Comparing these online degree programs will help you decide which path will best help you advance your career goals.

Woman seated in office.

As “helping professionals,” people who choose careers in psychology, forensic psychology, and human services are all motivated by a desire to make a positive difference in the lives of individuals, families, and communities in need. Psychologists, forensic psychologists, and human services managers work with different populations across a broad range of settings, including:

  • Hospitals
  • Health clinics
  • Extended care facilities
  • Nursing homes
  • Home health agencies
  • Prisons
  • Courts
  • Private practice
  • Social services agencies

All three online bachelor’s degrees in psychology, forensic psychology, and human services will prepare you to continue your education at the master’s and doctoral levels, helping you gain advanced skills that can help you go further in your career. However, to ensure you choose the right bachelor’s degree program for the specific career you desire, it’s important to compare the most important features and career options of each degree.

BS in Psychology

An online bachelor’s in psychology degree program provides a broad overview of the field of psychology and introduces you to different theories, approaches, and perspectives in the field. Some bachelor of science in psychology programs also give you the option to choose a concentration so you can focus on the area that interests you most—for example, addiction or criminal justice. A psychology degree can prepare you for a variety of interesting entry-level positions such as alcohol counselor, case management aide, or social services liaison.*

BS in Forensic Psychology

If you already know that you want to pursue a career in forensic psychology, this bachelor’s degree is a smart choice for you, especially if you further focus your studies through a concentration. The curriculum of a bachelor’s degree in forensic psychology provides insight into the role of a psychologist in the criminal justice system—as well as how the system works in the first place. You might work with inmates, in the courts with criminal defense attorneys and prosecutors, or with victims and families. Forensic psychologists work in settings such as prisons, jails, rehabilitation centers, police departments, law firms, schools, government agencies, or private practice. With your BS in forensic psychology, you may have a competitive edge over other candidates when applying for positions such as forensic treatment specialist, victim’s advocate, or correctional officer.* You will also have a solid foundation for pursuing an MS in Forensic Psychology, and ultimately, a PhD in Psychology.

BS in Human Services

If you are interested in helping improve the lives of individuals and communities that are facing serious issues that endanger them or affect their quality of life, an online bachelor’s degree in human services can teach you specific skills for becoming their advocate and a positive change agent. Coursework focuses on topics like prevention, remediation of problems, conflict resolution, and improved delivery of essential services. A human services degree can prepare you for rewarding positions such as community support worker, child advocate, community activist, parole officer, or mental health support or aide.* This degree also gives you a foundation to pursue an MS in Human and Social Services, and, ultimately, a PhD in Human and Social Services.

Job Market and Salaries

The job market for psychologists is expected to grow by 12% between 2012 and 2022. The median annual wage for psychologists was $69,280 in May 2012, while the lowest 10% earned less than $38,720, and the top 10% earned more than $110,880.

The job market for social and community service managers is expected to grow by 21% between 2012 and 2022, faster than average for all professionals. The median annual wage for social and community service managers was $59,970 in May 2012, while the lowest 10% earned less than $36,250, and the top 10% earned more than $99,150.

*Career options may require additional experience, training, or other factors beyond the successful completion of this degree program.

†Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014–2015 Edition, Psychologists, Social and Community Service Managers, on the Internet at