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Overview of an Associates in Behavioral Sciences

Behavioral sciences is a field that encompasses many sub-fields. Students who are fascinated with the big picture of why we do what we do might enjoy enrolling in a behavioral science degree program. Behavioral science spans fields such as psychology, sociology, social work, anthropology, economics, and political science. After all, we make decisions based on factors that may include our inner psyche but also span our financial and social situations.

An online associate degree in behavioral sciences is a terrific starting point for any student who is interested in the human condition. Students will study the theoretical backing that supports many fields while delving into the statistical and scientific structures that verify our hypotheses.

Students who complete an online associate in behavioral sciences are prepared to continue toward a variety of other bachelor's degrees, if they choose. The core skills involved in a behavioral sciences degree can translate into a bachelor's behavioral sciences, psychology, or a degree in political science. Naturally, many do pursue psychology for their undergraduate and then clinical psychology for their master's work.


Online education has been on a steady rise over the past decade or so, with that growth exploding during the pandemic era. While many take a negative view of online degrees, there are many positive aspects. For starters, online classes are very accessible and easy to fit into your life around a busy schedule. Students can access their class materials at any time of the day and they tend to have somewhat looser deadlines for their assignments. Furthermore, online associate degree programs have been proven to deliver the same outcomes as their traditional classroom equivalents if the student is focused.

Online associate degree students can use the advantages of distance learning to continue with little interruption in their lives. They can then land entry-level jobs that relate to behavioral sciences and gain hands-on experience while working through a college degree program. Finally, online media enables students to pick from more programs since they won't have to move to earn the same degree as the traditional students who must make it to a specific campus for every class session.


However, online learning is not without its drawbacks. Students often don't feel engaged with the subject matter or their instructor, there are often fewer courses and degree programs available via the online medium, and there is a lack of fellowship with other students. Since course materials are all delivered to a computer screen or tablet, some students may not be able to absorb it as well as they might from a physical book or by sitting in a classroom with a live instructor.

There are fewer courses available via online portals due to a few factors. Not only do students still prefer traditional classroom courses, but some courses don't translate well to the online medium. Laboratory science courses, such as biology and research methods courses in behavioral sciences, can be difficult to translate into an online course. However, as the demand for online learning grows, so will the supply of courses.

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Certificate Vs. Associate's

Certificates offer a way for students to gain valuable professional skills. They typically take approximately half the time to complete than a full associate degree because they focus only on courses that directly relate to an occupational outcome. Depending on the field, a certificate program only requires a high school diploma to enroll, though sometimes students must prove proficiency in certain areas, such as mathematics or general writing ability.

An online certificate program can thus offer many benefits. Students can earn their certificate while working in their field, gaining experience while they gain the formal knowledge they need to advance their careers.

On the other hand, an associate degree can offer the same benefits as a certificate, and more. Students in an associate degree program must complete the core college curriculum (general education courses) and so become more well-rounded professionals. This can be a great boon in one's professional life, especially since advancing in many fields requires a bachelor's or master's degree.

What Behavioral Sciences Associate Degrees are Available Online?

  • Associate of Science (AS):
    This behavioral sciences associate degree focuses more on the scientific studies backing behavioral science. Students will graduate with a strong sense of the statistical data that supports the field and should also be able to better evaluate statistical information.
  • Associate of Applied Science (AAS):
    This degree type is more interested in practical applications of knowledge than scholarly research. While the information in an AAS degree program is valid, it typically represents the most current trends over established science. Students who move on to pursue a bachelor's or master's degree may find that some of their courses don't transfer. Nevertheless, all students will complete the core college curriculum and should be able to advance into a behavioral sciences bachelor's degree program if they so desire.
  • Associate of Arts (AA):
    This degree focuses more on interpretations and analysis than scientific information. Students will not be deprived of hard scientific knowledge, but the balance of their work will be focused on reading and writing more than statistical analysis. Since the differences are often nominal, students are sometimes given the choice of whether to have their diploma reflect an AA or AS degree.

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Admission Requirements

Associate behavioral science degree programs tend to have open admissions standards. This means that anyone can apply and enroll in an online associate degree program. Schools will still want to see every student's high school transcripts and proof that they earned a diploma or general equivalency degree (GED). On top of that, application packets may require letters of recommendation, an essay, and perhaps an interview.

Upon admission, students will take a series of tests to determine their academic strengths. Those who need more mathematics or English help can thus be identified and routed to courses that will help them get up to speed. Alternately, students who show exceptional ability in certain areas may be able to skip introductory or low-level courses.

How long Does it Take to Earn an Associate Degree in Behavioral Sciences Online?

Associate behavioral science degrees are designed to take students two years to complete. They are effectively one half of a bachelor's degree program. Thus, many students opt for an associate degree to quickly earn a degree and get to work. For many fields, this allows students to start gaining valuable experience while their high school friends toil away in universities.

Some students can reduce their time in school, however. When a student takes summer courses and takes an extra load during some terms, they can sometimes reduce their time in school by a full term. However, this can be intense, even for an online student, and may preclude a full-time job.

What Can I Do with an Associate Degree in Behavioral Sciences?

  • Behavioral Health Technician:
    These workers assist therapists or psychiatric nurses in the care of patients. Experienced technicians may help design treatment programs. They also interact with clients and offer feedback on their progress. Average pay for this position is $16/hr.
  • Health Science Writer:
    Knowledge of behavioral science is a great background for a health science writer. Students in an associate degree program may use their elective courses to study journalism or technical writing to ensure that they have the skills needed. Health science writers may work for large health systems that support in-house publications and websites. The average salary for a technical writer is $65,000/year.
  • Healthcare Public Relations:
    A strong background in behavioral sciences can help land an entry-level position in a healthcare system as a public relations professional. Students may be well served by elective courses in marketing or public relations. Public relations specialists earn around $54,000 with a low end of around $40k/year.
  • Psychiatric Technician:
    This position is terrific for an associate behavioral science degree holder who wants to launch a career in mental healthcare. Psychiatric technicians assist psychiatric nurses and psychiatrists in their daily work with patients. Technicians may help patients with daily activities, administer medications, or assist when patients become disturbed. Some states require licensure for this position. The average pay for a psychiatric technician is $17/hr.
  • Social Worker:
    This is a great starting point for a behavioral science student. Social work can include administrative work, such as being a caseworker, or it can mean being a care provider. Students who are interested in social work should consider what sort of population they want to work with. Choices include people with developmental disabilities, physical disabilities, at-risk youth, and the elderly, to list but a few possible populations. The average salary for a social worker is $53,000.

How to Choose the Right Program for You

It's vital that students find the very best behavioral sciences program for them. They need to consider whether they want a traditional campus experience or an online associate degree, among other factors. One of the first things to consider is the program's accreditation.

Accreditation is a credential bestowed on an academic degree program that verifies that the instruction is valid and that the credits meet a standard of academic excellence. The baseline for accreditation is a CHEA-approved regional accreditation. Regional accrediting bodies evaluate all sorts of schools and programs, both online and traditional campus programs.

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Students should also investigate every program's course offerings. Students who have a long-term goal of becoming behavioral science researchers, for instance, might look for courses that focus on research and which confer an Associate of Science degree. They might also look for schools that offer courses in statistics and data science, though computer science may be more common at a community college.

While online course delivery may be preferred, students who live close to their school's campus may investigate whether they can take courses on campus, as well. For associate degree students, an on-campus option for their research methods course or their required laboratory science courses may be preferable.

For those who are interested in a bachelor's degree, an associate degree program that emphasizes transfers may be ideal. There are many community colleges that have established agreements with their state's university systems whereby associate degree graduates can easily transition into their third year of college and then graduate with a bachelor's degree.

Similarly, many associate degree programs offer career guidance support. This can give students real peace of mind, especially when their school provides job fairs and other ways to meet potential employers. An internship program is rather rare for an associate degree program, but if a student finds one, they should strongly consider enrolling.

Courses in Online Associate Degree Programs

  • Research Methods in Behavioral Sciences
  • Abnormal Psychology
  • Introduction to Psychology
  • Introduction to Sociology
  • Statistics for Behavioral Sciences
  • Introduction to Cultural Anthropology
  • Introduction to Human Services
  • Diversity in Human Services
  • Theories of Counseling
  • Personality Theories
  • Criminal Behavior
  • Sociology of Childhood
  • Social Psychology
  • Introduction to Organizational Psychology
  • Applied Behavior Analysis
  • Introduction to Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Field Work / Internship
  • Skills Acquisition
  • Addiction and Society
  • Evidence Based Interventions
  • Capstone Integration Project
  • Developmental Psychology
  • Family Development

Best Associate of Science in Behavioral Sciences Programs

  • Liberty University
    Lynchburg, VA

    Liberty University is a Christian university that offers a wide variety of online degree options, including an associate behavioral science degree - online. They also offer online bachelor's and master's degrees for those who want to advance even farther.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Associate of Arts – Psychology
    • Associate of Arts – Christian Counseling
  • Ozarks Technical Community College
    Springfield, MO

    OTC designed their behavioral science degree so that students will be able to easily transfer to another school for their bachelor's degree. Students are also prepared to start a career as an entry-level worker in human services.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Associate of Arts
  • Campbell University
    Buies Creek, NC

    Campbell University attracts a variety of behavioral science experts to staff its online associate of science degree in behavioral sciences. Students can then pursue a higher degree in Campbell's criminal justice, psychology, or Christian studies degree programs.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Associate of Science
  • Arizona State University
    Arizona, USA

    Arizona State University's behavioral sciences degrees are designed to be easy to access from anywhere in the world. Their behavioral science degree - online is designed to launch students into an advanced degree program.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Associate of Arts
    • Associate of Science
  • DePaul University
    Chicago, IL

    DePaul University offers an online approach to behavioral sciences that allows students to study from anywhere, on a schedule that suits them best. Though the behavioral sciences degree is designed for bachelor's students, an associate degree option is available.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Associate of Arts
    • Bachelor of Arts
  • Drury University
    Springfield, MO

    Drury offers students the opportunity to earn an associate behavioral science degree that will surely launch a brilliant career. Students study psychology, sociology, criminology, and the scientific research behind behavioral sciences.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Associate of Science – Behavioral Sciences
    • Associate of Science - Psychology
  • Louisiana State University
    Baton Rouge, LA

    Louisiana State University offers students the opportunity to study human behavior by way of the social sciences. This associate degree program integrates learning from psychology, sociology, political science, and economics to develop a whole picture of what makes humans behave as they do.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Associate of Arts

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  • Ohio University
    Athens, OH

    OU in Athens, OH offers online students an associate behavioral sciences degree that will help them start a path towards a professional career in behavior science. OU offers this degree as the first step towards a career or a bachelor's degree.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Associate of Arts – Social Sciences
    • Bachelor of Arts
    • Bachelor of Science
  • Bellevue University
    Bellevue, NE

    Bellevue University's behavioral sciences associate degree prepares students for academic and professional excellence. Graduates can transition into entry-level positions where they communicate with professional clarity and use research data to better help their clients.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Associate of Science
    • Bachelor of Science
  • Purdue Global
    West Lafayette, IN

    Purdue offers its academic excellence to online students worldwide. Students interested in human behavior can earn an associate degree in criminal justice, early childhood development, or human services.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Associate of Science
    • Associate of Applied Science
  • City Colleges of Chicago
    Chicago, IL

    Students of the human condition are invited to explore the degree options at CCC. Students can earn associate degrees in sociology, psychology, criminal justice, and more. Online degrees are only available for residents of the state of Illinois, however.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Associate of Science
    • Associate of Arts
  • Phoenix College
    Phoenix, AZ

    Phoenix College offers students a variety of associate degree opportunities for those interested in studying human behaviors. Students can earn their two-year degree in criminal justice, counseling and applied psychological science, psychology, or social work, among other options.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Associate of Arts
  • South Texas College
    McAllen, TX

    South Texas College, located near the far southern tip of the state, offers students the opportunity to earn a variety of associate degrees that focus on human behavior. Online students can earn degrees in fields such as anthropology, criminal justice, political science, psychology, and social work, among others.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Associate of Arts
    • Associate of Science
  • Herzing University
    Milwaukee, WI

    Herzing University offers students the opportunity to earn a degree in health and human services that will help them launch a career in community health. Often, students leverage their human services degrees to start careers as addiction counselors or move on to a bachelor’s degree in psychology or social work.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Associate of Science
  • Community College of Philadelphia
    Philadelphia, PA

    The Community College of Philadelphia offers students an associate degree in behavioral health / human services. Graduates are prepared to begin entry-level positions in various behavioral health centers or to continue their path towards a bachelor's degree in the same or a related field.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Associate in Applied Science

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