Human Services (BS)

This major is being discontinued and will not accept new students after September 30, 2020. Students who have declared this major prior to September 30, 2020 will use these standards to complete the program requirements.


The field of human services is an applied academic discipline that involves the study of social systems with the goal of finding solutions to prevent and remediate human problems. The discipline seeks to meet basic human needs and advocate for change in societal systems that affect the lives of individuals. In accordance with these goals, the Human Services program is designed to prepare students for professional work in the public, private, non-profit, and for-profit sectors. A degree in Human Services also enables students to pursue graduate studies in social work, counseling, public policy, public administration, and other social sciences programs.

The course work in the major is based on sound theory and research and offers a broad and coherent foundation of knowledge in the discipline. Students have the opportunity to take field-based coursework through practica and supervised internships within human service agencies. The program also offers flexibility, in that students are permitted to choose from one of two tracks:

  • Schools and Community
  • Child, Youth and Family Development


Students must maintain a 2.0 GPA in their major and a 2.0 overall average to graduate with a degree in human Services. All students must complete a minimum of 120 credit hours to graduate.


All students should have an advisor in the major and should contact the department directly to have an advisor assigned if they do not already have one.  Meetings with academic advisors are required prior to students receiving their PIN for course registration each semester. All majors should work closely with their advisor in discussing career expectations, choosing their major electives, developing their entire academic program and planning their co-curricular or supplemental academic experiences.

Double Majors

Students who wish to expand their educational opportunities may decide to declare a double major. This decision may be based on career goals, planned graduate studies, and/or other student interests. Before a student declares a double major, it is important to meet with the appropriate academic departments for advisement.  In order to declare a double major, the student must complete the Major/Minor Declaration form. This form will be submitted electronically and reviewed and approved by each department chairperson as well as the appropriate associate dean. 

Per college policy, each additional major requires a minimum of 15 credits that do not apply to the student's first or subsequent major.  Some double major combinations can be completed within the minimum 120 credit hour degree requirement, but in other cases additional course work may be required. Please note that students will receive only one degree unless the complete the dual degree requirement including at least 150 undergraduate credit hours, regardless of the number of majors they complete. Both (all) majors appear on a student’s transcript.

Minors in Other Disciplines

Minors provide students the opportunity to pursue additional interests but generally do not require as many courses as a major.  Minors generally range from five to eight required courses. To receive a minor, the student must complete at least 9 credit hours of coursework distinct from their other credentials (i.e., majors, other minors). The complete list of minors is available on the Canisius website and in the catalog and provides links to each minor. Some majors and minors can be completed within the minimum 120 credit hour degree requirement, but in some cases additional coursework may be required. Students must complete the appropriate minor request form.

Major Experiences

Human Services majors are encouraged to become active members in the service opportunities provided on campus. Service opportunities include joining the Griffins Giving Back club and attending service trips both domestically and internationally through our Campus Ministry office. Getting involved with organizations such as these can increase one’s awareness of the social problems impacting our society and obtain first-hand experience with the fields they may choose to enter.


An Ignatian Foundation

All undergraduate students must complete either the Canisius Core Curriculum or the All-College Honors Curriculum. Many schools refer to their college-wide undergraduate requirements as "general education" requirements. We believe that the core curriculum and the honors curriculum are more than a series of required classes; they provide the basis for a Jesuit education both with content and with required knowledge and skills attributes that are central to our mission.

Free Electives

Students may graduate with a bachelor's degree with more but not less than 120 credit hours. Free electives are courses in addition to the Canisius Core Curriculum or All-College Honors Curriculum and major requirements sufficient to reach the minimum number of credits required for graduation. The number of credits required to complete a bachelor's degree may vary depending on the student's major(s) and minor(s).

Major Requirements

All Human Services Majors

COM 204Relational Communication3
COM 302Strategic Communication in Teams3
EDE 100Human Growth and Development - Birth through Childhood3
or EDS 101 Human Growth and Social Development: Adolescence
HSV 100Introduction to Human Services3
HSV 201Introduction to Family Dynamics3
HSV 212Social and Cultural Diversity3
HSV 301Social Policies3
HSV 302Children, Schools, and the Community3
HSV 303Research Methods in the Social Sciences3
HSV 360People Helping Skills3
HSV 400Management of Human Service Agencies3
HSV 480Wellness - Be All That You Can Be3
HSV 495Field Internship6
Electives: Choose 3 electives from one of the two tracks listed below9
Total Credits51

Major Electives

In addition to the required courses listed above, you need to choose one of two tracks: schools and community, or child, youth and family development. Each track requires the completion of 3 electives in that specific area. Exceptions can be made in consultation with the program director.

Schools and Community
ECCH 221Emergent Literacy3
ECCH 222Literacy and the Arts in the Elementary Classroom3
ECCH 412Managing the Early Childhood and Elementary Classroom3
EDS 360Evaluation and Teaching Strategies3
EDS 402Methods of Teaching English: Adolescence3
EDS 403Methods of Teaching Mathematics: Adolescence3
EDS 404Methods of Teaching Modern Languages: Adolescence3
EDS 405Methods of Teaching Science: Adolescence3
EDS 406Methods of Teaching Social Studies: Adolescence3
EDU 428Teaching Math and Science: Supporting STEM Education3
EMC 352Human Growth and Social Development: Middle Childhood3
PSY 334Child, Family and Community Psychology3
SPE 341Inclusive Strategies3
HSV 498Practicum in Human Services3
Child, Youth, and Family Development
COM 205Media Literacy3
COM 304Family Communication3
CRJ 337Violence and the Family3
CRJ 354Juvenile Delinquency3
EMC 352Human Growth and Social Development: Middle Childhood3
PSY 203Lifespan Developmental Psychology3
PSY 303Abnormal Psychology3
PSY 384Child & Adolescent Psychopathology3
HSV 498Practicum in Human Services3


Recommended Semester Schedule for Major Course Requirements

HSV 100HSV 201
EDE 100 or EDS 101 (depending on preference to work with children or adolescents)COM 204
HSV 301HSV 212
COM 302HSV 360
HSV 303 (may be taken fall or spring)HSV 303 (may be taken fall or spring)
HSV 400Major Elective
Major ElectiveHSV 302
Major Electiveconcentration requirement
HSV 480 (Capstone)HSV 480
Major ElectiveHSV 495
HSV 495 

Learning Goals & Objectives

Learning Goal 1: Candidates in the Human Services Program will demonstrate content knowledge, pedagogical, and professional knowledge necessary for successful performance in their field.

Students will:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of the basic concepts and theories of the field of human services
  • Demonstrate knowledge of research methodologies used in the field of human services
  • Demonstrate and understanding of how individuals, families, and cultures function in society and the relationships among societal structures.

Learning Goal 2: Candidates in SEHS programs will demonstrate professional skills and dispositions necessary for successful performance in their field.

Students will:

  • Apply human services concepts and theories to specific problems of human society
  •  Apply quantitative and qualitative research methodologies to solve problems in society
  •  Demonstrate good people helping  and communication skills
  •  Demonstrate effective leadership skills

Learning Goal 3: Candidates in SEHS programs will demonstrate willingness to use their skills to benefit and serve society.  Within the contexts of their work, candidates promote authentic learning, social and emotional development, and a commitment to social justice in environments that foster respect for diversity and the dignity of all.  

Students will:

  •  Actualize the Canisius College Jesuit mission by providing “cura personalis” to clients of human service agencies
  •  Understand how personal and societal change takes place and how to facilitate change in a constructive way
  •  Acquire and apply ethical and moral decision making practices in the field of human services.
  •  Demonstrate best practices in the field of human services

Learning Goal 4: Candidates will demonstrate self-reflection as a habit of mind, continuously assessing and refining their professional practice as they construct a rich repertoire of research-based knowledge, skills, and attitudes for effective performance ensuring that all students and/or clients have optimal opportunities to learn and grow.

Students will:

  •  Learn evidence-based intervention strategies in the field of human services
  •  Learn evidence-based assessment instruments to measure program quality and to use the evidence to make effective changes in professional practice
  •  Learn fundamentals of designing and managing professional agencies and how to adapt in response to individual, familial, and societal demands.

Learning Goal 5: Candidates will become adept at applying their acquired knowledge in the process of evaluating their own professional performance and decision-making with respect to its impact on students and/or clients, organizations, and the wider community

Students will:

  • Demonstrate the ability to reflectively connect their efforts to the success and well-being of those that they serve.


HSV 100 Introduction to Human Services 3 Credits

This course explores the historical context and the current structure and function of the field of human services. The student will become knowledgeable about the many roles and functions of human service professionals and the primary intervention strategies utilized in the field. The special populations served in the human services profession will be examined. Various topics include the bio-ecological systems theory, values and ethical dilemmas, the social welfare system, human diversity, legal issues, program planning and organization, agency administration, and people helping skills.

Offered: every fall.

HSV 201 Introduction to Family Dynamics 3 Credits

This course consists of an overview of the dynamics of family relationships and issues related to families and relationships. The purpose of this course is to provide students with a basic understanding of family theory and an introduction to systematic approaches and techniques when working with couples and families. This didactic class includes lecture and PowerPoint presentations, videos and demonstrations, small group discussions, whole class discussions, and written assignments.

HSV 212 Social and Cultural Diversity 3 Credits

This course is designed to address contemporary issues of cultural and social diversity in the United States. Its main goal is to help students develop through understanding of how social and cultural diversity impacts one's life. It also emphasizes the importance of becoming a culturally and socially competent person to better serve the needs of an increasingly globalized society.

Offered: every spring.

HSV 301 Social Policies 3 Credits

This course examines the characteristics of social policy in general and in education in particular. Special attention is given to policy development and implementation in relation to its effects on underprivileged populations in U.S. society. Within a historical and political context, current social policies are examined in terms of their underlying assumptions and values as well as their ethical implications. Strengths and weaknesses of current policies are also analyzed. Policies under consideration include agency policies, local ordinances, state and federal legislation, and global trends.

Fulfills College Core: Ethics, Field 5 (Social Sciences)

HSV 302 Children, Schools, and the Community 3 Credits

This course is designed to examine the contexts in which a child develops, the relationships of the people in them, and the interactions that take place within and between contexts. There is growing consensus that the needs of children and families must be understood from an integrated systems perspective (i.e., ecological systems theory). The welfare of children is highly interrelated to their families' well-being. Families, irrespective of culture or social class, cannot be separated from the broader social systems within which they are embedded. These major systems include informal support systems (e.g. friends, neighbors, and relatives) in addition to formal support systems, such as those relating to health, education, employment, religion, recreation, housing, and social welfare.

HSV 303 Research Methods in the Social Sciences 3 Credits

Students will develop an understanding of the research process by learning how to formulate a research problem, design a study, use appropriate methods of data analysis, and interpret research findings. Students will learn how to critically analyze research studies, discuss ethical considerations in conducting research, and discuss the importance of scientific research for educational policy and practice. Each student will conduct an original research study and present their findings to demonstrate understanding of the research process.

Offered: fall.

HSV 360 People Helping Skills 3 Credits

This course will focus on essential and successful professional people-helping skills in the field of Human Services. Basic skills such as attending, listening, empathic responding, reflecting, appropriate questioning, treatment plans, and problem management will be identified. The course is designed to be highly interactive, and students will have the opportunity to participate in discussions and practice a variety of skills.

Offered: Fall

HSV 400 Management of Human Service Agencies 3 Credits

This course examines the fundamentals of program development and administration of human services organizations. Emphasis will be placed on program structure, planning, strategies, and evaluation. There is a growing need for human services students to be exposed to managerial and supervisory issues relative to the operation of community agencies. This course will provide students with classroom instruction and practicum experience in a community agency.

HSV 480 Wellness - Be All That You Can Be 3 Credits

This course explores the many issues related to personal well-being. Wellness is regarded as a healthy balance between mind, body, and spirit. According to the National Wellness Institute, wellness is a process by which we actively seek to optimize ourselves occupationally, physically, socially, intellectually, spiritually, and emotionally. Approaches to wellness exist in most fields involving human services such as counseling, medicine, education, and management. Components of wellness include healthy food, clean environments, regular exercise, adequate rest, safe living conditions, productive work, balancing work and family, and spiritual awareness. What does it take to reach our potential? What are obstacles to wellness? How can wellness exist in nations that have few opportunities for healthy eating, productive work, or sanitary living conditions?.

Fulfills College Core: Core Capstone

HSV 495 Field Internship 6 Credits

The required six-credit internship provides students with a professionally supervised field experience in a human service agency. During the internship experience, students will have the opportunity to apply theory and knowledge of the work environment and to expand their professional practice skills. Students will have the opportunity to develop client communication skills, cultural competence and will learn to infuse their practice with ethics and professionalism.

HSV 498 Practicum in Human Services 3 Credits

Student experientially learns human service functions in compatibly matched professional setting. Faculty and on-site supervision. Pass/fail. Applications on Department website.

Prerequisite: junior or senior standing, minimum overall GPA of 2.50, minimum human services average of 2.70, & approval by department faculty. Restriction: must be human services (HSV) major.