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Social and Community Services Specialization Doctor of Philosophy in Human Services

School of Counseling and Human Services

Public Service Needs You

Become the leader that your community needs. Capella’s online PhD in Human Services, Social and Community Services degree builds on and deepens your knowledge of social issues and public service leadership. This specialization provides advanced study of contemporary issues affecting social and community services as well as prepares you to assume a leadership roles as a social change agent at community, state, and national levels. Upon graduation you’ll be prepared to teach, engage in research, and provide consultation services within the field.

At a Glance

  • Online and In Person
  • 9 Core Courses
  • 7 Specialization Courses
  • 2 Elective Courses
  • 3 Dissertation Research Seminars
  • Comprehensive Examination
  • Dissertation

Classes Start September 10th

Ready to get started? We’re ready for you. Chat with an enrollment counselor or apply now to take the first step on the journey toward your future. 

Admission Requirements »  | $50 Application Fee

What You’ll Learn

Put Ethics First

Advance the professional ethics of the social and community services profession.

Contribute to Viable Research

Conduct valid, reliable, and ethical research in the social and community services discipline.

Evaluate Current Practices

Critically evaluate theories and current practices being used in public service.

Embrace Diversity

Embrace and value the need for diversity in the decision-making process.

Dive Deep on Current Issues

Evaluate social phenomena, current trends, and pressing issues facing public service today.

Think & Communicate Critically

Think and write critically and professionally in the social and community services sphere.

Program Features

Our program offers additional benefits you might be interested in.

Professionally Aligned Curriculum

Our competency-based curriculum aligns with professional standards so you gain the most relevant skills and knowledge.

Scholar-Practitioner Faculty

Learn the latest in theory and practice from experienced doctoral faculty who are actively engaged in the human services profession.

Flexible, Engaging Online Learning

Access your courseroom anytime, anywhere, with any device; set your own schedule while meeting deadlines.

Capella offers both a PhD and a professional doctorate in human services.

Choose the PhD if your interest is research in policy and program design for systemic change in the profession. Choose the doctor of human services to apply advocacy and problem-solving research in the community.

Cost & Learning Format

Online education isn’t one size fits all. We know you’re busy—you need a learning experience tailored to your life, not the other way around. Capella has learning and tuition formats to suit you, however you learn. 

Our original learning format offers extra structure for those who want it.  We'll set the schedule, you meet the deadlines. 

  • Based on the quarter system; 1-3 courses per 10-week quarter
  • 1 semester credit = 1.5 quarter credits
  • Weekly assignments and courseroom discussions
  • Pay for what you take, price varies by courseload or term
$697 per credit, 92 total quarter credits, 16 max transfer credits

Get the Details

Speak with an enrollment counselor to get a personalized cost estimate for what you can expect to pay.

Ways to Save

At Capella, we believe your education is an investment in your future. It’s also an investment within your grasp. Your goals are achievable—there are more ways to save than you might think. 

10% Military Discount

Active-duty military service members, their spouses, and veterans could be eligible for a discount.

Transfer Credits

We can accept many transfer credits from regionally accredited schools. 

Employer & Association Discounts

Many employers and organizations partner with Capella to offer tuition discounts. Talk to an enrollment counselor to learn more. 

Riverbend City, an interactive tool, lets you apply skills in a multidisciplinary environment.

Applying your knowledge in a realistic setting will help you develop skills as a collaborative leader, negotiator, communicator, and advocate.

Accredited & Respected

Capella University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Accreditation and recognitions provide the assurance we meet standards for quality of faculty, curriculum, learner services, and fiscal stability. See all of our accreditations and recognitions

Sample Courses

The online social and community services doctoral degree curriculum offers in-depth study of major community and social issues and social science research, along with elective courses that allow you to focus on areas that reflect your professional interests and career goals.

Dissertation Research Seminar

Allows you to work extensively on your dissertation topic, methodology, literature review, and research plan early in your program.

Support to Reach the Finish Line

Our doctoral curriculum is designed to give you dedicated support early in your program—so you can be confident in the steps to completing your degree.

Dissertation Mentors

During your dissertation, you’ll be matched with an experienced mentor who will help you stay on track to completing your degree.

Some of the courses you will take:

Course Number Course Title
HMSV8002 Multidisciplinary Practice and Case Analysis for Doctoral Learners
HS8476 Methods of Family Research
HS8478 The Family in Social Context
HS8764 Contemporary Issues in Compulsive and Addictive Behavior Treatment

Faculty & Support

You’re never going it alone at Capella. Our dedicated faculty and support teams are waiting to guide, help, and advise you through every step of your educational journey.

Enrollment Counselors

These folks are superstars. We hear it from our students (and grads). They’re here to help find a program fit and set you up for success.  


Our distinguished faculty members hold top credentials in their fields. They’re here to teach the knowledge and skills you’ll need, now.

Doctoral Advising

A doctoral degree takes special effort. It's why we offer expert support at every step to keep you moving forward toward your goal.

Career Center

For this team, it’s more than résumés and interview tips. It’s about thoughtful and strategic career planning—beyond graduation.

Relevant Blog Posts

Why Collaboration is Key to Human Services

Collaboration is the new norm for human services. These 3 examples from the field demonstrate why.

Find the Right Human Services Career for You

Jobs in human services range from working with clients to managing organizations to building infrastructures.

Difference Between a Doctor of Human Services and PhD in Human Services

Find out which type of doctoral degree in human services is the best match for your career goals.

Move Forward in Your Career

Here are just some of the career options you could explore with our PhD in Human Services, Social and Community Services degree.

Related Job Titles to Explore*

  • Adjunct or part-time faculty
  • Administrator
  • Advisor
  • Case manager/worker
  • Director
  • Executive director
  • Full-time, part-time or adjunct faculty
  • Program manager
  • Supervisor

Related Employment Settings to Explore

  • Hospital or medical center
  • Child welfare/children's services
  • Adoption/foster care agency
  • Department of social service
  • Public child welfare organization
  • Advocacy organization
  • Corporation
  • Department of criminal justice
  • International aid organization
  • International human rights agency
  • Government—local, state, federal
  • Health

*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.

Other Programs to Explore

Is this program close to what you need, but maybe not a perfect fit? The programs below might be interesting. Check them out to find one that suits your academic and professional goals.

Ready for the Next Step?

Learning online doesn't mean going it alone. Help is here. From faculty, coaches, advisors, and more. Plus a supportive community of students who are as passionate about their careers as you are about yours.