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Explore our Online PhD in Human Services

There is a strong global need for human services professionals in government and nongovernmental organizations. Underserved populations across the world require a range of human services such as healthcare, social work, financial aid, criminal justice, food aid, education, and housing.

As a professional in human services, you are committed to empowering your community. Through our online PhD in Human Services degree program, you can deepen and broaden your ability to help others around the world live more productive, fulfilling, and independent lives.

The PhD in Human Services program empowers you to promote positive change through effective policy and practice in a global context. Coursework emphasizes a holistic, interprofessional approach to human services, preparing you to help individuals, families, organizations, and communities navigate the social support systems and identify other professionals available to assist them.

10 Specializations

Choose from the General Program or from 10 career-focused specializations that reflect trends in the profession and support your interests.


Gain skills you can apply immediately, including cross-agency collaboration, professional networking, policy implementation, and global leadership competencies.


Broaden your international understanding of the field with global content and case studies.


Engage with Interactive Learning Community, a learning tool that brings concepts to life through simulations and animated case studies.


Focus on professional skills such as grant writing and the development of an ePortfolio that reflects your student experience and helps you plan for future career growth.

Mentor Guidance

Available exclusively in our PhD in Human Services program, the Advanced Customized option gives you the flexibility to tailor your coursework to your career objectives and personal interests.

Program Savings

Receive up to a $4,000 grant if you reside in the U.S. and start this program on May 31, 2021. Contact one of our Enrollment Specialists to learn more.

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With a degree from Walden University, you can make a greater difference

Growing up in poverty, Jack knew that education was key. See how this Walden grad used his Walden degree to help a wrongfully convicted man gain his freedom.

General Program and Specializations

TRACK I: Choose this track if you have a master's degree from an accredited university in human services, counseling, social work, or psychology.

TRACK II: Choose this track if you hold a bachelor’s degree (in any field of study) from an accredited university or a master’s degree from an accredited university in a non-related field of study (any discipline other than human services, counseling, social work, or psychology). This track provides you with the option of earning your MS in Human Services as you progress toward your PhD.

General Program

Create your own learning experience through the General Program. Explore topics of interest that align with your personal and professional goals.

Track I Track II

Advanced Research

Explore advanced qualitative, quantitative, and mixed-method methodologies used in research projects.

Track I Track II

Community and Social Services

Study strategies to promote well-being in a variety of settings, including schools, communities, and organizations.

Track I Track II

Criminal Justice

Explore traditional and contemporary intervention and rehabilitation approaches for both offenders and victims.

Track I Track II

Disaster, Crisis and Intervention

Study the skills and practices specific to crisis counseling, including theories of crisis intervention and models for working with different populations. 

Track I Track II

Family Studies and Intervention

Study a broad spectrum of theoretical and clinical approaches to intervention, which emphasize the special needs of ethnic and racial minorities; gay, lesbian, and transgender individuals; and single-parent and low-income families. 

Track I Track II


Explore the impact of societal expectations on the elderly and demographic trends, including global cross-cultural issues in aging. 

Track I Track II

Higher Education

Gain a broad understanding of the current educational environment and explore theories and best practices in adult learning.

Track I Track II

Human Services Nonprofit Administration

Study the nature of leadership in human service organizations, including the management of nonprofits.

Track I Track II

Mental Health

Develop the skills to help individuals navigate community mental health services.

Track I Track II

Military Families and Culture

Explore topics such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and vicarious trauma and learn about the emotional impact of parent-child separation, frequent family relocations, extensive deployments, and other issues experienced by military families.

Track I Track II

Admission Requirements

Program Admission Considerations: A master’s degree or higher.

General Admission Program Requirements: Completed online application and transcripts. Please note that the materials you are required to submit may vary depending on the academic program to which you apply. More information for international applicants.


Four academic residencies support your progress at key points in your doctoral journey. Residencies also strengthen your scholarly and professional connections.

Earn Your Master of Philosophy Degree Along the Way

Walden understands the rigors involved with preparing for your doctorate. To signify how far you’ve come on your journey, you will be eligible to be awarded a Master of Philosophy (MPhil) degree upon completion of program requirements, prior to completion of your dissertation.

Walden is one of a few universities that offer this advanced research master’s degree. Highlight your academic achievement and show employers and others that you possess comprehensive knowledge in your field of study.

Learning Outcomes

At the end of this program, students will be able to:

  • Analyze theories, models, historical foundations, and conceptual frameworks related to the profession of human services through a process of scholarly inquiry.
  • Appropriately apply ethical, social, multicultural, diversity, and political considerations to scholarly inquiry and professional practice.
  • Evaluate qualitative, quantitative, and/or mixed methods research published in professional journals, textbooks, and other scholarly resources.
  • Appropriately apply principles of quantitative, qualitative, or mixed methods to research design.
  • Appropriately apply social change theories to human services practice and research.
  • Evaluate social systems and organizational theories related to human services research and practice.

Career Impact

With a PhD in Human Services, you can be a transformational voice for those in need. You’ll be ready to pursue a leadership role as a practitioner, researcher, scholar, or administrator, and in helping others live more productive, fulfilling, and independent lives.

There’s a growing global need for people with doctoral degrees in human. The job market for social and community service managers is expected to grow by 17% through 2029—much faster than the national average for all occupations.1

Become an agent of positive change, implementing effective policies and practices at the highest level in governmental and nongovernmental organizations, universities, foundations, and nonprofits.

A PhD in Human Services can prepare you to pursue career options such as:

  • Scholar/Professor
  • Researcher
  • Director

A PhD in Human Services can prepare you to work in settings such as:

  • Universities
  • Nongovernmental organizations
  • Government agencies
  • Foundations/Nonprofits

Career options may require additional experience, training, or other factors beyond the successful completion of this degree program.


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