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Human Services:
Bachelor & Graduate Degrees

Bachelor Degree Programs

There are many occupations in the human services field that do not require a specific major. This gives students a lot of choice in choosing an academic path that will prepare them for working with people in all sorts of helping professions: social services, public health, youth development, case management, advocacy, non-profit program, human resources, and so much more.

Use Oregon State University's "What Can I Do With This Major?" website, to explore all the careers that social science majors can prepare you for (scroll down the page to find the icon for "What Can I Do With This Major?").

Below are some examples of social science and human service majors that prepare students for a variety of helping professions or human services careers. If you are interested in continuing your education and applying to graduate school, it is important to research graduate school admission requirements for your field of study to make informed choices about undergraduate majors and coursework.

Bachelor of Social Work (BSW)

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Portland State University:


Social work is an academic discipline and a practice profession. Social workers envision an economically, socially, and racially just world in which resources and opportunities are more equitably distributed. Social workers engage in critical analyses of power relations, aim to dismantle inequitable social structures, and work in solidarity with groups that experience poverty, oppression, and exploitation. Social workers assist individuals, families, groups, and communities to achieve their goals, while also working toward macro-level, policy, and institutional change.

  • Bachelor of Arts & Bachelor of Science options

  • Online option

Career opportunities in the following fields:

  • Advocacy/Activism: Anti-poverty, anti-racism, anti-violence, and community organizing

  • Addiction treatment

  • Aging

  • Child welfare and youth work

  • Disability and neurodiversity services

  • Domestic & interpersonal violence

  • Healthcare

  • Housing and self-sufficiency

  • Immigration 

  • Corrections, juvenile justice, and restorative justice

  • Mental and behavioral health

  • Research and public policy

  • School social work

A BSW also qualifies students to apply to Advanced Standing MSW programs across the country. In an advanced standing program, you can obtain an MSW in as little as 15 months.

Social Sciences

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Social science degrees include a wide range of disciplines that prepare students for a variety of careers in human services.  Students often choose social science degrees to develop skills to enter directly into the "helping professions" workforce or to prepare for graduate school in social work, counseling, psychology, public health, health care, and so much more. Most colleges and universities offer a variety of social science Bachelor degrees.

Use Oregon State University's "What Can I Do With This Major?" website, to explore all the careers that social science programs can prepare you for (scroll down the page to find the icon for "What Can I Do With This Major?").

Psychology: Psychology is the scientific study of behavior. The social, emotional and physical development and functioning of humans and non-humans are investigated to help you understand yourself, other people and the organisms with which you inhabit the earth. You will learn how you and others make behavioral choices and how these are influenced by the interaction of genetic inheritance with the physical and social environment. Coursework includes topics covering brain function and drug effects to motivation, memory, and learning to human sexuality, social influence, human development, abnormal behavior, and therapy methods.


Sociology: Sociology is the study of the relationship between humans and society. Students examine how economics, politics, religion, race, gender, family and the environment interact to shape people's lives. Students will learn to analyze social problems such as poverty, war and drugs to discover their causes and possible solutions. Possible courses include Race, Class and Ethnicity; Social Psychology, and Social Deviance.


Anthropology: Anthropology is the study of humankind. Anthropology prepares students to understand and work with people from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds. It provides a solid foundation for careers in international relations, social service, and teaching. It is also useful for pre-legal and pre-medical students.

Human Development & Family Science (Or Family & Human Services):  Students learn to help others across the human lifespan, from early childhood to end of life. Students examine challenges facing individuals, families, and communities – from parenting, poverty, religion, race, social class and sexuality to interpersonal communications. Students develop the tools to help individuals and families live better lives. Students study a variety of disciplines — psychology, biology, sociology, genetics, education, anthropology, public health and social policy.

Additional Options at Oregon Universities:

  • Women's Studies

  • Gender & Sexuality Studies

  • Ethnic Studies

  • Human Services

  • Human Resource Management

  • Child Behavioral Health

  • Communication

  • Conflict Resolution

  • Gerontology

  • Public Policy

  • Geography

  • Neuroscience
  • Urban & Public Affairs

  • Criminal Justice

Public Health

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Public health includes a wide variety of careers that focus on the following skills and responsibilities: disease & injury prevention, health promotion, health and social equity, environmental sustainability, health education & coaching, advocacy, addressing health disparities, case management, developing health policies & programs, health program management, community needs assessment, healthcare reform, disaster preparedness, workplace safety, epidemiology, and so much more. Work settings include health departments, government agencies, non-profit & social service organizations, medical clinics, academic institutions, and international health.

Learn more about public health academic programs in Oregon (scroll down to "Public Health")

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