5 majors that lead to helping careers

a student helps an elderly man in a physical therapy session

Maybe the term “helping career” is new to you, and maybe you have an idea of what that field might be. At Colorado State, it’s a familiar term, referring to jobs that help people, the community, and the world. Helping careers are aimed at serving and improving people’s lives, their well-being, their families, and beyond. And, CSU has a lot of majors that lead to those careers. Here are just five of them to explore.

#1. Women’s and Gender Studies

The Women’s and Gender Studies major focuses on the intersection of gender with sexuality, race, ethnicity, class, ability, religion, and nationality. Students in the major take deep looks into societal norms, gender identity, and more with classes like Feminist Friendship, Gender Violence, and Masculinities, Race, and Sexualities. The major also draws on many different liberal arts disciplines for a comprehensive and intersectional educational experience, allowing students to explore and challenge personal perspectives. Graduates come out with career and graduate school goals that range from law and public policy to victim advocacy, counseling, and journalism.

#2. Psychology

The Psychology major is a bit different in the sense that it’s a science-based program that requires coursework in multiple areas. However, psychology at CSU is perfectly designed for those wishing to help others in their future careers. During your undergrad experience, you’ll choose a concentration in one of five areas that can help guide your career path and coursework: Addictions Counseling, Clinical/Counseling Psychology, General Psych, Industrial/Organizational Psychology, or Mind, Brain, and Behavior. Helping fields that the major can prepare you for include therapy and counseling, along with fields like organizational consultation, labor relations, human resources, and even jobs like probation officers and nonprofit aid work.

#3. Human Development and Family Studies

The Human Development and Family Studies major is a foot in the door to a wide range of people-focused careers, ranging from human services jobs to healthcare to law and criminal justice to teaching. Within the major, there are five concentrations, each offering internship opportunities within their respective fields: Early Childhood Professions, General Human Development and Family Studies, Leadership and Entrepreneurial Professions, Pre-Health Professions, and Prevention and Intervention Sciences. Graduates come our prepared to pursue higher degrees or jump right into helping positions like career development specialist, child protection worker, residential center manager, community outreach administrator, family services specialist, and preschool or K-12 teacher.

#4. Ethnic Studies

The Ethnic Studies major offers career options in fields that can oftentimes get overlooked as helping careers. Students who major in ethnic studies often have a passion for social justice and equality, and spend time critically examining race, gender, class, sexuality, and other forms of social differentiation that shape the experiences of marginalized groups. Ethnic Studies has a goal to nurture and inspire civic-minded students, encouraging them to participate in work that strengthens the communities around them not after they graduate but all along their academic journey. Graduates of the program come out culturally informed and passionate about improving the world through careers like diversity educators, inter-ethnic relations professionals, refugee and immigrant specialists, lawyers, and federal, state, or tribal government positions.

#5. Health and Exercise Science

The Health and Exercise Science major differs in the sense that it has a strong science foundation, and students will be expected to learn in a variety of STEM fields as they progress through the major. But where health and exercise science deviates from traditional science majors is exactly where helping careers come in. Students who have a passion for wellness and disease prevention will find a home in this major, which can lead to careers in the medical field and so far beyond. Students train in human anatomy and physiology, along with exercise and its effects on the human population. Graduates come out prepared for careers that can help improve quality of life, like physical therapists, public health professionals, cardiac rehabilitators, recreation directors, and fitness trainers.

Still trying to find the perfect academic path?

Whether you choose a helping major or something else, there are so many ways to customize your academic journey at CSU.


Prairie Smallwood

Prairie Smallwood is a writer and content creator for the Office of Admissions at Colorado State University. She is passionate about education and exploration, and knows that going to college can be both an adventure and an overwhelming experience. She aims to create content that helps students through that journey — the wonderful, the scary, and everything in between.