2024 Best Bachelor’s in Humanitarian Degrees

By Joy Cromwelle
Updated on February 23, 2024
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Explore diverse humanitarian degree programs, from emergency management to social work. Make a difference and build a rewarding career serving others.

If you want to spend your life making a difference for others, then you’re likely considering earning a humanitarian degree in college.

Best Bachelor’s in Humanitarian Degrees

There are a variety of humanitarian degree programs you could consider, including emergency management, nursing, social justice, conflict resolution, and social work.

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Through any of these paths, you could contribute to making the world around you the best it can be. Let’s take a look at humanitarian degree options, and you can start making a plan for serving others through your work.

Humanitarian Degrees Online

Woman taking Humanitarian Degree Online

While some schools do offer a specific degree in humanitarian studies, that’s not your only option for launching a career that’s focused on bettering the world.

Many degree paths, including the ten listed below, could help you begin a humanitarian career:

You can explore these programs to see which ones best match your interests and goals.

Bachelor of Disaster and Emergency Management

Emergency Management Directors in a conference

Students in disaster and emergency management programs study crisis leadership. You can learn how to take the lead and organize people and programs during emergencies.

In addition, you’ll study disaster prevention so that emergency responses aren’t needed as often. The topics covered in this program could include public health emergencies, death and grief, and disaster science. There may also be opportunities to study terrorism, criminal justice, media and communications, and health policy.

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After graduation, people with this degree often work as emergency management directors. Government jobs are often available, and there may also be opportunities with nonprofits. Some private companies hire for this role as well.

Bachelor of Economics

Economists working in their office

Matters related to economics affect people around the world. If you want to earn a degree that will help you think critically about the issues that people face, then you might consider an economics degree.

Economics majors learn about macroeconomics, microeconomics, and econometrics. They also take advanced math courses and study statistics and probability. There may be courses on economics in specific sectors, such as healthcare or education.

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Becoming an economist usually requires a master’s degree. Potential jobs for those with a bachelor’s degree include financial analyst, financial planner, actuary, or research analyst.

Bachelor of Humanitarian Studies

People with degree in Humanitarian Studies fundraising

If you know that you want to spend your life fully committed to helping people in need, then perhaps you’ll want to choose humanitarian studies as your major.

With a degree in philanthropy and humanitarian outreach, you can focus on learning what it takes to improve people’s lives. Humanitarian curriculum often covers a variety of topics. You might study disaster response, conflict resolution, and human rights. You could also explore issues like poverty, food shortages, and health equity.

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The courses might include both theoretical and practical studies. People with this degree may work for government agencies, NGOs, or nonprofit organizations.

Bachelor of International Relations

global humanitarians attending an international conference

As a student in an international relations program, you could learn about world politics, interactions, and initiatives—all worthwhile subjects for those who want to be global humanitarians. The topics covered are usually varied but may include comparative politics, conflict resolution, and social justice.

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You may be required to become fluent in a foreign language. Your program might require you to concentrate your studies on a particular region of the world or spend time overseas before graduation. This degree program often leads to jobs in civil service or foreign service. Graduates might go into politics, policymaking, diplomacy, or banking.

Bachelor of Nursing (BSN)

nurse taking care of an elderly patient

Perhaps you want to help others by providing high-quality healthcare. If so, you could consider becoming a nurse. Earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) could provide a strategic start for a nursing career.

As a nursing student, you’d learn about anatomy, physiology, human development, patient care, and health education. This program includes both coursework and lab experiences. Also, students must gain hands-on practice during clinical rotations.

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Getting a BSN can prepare you for taking industry exams and becoming licensed as a registered nurse (RN). Nurses may work for hospitals, doctor’s offices, community clinics, residential facilities, and public health departments.

Bachelor of Peace and Conflict Studies

diplomats attending peace talks

If you want to understand conflict and how to resolve it, then you might be interested in majoring in peace and conflict studies. You can gain knowledge and skills that can be useful in one-on-one and population-wide conflicts.

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The curriculum will likely cover theories of conflict and the latest research in the field. You may study particular areas of conflict, such as issues related to race, religion, and gender. The courses may also cover anthropology, ethics, restorative justice, and organizational leadership. This degree might be useful for a career in mediation, diplomacy, workplace training, nonprofit leadership, or community organizing.

Bachelor of Political Science

political scientists in a conference

If you want to focus your humanitarian career on making a difference through policies and political decisions, then you could choose to major in political science. The discipline of political science deals with comparative politics and international relations.

The topics your courses might cover in this program include fundamentals of political theory, international development, and the American political system. Political science students often have the opportunity to customize their programs by selecting a variety of electives.

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With a bachelors degree in this field, you might qualify to work as a market research analyst or a legislative aide. With additional education, you could work toward becoming a political scientist.

Bachelor of Social Justice and Human Rights

Human Rights advocates attending a conference

If you’re committed to advocating for others, then you might think about majoring in social justice and human rights. You could investigate some of today’s top issues and cultivate a skill set that helps you make a real difference in the world.

The issues covered in this program might include poverty, immigration, and health equity. You may discuss discrimination related to race, gender, sexuality, or religion. The classes may address public policy, behavioral science, trauma studies, and theories of intersectionality.

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Potential jobs related to this degree include being a mediator, health educator, or counselor. You might also have the opportunity to lead programs or community organizations.

Bachelor of Social Work

Social worker visiting a home

Social workers are professionals who help people address the problems in their life and connect with support services that will meet their needs. You can enter this career with a degree in social work.

Students in this program learn about systems and organizations that provide social services. They also study diversity, behavioral science, and public policy as they prepare to work with groups and individuals. Social work graduates may qualify for state licensure.

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Potential jobs include being a family services worker, case manager, or social services manager. With a master’s degree, counseling could be another job option.

Bachelor of Sociology

Counselor visiting a couple's home

Understanding human behavior, social relationships, and societal organization could be quite useful in a humanitarian career. A degree in sociology could help prepare you to understand human problems and work toward systemic change.

The class topics in a sociology program might include sociological theory, community concerns, and social science research. Also, you might have classes that apply sociology to specific domains, such as criminal justice, religion, or social equality.

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Sociology majors may be eligible for a variety of jobs in business, education, public administration, and criminal justice. Potential humanitarian careers include working in rehabilitation counseling, housing administration, health outreach, or human rights.

Humanitarian Studies Careers and Salaries

Humanitarian Studies Careers and Salaries

Humanitarian college majors could lead to a diverse mix of career opportunities. Some people choose to provide direct support to people in need.

Job possibilities could include being a mental health counselor or a social worker. Working as a program director or a community service manager could be an option for those with experience. Those who want to support people’s health needs might choose to become community health workers or health educators. A nursing career could be another track to consider.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, people who choose a humanitarian degree program may end up in a career such as the ones listed below.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Political Scientists $122,510
Sociologists $92,910
Registered Nurses $77,600
Emergency Management Directors $76,730
Social and Community Service Managers $74,000
Health Education Specialists $60,600
Social Workers $50,390
Arbitrators, Mediators, and Conciliators $49,410
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder and Mental Health Counselors $48,520
Community Health Workers $46,590

Your job options may depend on the specific degree program you choose for your humanitarian studies. For example, a nursing major will probably end up in a significantly different line of work than a political science major.

Conflict resolution could be a top priority for some humanitarian graduates. If so, working as an arbitrator or a mediator might be a good fit. Others may value the idea of protecting others and keeping them safe. Emergency management directors and security officers do such jobs.

Humanitarian graduates who go on to earn master’s degrees may eventually become sociologists or political scientists.

Humanitarian Studies Bachelor’s Curriculum & Courses

political scientists analyzing documents

Humanitarian programs can cover a wide variety of topics, including justice, relationships, human behavior, and policymaking.

Your school curriculum might include courses similar to the following:

  • Conflict Management: The degree program may have a course that equips you to settle conflicts in healthy, effective ways.
  • Foreign Policy: There could be a class that explores how countries relate to one another in modern times.
  • Grassroots Initiatives: Your program might include case studies of times when small groups of people have driven significant social movements.
  • Human Rights Theories: This class might help establish your framework for thinking about human rights and ethics.
  • Humanitarian Data Analysis: There may be an introduction to data and research for humanitarian initiatives.
  • Immigration: You might learn about the history of immigration as well as current trends and reform ideas.
  • Nonprofit Leadership: You may study management and leadership skills that could be useful in community organizations, government agencies, or NGOs.
  • Poverty: You could not only study the causes of poverty but also investigate its far-reaching effects.
  • Social Issues: This class might explore instances of inequality related to socioeconomics, sexuality, race, or gender.
  • Sustainability: You might learn how to support both communities and the environment through sustainable practices.

Earning a humanitarian bachelor’s degree usually involves completing at least 120 credit hours.

Admissions Requirements

Man preparing requirements for Bachelor’s in Humanitarian Degree

Colleges ask students who are interested in being admitted to fill out application forms. An application fee may be required as well.

Here are some common admissions criteria that colleges may require:

  • Essay about your life experiences, interests, or goals
  • School transcripts from high school and any previous colleges
  • Reference letters from teachers or work supervisors

A college may also require standardized test scores, but that is becoming less common, especially for online schools.

Accreditation

University offering Bachelor’s in Humanitarian Degree

Whether you decide to major in human rights, sociology, or economics, it’s beneficial to choose a regionally accredited school for your studies.

First of all, it’s necessary to go to an accredited school if you want to use federal financial aid. Also, you’d increase your chances that your credits will transfer between schools. After graduation, if you choose to further your education, having a regionally accredited degree might help you during the grad-school admissions process.

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When you’re searching for jobs, many hiring committees check to see whether you’ve graduated from a regionally accredited college.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Humanitarian Degrees Financial Aid

Financial assistance may be available for your humanitarian degree program. Many students try to secure both government help and private funding. To get started with the government aid process, you can turn in the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You may qualify to receive loans or grants through state or federal programs.

Scholarships could be another element of your financial aid package. Some scholarship money may be given by your college, while other scholarship funds may be distributed by outside organizations. There might also be a tuition assistance program offered by your employer, if you’re currently working.

What Soft Skills Are Needed for a Humanitarian Career?

Team Leader discussing with the team

For success in a humanitarian field, in addition to having a lot of knowledge, it’s also helpful to have an assortment of soft skills. In other words, possessing these various characteristics could help you work well with others, whether coworkers or the people you’re assisting.

Beneficial soft skills include:

  • Analytical thinking
  • Clear communication
  • Cooperation
  • Creativity
  • Determination and perseverance
  • Leadership
  • Persuasiveness

You may already possess these skills to some degree, and you can also work on cultivating and developing them.

What Can You Do with a Bachelors in Humanitarian Degree?

Mental Health Counselor, discussing with a patient

A degree in humanitarian fields could prepare you for a career that’s focused on helping others. For example, you might pursue a job as a social worker, a health educator, or a counselor.

Management jobs might be available to you as well, especially in community or government agencies. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that a bachelor’s degree is the typical educational requirement for jobs in social and community service management.

Specific degrees could prepare you for specific jobs. For instance, studying disaster management could help prepare you for a career as an emergency management director. Students with nursing degrees often go on to work as registered nurses.

In addition, some graduates of degree programs in humanitarian go on to earn advanced degrees, such as an on-campus or online masters in humanitarian aid, for example.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Humanitarian Degree Online?

Man pursuing Humanitarian Studies Degree Online

In general, bachelor’s degrees take about 4 years to finish with full-time enrollment. Online students can sometimes complete their studies more quickly, though. Colleges with online classes often hold year-round sessions. Each course may last just 8 weeks. That format could help you reach graduation more quickly than your peers with more traditional school calendars.

On the other hand, part-time studies might add a year or two to your time in school. Also, transfer credits might help shorten the overall length of your program. If you’ve completed any AP or college courses before, you may have less coursework to complete now.

Is a Humanitarian Degree Worth It?

Social & Community Service Manager discussign with the team

Yes, a humanitarian degree is worth it for many professionals. With a humanitarian-focused degree, you can invest your career into helping others find greater health, safety, or stability. For many people, that could be a fulfilling career option.

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In addition, many humanitarian careers are seeing impressive job growth. For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 10% growth rate for community and social service positions over the next ten years, which is faster than average. A 12% growth rate is expected for management roles in this sector.

Universities Offering Online Bachelors in Humanitarian Degree Programs

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.

Liberty University

Liberty University campus

Liberty University offers a BS in Human Services. The program is offered entirely online, and there are several start dates throughout the year. To graduate, students must complete 120 credit hours, which can potentially be done in just 3.5 years. Students may be able to transfer in up to 75% of their credits.

Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Northwest University

Northwest University campus

Northwest University offers a BA in Humanitarian Leadership. The program is presented through a Christian worldview and is offered entirely online. There are six start dates offered throughout the year. The program requires the completion of 120 credit hours. Courses are conducted in an asynchronous format. Potential courses include Theology of Compassion and Applied Sustainability.

Northwest University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Ohio University

Ohio University campus

Newsweek ranked Ohio University the top school in Ohio for online learning. Students at OU can earn a Bachelor of Applied Human and Consumer Sciences with an emphasis in Human Services. The program is available fully online. There are eight start dates offered throughout the year. To graduate, students must complete 120 credit hours.

Ohio University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Purdue University

Purdue University campus

Purdue University offers a BS in Human Services through its Purdue Global online program. The program is fully online, and there are start dates almost monthly. Students must complete 120 credit hours to graduate. Courses are offered in a 10 week format. The program can potentially be completed in 4 years.

Purdue University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Southeastern University

Southeastern University campus

Southeastern University offers a BA in Humanitarian Compassion. Students may complete the program entirely online, and classes are also offered at the school’s partner campus. The courses are taught from a Christian worldview. The program requires the completion of 120 credit hours, 45 of which must be in the major. Potential courses include Refugee and Migrant Populations.

Southeastern University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Southern New Hampshire University

Southern New Hampshire University campus

Southern New Hampshire University offers a fully online program for a BA in Human Services. The program requires 120 credit hours, and students may transfer in up to 90 qualifying credits. It offers three concentrations: Child and Family Services, Gerontology, and Substance Abuse. All courses are asynchronous. Potential courses include Public Policy and Advocacy and Abnormal Psychology.

Southern New Hampshire University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education, Inc.

Southern Wesleyan University

Southern Wesleyan University campus

Southern Wesleyan University offers a BA in Human Services. The program is fully online, and classes are 7 weeks long. To graduate, students must complete 120 credit hours. Concentrations offered include Counseling, Criminal Justice, and Marriage and Family Services. Students may also use built-in electives to add a minor in Early Childhood and Family Services.

Southern Wesleyan University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Southwestern Assemblies of God University

Southwestern Assemblies of God University campus

Southwestern Assemblies of God University offers a Bachelor’s in Global Compassion Leadership. The program is presented through a Christian worldview and is fully online. Students must complete 120 credit hours to graduate. When attending full-time, students must complete one General Biblical Studies course per semester. Potential courses include Transforming Conflict.

Southwestern Assemblies of God University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of Central Florida

University of Central Florida campus

U.S. News & World Report named the University of Central Florida one of the best schools for online bachelor’s programs. Students at UCF can earn a BA in International and Global Studies fully online. The program requires the completion of 120 credit hours. Students may use electives to tailor the degree to their career goals.

The University of Central Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of Massachusetts – Lowell

University of Massachusetts Lowell campus

U.S. News & World Report named the University of Massachusetts—Lowell one of the best online programs for bachelor’s degrees. Students can earn a BA in Liberal Arts through the school’s online program and may customize the degree to fit their humanitarian career aspirations. The program requires the completion of 120 to 122 credit hours.

The University of Massachusetts Lowell is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

Getting Your Bachelor’s in Humanitarian Degree Online

Woman taking Bachelor’s in Humanitarian Degree online

If you know that you want to make a difference for others, getting a college degree may be the first step toward that goal. A college education could help equip you with knowledge and skills for inspiring change in the world.

Many humanitarian degree programs, including nursing, emergency management, and political science, are available online. Distance learning can help you become an effective professional. You could learn valuable lessons, refine your skills, and learn how to apply your knowledge in real-world settings in online human services degree programs.

If you’re ready to get started with humanitarian studies, you can check out available degree options from regionally accredited colleges.

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WRITTEN BY
Joy is pursuing her Ph.D. in Public Policy & Foreign Policy at Liberty University and holds a Master of Business Administration in Strategic Management from Amberton University, as well as a Bachelor's in Business Administration from Columbia College. With over 20 years of experience navigating online degrees and courses, Joy's focus is helping non-traditional students find accelerated degree options and credit for prior learning opportunities.