Behavioral Science Degrees: Bachelor's, Associate & Online Course Info

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

Graduates of a behavioral science degree program are prepared for careers as technicians, assistants and counselors in outreach and treatment facilities. Potential jobs may include tasks like developing and conducting education and outreach efforts, working with clients to address addictions or problem behaviors and reviewing and recommending treatment options.

Educational requirements for these careers range from a high school diploma to a doctoral degree, depending on the nature of the work and state licensing requirements. For example, a career as a social work or substance abuse counselor requires a master's degree.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job opportunities for substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors and social workers are expected to grow 27% and 25%, respectively, during 2010-2020 (www.bls.gov). The BLS also predicts that job opportunities for psychiatric technicians will increase 15% during that same time.

Associate Bachelor's
Who is this degree for? - Individuals seeking entry-level positions in social science or mental health fields - Individuals new to the field of social work
- Experienced professionals seeking management positions in the mental health and social science fields
Common Career Paths (with approximate annual salary) - Social and human service assistant ($31,000)*
- Mental health technician ($31,000)**
-Mental health and substance abuse social worker ($43,000)*
- Child, family or school social workers ($44,000)*
- Health educator ($52,000)*
Time to Completion Typically 2 years (full-time) Typically 4 years (full-time)
Common Graduation Requirements - Approximately 60-75 credit hours of coursework - Approximately 120-130 credit hours of coursework
- Internship
Prerequisites - High school diploma or equivalent - High school diploma, equivalent or associate's degree
Online Availability Yes Yes

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

Associate Degrees in Behavioral Science

In an associate degree program, you learn the foundations of psychology, sociology, and other social sciences. Associate of Science and Associate of Applied Science in Behavioral Science programs are available. Credits earned in Associate of Science programs may transfer to bachelor's degree programs.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • May be able to transfer credits to a bachelor's degree program
  • There are often opportunities to advance beyond entry-level positions with additional education and work experience
  • Although employment opportunities vary depending on the field, prospects appear positive due to jobs in the behavioral science services field remaining in high demand*

Cons

  • Some states and employers may require social service professionals to complete annual background checks, professional development hours and other certification or licensure requirements
  • Salary increases and advancement opportunities may require a bachelor's or master's degree
  • State and local budgets often fund medical and community programs; recent budget cuts may have an effect on employment prospects in these facilities

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Common Courses and Requirements

Students can expect an associate program in behavioral science to include a variety of courses in the humanities, natural sciences and social sciences. Courses in biology, child and family relations, psychology, sociology and human relations are usually included in most program curriculum.

Online Degree Options

Associate degrees in behavioral science are available online. Online programs typically include coursework and requirements that are similar to traditional associate programs, though they may offer more compressed or flexible curriculum.

Getting Ahead with This Degree

To stand out with your degree, consider completing a course in research methods. Being able to gather, compare and interpret research materials may impress employers.

Bachelor's Degrees in Behavioral Science

Students in behavioral science bachelor's degree programs learn about the key issues in social environments as well as individual and group behavior. Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts programs are available. The curriculum in these programs generally blends social science theory and practical applications.

A Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Science is also available. This degree program is typically structured as an accelerated program for students who plan to eventually pursue master's degrees in social work, human services, or clinical counseling.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Most programs include an internship component that provides hands-on work experience
  • Degree may prepare experienced behavioral science workers for advancement opportunities in their current organization
  • Graduates are prepared for higher-level positions in social services fields

Cons

  • Academic programs may not include required state licensure or certification exams
  • May need to obtain a master's degree for certain careers in social work, nursing or psychology
  • May compete with master's degree holders for entry- and mid-level positions

Common Courses and Requirements

Common courses in behavioral science bachelor's degree programs include human anatomy, physiology, ethics, cultural anthropology, personality theories, sociology and advanced communications skills. In addition, students may complete an internship at a local medical or social service facility.

Online Degree Options

Fully online and hybrid bachelor's degree programs in behavioral science are available. Regardless of the program's structure, the requirements of these programs are similar to a traditional on-campus program.

Stand Out with this Degree

To stand out against your competition, consider completing an internship or practicum. Internships and practicums can provide you not only with course credit hours to put towards earning your degree, but also provides you with hands-on experience working in the field. This technical experience may make you stand out to employers.

Also consider joining student behavioral science, psychology, or social science associations. These associations could provide you with networking and additional learning opportunities that could help you when searching for a job.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Colorado Christian University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Psychology, A.S.
      • Psychology, A.S.
  • Phoenix, AZ

    South Mountain Community College

  • Pasadena, TX

    San Jacinto Community College

  • Waterbury, CT

    Naugatuck Valley Community College

  • Muskegon, MI

    Muskegon Community College

  • Kingman, AZ

    Mohave Community College

  • Midland, TX

    Midland College

  • Lewiston, ID

    Lewis-Clark State College

  • Hillsboro, TX

    Hill College

  • Vincennes, IN

    Vincennes University

Featured Schools

Colorado Christian University

  • Psychology, A.S.

What is your highest level of education completed?

South Mountain Community College

San Jacinto Community College

Naugatuck Valley Community College

Muskegon Community College

Mohave Community College

Midland College

Lewis-Clark State College