Overview of Behavioral Science Courses and Training Programs

Coursework and training options in behavioral science are typically offered through undergraduate and graduate degree programs, as well as graduate certificate programs, in fields such as psychology and behavioral science. This article provides an overview of some common behavioral science course offerings and training programs.

Essential Information

Courses in behavioral science provide students with fundamental knowledge and can prepare them for entry-level positions in the field. Graduate courses delve into advanced research topics and can prepare students for positions as mental health counselors, researchers, professors and more. Programs that prepare graduates for clinical work typically require internships or clinical practica. Commonly covered concepts include:

  • Sociology
  • Psychology
  • Behavior analysis
  • Behavior modification
  • Counseling Techniques

List of Common Courses

Social and Behavioral Sciences Course

This course offers an introduction to the principles of social and behavioral science and what it means to work in the field. Instructors cover the basic aspects of family and individuals, education, culture, government and more. Focus is placed on the application of social and behavioral science to issues such as family development, substance abuse, juvenile delinquency and Autism. Students also learn how to analyze human behavior to create interventions and control situations.

Marriage and Family Course

The definition of 'family' can differ between groups and cultures, and this course focuses on those variations, as well as factors that play into family development. These factors may include parental roles, divorce, dating, cohabitation, and remarriage. Family members' behavior and interactions often affect children, so students also learn about normal child development, which is discussed in-depth during a separate course.

Child Behavior and Development Course

This course acts as an extension to the marriage and family course by providing further details on the influences of child development and normal range of growth in intelligence, emotion, language and cognition. Starting with birth and moving through adolescence, participants gain knowledge of fundamental principles and theoretical approaches to observing behavior and assessing problems. Additional focus is placed on techniques for working with juvenile delinquents.

Drug and Alcohol Abuse Course

One niche focus of behavioral science is drug and alcohol abuse. To diagnose, treat and prevent substance abuse, one must understand influences that come into play, including personal background, brain mechanisms, culture and more. During this course, students gain insight on substance abuse from the psychological, physiological and sociological perspectives, as well as the impairment associated with different types of substances. Other points of discussion include the effects of drug and alcohol abuse on the family and workplace, the detoxification process, and possible side effects.

Aging Course

Behavioral patterns change throughout the lifespan, and this course focuses primarily on adult development and potential influences. The primary influences are biological, cultural, environmental, psychological and social. Participants also examine myths and attitudes about older adults and the elderly and the differences of aging in America versus other cultures.

Behavioral Science Training Programs

Because behavioral science can be studied at all levels, there is no typical training program. Some schools offer specific behavioral science programs, while others only include it as a sequence or specialty focus within a psychology program. Individuals interested in learning the basics and getting a small glimpse into the field may study for an associate's degree, a program that is commonly 60 credit hours or two years in length at full time status. Graduates of a 2-year program or candidates entering a 4-year school may study for a bachelor's degree in behavioral science, and graduates may then continue to master's and doctoral programs down the road.

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