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associate degree in social work online

Last Updated on August 12, 2023 by Oluwajuwon Alvina

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10 Best Online Associate in Human and Social Services Degrees

Anyone not able or ready to pursue a bachelor’s degree in social work should consider obtaining an associate degree in human and social services first. Two-year associate programsare open to students holding at least a high school diploma or GED. Associate degrees allow students to prepare for entry-level human services jobs serving multicultural individuals, groups, families, and communities in need. It’s an excellent degree path for social and human service assistants with an average annual wage of $33,190. Earning an associate degree will also seamlessly transfer credits into a bachelor’s program for advancement. To help start your college search, we’ve listed the following 10 Best Online Associate in Human and Social Services Degrees.

Organizing our ranking began with finding online colleges in the United States offering associate degrees in human services primarily at a distance. Selected schools had to be accredited by regional agencies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education for credit transfer. We looked for online universities with good reputations in popular rankings, such as the U.S. News, Forbes, and Washington Monthly. All associate programs must have offered a range of available electives for degree specialization. Allowing for fieldwork in students’ local hometowns was also preferred. Other important factors considered were class size, tech support, flexibility, degree length, transfer options, and job placement rate.

Associate degree in social work online

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Over 5.5 million students at U.S. degree-granting colleges are enrolled in at least one online course. Online learning is a popular, flexible alternative to campus-based human services associate programs. Studying online will let you fit courses anytime into your busy work, family, and social schedule. Most online colleges offer accelerated class sessions to speed through your associate-level training. Engaging in a virtual classroom gives you the technical skills for communicating in the 21st century. Online degrees are also usually more affordable to maximize your degree’s worth. Graduates are poised to enter a social service sector that will add over 257,000 jobs through 2024.

Earn your credentials conveniently with these 10 Best Online Associate in Human and Social Services Degrees:

1. Pennsylvania State University

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Labeled a “Public Ivy,” Pennsylvania State University is a flagship, multi-campus RU/VH research institution enrolling over 97,500 students total from Happy Valley and beyond. The U.S. News ranked PSU as America’s 47th Best National University and 14th Top Public School. Penn State’s World Campus offers an accredited Associate in Science (A.S.) in Human Development and Family Studies online. Two certificate options are available in Adult Development and Aging Services or Children, Youth, and Family Services. The 72-credit curriculum integrates fieldwork and a culminating internship in students’ local communities. Credits can transfer into PSU’s online B.S. in Human Development and Family Studies program.

Tuition: $13,516

2. Brescia University

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Founded by the Ursuline Sisters in 1925, Brescia University is a private, co-educational Roman Catholic institution educating around 1,000 students in Owensboro, Kentucky, and online. According to the U.S. News, Brescia is the 50th Best Regional College in the South. Through BUOnline, students can pursue the Associate of Arts (A.A.) in Human Services. This 63-credit program has flexible online courses with five start dates each year. With Southern Association of Colleges and Schools accreditation, the degree brings together content in sociology, social work, psychology, crisis counseling, and case management. Fieldwork prepares students for entry-level human services jobs. Graduates can also transfer seamlessly into Brescia’s online Bachelor of Social Work.

Tuition: $20,440

3. Columbia College

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Enrolling around 2,100 students, Columbia College is a selective private, non-profit Christian liberal arts institution headquartered in Columbia, Missouri. As an elite Association of American Universities member, Columbia is recognized by the U.S. News for America’s 106th Best Online Undergraduate Programs. The regionally accredited Online Campus offers an Associate in Science in Human Services. This empirical-based program develops the fundamental skills for careers in advocacy, case management, counseling, public policy, social welfare, and more. Consisting of 60 credits, the curriculum places emphasis on serving diverse, minority cultures. A 135-hour human services internship can be added. Columbia also offers the A.S. at 14 campuses nationwide, from Kansas City to Orlando.

Tuition: $8,240

4. Cornerstone University

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Located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Cornerstone University is a private, non-denominational Christian institution with Higher Learning Commission/North Central Association of Colleges and Schools and Association of Theological Schools accreditation to educate over 3,000. According to the U.S. News and World Report, Cornerstone is the Midwest’s 108th Best College and 82nd Top School for veterans. CUOnline’s web-based Learning Management System (LMS) allows online learners to complete the Associate of Science in Human Services. This 62-credit degree builds the professional skills to serve needy individuals in secular or faith-based agencies. Over 28 months, students join an accelerated, team-oriented cohort with 10 to 15 peers. Human services coursework culminates with a four-week field experience and applied project. Holding a minimum 2.0 GPA is required.

Tuition: $26,100

5. New England College

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Nestled in the White Mountains in Henniker, New Hampshire, New England College is a private, non-profit liberal arts institution educating over 2,000 on-site and online students. Regionally accredited by the North East Assocation of Schools and Colleges, New England College has the 114th Best Online Undergraduate Programs Nationally according to the U.S. News and World Report. The Associate of Science in Human Services is delivered 100 percent online to prepare students for various helping professions. Within the 60-credit curriculum, students build on the liberal arts to study sociology, psychology, substance abuse, counseling, and client assessment. Online students benefit from small class sizes and 24/7 support from University Alliance. New England College also awards a B.S. in Human Services online.

Tuition: $34,606

6. Franklin Pierce University

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First opened in 1962, Franklin Pierce University is an accredited private, non-profit liberal arts institution located in Rindge, New Hampshire, near Mount Monadnock to serve over 2,200. In Forbes magazine, Franklin Pierce was ranked the 186th Best College in the Northeast. The College of Professional Studies offers an online Associate of Arts in Human Services 100 percent online. Asynchronous online courses are completed in six, eight-week terms. Students build an e-Portfolio to record their learning experiences. The 60-credit curriculum has diverse electives ranging from addiction and poverty to child abuse and public relations. For resume-building, human services majors may complete an optional senior internship.

Tuition: $33,320

7. Western New Mexico University

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Offering over 70 areas of study, Western New Mexico University is a public, state-assisted higher learning institution educating approximately 3,500 students from Silver City. Known for winning Quality New Mexico’s highest Zia Award, WNMU is named the West’s 179th Best Bang For The Buck in Washington Monthly. Online learners can pursue the Associate of Arts in Human Services program with synchronous web-conferencing. The 64-credit degree promotes the improved accessibility and coordination of human services systems. A.A. students must complete 250 clock hours of supervised field internship. Graduates can segue into WNMU’s B.A. in Rehabilitation Services or Bachelor of Social Work online.

Tuition: $5,704 (in-state) or $13,364 (out-of-state).

8. Grace Bible College

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Affiliated with the Grace Gospel Fellowship, Grace Bible College is a private, evangelical Christian institution that’s regionally accredited to enlighten 1,100 students from Grand Rapids. The Washington Monthly named GBC The Nation’s 82nd Best Baccalaureate College for “contribution to the public good.” Altruistic students can pursue the Associate of Arts in Human Services program fully online via Blackboard. This 60-credit program takes 24 months to produce biblically-informed professionals for serving diverse communities. Cohorts contain 10 to 16 students to maximize instructor interaction. In the final semester, students complete a case study project. Some continue into GBC’s online Bachelor of Science in Human Services.

Tuition: $12,268

9. Thomas Edison State University

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With enrollment over 18,500, Thomas Edison State University is one of New Jersey’s 11 publicly funded higher education options located in the capital of Trenton. In 2013, The New York Times described TESU as the “College That Paved Way for Flexibility.” Online, self-directed learning is available for the Associate of Arts (A.A.) in Human Services. This 60-credit program fosters the practical professional skills and techniques to serve diverse client populations. Courses will delve into ethics, sociology, psychology, communication, counseling, and crisis intervention. TESU requires having at least six months (800 hours) of human services experience before the capstone.

Tuition: $6,135 (in-state) or $9,036 (out-of-state)

Associate degree in social work salary

Most of these jobs will be on the assistant or associate level and work under a supervisor and are an excellent way to gain experience. According to the 2019 statistics from the BLS, salaries for community and social service jobs range from $27,550 to $79,850.

Associate degree in human services online

The nationwide growth of social service and mental health programs has created exciting opportunities for prospective human services professionals. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects the addition of nearly 350,000 community and social service jobs between 2019 and 2029, with most coming from counseling and social worker careers.

With an online associate in human services, graduates can pursue entry-level positions in the field and lay the foundation for more advanced training. The degree equips learners with the skills and credentials needed to give back to their communities and help people manage and overcome various challenges.

What Are the Best Online Associate in Human Services Programs? Here Are Our Top 10:

 
#1Great Basin CollegeELKO, NV
#2Madisonville Community CollegeMADISONVILLE, KY
#3Ocean County CollegeTOMS RIVER, NJ
#4Minot State UniversityMINOT, ND
#5Union County CollegeCRANFORD, NJ
#6Brescia UniversityOWENSBORO, KY
#7Cornerstone UniversityGRAND RAPIDS, MI
#8Columbia CollegeCOLUMBIA, MO
#9Herkimer County Community CollegeHERKIMER, NY
#10University of the CumberlandsWILLIAMSBURG, KY

Best Accredited Online Associate in Human Services Programs

Great Basin College

Great Basin College enrolls about 4,000 students across multiple campuses in Nevada and online. Students can choose from more than 75 degree, diploma, and certificate programs at nine major schools, including more than 30 available through GBC Online.

GBC’s 61-credit associate in human services can be completed online in four semesters. Course topics include substance abuse fundamentals, introduction to counseling, and ethics in human services. Students must complete a two-part practicum and a human services seminar to conclude the program.

Over the past five years, graduates of this AAS in human services program have a cumulative GPA of 3.38. Students can also pursue related programs at GBC, including a bachelor’s in human services and a substance abuse counselor certificate program.

College

2

Madisonville Community College

Comprising three campuses across Kentucky and an online division, Madisonville Community College offers multiple education and training programs in fields like business, technology, healthcare, and arts and sciences. Students may also choose from a variety of online AAS degrees.

MCC offers an online associate of applied science in human services. This 60-credit program includes general education, technical core, and elective coursework in topics such as psychology, communication, and quantitative reasoning. Students must also satisfy a digital literacy requirement and complete a course in clinical practice, paraprofessional practice, or cooperative education in human services.

Students may begin the program in the fall or spring semester. Applicants must hold a high school diploma or the GED equivalent and provide ACT/SAT scores or submit to placement testing.

3

Ocean County College

Ocean County College enrolls more than 8,000 students online and at its campus in Toms River, New Jersey. Students may choose from more than 40 associate degrees and certificate programs, including nearly 20 that are available online.

OCC’s 60-credit associate of science in public service can be completed in four semesters. Students can choose from eight concentrations, including human services/social work. Core concentration coursework explores topics like introduction to social work, gerontology, and human behavior and the social environment. This online program culminates with a social work seminar and practicum.

OCC accepts applications on a rolling basis and admits students at the beginning of each semester. Online learners enjoy the same support resources as on-campus students, including library, advising, counseling, and career services.

4

Minot State University

Located in its namesake city in North Dakota, Minot State University enrolls more than 3,000 graduate and undergraduate students. MSU offers dozens of programs through five major academic colleges. It also delivers more than 20 degrees and certificates online.

MSU’s online associate of science in human services features a major in intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Students must complete 66 credits of general education and core coursework. The curriculum explores topics like human development, healthcare in IDD, and dual diagnoses. The program culminates in a field experience.

MSU offers most IDD courses once every two years. Students may also choose to pursue a certificate or bachelor’s degree in IDD through MSU.

5

Union County College

Established as New Jersey’s first community college, Union County College now hosts students across three campuses, two learning centers, and online. Students may choose from more than a dozen degrees and certificates offered fully online or through hybrid classes.

Union offers an online associate of science in social services to prepare aspiring social workers and human services professionals for entry-level careers. The 60-credit program spans four semesters and includes coursework in psychology and sociology. Students explore topics such as social inequality, community resources in human services, and social policy and welfare.

Students may submit their application at any time, and the program enrolls new learners in the fall and spring. Union offers various types of support to distance learners, including tutoring, advising, counseling, and career services.

6

Brescia University

One of the nation’s leading Catholic liberal arts institutions, Brescia University offers more than 50 graduate and undergraduate programs. Students can attend classes on campus in Owensboro, Kentucky, or pursue one of 10 degrees and certificates available through BUonline.

Brescia’s 63-credit associate in human services can be completed online in two years. The curriculum incorporates coursework from fields like social and behavioral science, religion and philosophy, and social work. Additionally, students must satisfy general education requirements in topics like English and public speaking.

Students interested in earning an online associate degree in human services can enroll at one of five start dates throughout the year. Experienced students may transfer in up to 42 credits from a regionally accredited school toward this associate program.

7

Cornerstone University

Based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Cornerstone University is a Christian liberal arts institution that oversees a seminary and distance programs delivered through CU Online. Students may choose from more than 20 online programs in areas like business, counseling and psychology, ministry, education, and human services.

CU’s online associate in human services prepares graduates for secular or faith-based human services careers. The 62-credit program emphasizes professional skills, offering classes related to digital literacy, leadership, sociology, and intercultural relations. Students conclude the program with a field experience or an applied project.

Participants usually graduate in 28 months. Students pursuing this AS in human services pay a universal per-credit tuition rate, regardless of their state of residence. CU boasts a graduate employment rate of 92%.

8

Columbia College

Originally named Christian Female College, Columbia College hosts roughly 18,000 students through 30 national locations, a main campus in Missouri, and an online division. Learners can choose from more than 40 graduate and undergraduate programs.

CC’s associate of science in human services can be completed entirely online or through a hybrid format. The 60-credit program includes a general education core and major area requirements, as well as electives and prerequisites. Students must also complete first-year writing and general education foundations seminars.

CC accepts applications on a rolling basis and admits students at the beginning of each semester. Applicants must have a high school diploma (or the GED equivalent) and a minimum 2.5 GPA. They must also meet minimum SAT or ACT score requirements.

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9

Herkimer County Community College

A member of the State University system of New York (SUNY) system, Herkimer County Community College enrolls more than 3,000 students on campus and online. Students can pursue more than 20 associate degrees and certificates — as well as hundreds of individual courses — through Herkimer’s Internet Academy.

Although the school’s online AAS in human services was not developed exclusively as a bridge program, graduates qualify to enter bachelor’s programs at other SUNY schools. The 64-credit program can be completed in two years. Coursework explores topics like psychology, sociology, communication, and case management.

Students may begin the program in the fall, spring, or summer term. Submitting ACT or SAT scores is optional. Transfer students may bring in credits from classes that they passed with a “C” or higher. However, they must earn at least 30 credits at Herkimer.

Cumberlands

10

University of the Cumberlands

The University of the Cumberlands enrolls nearly 17,000 students across two campuses in Kentucky and online. UC offers dozens of graduate, undergraduate, and certificate programs, including more than 40 online programs.

UC’s online associate in human services emphasizes behavioral theory, current social awareness, and professional helping skills. The 61-credit program includes general education requirements from six areas, including Christian faith and values and the humanities. Major coursework explores topics like basic counseling skills, case management, and human diversity and ethics. The program culminates in an internship and a seminar or professionalism class.

UC charges the same per-credit tuition, regardless of a student’s state of residence. Classes are delivered in eight-week terms throughout the year.

What Can I Expect From an Online Associate in Human Services Program?

The typical online associate in human services program explores introductory concepts in social work, counseling, psychology, and sociology. These programs teach students how to identify areas of need in human services and how best to intervene. These degrees usually require approximately 60 credits and take two years to complete.

AAS degrees may prepare students better for the workforce, whereas AA and AS degrees may result in more transfer credits.

Most schools award an associate of science (AS), associate of arts (AA), or associate of applied sciences (AAS) in human services. AA and AS programs may differ slightly in courses, leaning more toward theoretical training in the former and analytical training in the latter. Conversely, AAS degrees usually emphasize practical training, which might require more situational courses.

While the degrees can offer similar results, enrollees’ chosen program can impact their postgraduate options. AAS degrees may prepare students better for the workforce, whereas AA and AS degrees may result in more transfer credits. Some programs offer courses that can expand learners’ career options, such as healthcare courses or mental health training.

Though rarer at the associate level, human services students may also encounter concentrations. Specializing in a field, such as chemical dependency, counseling, or community programming, can help students find work in those areas. Concentrations may also help applicants meet admission requirements for more advanced training in those disciplines.

What Courses Will I Take in an Online Associate in Human Services Program?

The human services discipline spans multiple topics, and programs vary considerably in their focus. Nevertheless, all programs must cover similar core topics. The following list highlights the courses that often appear in associate in human services programs.

Introduction to Psychology

This course teaches students the field’s major theories and concepts. Coursework may examine the history of psychology and the causes and effects of various conditions. Learners also typically explore common assessment and treatment methods, along with new trends and movements.

Community Development

This course covers the uses and impacts of community programs that focus on healthy living, particularly among children, youth, women, and minority populations. Students learn how to assess community needs, run advocacy campaigns, and develop programs. Degree-seekers also learn to incorporate research and evidence into their efforts.

Introduction to Counseling

Enrollees examine major counseling techniques and methods used by professionals. They learn about the history of counseling, some of the leading causes for therapy, and strategies for arriving at positive outcomes. Some courses may examine specific types of counseling, such as family, group, and child counseling.

Group Dynamics

This course focuses on strategies for working with groups of individuals in a human services setting. Coursework may cover group counseling and how to mediate and accommodate discussion effectively. Some courses examine group projects and programs and how leaders can maximize the abilities of everyone involved.

Social Issues

Students learn about the major problems facing communities and human services professionals. They examine the causes of the problems and propose solutions while also identifying areas of need.

What Can I Do With an Online Associate in Human Services Degree?

Though many community and social service occupations require a bachelor’s degree at minimum, an associate in human services can qualify graduates for various entry-level positions. The BLS projects jobs for community and social service professionals to grow 12% between 2019 and 2029, more than three times faster than the average rate for all occupations.

After completing an associate degree, human services graduates can also pursue a bachelor’s degree in a more specialized field. Associate degrees typically feature lower tuition costs and several transfer credits, allowing degree-seekers to potentially reduce their overall education costs.

Community Health Workers

Community health workers teach community members about healthy living and wellness strategies. They design and run outreach programs, work with community and youth organizations, and encourage people to connect with local healthcare providers. According to BLS data, 18% of these professionals work in the government, 17% work in family services, and 14% work in religious organizations.

Social and Human Service Assistants

Social service assistants provide many services to clients, including assisting in rehabilitation programs, helping patients with their daily routines, and aiding patients with completing required documents. These professionals also support social workers, healthcare providers, and counselors. According to BLS data, 30% of these assistants work with family services, 12% work in nursing care facilities, and 11% work with local governments.

Substance Abuse Counselors

Substance abuse counselors help patients who suffer from various addictions and dependencies. They may offer advice, develop programs, examine mental health or underlying issues, and help clients better understand their challenges. According to the BLS, 19% of these counselors work in outpatient clinics, 16% work in family services, and 10% work in hospitals.

Human Resources Specialist

Human resources specialists handle various staffing, compensation, and employee relations tasks. They recruit and interview job candidates, conduct orientations and training, and manage staffing paperwork. According to BLS data, 15% of these specialists work in employment services, 13% work in professional services, and 11% work for the government.

Community Service Managers

Community service managers develop and oversee community programs and organizations. They identify community needs with research and analysis, design programs and campaigns to address these issues, and conduct advocacy and fundraising campaigns. According to the BLS, 29% of these managers work in family services, 12% work for religious organizations, and 11% work in nursing care facilities.

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