in which you need to train and accrue supervised hours.
    The average salary for this position is $40,000.
  • Community Outreach Coordinator
    With some managerial experience, you might work in outreach as a coordinator. This position frequently involves having a high profile in the community. You might serve as the primary contact person when designing a new program, and you might be listed on press releases in case reporters need to know more about your organization and its functions.
    Community outreach coordinators earn an average yearly salary of $42,200.
  • Social Worker
    This occupational title covers a wide range of duties. You could work one-on-one with developmentally disabled people or in a group home for people who suffer with psychiatric disorders. There are also positions where your primary workplace will be in an office helping people access resources for themselves and their families.
    The average salary for a social worker is $48,000.
  • Case Manager
    Your online associate degree will be an immense help when applying for case manager positions. This job will ask you to work with certain populations as they strive to improve their lives. You might work with recovering addicts or alcoholics who may need help navigating various social services agencies or keeping an eye on low-income elderly people who may need assistance.
    The annual salary for case managers is $41,400.
  • Health Educators
    Your work as a human services professional might involve teaching various populations how to improve and maintain their health. While educational duties might be only a part of your job, you might find that you do this full-time for older populations, for instance, who need assistance understanding and taking their medications.
    The annual salary for professionals in this position is $46,200.

Options to Advance

If you wish to advance your career, you will need some mixture of experience and education. Once you complete your online associate degree, seek the best possible job to suit your credentials and your long-term goals. It’s important to not only gain experience, but also experience that will help you advance later on.

You should also consider going on to complete a baccalaureate program. A four-year degree can qualify you for certain promotions and raises. This is especially true if you are working in the public sector (government). You might also consider a slight shift of focus to social work. If you have worked with your Human Services AA degree for a few years and love the work, a social work degree will more likely enable you to earn state licensure. However, many complete a BA in Human Services before applying for a Master of Social Work degree (MSW).

Frequently Asked Questions

What is human services and is it the same as social work?

Human services is a broad field that encompasses a variety of disciplines and professions aiming to improve the well-being of individuals, families, and communities. Professionals in this field help people meet their basic needs and promote self-sufficiency and independence. They provide a range of services and support like counseling, advocacy, and case management, and often work closely with other professionals such as social workers, counselors, and medical workers to provide comprehensive services.

Human services and social work are related fields, but they are not the same. Human services is more broad, encompassing a variety of disciplines and professions, while social work is a specific profession within the human services field. Social workers have set of skills and knowledge that are focused on helping individuals, families, and communities to overcome barriers and achieve their goals. Human services professionals have a more generalist approach to their work and may not have the same level of education and training requirements as social workers.

What are the categories of human services?

Human services is a broad field that encompasses a variety of disciplines and professions, some of the main categories of human services include the following.

  • Counseling:
    Providing emotional support and guidance to individuals, families, and groups
  • Case management:
    Coordinating and providing support services to clients such as housing, medical care, and financial assistance
  • Advocacy:
    Promoting the rights and interests of individuals, families, and communities
  • Community Organizing:
    Working with communities to build capacity and address social issues
  • Social Work:
    Helping individuals, families, and communities to overcome barriers and achieve their goals
  • Rehabilitation:
    Assisting individuals with disabilities to achieve their full potential
  • Mental Health Services:
    Providing support and treatment to individuals with mental health issues


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