With an online PhD in Human and Social Services from Walden, you can be a leader in effecting change and addressing the needs of those struggling with illness, addiction, violence, and poverty.

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

As a professional in human and social services, you are committed to empowering your community. Through our online PhD in Human and Social 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 and Social 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 and social services, preparing you to help individuals, families, organizations, and communities navigate the social support systems and identify other professionals available to assist them.

Acquire the Professional Skills You Need

When you earn your PhD in Human and Social Services from Walden, you can:

  • Choose from two tracks, which are designed to align with your academic background.
  • Choose from the General Program or 14 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. The program also offers a Global Social Services specialization.
  •  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.
  • Benefit from 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.
  • Residencies: Four academic residencies that support your progress at key points in your doctoral journey. Residencies also strengthen your scholarly and professional connections.

Learning Outcomes

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

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

Career Impact

With our PhD in Human and Social Services, you can prepare to help clients navigate social services in various settings around the world, including government agencies, nongovernmental organizations, foundations, and religious organizations.

In addition, U.S.-based and international charities are key employers of PhD in Human Services graduates. Since they tend to focus on vulnerable populations, charities need professionals with specialized administrative and case- management expertise.

With a PhD in Human Services degree, you can pursue a number of leadership roles within an organization, including:

  • Analyst
  • Consultant
  • Coordinator
  • Director
  • Professor
  • Supervisor/manager/administrator

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

Career Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of community and social service professionals and managers is projected to grow 21% from 2012 to 2022, faster than the national average for all occupations.1

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.

Save Time and Money on Your Degree

Take advantage of this growth opportunity. Now is the time to take the next step in your career and lead change in your community. Request more information about our PhD in Human Services by filling out the form.

  • You can automatically reduce your required PhD in Human and Social Services credits and coursework if you have completed your Master of Science in Human and Social Services or related degree. Reducing required credits in your program will make your education more affordable.
  • You can also complete your required PhD in Human and Social Services coursework sooner by transferring your applicable credits.

Earn Your PhD While Balancing Priorities

At Walden we understand that you likely work full time and may care for children or other family members. Explore our support services  designed to help you balance family commitments with your work and school responsibilities. We’re all in it together.



Brian Feely

Brian Feely

PhD in Human Services Student
The amount of support, resources, and assistance available to students is phenomenal.
Since completing my degree, I am proud of writing and publishing my first children’s book.
With the help of my PhD, I would like to continue my endeavors in the human services field as a leader who will not stop at the promotion of positive social change in my neighborhood and beyond.
Kahla D. LaPlante PhD in Health Services Student
Kahla LaPlante
Mildred Peyton PhD in Human Services Graduate
Mildred Peyton
Tomica Buford PhD in Human Services Student
Tomica Buford

1Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014–2015 Edition, Social and Community Service Managers, on the Internet at www.bls.gov/ooh/management/social-and-community-service-managers.htm (viewed online February 27, 2015). National long-term projections may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions and do not guarantee actual job growth.

Note: Time to completion and cost are not estimates of individual experience and will vary based on individual factors applicable to the student. Factors may be programmatic or academic, such as tuition and fee increases; transfer credits accepted by Walden; program or specialization changes; unsuccessful course completion; credit load per term; part-time vs. full-time enrollment; writing, research, and editing skills; use of external data for the doctoral study/dissertation; and individual progress in the program. Other factors may include personal issues such as the student’s employment obligations, caregiving responsibilities, or health issues; leaves of absence; or other personal circumstances.

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Questions about our PhD in Human and Social Services (Traditional and Fast Track)?
Questions about our PhD in Human and Social Services (Traditional and Fast Track)?
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