From hunger and homelessness to unemployment and mental health crises, human services professionals help people navigate complex life challenges.

Their goal? To help people move forward with their lives and regain self-sufficiency.

But not everyone in human services works directly with people in need. Visionary managers and executives are needed to lead institutions and communities. Research is necessary to make a case for funding and other kinds of support. And teachers who inspire others are critical to helping keep the human services field full of bright, engaged people.

If you’re interested in making big changes happen in human services, you probably need an advanced degree. If you know what you want to do, here’s a guide to choosing the master’s or doctoral degree that fits your ambitions.

If you want to…

Lead important changes in your organization or community.

The degree to explore:

Master of Science in Human Services

Specialization: Leadership and Organizational Management

Courses are rooted in a multi-disciplinary approach to decision-making, and the primary focus is collaboration among various stakeholders within public service. The curriculum also examines how research informs the delivery of human services, with particular emphasis on advocacy, legal and ethical issues, and work with culturally diverse populations.

Related job titles to explore*:

• Social services manager

• Program director, children and family services

• Director of child welfare services

• Adoption services manager

If you want to…
Empower and advocate for individuals and communities in for-profit, nonprofit, or government settings.

The degree to explore:

Master of Science in Human Services

Specialization: Social and Community Services

Coordination and management of direct service programs is the focus of this master’s specialization. Students learn how to promote community engagement, advocacy, and collaboration in for-profit, nonprofit, and government organizations.

Related job titles to explore*:

• Program manager

• Community outreach manager

• Adoption services manager

• Vocational rehabilitation manager

If you want to…
Develop advanced leadership skills that can help transform organizations and empower culturally diverse communities for change.

The degree to explore:

Doctor of Human Services

Specialization: Leadership and Organizational Management

Learning in this doctoral specialization focuses on increasing organizational effectiveness through strategic planning, evidence-based best practices, and outcome measurement. To become an effective leader in human services, students hone their knowledge and skills in negotiation and mediation, conflict management, and multidisciplinary collaboration.

Related job titles to explore*:

• Program director, children and family services

• Director of child welfare services

• Social services director

• Executive director

If you want to…

Do advanced study in community leadership.

The degree to explore:

PhD in Human Services

Specialization: Multidisciplinary Human Services

This degree explores how leaders in human services approach complex social problems, create innovative solutions, and facilitate change. The theory and practice of change leadership, program development and management, strategic planning, research, and ethics are explored.

Related job titles to explore*:

• Director of human services

• Behavioral specialist/consultant

• Community programs director

• Adjunct, part-time, or full-time faculty

If you want to…
Study nonprofit executive management.

The degree to explore:

PhD in Human Services

Specialization: Nonprofit Management and Leadership

Leadership, organizational and community collaboration, nonprofit culture, management strategies, and NGO operation are the focus of this degree. Students immerse themselves in the theory and practice of fund development, public policy implementation, program evaluation, and performance improvement in the nonprofit sector.

Related job titles to explore*:

• Chief development officer

• Director of community engagement

• Program director

• Adjunct, part-time, or full-time faculty

If you want to…
Teach at the college level or engage in research around social issues and public service leadership.

The degree to explore:

PhD in Human Services

Specialization: Social and Community Services

Students in this degree area develop a deep knowledge of contemporary issues that impact social work and community services. They also examine the skills needed to lead social change at community, state, and national levels.

Related job titles to explore*:

• Executive director

• Executive director

• Agency director

• Administrator

• Adjunct, part-time, or full-time faculty

• Agency director

• Administrator

• Adjunct, part-time, or full-time faculty

Learn more about human services and the degrees you need to succeed in the profession.

*These are examples intended to serve as a general guide. Some positions may prefer or even require previous experience, licensure, certifications, and/or other designations along with a degree. Because many factors determine what position an individual may attain, Capella cannot guarantee that a graduate will secure any specific job title, a promotion, salary increase, or other career outcome. We encourage you to research requirements for your job target and career goals.