Behavioral Science Degrees: Bachelor, Associate & Online Class Info

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What will you learn in a behavioral science program? Read about degree requirements, the pros and cons of an associate's and bachelor's degree and potential careers.
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Studying Behavioral Science: Degrees at a Glance

If you're interested in studying human behavior and development, consider enrolling in a degree program in behavioral science. Curricula in this field combine several different disciplines, including sociology, psychology and anthropology. You may qualify to work in the community and social services field or as a psychiatric technician with a degree in this field.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provided 2010-2020 employment growth projections for several types of careers that you may qualify for with a behavioral science degree. Social workers may see a faster-than-average 25% increase, and employment for social and human service assistants could also increase rapidly at 28%. Social and community service managers may see a 27% employment increase, and an average employment growth of 15% is expected for psychiatric technicians.

Take a look at how these two degrees compare to each other:

Associate's Bachelor's
Who is this degree for? Individuals who want entry-level positions in social services or mental health fields Individuals who want to move into social work, managerial roles in community or social service or more advanced roles in the mental health field
Common Career Paths (with approximate median salary) -Substance abuse counselor ($39,000)*
- Social and human service assistant ($29,000)*
-Psychiatric technician ($28,000)*
- Social worker (mental health or substance abuse) ($39,000 - additional education may be required for some social work positions.)*
- Social and community service manager ($59,000)*
Time to Completion About 18 months to 2 years (full-time) About 2 years with an associate's degree, 4 years without (full-time)
Common Graduation Requirements - Roughly 15-21 courses (general education/core requirements plus major)
- Satisfactory grade point average of 2.0
Students entering with an associate's degree may have already fulfilled some core requirements:
Most (or all) of the associate's degree requirements, plus:
- Roughly 12-14 university core courses
- Roughly 28 area and elective courses
- Grade point average of at least 2.0
- Internship/practicum can be an option
Prerequisites High school diploma or equivalent High school diploma or equivalent
Online Availability Yes, for transfer programs Yes

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).

Associate's Degree in Behavioral Science

The function of an associate's degree program in behavioral science may differ depending on the school. Some programs are intended to train you for entry into the workforce upon graduation, while others are designed to transfer to a bachelor's program. Regardless of which program you choose, you can expect to study human behaviors, diversity, gender differences and societal behaviors. These programs can also lay the groundwork to enter advanced degree programs in teaching or pre-law.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • An associate's degree can prepare you for an entry-level position
  • Credits can transfer to a bachelor's degree if you opt to continue your education
  • Can apply learned concepts to a variety of majors in a bachelor's program

Cons

  • Some of your career choices are subject to high stress and a heavy workload
  • Advanced positions may require additional education
  • Low pay is associated with some relevant entry-level positions

Common Courses and Requirements

You can expect to earn approximately 64 credits, which includes general education courses pertaining to math, science, humanities and communication. Although core classes are typically required for all students, you may be able to tailor a portion of your curriculum by choosing electives that suit your future career or education goals. Some programs may let you choose a concentration in an area like psychology or sociology. You may take classes such as:

  • Biology
  • Psychology
  • Sociology
  • Anthropology
  • Criminology
  • Geography

Online Degree Options

Some schools offer online associate's degrees in behavioral science. They're often designed for students who plan to continue their education by transferring into a bachelor's degree program. The courses and requirements for online behavioral science programs are comparable to their campus-based counterparts.

Getting Ahead with This Degree

While earning your degree, you can maximize your learning experience by joining student or professional organizations that are related to behavioral science. For example, you can consider becoming a student member of the American Anthropological Association, or your school may have a sociology or psychology club.

You may also benefit from acquiring proficient computer skills. Many positions may require you to manage some type of computer database, and employers may prefer candidates who are computer competent.

Bachelor's Degree in Behavioral Science

In a bachelor's program, the same concepts and theories are studied, but on a deeper level. While associate's programs often teach you the fundamentals of this broad field, you may have the opportunity to choose a concentration or choose electives that allow you to focus on a specific aspect of the field.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • You may qualify for more job opportunities with a bachelor's degree
  • Curriculum may allow you to focus on certain aspects within the behavioral science field
  • Several possible career options that you may qualify for with this degree have positive job outlooks

Cons

  • May need a master's degree for certain types of social work, counseling or managerial positions
  • Some positions in social and community service management may be vulnerable to government budget cuts
  • Some entry-level career options may not offer a much higher salary than those requiring less education

Common Courses and Requirements

As in an associate's program, you're core classes usually include a mix of sociology and psychology classes. Programs are often customizable through electives or concentrations, such as community health or gerontology. You may also learn foundational research methods so you can effectively find and use research related to the behavioral science field. Common courses may include:

  • Counseling
  • Abnormal psychology
  • Social problems
  • Human services
  • Statistics

You may acquire practical learning experience through capstone projects or internships. As an intern, you would work at a relevant agency or facility, such as a mental health clinic, social services agency or nursing care center.

Online Degree Options

A few schools offer bachelor's degree programs in behavioral science online, but you may find programs related to behavioral science, such as sociology, more common. Your courses are usually equivalent to an on-campus program, but the level of interactivity can vary for each school. Some programs are set up to foster more exchange between students, while others promote independent learning. Some schools may also give you the option of taking some courses online and some on campus.

Getting Ahead with This Degree

Stand out by focusing on cutting-edge technology and areas of growth in your field.

  • Become proficient in Behavioral Interactive Technologies (BITS), which are used to assist in the treatment of people with medical, mental health and addiction problems, just to name a few.
  • If your program doesn't require an internship, some agencies may allow you to still intern in order to gain professional experience. You may also be able to acquire volunteer positions at relevant organizations.
  • If your degree program allows you to specialize, or you have enough elective credits available, choose courses that provide knowledge in a growing field, such as gerontology.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Ashford University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BA/Applied Behavioral Science - No Concentration
      • B.A. - Sociology
      • B.A. - Psychology
      • BA/Cognitive Studies
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BS in Psychology in Applied Behavior Analysis
      • BS in Industrial/Organizational Psychology
      • BS in Psychology in Addictions
      • BSCJ: Forensic Psychology
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Southern New Hampshire University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BA in Psychology
      • BA in Psychology - Mental Health
      • BA in Psychology - Addictions
      • BA in Psychology - Social Psychology
      • BA Psychology w/conc in Applied Psychology
      • BA Human Services Substance Abuse
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Health Science with an Emphasis in Trauma
      • BS in Psychology
      • B.S. in Psychology with an Emphasis in Performance and Sports Psychology
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Regent University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Science in Professional Studies - Leadership Studies
      • Bachelor of Science in Professional Studies - Psychology
      • Bachelor of Science in Psychology
      • Bachelor of Science in Psychology - Clinical and Counseling Psychology
  • Denver, CO

    Metropolitan State College of Denver

  • Online Programs Available
    7. Colorado Technical University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.S. - Psychology
      • B.S. - Psychology - Organizational Behavior
      • B.S. - Psychology - Consumer Behavior

Featured Schools

Ashford University

  • BA/Applied Behavioral Science - No Concentration
  • B.A. - Sociology
  • B.A. - Psychology

What is your highest level of education?

Kaplan University

  • BS in Psychology in Applied Behavior Analysis
  • BS in Industrial/Organizational Psychology
  • BS in Psychology in Addictions

Which subject are you interested in?

Southern New Hampshire University

  • BA in Psychology
  • BA in Psychology - Mental Health
  • BA in Psychology - Addictions

What is your highest level of education?

Grand Canyon University

  • Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Health Science with an Emphasis in Trauma
  • BS in Psychology
  • B.S. in Psychology with an Emphasis in Performance and Sports Psychology

What is your highest level of education?

Regent University

  • Bachelor of Science in Professional Studies - Leadership Studies
  • Bachelor of Science in Professional Studies - Psychology
  • Bachelor of Science in Psychology

What is your highest level of education completed?

Colorado Technical University

  • B.S. - Psychology
  • B.S. - Psychology - Organizational Behavior
  • B.S. - Psychology - Consumer Behavior

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