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Skills You Can Gain When Earning Your PhD in Human Services

Learn about the different skills you can acquire when you pursue your PhD in Human Services.

Pursuing your doctorate in human services is a great choice if you want to effect policy changes that improve the lives of individuals, families, and communities. Whether you’re looking to pursue a career as a scholar, director, or researcher, earning your PhD in Human Services can prepare you to champion and enhance social support systems for underserved populations. And in a high-quality human services doctoral program—like the one offered by Walden University—you can gain invaluable skills that can be immediately applied across a range of human services, including healthcare, housing, education, criminal justice, and beyond.

“Human services is such an evolving field because it’s constantly changing. Nothing is ever the same,” says Dr. Kristin Faix Wilkinson, program director for Walden University’s human services degree programs. “We touch so many facets of people’s lives—driving social change to make life better for individuals, families, communities, and organizations.”


Skills You Can Gain in a PhD in Human Services Program

Earning your PhD in Human Services can help you advance your research skills and add to the existing body of knowledge in your field. A focus on research is core to a PhD program’s curriculum and serves as a graduation requirement across disciplines. Prior to program completion, PhD candidates must write a dissertation that presents a research topic and any subsequent findings. For human services, research typically centers on relevant models, historical foundations, conceptual frameworks, social systems, and/or organizational theories. In Walden’s PhD in Human Services program, you can choose the general program or one of 10 specializations that enable you to further your research skills in an area you’re passionate about. Walden’s PhD in Human Services specializations include:

  • Advanced Research 
  • Criminal Justice 
  • Gerontology 
  • Higher Education
  • Nonprofit Administration
  •  Military Families and Culture
  • Community and Social Services 
  • Disaster, Crisis, and Intervention 
  • Family Studies and Intervention
  • Human Services
  • Mental Health

Like all terminal degrees, a PhD in Human Services is a highly valuable credential that can open the door to an array of senior-level positions. As such, the program is designed to prepare you with the global leadership competencies you need to serve and excel in these roles. At Walden, you can gain the leadership skills to effectively manage teams, implement policies at the highest levels, and stay ahead of the ever-changing social services landscape as a practitioner, professor, researcher, or administrator. And according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, this kind of leadership is in demand—employment for social and community service managers is projected to grow 17% from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations.1

The ability to advocate for others—particularly those who are unable to advocate for themselves—is one of the most important skills you can develop as a human services professional. That’s why it’s such a core component of all PhD in Human Services programs. Advocacy can look like a lot of things—it can mean working to remove barriers to social services, engaging directly with individuals and communities to inform progressive policies, and improving the quality and accessibility of various resources and services. It’s a vital skill set that prepares you to effectively communicate, encourage feedback, and give a voice to the ones who need it most. It’s not rooted in self-interest, but rather in promoting the greater good and continually working to make a difference in the lives of others.

Earn Your PhD in Human Services at Walden University

In Walden’s PhD in Human Services program, you can develop the advanced skills you need to empower communities and serve in leadership roles in a variety of settings, including universities, governmental and nongovernmental agencies, and nonprofits. Engage with an interactive learning community as you gain valuable insights from industry experts and thought leaders who are active in the field. And at Walden—an accredited university—it’s more convenient than ever to earn your doctoral degree in human services while balancing priorities. That’s because online education gives you the power to take your classes at whatever time of day works best for you from wherever you have internet access.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering a PhD in Human Services program online, as well as an array of social work programs. Expand your career options and earn your degree using a convenient, flexible learning platform that fits your busy life.


Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,