Masters Degree in Behavioral Health: Program Overviews

If you want to pursue a graduate degree in a field that combines studies in the biological and social sciences, you may consider a master's degree in behavioral health. Find out more about these programs and future prospects for graduates.

Essential Information

Master's degree programs in behavioral health involve interdisciplinary studies related to the behavior-mind-body relationship. Students examine how psychology, human biology, the environment, and societal and cultural diversity affect behavior. Specialization options include children's health, healthcare policies, mental health, health of at-risk communities and groups, and behavioral health systems. Most programs take one to two years to complete. Prior to graduation, students must submit a thesis. In order to apply, students must hold a bachelor's degree.

Master Degree in Behavioral Health

Core courses focus on the principles, practices and theories of behavioral health. Common course titles include:

  • Biobehavioral systems
  • Biostatistics
  • Epidemiology
  • Perspectives in behavioral health
  • Intervention design and implementation
  • Community development and health education
  • Health behaviors of communities and diasporas
  • Health and communications
  • Health promotion and campaigns

Employment Prospects and Salary Info

Behavioral health scientists can find employment in many fields, including education, counseling, psychology, social work, medicine and public health. Possible job titles include:

  • Case manager
  • Researcher
  • Public health administrator
  • Mental health counselor
  • Health policy maker
  • Consultant to governments, universities or healthcare agencies
  • Healthcare evaluator or analyst
  • Behavioral health specialist

While most teachers at 4-year colleges and universities have a Ph.D., teaching opportunities may be available for master's-degree holders at community colleges. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that postsecondary teachers who taught health specialties at junior colleges earned an average salary of $67,890 as of 2015. A 13% increase in job opportunities was expected for all college-level instructors from 2014-2024, which is faster than average compared to other career fields.

Continuing Education

After completing a master's degree program, students have the option of continuing their education at the doctorate level. Ph.D. programs prepare students to become behavioral health specialists, professors and leaders in the healthcare field. Some doctoral programs require that students possess a master's degree, but others will accept students with a bachelor's degree.

The Ph.D. program emphasizes research design and application, and it allows students more time to learn about their chosen specialty. To successfully complete the program, students must complete a dissertation. This dissertation is designed by the student, and it showcases their mastery of a behavioral health topic.

Overall, a master's degree in behavioral health is designed to provide students with the multidisciplinary training they need for career success in the field. They also provide the foundational knowledge students need to pursue a research-based doctoral degree.

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