Human Services Edu: Educating To Better The Lives of Others
Human services is the province of people with heart. It’s a field as diverse as humanity itself. You won’t have a problem finding a niche in this field that is as interesting and enriching from day to day as it is challenging. But if you’re the kind of person that finds the rewards that come with helping people, then you’ll find no other field as profoundly fulfilling.
Few other disciplines offer as much opportunity to positively affect the lives of other people.
Ultimately, the goal of most jobs in human services is to help better the lives of the people you come in contact with, and to assist them in bettering their own lives. Often this means simply helping them to be themselves… to live normal lives after coming through trying circumstances. Whether dealing with poverty, crime, loss, or more mundane troubles of everyday life, it’s the job of social services professionals to get people past the obstacles they face.
It’s a job that takes a lot of heart and resolve.
Somewhere today in the dim urban canyons of an American city, an outreach coordinator will help a homeless person access health services… At the same time, off a back road somewhere in rural America, a child services case worker will rescue a little girl from a barren trailer where she’s been neglected by drug addicted parents… In a part of the country torn by natural disaster, a relief specialist will coordinate deliveries of food and water to someone who has lost their home… And in the marble halls of a state capital somewhere, an advocate will offer a story to a legislator that will secure a vote for a critical bill on medical care.
As different as they might seem, every one of these jobs are within the domain of the expanding field of human services.
Helping You Find A Career Helping Others
We offer resources for everything from investigating the wide variety of jobs available in human services to helping you figure out how to afford the education you need for those careers.
As an academic discipline, human services is relatively young, stretching back to only the 1960s in the United States.
Like other professional fields, licensing and certification requirements have been expanding for many human services roles. When dealing with highly vulnerable populations, employers and government agencies want some assurance that ethical, well-trained, well-informed staff are on the case.
Beyond the purely practical requirements of a college degree as a qualification for most human services positions, there are enormous advantages that come from learning the latest research and techniques being applied in the field. As an interdisciplinary scientific effort, human services advances the human condition through applied knowledge and experimental proof. Earning a degree is about more than burnishing your credentials; it opens the books on a deep array of knowledge that will help you to help others.
Maybe you’re ready to start looking for fully accredited programs in a specific human services specialty, or maybe you’re curious about state licensing requirements where you live, or perhaps you just want to learn more about what, how, and why human services professionals do what they do.
Where an education is necessary, accreditation should always be the first thing you look for.
In the United States, there are six regional accreditors recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) and the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) that handle the general accreditation of colleges and universities. They cover all the general scholastic qualifications, and basics like administrative and grading standards, and appeals processes.
But specialized fields like human services have different standards and unique aspects that demand specialty accreditation. Programs in these disciplines need qualified eyes verifying well-defined requirements before giving them the stamp of approval.
Accreditation for Human Services Undergraduate Programs
- Council for Standards in Human Services Education (CSHSE)
CSHSE has been giving focus and direction to mental health and human services degree programs since 1979. Through a process funded by the National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH) back in the mid-1970s, a set of standards and principles were laid out for field training, general skills, policy practices, and interdisciplinary faculty in human services programs. These standards became known as the National Standards for Human Service Education and Training Programs.
CSHSE was established to validate that human services degree programs are providing an education that complies with those standards. Unlike the other agencies here, CSHSE has educational standards in place for degrees at every level, though at this time, the only programs that hold accreditation are at the undergraduate level. In fact, associate’s degree programs make up the bulk of CSHSE-accredited programs.
Accreditation for Social Work Programs
- Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)
CSWE was founded in 1952 and has been working to ensure the highest academic standards in social work education ever since. Today, the council has programs at more than 750 schools under its watchful eye. Each one offers degrees that align with the highest standards of professional practice and that reflect the mission and values of CSWE: to promote the well-being of families and communities, and advance the causes of social and economic justice.
The CSWE-COA (Commission on Accreditation) has developed rigorous and transparent standards for evaluating both bachelor’s and master’s level programs. Additionally, the council offers ongoing training and guidance for schools hoping to meet those high standards.
Accreditation for Counseling Graduate Programs
- Masters in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council (MPCAC)
- Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education Programs (CACREP)
These two organizations offer partially overlapping accreditations focused on evaluating counseling degree programs. Unlike CSWE, they do not accredit bachelor’s programs. They do, however, investigate those programs for compliance with clear academic and administrative guidelines that align with the counseling community’s standards of knowledge and professionalism.
There are important differences between the two councils, however. MPCAC was established in 2011 and has not yet achieved CHEA or USDE recognition. No state licensing boards currently require candidates for licensed counselor credentials to come from an MPCAC-accredited program, and the agency requires fewer semester hours and practicum hours in the programs they accredit than does CACREP.
MPCAC brings a different perspective to counseling education, viewing it as a part of the larger spectrum of psychology. CACREP, on the other hand, treats counseling as an independent profession.
Choosing a counseling program with either CACREP or MPCAC accreditation will depend both on your career goals and your own perspective of the profession.