What is Human Services?

Do you want to make a difference in your community and empower others? A human services degree is the perfect career choice if your desire is to advocate for and improve the lives of individuals, families, or entire populations. With a background rooted in hands-on service, careers in human services often combine elements of social work and psychology.

Serve your community, and follow your passion with a degree in human services.

Human Services Degree(s)

Human Services, BA

Location: Bellingham

The Human Services major is for 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.


Bellingham Program Contact,
hs.bellingham@wwu.edu | 360-650-7759

Human Services, BA

Online degree: Online

The Online Program brings the Human Services faculty and curriculum to learners throughout the state of Washington and is designed specifically to serve you where you are.


Distance Education Program Contact,
hs.distance@wwu.edu | 360-475-7507

Human Services at Western

Western’s bachelor’s degree in Human Services attracts students from diverse backgrounds with a strong commitment to social and economic justice, human dignity, self-determination, and the desire to facilitate positive change.

Human Services is a unique major that combines academic study with professional internships. The two 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 designed to meet National Standards in human services education as outlined by the Council for Standards in Human Service Education.

Western’s Human Services program was one of three programs mentioned in Western Washington University’s selection for the national 2014 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction award — recognizing higher education institutions across the country that reflect the values of exemplary community service and achieve meaningful outcomes in their communities.

Online degree option

Western’s online Human Services degree allows you to start learning on your own schedule. By maximizing partnerships with community colleges, like-minded universities and community centers throughout the Puget Sound region, Western students have access to education beyond the Bellingham campus.

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

John Korsmo


Explore courses

HSP 323 – Conflict Resolution in Human Services

HSP 331 – Children, Families, and Communities

HSP 355 – Social Justice and Equity in the U.S.

HSP 406 – Inequity in Global Policy and Institutions: Implications for Human Services Professionals

HSP 450 – Survey of Addictions

Hands-on-Experience and Internships

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, children, youth and families, people with disabilities, 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 community health, homelessness, domestic violence, chemical dependency, youth and family work, foster care, and more.  

Recent Internships:

  • Big Brothers Big Sisters
  • Bellingham Food Bank
  • Bellingham Fire Department
  • Skagit Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services

My major requires its students to complete two quarters, a total of 240 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


What can you do with Human Services?

Thousands of our human services alumni are currently working in nonprofit, government, and community-based services. Their roles include case managers, advocates, grant writers, youth workers, volunteer coordinators, fundraisers, trainers, para-educators, and advocacy specialists for victims of child abuse, domestic violence, homelessness, or other social issues.

Pursuing a career in human services can be personally rewarding and prepares students for a wide array of career options. Careers in human services include positions in behavioral management, case management, advocacy, therapy, and more. 

Roles of Recent Western Graduates include:

  • 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

Human Services graduates pursue graduate studies all over the country, most frequently in programs such as: 

  • Social Work
  • Law
  • Adult and Higher Education 
  • Rehabilitation Counseling
  • Psychology
  • School Counseling

Human Services 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

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


Start Your Career at Western