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Behavioral Science Degrees by Degree Program Level

Topics likely to be addressed in behavioral science degree programs include behavior analysis, abnormal behavior, behavioral interventions, research methodologies and social psychology.

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Essential Information

Behavioral science is a broad discipline that encompasses many other fields of study, including psychology and sociology, and can be of use to business and counseling professionals. It addresses how relationships and decisions are affected by human behaviors and actions.

Degrees in behavioral science are offered at the bachelor's, master's and Ph.D. level. Some master's degrees are offered online. Graduation from most master's degree programs require the completion of thesis. Students interested in college-level research or academic careers will likely need to obtain a doctoral degree. Doctoral degrees require the completion of a larger dissertation.

Bachelor's degree programs require incoming to students to have a high school diploma and submit ACT or SAT scores. Transfer students must also submit transcripts from other programs they were part of. Master's and Ph.D. degree programs require students to have a bachelor's degree in a related field, two to three letters or recommendation and sufficient GRE scores. Those with upper-level math and science courses have an advantage. Additional prerequisites for Ph.D. programs include a statement of purpose, published papers, a personal interview, and for some programs a master's degree.


Bachelor of Arts in Behavioral Science

Students enrolled in a bachelor's degree program in behavioral science learn how to analyze human behavior and interactions. Some bachelor's degree programs focus entirely on a particular application of the field and prepare graduates for further study in social work, sociology or psychology. Some courses may also give students the opportunity to conduct research projects. Possible classes include:

  • Sociology
  • Psychology
  • Social research and statistical methods
  • Social psychology
  • Abnormal psychology
  • Quantitative topics in behavioral science

Master of Arts in Behavioral Science

A master's degree program in behavioral science commonly lets students choose an area of emphasis, and the curriculum is shaped by a student's area of emphasis. Students choosing a gerontology option, for example, learn about issues of aging and explore community-based services designed to assist the elderly. In contrast, a student pursuing an applied behavioral science option learns about research methods in the field and such topics as behavioral assessment, evaluation and intervention. However, regardless of the concentration area, students must first complete core classes that stress the empirical and conceptual foundations of the field. Some class topics include:

  • Behavioral science research design
  • Behavior development
  • Behavioral science legal and ethical issues
  • Behavioral science computer applications
  • Direct observation
  • Advanced behavior analysis

Ph.D. in Behavioral Science

A Ph.D. in Behavioral Science is research-based and introduces students to advanced study in behavior analysis. Some Doctor of Philosophy programs in the field have a public health option while others are more focused on applied behavioral science. Core courses emphasize the foundations of behavioral science and cover common approaches to research and experiment design. Some elective courses are also required, but a majority of a student's residence is spent on the completion and defense of a dissertation. Some possible courses include:

  • Foundations of behavioral science
  • Statistical methods and methods of research
  • Intervention practicum
  • Public health research
  • Epidemiological methods
  • Public health practice and theory

Popular Career Options

Completion of a bachelor's degree program in behavioral science allows graduates to compete for entry-level jobs that require expertise in human relationships and behavior. Employment opportunities exist with social service organizations and community outreach groups. Some possible career outcomes include:

  • Assistant social services caseworker
  • Consumer behavior specialist
  • Community health worker

Career options depend largely upon the area of emphasis chosen by a student within the discipline of behavioral science. A master's degree also provides graduates with an opportunity to study at the Ph.D. level. Some possible career options include:

  • Community college instructor (behavioral science)
  • Gerontologist
  • Applied behavioral scientist
  • Neuromarketer

Those with a Ph.D. in behavioral science can go on to become educators and researchers in the field. Many of them find jobs in the health services sector, working as counselors or behavioral health coordinators. Others pursue a more business-oriented Ph.D. program in behavioral science and go on to work in the non-profit or private sectors. Career options include these:

  • Behavioral health communications specialists
  • Public health researchers
  • University professors

Those who want to enter in a career that studies and takes into account human behavior may want to consider a bachelor's, master's or Ph.D. degree in behavioral science. These programs can prepare students for various careers within the large category of behavioral science.

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