Human Services

The field of Human Services is broadly defined by the objective of meeting human needs through an interdisciplinary knowledge base, focusing on prevention as well as remediation of problems, and maintaining a commitment to improving the overall quality of life of service populations. The Human Services major attracts students with a strong commitment to social and economic justice, human dignity, self-determination, and the desire to support change through direct and indirect service delivery. Human Services students have a variety of interests, including social service, education, advocacy, criminal justice, international studies, and a shared desire to bring about positive change.

Human Services is a unique major that combines academic study with professional internships. The three quarters of required internship are key parts of the curriculum, allowing students to engage with the community, while adding to their academic experience through applied practice. The program is offered in Bellingham, Everett, and through Distance Learning (online classes), and is designed to meet National Standards in human services education as outlined by the Council for Standards in Human Service Education. 

The Department of Health and Community Studies is part of Woodring College of Education.

“The Human Services program has a 45-year history of close engagement and collaboration with community partners. It is a mutually beneficial relationship, wherein our students provide much needed services for our partners, while adding to their academic experience through applied practice.”  

-John Korsmo, Professor

"I wanted to interact with others directly and have work I could easily see the meaning in. Human Services has guided me towards experiences that have been more and more fulfilling."  

-Melanie Patterson, Student

“My major requires its students to complete three quarters, a total of 360 hours, of internships in the community. It's been great to develop important job skills and build on my resume, as well as staying active in the community.” 

-Nicole Proctor, Student

Beyond the Classroom

Human Services internship activities include community outreach, grant writing, event planning, program coordination, advocacy, field organizing, client interaction, and mentoring. Interns often provide direct services with a variety of populations, including veterans, at-risk youth, people with disabilities, Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) and Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) clients, emergency service providers, the elderly, and students and staff in educational institutions pre-K through college. Students have the opportunity to work with organizations that focus on a wide range of issues, such as sex trafficking, women’s health, homelessness, domestic violence, chemical dependency, suicide prevention, foster care, and more.  

Recent Student Internships and Projects:

  • Whatcom County Public Defenders’ Office — students work directly with attorneys and investigators on investigations or projects which aim to create biosocial, informational background, and mitigation reports.  

  • Division of Children and Family Services (DCFS) — combining service projects with academic instruction, students created meaningful scrapbooks documenting the early lives of foster kids before their adoptions (The Life Books Project). 

  • Community partners and students work together to present Family Fun Night for parents and students in local neighborhoods. 

  • Annual senior trip to Olympia gives students the opportunity to meet with state legislators and advocate for issues of their choice. 

  • Human Services in collaboration with the Political Science department puts on a study abroad program where participants explore the richness and diversity of African communities while examining social justice issues and conducting field work with a local nongovernmental organization (NGO) in South Africa.  

Careers and Graduate Studies

Thousands of Human Services program graduates are currently working in meaningful positions in nonprofit, government, and community-based services.

Employers of Recent Western Graduates:

  • Executive Assistant to Leadership Team: Alzheimer’s Association
  • Impact Coordinator: AmeriCorps VISTA
  • Youth Chemical Dependency Counselor: Catholic Community Services
  • Housing Coordinator: Compass Health
  • Clinical Support Specialist: Downtown Emergency Service Center
  • Adoption Advisor: Seattle Humane Society
  • LGBTQ Youth Advocate/Homeless Prevention Specialist: Skagit YMCA
  • Women’s Support Advocate: Womencare Shelter

Western graduates who pursue graduate studies are doing so at such schools as: 

  • Eastern Washington University: Social Work (MA)
  • Northwest University: International Community Development (MA)
  • Western Washington University: Education and Program Development (MEd)
  • Western Washington University: Rehabilitation Counseling (MA)


Sample Careers

  • Children, Youth, and Family Services
  • Veterans Services
  • Mental Health
  • International Relief
  • Rehabilitation Counseling & Disability Services
  • Corrections & Law Enforcement
  • Community Development & Organizing
  • Faith-Based Services
  • Human Resources
  • Nonprofit Management
  • Non-Profit Organization Administrator


Department of Health and Community Studies

Human Services, BA

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