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What Is Human Services?

With passion, dedication, and a desire to contribute to the greater good, professionals in the human services field improve quality of life and solve problems in communities.

The field of human services is wide, and occupations in the field vary a great deal as well. But the one thing that remains a constant is the focus on helping others. In fact, human services can be most easily defined as employing interdisciplinary knowledge to meet human need. People who serve in this field are dedicated to contributing to the common good and focus their efforts on groups—whether cultural, familial, occupational, or governmental. Most importantly, working in human services positions requires compassion and a desire to improve the lives of others.


With a background in human services, one might hold a managerial or administrative role at an agency that serves the needs of a community. Planning, supervision, coordination of services, and research are all duties that fall under the human services umbrella. Actual responsibilities will vary based on the position but could include:

  • Assisting families in navigating services offered in their communities.
  • Improving the living and working conditions of people in underserved communities.
  • Helping military families and veterans cope with the effects of trauma, extensive deployment, and parent-child separation.
  • Resolving disputes in a variety of organizations and promoting peace-keeping.
  • Rehabilitating offenders and supporting their victims while examining what factors lead to criminal behavior.
  • Implementing relief efforts amid disaster.
  • Finding health and home care for older adults.
  • Leading a human services organization.
  • Connecting those in need of mental health services to resources.
  • Working with legislators and lobbyists to shape and implement public policy.

Several education options exist to prepare an individual for a career in human services. Many universities offer associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees in human services, including Walden University. Its online MS in Human Services program offers a general program and eight specializations that allow students to focus their learning on a desired goal or career path, ultimately preparing them to better serve their clients.

With an advanced degree in human services, one could pursue a number of careers, including:1

  • Human services professional
  • Agency coordinator
  • Foster care counselor
  • Family services specialist 
  • Emergency management manager
  • Medical and health services manager
  • Development director  

Jobs for social and community service managers are projected to see 17% growth through 2029, which is much faster than the average for other occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Increases in the older adult population, demand for substance abuse treatment, and the need for mental health and other health-related services will drive this growth.2

The broad field of human services has a place for those who want to improve communities. With managerial, communication, problem-solving, and analytical skills, human services professionals aim to understand the causes of people’s hardships and then work to solve them. Walden’s MS in Human Services can prepare them for such work.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering an MS in Human Services degree program online. Expand your career options and earn your degree using a convenient, flexible learning platform that fits your busy life.

Note on Licensure: The MS in Human Services program, including its specializations, is not designed to lead to professional licensure including licensure as a professional therapist, counselor, social worker, or psychologist.

Career options may require additional experience, training, or other factors beyond the successful completion of this degree program.
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Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,