Behavioral science degrees prepare students to delve into the underlying issues that humans face with the goal of addressing some of the world's biggest problems. During these programs, students look at human activities from a historical perspective in an effort to understand different cultures and the experiences that motivate them.
Since the study of behavioral science drives new discoveries in human behavior, many professionals who work in this field are the catalyst to new theories regarding human decision-making, interaction, and positive and negative reinforcement. Part psychology and part social science, behavioral science is an intriguing area that leads to a wide range of opportunities for those who want to enter the field.
Although nearly anyone can pursue a behavioral science degree, these programs are mostly geared to the intuitive, naturally curious student. The ideal participant is one who wants to improve the world we live in by gaining a greater understanding of the environmental and psychological factors that shape our actions as a people.
Choosing the Right Degree
Which type of behavioral science degree to earn should be based on desired student outcomes, the timeline one hopes to finish in, and individual goals. Behavioral science degrees range from two-year associate degrees to doctoral degrees, although most students will complete training somewhere in between. This chart includes each degree type and some of the potential careers earning this degree could lead to:
Length of Completion
These degrees typically take two years to complete.
Social or Human Service Assistant, Psychiatric Technician or Aide
Bachelor's degrees typically take four years of full-time study.
Market Research Analyst, Social Worker
Master's programs take an additional two years of schooling after completion of a Bachelor's degree.
Mental Health Counselor, Marriage and Family Therapist, Market Research Analyst, Postsecondary Teacher, Social Worker
Doctoral degrees can be completed in 3-6 years after completion of an undergraduate degree.
Mental Health Counselor, Marriage and Family Therapist, Postsecondary Teacher or College Professor
Projected Job Growth
(2016 - 26)
|Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists||596,450||$71,450||22.8%|
|Social and Human Service Assistants||384,080||$35,460||16.4%|
|Social and Community Service Managers||141,830||$70,530||15.7%|
|Training and Development Specialists||280,340||$64,700||11.5%|
|Training and Development Managers||34,500||$117,690||10.3%|
|Social Sciences Teachers, Postsecondary, All Other||16,580||$79,050||10%|
|Human Resources Managers||136,310||$123,510||8.9%|
|Human Resources Specialists||553,950||$66,220||7.1%|
What to Expect in a Behavioral Science Program
Although behavioral science can be a stand-alone major, it embraces a number of different disciplines, including anthropology, psychology and social science. During these programs, students should gain an understanding of the influences of diversity on human relationships, the role of behavioral science in both shaping and understanding our culture, and the practical and theoretical knowledge that underpins all behavioral science theories and ideas.
Although curriculum can vary by school, most behavioral science programs offer instruction in the following disciplines:
- Developmental psychology
- Group dynamics
- Human development, behavioral
- Race and ethnicity
- Sociology of criminal justice
- Social problems
Many behavioral science students also choose a specialization based on their personal interests. While choosing a specialization isn't always necessary, it can help students expand their career options and gain a broader understanding of behavioral science as it applies to the real world. Popular specializations in the field include, but aren't limited to:
- Social Psychology
- Cognitive Theory
- Management Science
- Community Health
As we mentioned before, behavioral science degrees can take anywhere from two to 10 years, depending on your preferences and career goals. If you want to work as a social assistant or psychiatric aide, for example, you can typically start work after earning a two-year behavioral science degree. However, research and teaching positions require a broader scope of behavioral science study, as well as a thesis or dissertation in most cases. At the end of the day, the type of degree will weigh heavily on the time investment required -- and the ultimate effect on your career.
Benefits of an Online Degree Program
Online and hybrid behavioral science programs take advantage of dynamic technologies such as web conferencing, simulated lab experiments, and virtual role playing exercises. Further, online behavioral science students benefit from the flexible formatting these programs demand. Since students can complete their studies at any time or place of their choosing, they can study when they are most motivated to do so, or simply fit their studies into their busy schedules. Since many potential students have full-time jobs and families to care for, online degrees in behavioral science allow them to continue learning without neglecting those responsibilities.
While some online behavioral science degrees can be completed entirely online, others -- including those with a specialization in psychology or counseling -- usually require some face-to-face work in the form of labs, practicums, or counseling exercises. Students considering one of these programs should check their curriculum to make sure they understand the nature of any on-site requirements.
Careers in Behavioral Science
Although a degree in behavioral science can lead to plenty of careers in the field itself, many other industries also benefit from employees who have a greater understanding of human behavior. Here are some of the most popular careers people with this degree enter upon graduation, along with relevant wage and employment data form the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
Anticipated National Growth 2012 - 2022
Mean Annual Wage in 2014
Detectives and Criminal Investigators
Social and Human Service Assistants
Social and Community Service Managers
Market Research Analysts
Marriage and Family Therapists
Mental Health Counselors
No matter how you choose to put your behavioral science degree to work, rest assured there are plenty of career options and even industries to choose from. Whether you want to use your knowledge to study criminal behavior and put the bad guys away, help those with mental illness, or discover the newest breakthroughs in this field, a degree in behavioral science can help you get there.
To learn more about your options, check out any of the schools or programs on this page.
Behavioral Science Degree, Bellevue University, http://www.bellevue.edu/degrees/bachelor/behavioral-science-bs/
Human and Social Service Assistants, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/social-and-human-service-assistants.htm
Market Research Analysts, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/market-research-analysts.htm
May 2014 National Employment and Wage Estimates, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nat.htm
Mental Health Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/mental-health-counselors-and-marriage-and-family-therapists.htm
Psychiatric Technicians and Aides, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/psychiatric-technicians-and-aides.htm
Postsecondary Teachers, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/postsecondary-teachers.htm
Social Workers, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/social-workers.htm