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Top Online Human Services Schools

Human Services

Top Online Human Services SchoolsHuman service workers, commonly known in the U.S. as social workers, are responsible for identifying people and assisting those in need of help as a result of an illness, disability or abuse. Human services workers assess the needs of clients and develop plans to improve their well-being. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that many social workers spend their time in offices, but some may be required to travel to see their clients and that the work they perform may be stressful (BLS.gov, 2012). The BLS also notes that a bachelor’s degree is required for many social worker positions and that some may require a graduate degree. Degrees in related areas, such as psychology or sociology, may also be accepted for employment; however, many require a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW). Health care service workers are required to be licensed and obtain a master’s degree in social work, or an MSW (BLS.gov, 2012). The Association for Social Work Boards (ASWB) provides information on each state’s licensing requirements.

The ASWB also notes that, with a few exceptions, licensure is only available to those who have earned a BSW or MSW. And while there are some accredited online programs which offer a BSW or higher, unless the program has been approved by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), the degree will not count toward the ASWB’s licensure requirements, preventing employment as a social worker in any of the health care industries.

Top Online Human Services Schools

U.S. News & World Report has compiled a list of the top social work programs in 2012. Rankings are based solely on peer-assessment surveys results, other administrators and/or faculty at accredited degree programs or schools in social work. According to U.S. News & World Report's 2012 rankings, the following schools have the top five undergraduate social work programs:

1.  University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
1.  Washington University in St. Louis
3.  University of Chicago
3.  University of Washington
5.  Columbia University

Human Services Careers

According to the BLS, the primary careers for graduates of a social work program include child, family and school social workers; health-care social workers; and mental health and substance abuse social workers According to the BLS, employment of child, family and school social workers is expected to grow by up to 20 percent between 2010 and 2020, employment of health-care social workers is expected to grow by 34 percent, and employment of mental health and substance abuse social workers is expected to grow by 31 percent (BLS). Social workers earned a national median annual wage of $54,220 in 2011 (BLS).

In 2011, the BLS notes, social workers were widely employed in the following industries:

  • Local government
  • Federal executive branch
  • State government
  • Individual and family services
  • General medical and surgical hospitals

Learn more about accredited human services programs from schools and colleges through SchoolsGalore.com

Colleges and universities should be accredited by the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC) or by another accrediting agency approved by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) (or both). DETC and CHEA both provide a searchable list of approved schools.

The Council on Social Work Education, a national accreditation body, has accredited 701 social work bachelor’s and master’s degree programs. They provide a searchable list of accredited social work degree programs in the U.S. For students in Canada, the Canadian Association for Social Work Education also provides a list of accredited Canadian schools which provide social work degree programs.

Sources and further reading:

Council for Higher Education Accreditation

U.S. Department of Education

Distance Education and Training Council

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

O*NET Online

Council on Social Work Education

Canadian Association for Social Work Education

Association of Social Work Boards

U.S. New & World Report

Online Human Services Schools