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Drive Global Social Change With a PhD in Human Services

Do you want to further develop your scholarly expertise in human services delivery and practice? Let your passion drive your success. Whether you’re interested in teaching, leadership, or research, Walden’s online PhD in Human Services program can empower you to drive societal change on both a local and a global scale.

From your very first course, our program equips you with key research skills to help guide you through your dissertation. You’ll continue to be supported throughout your studies with our ongoing Community of Practice and Research (CPR) forums. Excel in your learning as you create new knowledge that can influence a better quality of life for individuals, families, communities, and society.

A PhD in Human Services program prepares human services scholar practitioners to address systemic societal issues and make a meaningful difference through effective policy, practice, teaching, and research.

Demystify Your Dissertation

Starting early in your program, you’ll build key research and writing skills to help you begin your dissertation with confidence.

Become a Master Researcher

By developing a solid research skill set, you’ll prepare to inform effective solutions to real and pressing social problems.

Get Comprehensive Support

Our academic centers and online Doctoral Degree Coach tool are just some of the ways we help you realize your dream of earning your PhD.

Build Your Career Edge

Refine your networking skills and create your professional portfolio with the Human Services hub of Walden’s Career Center.

Program Savings

Receive up to a $5,000 Grant if you reside in the U.S. and start this program on November 29, 2021. Contact one of our Enrollment Specialists to learn more.

Get Started Now

With a degree from Walden University, you can make a greater difference

Growing up in poverty, Jack knew that education was key. See how this Walden grad used his Walden degree to help a wrongfully convicted man gain his freedom.

General Program and Specializations

TRACK I: Choose this track if you have a master's degree from an accredited university in human services, counseling, social work, or psychology.

TRACK II: Choose this track if you hold a bachelor’s degree (in any field of study) from an accredited university or a master’s degree from an accredited university in a non-related field of study (any discipline other than human services, counseling, social work, or psychology). This track provides you with the option of earning your MS in Human Services as you progress toward your PhD.

General Program

Create your own learning experience and explore topics of interest that align with your personal and professional goals.

Track I Track II

Advanced Research

Explore advanced qualitative, quantitative, and mixed-method methodologies used in research projects.

Track I Track II

Community and Social Services

Study strategies to promote well-being in a variety of settings, including schools, communities, and organizations.

Track I Track II

Criminal Justice

Explore traditional and contemporary intervention and rehabilitation approaches for both offenders and victims.

Track I Track II

Disaster, Crisis, and Intervention

Study concepts specific to crisis counseling, including crisis intervention theories and models for working with diverse populations.

Track I Track II

Family Studies and Intervention

Study theoretical and clinical approaches to intervention, which emphasize the special needs of minorities and marginalized groups.

Track I Track II

Studies in Aging

Explore the impact of societal expectations on older adults and demographic trends, including global, cross-cultural issues in aging.

Track I Track II

Higher Education

Gain a broad understanding of the current educational environment and explore theories and best practices in adult learning.

Track I Track II

Human Services Nonprofit Administration

Study the nature of leadership in human service organizations, including the management of nonprofits.

Track I Track II

Mental Health

Develop the skills to help individuals navigate community mental health services.

Track I Track II

Military Families and Culture

Explore the impact of parent-child separation, frequent family relocations, and other issues experienced by military families.

Track I Track II

Admission Requirements

General Admission Program Requirements: Completed online application and transcripts. Please note that the materials you are required to submit may vary depending on the academic program to which you apply. More information for international applicants.

Your Doctoral Journey

At Walden, we’ll guide you every step of the way with a comprehensive suite of support resources designed to help you confidently pursue the finish line, including our Doctoral Degree CoachTM. Since being founded in 1970 for working professionals who want to make a difference, our university has grown to become the No. 1 granter of doctoral research degrees in the U.S.1 Are you ready to reach a higher level in your field?



Four academic residencies support your progress at key points in your doctoral journey. Residencies also strengthen your scholarly and professional connections.

Earn a Master’s Degree Along the Way

Walden understands the rigors involved with preparing for your doctorate. To signify how far you’ve come on your journey, you will be eligible to be awarded a Master of Philosophy (MPhil) or an MS in Human Services degree upon completion of all the master’s degree program requirements, prior to completion of your dissertation or doctoral study.

Highlight your academic achievement and show employers and others that you possess comprehensive knowledge in your field of study.

Earn a Doctoral Degree With Broad Impact

Aligned with Council for Standards in Human Service Education (CSHSE) guidelines, Walden’s online PhD in Human Services program equips you with a versatile skill set designed to help you succeed. This non-licensure program can unlock your leadership potential while building your teaching, research, and consulting skills. Explore how to test current assumptions, develop new theories, and create a platform for new knowledge that drives the evolution of human services delivery and practice.

Meet Your Academic Team

  • William Barkley

    Bill Barkley


    With Walden since 1998, Dr. Barkley has been a full-time core faculty member in the online PhD in Human Services program since 2011. He was on the faculty of Vanderbilt University in the Human Development Counseling and Community Development and Action graduate programs for 30 years.

  • Kristin Faix Wilkinson

    Program Director

    Dr. Faix Wilkinson holds certification as a Human Services-Board Certified Practitioner (HS-BCP). She began her 20-year human services career in vocational rehabilitation as a program specialist and working with children and adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

Learning Outcomes

At the end of this online PhD in Human Services program, you will be able to:

  • Develop strategies for assessing the needs of diverse populations based on human services theory and research.
  • Make ethical decisions based on the needs of diverse populations.
  • Conduct original research in human services to promote positive social change.
  • Advocate for individuals who are seeking human services supports.
  • Communicate effectively with others to promote the effective delivery of human services.
  • Develop a professional identity as a human services researcher.

Career Outlook

Employment in community and social service occupations is projected to grow 12% through 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations.1

With a PhD in Human Services, you can pursue opportunities throughout the globe as a transnational human services generalist and work in various settings and positions within human service organizations. Rise to the top of your field as a leader, researcher, or educator.

Walden is the


granter of doctoral research degrees.2

A PhD in Human Services can prepare you to work in settings such as:

  • Colleges, universities, and professional schools
  • Social assistance organizations
  • Hospitals
  • Executive, legislative, and other general government support areas

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


Have a Question?

Chat with a PhD in Human Services Enrollment Specialist.

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