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Behavioral Health Degrees by Degree Program Level

Behavioral Health degrees are offered at the associate, bachelor, and master degree level. The coursework is broad, but usually includes courses in counseling, psychology, and public health.

Essential Information

Behavioral health is a broad social service field that presents many career opportunities to specialized therapists, counselors, and health aides. Depending on which occupation students wish to pursue, they must have an associate's, bachelor's, or master's degree in behavioral health or a related field. Associate's degrees generally prepare graduates for careers as aides or assistants, while a bachelor's degree opens the door to entry-level positions, like those of case workers. More advanced positions in health education or health services management may call for a master's degree.

  • Program Levels in Behavioral Health Sciences: Associate's degree, Bachelor's degree, Master's degree
  • Behavioral Health Program Fields: Behavioral Health Sciences, Psychology and Mental Health, Community and Behavioral Health
  • Prerequisites: High school diploma, bachelor's degree in related field
  • Program Length: 2-4 years
  • Other Requirements: Experiential practicum

Associate of Applied Science in Behavioral Health Sciences

The Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Behavioral Health Sciences prepares students for basic and technical positions in the behavioral health field. They acquire the skills necessary to perform administrative and assistant roles in standard mental rehabilitation centers and behavioral health clinics. The associate's degree program requires no educational prerequisites and takes approximately two years to complete. An A.A.S. in Behavioral Health Sciences program places a heavy emphasis on psychology and sociology courses. Course topics may include:

  • Human relations
  • Group dynamics
  • Human dependency
  • Communications skills
  • Multicultural counseling
  • Report writing

Bachelor of Psychology and Mental Health

Those with a bachelor's degree have access to most entry-level jobs in the behavioral health field. In a Bachelor of Psychology and Mental Health program, students develop a comprehensive understanding of human analysis, therapy, and counseling. A bachelor's degree program in psychology covers many areas of medical science, preparing students for the wide variety of job opportunities. Course topics may include:

  • Medical sociology
  • Medical ethics
  • Health care management
  • Health psychology
  • Social psychology

Master of Community and Behavioral Health

The Master of Community and Behavioral Health program focuses on the interplay between human communities and individual behavioral health. In order to enter this program, one must have already completed a bachelor's degree in a related field. The degree can take nearly four years to complete, or be completed in two years. Curriculum provides a sociological perspective on mental health care. Many courses cover community-related subject matter. Examples of these topics are:

  • Public health
  • Environmental health
  • Intervention design
  • Social health theories
  • Cultural competence
  • Community communication

Popular Career Options

Positions held by those with associate's degrees in behavioral health science are typically supplemental to workers with higher degrees. Roles include:

  • Behavioral health technician
  • Case manager
  • Parent aide
  • Elderly aide
  • Family advocate
  • Respite care worker
  • Paraprofessional counselor

Some entry-level positions in the behavioral health field do not require a bachelor's degree. However, as the health fields expand, more and more employers and clients prefer candidates to have higher degrees. Positions for graduates of this bachelor's degree include:

  • Assistant researcher
  • School counselor
  • Social worker

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

Two potential positions for graduates earning a Master of Community and Behavioral Health are a community health educator or a community service manager. These career fields were projected to have faster-than-average job growth from 2012 to 2022, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov). Additionally, the BLS reported that the median salaries for health educators and community service managers were $50,430 and $62,740, respectively, in May 2014.

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