The term “behavioral science” does not refer to just one discipline; it refers to multiple disciplines. Behavioral science includes all disciplines that explore the actions, reactions, and interactions of humans and animals. A few of the more popular disciplines within behavioral science include psychology, cognitive science and psychobiology. Many students mistakenly assume that behavioral science is the same thing as social science. While both disciplines study processes of behavior, they are still quite different. Where behavioral science investigates communication processes between humans, social science explores social systems, specifically the interaction of individuals with groups.
An understanding of behavioral science is useful in just about every career where human interaction occurs, including business, psychology, social work, public/community health, counseling and sociology. Given the complexity of behavioral science, and its scientific nature, in order to work as a professional within this discipline a degree in behavioral science, or a subdiscipline of behavioral science, is usually required. Degrees designed to prepare students for entry-level positions and to pass state licensing exams are offered at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels.
Associate of Arts in Behavioral Science
The Associate of Art (AA) degree in behavioral science is a two-year degree designed to prepare students for entry-level jobs and to pursue higher education opportunities. More often than not, an AA in behavior science is used as a stepping stone into a bachelor’s or graduate degree program in behavioral science or a related discipline (psychology, social science, social work, etc.) at a four-year college or university. An associate degree in behavioral science may also provide aspiring career professionals with specific skills required to enhance their job performance and/or marketability.
Bachelor of Arts in Behavioral Science
The most common entry-level degree in this field is the Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Behavioral Science. The BA in Behavioral Science is a four-year bachelor’s degree that prepares students for career opportunities in their chosen specialty. It also meets the prerequisite for entry into most graduate degree programs in psychology, social sciences, and behavioral sciences disciplines. BA programs in the behavioral sciences often include coursework in sociology, social psychology, general psychology, behavioral science, cognitive science, theory, social research methods, statistics, and abnormal psychology.
In order to apply to a bachelor’s degree program in behavioral science, applicants must have a high school diploma with an GPA that meets minimum requirements. Students will also be required to submit scores for standardized exams, such as the SAT or ACT. Students who have completed a two-year associate’s degree from a regionally accredited institution will be required to provide transcripts from the transferring institution–although they may not be required to provide ACT or SAT test score by that point.
Master of Arts in Behavioral Science
While earning a BA in Behavioral Science, or subdiscipline of the field, will qualify students for entry-level career positions, more and more employers are beginning to required that candidates obtain a master’s degree. This is particularly true for students pursuing careers in any branch of psychology. Most states now required psychologists to obtain a master’s degree before they can qualify for state licensing. Consequently, more and more students are obtaining a bachelor’s degree in order to gain access to a good master’s programs in one of the many behavioral sciences disciplines.
Most master’s degree programs consist of a core curriculum complimented by courses in line with a student’s area of concentration. As with most master’s programs, the MA in Behavioral Science typically involves the completion of a thesis.
Ph.D. in Behavioral Science
Unlike associate, bachelor, or master degrees in behavioral science–which are typically based on coursework–the Ph.D. in Behavioral Science is a research-based degree. While instruction may include coursework addressing basic behavioral science concepts, most of students’ time will be dedicated to learning how to design research projects and experimental methods. Ph.D students are often required to select a concentration as part of there program, such as public health, sociology, health education, or pursue an applied behavior science track. Where master’s students are required to complete a thesis, Ph.D. students are required to complete a dissertation.
Most Ph.D. in Behavioral Science programs require applicants to have a master’s degree. However, some colleges now offers Ph.D. programs that only require a bachelor’s degree, as long as the degree is in a closely related field. Letters of recommendation, GRE scores, transcripts and a statement of purpose may also be required.
Below you can search a comprehensive database of colleges and universities that provide accredited degrees and professional certificates in the behavioral sciences.
Behavioral Science Degrees and Programs
Southern New Hampshire University
You have goals. Southern New Hampshire University can help you get there. Whether you need a bachelor's degree to get into a career or want a master's degree to move up in your current career, SNHU has an online program for you. Find your degree from over 200 online programs. Learn More >