Doctor of Philosophy in Human Services

Develop the expertise you need to instigate meaningful social change

This program helps you learn and apply advanced theory and leadership skills in human services. Doctoral-level course work can prepare you to conduct valid, reliable, and ethical research. Learn how to think critically and write effectively about the field of human services.

Outcome goals and graduates' proficiency levels

Each doctoral program and specialization is designed around expected learning outcomes (see Expected Program Outcomes below). End of program performance is determined during the comprehensive exam and dissertation process. Because the work is unique to each learner's dissertation or research topic and the criteria for evaluation are aligned to that work, we do not collect data on proficiency levels for doctoral programs.

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Human Services specializations

  • Multidisciplinary Human Services
  • Health Care Administration
  • Nonprofit Management and Leadership
  • Social and Community Services

Quality and Professional Relevance

  • 100% of Capella faculty in the School of Human Services hold doctoral degrees from accredited universities and colleges.
  • More than 1,000 colleges and universities have employed Capella learners and graduates as leaders, staff, and faculty.

Expected Program Outcomes for All Specializations

  1. Understand the current theories and practices of the human services disciplines.
  2. Conduct valid, reliable, and ethical human services research.
  3. Think critically and write effectively in one's discipline and/or professional practice.
  4. Effectively advocate for social change.
  5. Embrace the need for diversity/multicultural perspectives in decision-making.
  6. Develop social and professional ethics.

PhD in Human Services degree graduates

Data from graduates of the PhD in Human Services program have been combined for these Career Outcomes results.

Human Services doctoral graduates report satisfaction with career growth potential. One third of the graduates surveyed work in higher education and another 23 percent work in healthcare.

Satisfaction with Job Doctoral Degree Graduates

Percentage of respondents who answered "satisfied" or "very satisfied" Source: Responses to the Alumni Outcomes Survey one year after graduation. The data were collected during Q2 2012 – Q1 2013.


Human Services doctoral graduates report receiving salary increases and getting recognition from employers for their Capella degrees. They have also advanced in their careers or assumed a leadership role.

Career & Professional Accomplishments Doctoral Degree Graduates

Percentage of respondents who indicated they had accomplished each item Source: Responses to the Alumni Outcomes Survey one year after graduation. The data were collected during Q2 2012 – Q1 2013.

PhD in Human Services degree graduates

Data from graduates of the PhD in Human Services program have been combined for these Student Experience results.

Capella University PhD in Human Services graduates think their education meets academic program outcomes and helps them meet career goals. They are likely to recommend Capella to others.

Satisfaction with Capella Doctoral Degree Graduates

Percentage of respondents who answered affirmatively Source: Responses to the Alumni Outcomes Survey one year after graduation. The data were collected during Q2 2012 – Q1 2013.

Our doctoral graduates report they have gained practical knowledge and expertise which are applicable in a range of professional settings.

Improvement in Skills and Abilities  Doctoral Degree Graduates

Percentage of respondents who rated themselves as "proficient" or "distinguished" on ability to demonstrate the skill or ability on the job.
Source: Responses to the Alumni Outcomes Survey one year after graduation. The data were collected during Q2 2012 – Q1 2013.


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Capella believes in being clear about the real cost, time, and value of a Capella degree The Gainful Employment disclosures, required by the US Department of Education (DOE) (under 34 CFR 688.6 ), provide some information about completion, expenses and occupations based on learners who graduated between July 2012 and June 2013. Most of our students are part-time so they might not take a full course load or attend all 4 quarters each year. We took that into account in calculating these data. For example, we define program length for certificates and master's and doctoral degrees as the number of calendar quarters it takes a typical student to complete a program. The DOE has defined time to complete for a Bachelor's degree as 4 years. Program cost is based on the specific pricing structure for each program which is either a cost per credit or a cost per active quarter.

Other related information may be found on the Learning Outcomes, Career Outcomes, and Student Experience tabs on this page.

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Learn more about these values and how they are calculated»

Earn Your Doctoral Degree

Become an expert in your field. Enroll in an online PhD, PsyD, or EdD program at Capella.


Alumni Success Story Quote

Photo of Deborah Moore, PhD Deborah Moore, PhD

"After 9/11, the 20-page paper I wrote became a department manual on stress management techniques."

Read Deborah's story »