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Overview of a Bachelor’s in Behavioral Sciences

Several colleges and universities offer a bachelor’s behavioral science degree and some in other related subjects. As online learning has become increasingly popular over the years, prospective students should also be able to find options that allow remote study.

While somewhat less common than programs in psychology and organizational behavioral, this major is highly interdisciplinary in nature. This means students are likely to gain knowledge and skills in a wide range of interesting sub-fields such as anthropology, social work, human resources, and other social and cultural studies. Those enrolled will learn how to use various scientific approaches to better comprehend the fundamentals of human decision-making. They will also develop a broach understanding of behavior as a whole, which can then be applied to a wide variety of areas.

Behavioral science is an extremely diverse field, with numerous opportunities to specialize. To ensure students are prepared to pursue their desired career, most colleges and universities encourage those enrolled to select concentrations. This allows for more customized learning experiences, with students taking more classes associated with a particular area of study. Designated a specialization is a great way to gain deeper insight into a particular way of thinking about and/or assessing human behavior.

While concentration availability varies by institution, some common options include:

  • Human Services
  • Criminal Justice
  • Psychology
  • Public Administration
  • Public Relations
  • Environmental Management and Sustainability
  • Addiction Studies
  • Family Studies
  • Web and Mobile App Technology
  • Emergency Management

Graduates are generally prepared for careers that involve working directly with people. Employment opportunities are available across multiple disciplines including healthcare, educational services, business, and social work. While a behavioral science degree can lead to a wide variety of occupations across numerous industries, it’s important to consider what level of education is needed to pursue your intended career path. Some entry-level employment may be available to those without higher education, but most employers in the field expect job candidates to have at least a bachelor’s. Opportunities with requirements lower than this are rare, and many professions even necessitate master’s degrees. As you decide whether or not to pursue this type of degree, it’s important to keep these various advantages and disadvantages in mind.

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There are many reasons to pursue a bachelor’s behavioral science degree, or a degree in any field. One of the most significant benefits is that individuals who possess four-year degrees tend to make more money than people who lack them. In 2018, the US Department of Education reported that individuals ages 25 to 34 with bachelor’s working full-time, year-round had median annual earnings of $54,700. This is more than what those with associate degrees, some college experience, high school diplomas, or less than high school completion. This makes enrolling in a bachelor’s degree program of any kind a financially reasonable decision.

Life, physical, and social science professions, in particular, can pay quite well. The median annual wage for this group was $72,740 in May 2021. This is higher than the median annual wage of $45,760 for all occupations in the United States. Substance abuse, behavioral, and mental health counselors tend to earn less, with a median annual wage of $48,520. Notably, this is still above the reported median annual wage for all occupations in the nation. Psychologists have the best earning potential, with a median annual wage of $81,040.

Opting to enroll in an online degree program also offers many notable benefits. Remote learning is highly flexible and accommodating to students with busy personal and professional work schedules. Some programs are even self-paced, allowing those enrolled to complete assignments in their own time. Additionally, tuition and fee rates for virtual learning options are sometimes lower than traditional enrollment.


While there are many advantages of pursuing bachelor’s degree in behavioral sciences, there are some drawbacks, as well. Two of the most significant concerns are time and money, as it takes both in order to complete one of these programs. Graduation timeframes vary, but it generally takes at least four years of full-time study. In some cases, it may even take longer. Additionally, earning a degree can be expensive. Not only do students pay associated tuition and fees, but housing, food, and other miscellaneous costs must also be taken into consideration. For some without substantial financial aid, enrolling in college is prohibitively expensive. This is particularly true of Ivy League schools and private institutions.

Online enrollment can also be problematic. Not all students have the same learning styles, which can make studying remotely challenging for some individuals. The lack of a structured course schedule can make it difficult to attend classes and complete coursework. Fewer and more infrequent interactions with instructors can also have a negative impact on overall learning and retention. Additionally, online programs do not always provide good opportunities to network with peers, professors, and other experts in the field.

Associate Vs. Behavioral Sciences Bachelor's

It’s worth noting that many colleges and universities offer academic certificate programs in behavioral science. These may provide instruction in fundamental subjects relevant to the field or delve deeper into specific concepts within particular sub-fields, such as human behavior. While earning a certificate can take less time than traditional four-year degrees, there are several differences you should be aware of.

A bachelor’s behavioral science degree program usually consists of both general liberal arts and major-specific coursework. As a result, graduates are often prepared for professional employment and/or further study at the graduate level. Certificate programs, on the other hand, focus exclusively on content related to behavioral sciences. Despite taking as little as a single year to complete, instruction is much less holistic and does not necessary prepare students well for future learning. Additionally, academic certificates rarely satisfy education requirements for many employment opportunities by themselves. However, you may choose to earn an associate degree in behavioral sciences or behavioral psychology degree and transfer the earned credit hours in a way you can't with certificates.

It's worth noting, however, that certificate programs can be extremely beneficial to those seeking to concentrate their studies in a specific sub-field after earning degrees, even an associate degree. Many colleges and universities offer certificates at the graduate level. These can be particularly useful as a means of differentiating oneself from other candidates when applying for employment.

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What Behavioral Sciences Bachelor’s are Available Online?

Behavioral sciences degree curriculums vary by institution, but often include both general and major-specific classes. As a result, students are likely to study topics in communication, mathematics, and other sciences in addition to sociology, psychology, and anthropology. Prospective behavioral sciences students can generally choose from two types of degrees, however.

These options offer some additional differences that can prepare graduates for slightly different career paths:

  • Bachelor of Arts (BA)
    BA degree programs often include many liberal arts courses in their curriculums. The study of various topics in humanities, social sciences, language, and the arts helps students receive a well-rounded education and a strong foundation for future learning. A BA degree in behavioral sciences is most appropriate for those seeking employment in public/social services or who plan to attend graduate school.
  • Bachelor of Science (BS)
    Bachelor of Science degree programs, on the other hand, place a stronger focus on topics in science, mathematics, and technology. Coursework is generally designed to prepare graduates for work in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) professions. A BS degree in behavioral sciences typically leads to the same outcomes. Graduates are often prepared for employment in a variety of fields, including public/social services, as well as graduate school.

Admission Requirements to Enter an Online Program

All colleges and universities expect bachelor’s degree candidates to complete various requirements before enrolling. Standards can vary by institution, but are fairly standardized throughout the United States.

In most cases, applicants will need to provide some combination of the following:

  • High School Diploma or Equivalent
  • Minimum Overall Academic Grade Point Average (GPA)
  • Admissions Application
  • Application Fee
  • Admissions Essay
  • Letter(s) of Recommendation
  • Standardized Test Scores (SAT or ACT)
  • Previous Higher Education Transcripts (if applicable)

Notably, even individuals enrolling online will be expected to meet established admittance standards.

How Long Does It Take to Earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Behavioral Sciences Online?

Online programs in behavioral science often consist of 120 credit hours of coursework that take full-time students approximately four years to complete. Some colleges and universities do offer accelerated programs, which may take less time to finish. These typically condense instructional information so it can be covered faster. This also results in a more intensive learning schedule, however. Individuals who already possess undergraduate credit from advanced placement (AP) classes or previous higher education enrollment may also be able to shorten their graduation timeframes. Records of prior credited learning can be transferred and applied toward new requirements. Most academic institutions will accept up to 60 credit hours of coursework this way.

It’s important to realize that online enrollment does not typically result in faster graduation. Some colleges and universities do, however, structure their curriculums in order to promote quicker completion. This may be done by condensing coursework into shorter periods or by allowing students to complete requirements at a faster self-paced rate. In these cases, it may be possible for distance learners to complete degrees in behavioral sciences in less time than generally expected.

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What Can I Do With a Bachelor’s Degree in Behavioral Sciences?

With so many potential career outcomes available to behavioral science majors, it’s important to identify a preferred occupation as early as possible. Every profession has different education, training, and experience standards. Becoming familiar with these standards ensures you are properly prepared to apply for your intended occupation.

While specific job titles can differ, some of the most common career options available to those with bachelor’s degrees in behavioral sciences include:

  • Social and Human Service Assistant
  • Training and Development Specialist
  • Human Resources Specialist
  • Social Worker
  • Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselor
  • Medical and Health Services Manager
  • Social and Community Service Manager
  • Training and Development Manager
  • Human Resources Manager
  • Research Assistant
  • Registered Behavior Technician
  • Market Researcher
  • Crime Analyst
  • Intervention Specialist
  • Human Service Professionals
  • Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors
    These counselors have the knowledge and skills needed to advise people on a range of issues and they may work with individuals struggling with alcoholism, addictions, and/or depression. In addition to providing support, they may work on helping patients modify behaviors and improve overall mental health. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), substance abuse and mental health counselors make a median annual wage of $48,520 per year.
  • Social and Human Service Assistants
    Social and human service assistants provide their clients with a wide variety of services in many different fields including psychology, rehabilitation, and social work. They often help determine what type of aid is needed and work with social work professionals to develop comprehensive treatment plans. They may also help individuals find assistance with daily activities, research available services, help with paperwork completion, and/or ensure coordinated services are provided properly. According to the BLS, they make a median annual wage of $37,610 per year.
  • Training and Development Specialists
    Training and development specialists plan and administer programs that train employees and improve worker skills and knowledge. Using data from surveys, interviews, and consultations, they design various training materials such as manuals, online learning modules, and courses. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, they make a median annual wage of $61,570 per year.
  • Human Resources Managers
    HR managers are responsible for planning, coordinating, and directing the administrative functions of companies. Serving as a link between management and their employees, they oversee most recruiting, interviewing, and hiring initiatives, and also provide advice regarding legal standards and obligations related to equal employment opportunity and sexual harassment. According to the BLS, HR managers make a median annual wage of $126,230 per year.
  • Social Workers
    These specialists help individuals, groups, and families prevent and cope with various problems. They spend a lot of time identifying people and/or communities in need of assistance and assessing individual situations. Depending on the circumstances, they may help clients adjust to challenges, advocate for community resources, respond to crisis, and/or provide psychotherapy services. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, they make a median annual wage of $50,390 per year.

How Do I Choose the Right Program for You

When deciding which online bachelor’s program in behavioral science to pursue, there are several important factors you should consider. Colleges and universities all have their own unique admissions requirements and departmental curriculums. Taking time to thoroughly examine these specifics can be extremely helpful. A few of the most important features to keep in mind as you research your options include the following.

  • Cost
    Earning a degree of any kind can be a significant financial commitment. Tuition and fees can vary greatly from institution to institution, with prices often impacted by school type, student enrollment status, and student residency. There are two primary types of higher education schools: public and private. Public colleges and universities typically charge lower tuition rates than private ones because they receive supplemental funding from the government. Whether or not students are enrolled full-time or part-time is also significant, with most institutions charging per credit hour. Additionally, students who are residents of the state where the school is located often tend to pay lower rates than non-residents and some colleges and universities differentiate tuition costs for traditional and online learners.
  • Graduation Rate
    All accredited colleges and universities must publish their graduation rates. This refers to the number of students who complete their degrees within 150% of “normal time”. While most students strive to complete bachelor’s programs within four years, the graduation rate includes anyone who has met requirements within six years of enrollment. A low rating can indicate course difficulty and/or retention problems, and may serve as a deterrent for enrolling. This data is generally available on institutional and may be helpful when projecting potential graduation timeframes.
  • Financial Aid Options
    It’s common for colleges and universities to provide some financial aid to those enrolled. This assistive funding is usually in the form of scholarships, grants, loans, and federally-funded work study. Students must generally submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) during the admissions process in order to determine eligibility for various types of federal aid. It’s also important to consider the amount of financial assistance offered by the institution itself. Most schools post this information on their websites; at the very least, it’s worth investigating how many different institutional forms of aid are available.
  • Location
    College and university location is another important factor worth considering. Obviously, personal preferences are likely to have an impact, but differences between in-state and out-of-state tuition costs are also significant. School location can also impact employment opportunities after graduation, with employers often preferring to hire candidates they know are familiar with professional standards in the region. Additionally, individuals pursing jobs that require certification and/or licensure often do well to graduate in the state where they intend to work. This is because academic institutions tend to base their curriculums on credentialing board expectations. However, there may also be excellent options if you want to earn your behavioral science degree online.
  • Accreditation
    The accreditation status of colleges and universities is one of the most vital elements to consider when choosing a behavioral sciences degree program. While academic institutions are not required to obtain accreditation, it is a sign of academic excellence and standardization. Schools may be either regionally or nationally accredited, but only regional accrediting agencies are overseen by the US Department of Education and the Council of Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Additionally, individual academic departments may seek further accreditation. The best behavioral sciences degrees will also be accredited by the Association for Behavioral Analysis International (ABAI) Accreditation Board. This is the governing body responsible for the accreditation of training programs in behavioral analysis at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. Proper accreditation will also help you move into master's degrees in clinical mental health counseling, clinical psychology, behavioral sciences programs, or behavioral psychology programs.

Courses in Online Bachelor’s Degree Programs

Curriculum requirements vary by institution, but those enrolled can typically expect to complete between 40 and 60 credit hours of coursework in core competencies related to behavioral sciences. The remaining classes may be made up of electives and various general education courses necessary for a well-rounded education. These and core classes will teach skills such as communication, ethical considerations, data analysis, and critical thinking.

The following courses are commonly required and/or offered for majors in this field:

  • Behavioral Science Research
  • Social Psychology
  • Psychology Fundamentals
  • Introduction to Sociology
  • Statistics
  • Families and Marriage
  • Diversity in Behavioral Science
  • Abnormal Psychology and Abnormal Behavior
  • Psychological Development
  • Research Methods in Psychology
  • Introduction to Anthropology
  • Economics
  • Introduction to Human Development
  • Introduction to International Relations
  • Governments of the World
  • Elementary Psychology
  • Introduction to Social Work
  • Human Growth and Developmental Psychology
  • Counseling Theories and Treatment Strategies

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Colleges that Offer Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Behavioral Sciences

  • Bellevue University
    Bellevue, Nebraska

    Bellevue University offers a BS degree in behavioral science. The program is 100% online and was ranked the Best Online Bachelor’s Degree in Behavioral Psychology by Best College Review in 2021. Other potentially relevant degrees are available remotely as well.

    Degrees Offered:

    • BS in Behavioral Science
    • BS in Human Services
    • BS in Psychology
    • BA in Psychology
  • Thomas Jefferson University
    Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    Thomas Jefferson University offers a BS degree in behavioral and health services. This program is available in an online format, as well as a hybrid format with remote and on-campus learning requirements. It specifically targets the needs of healthcare providers working in behavioral health environments.

    Degrees Offered:

    • BS in Behavioral and Health Services
  • Mercy College
    Dobbs Ferry, New York

    Mercy College offers a BS degree in behavioral science. Courses are 100% online and provide a multidisciplinary introduction to numerous fields, including psychology and sociology. Students can also choose concentrations in community health, gerontology, and health services management. Other potentially relevant degrees are available remotely as well.

    Degrees Offered:

    • BS in Behavioral Science
    • BS in Sociology
    • BS in Psychology
  • Liberty University
    Lynchburg, Virginia

    Liberty University offers a few degrees relevant to behavioral science that are 100% online and are taught from a Christian perspective. Curriculums are designed to prepare students for jobs as counselors, therapists, and other mental health professionals.

    Degrees Offered:

    • BS in Human Services
    • BS in Psychology
    • BS in Social Work
  • Arizona State University
    Phoenix, Arizona

    Arizona State University offers numerous degrees under the umbrella of behavioral sciences. Students can expect 100% online courses with significant cross-disciplinary collaboration. Graduates will be prepared to pursue jobs as addiction counselors, behavioral health technicians, human resources specialists, and psychologists.

    Degrees Offered:

    • BA in Psychology
    • BS in Psychology
    • BA in Psychology – Forensic
    • BS in Psychology – Forensic
    • BS in Applied Psychological Science
    • BS in Counseling and Applied Psychological Sciences – Sports and Performance Counseling
    • BS in Counseling and Applied Psychological Sciences – Substance Abuse and Addictions
    • BA in Psychology – Positive Psychology
    • BS in Psychology – Positive Psychology
    • BA in Disability Studies
  • University of Arizona – Global Campus
    Tucson, Arizona

    The University of Arizona’s College of Arts and Sciences offers an online Bachelor of Science degree in applied behavioral science. This is a generalist program with an interdisciplinary emphasis intended to provide a foundation in social and behavioral sciences. Courses are accelerated and can be completed in five to six weeks. Other potentially relevant degrees are available remotely, as well.

    Degrees Offered:

    • BA in Applied Behavioral Science
    • BA in Health and Human Services
    • BA in Psychology
    • BA in Sociology
  • Maryville University
    St. Louis, Missouri

    Maryville University offers numerous degrees relevant to behavioral and social sciences. Students can study 100% online and there are no entrance exams required for admittance. Start dates are also flexible.

    Degrees Offered:

    • BA in Human Development and Family Studies
    • Bachelor of Social Work
    • BA in Psychology
    • BA in Forensic Psychology
    • BA in Sociology
    • BA in Sociology - Criminology
    • BA in Sociology – Social Justice
    • BA in Sociology – Social Work
  • Purdue University Global
    Lafayette, Indiana

    Purdue University Global offers a few human services and psychology degree programs online that may be relevant to the behavioral science field. Students can interact with their professors and fellow classmates in live seminars that are available anywhere with internet connection.

    Degrees Offered:

    • BS in Psychology in Applied Behavioral Analysis
    • BS in Psychology in Addictions
    • BS in Psychology in Industrial/Organizational Psychology
    • BS in Human Services
  • North Carolina Central University
    Durham, North Carolina

    North Carolina Central University offers an online BS degree in behavioral and social sciences. It is an interdisciplinary program designed to prepare students for success in a diverse, global workplace. The institution also has a remote program for those wanting to study psychology.

    Degrees Offered:

    • BS in Behavioral and Social Sciences
    • BS in Psychology
  • Wilmington University
    New Castle, Delaware

    Wilmington University offers an online BS degree in behavioral science. The program is designed to cultivate leaders and problem-solvers who are prepared to work in business, education, government, human services, and non-profit sectors.

    Degrees Offered:

    • BS in Behavioral Science
    • BS in Psychology
  • Grand Canyon University
    Phoenix, Arizona

    Grand Canyon University offers numerous degrees relevant to behavioral and social sciences. Students can choose from a wide variety of programs, all offered 100% online.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Bachelor's in Behavioral Health Degree
    • BS in Behavioral Health Science – Childhood and Adolescence Disorders
    • BS in Behavioral Health Science – Family Dynamics
    • BS in Behavioral Health Science - Trauma
    • BS in Behavioral Health Science – Substance Use Disorders
    • BS in Behavioral Health Science – Infancy and Early Childhood Studies
    • BS in Counseling: Addiction, Chemical Dependency, and Substance Abuse Disorder
    • BS in Psychology
    • BS in Forensic Psychology
    • BS in Sociology
    • Bachelor of Social Work
  • Bethel University
    Mishawaka, Indiana

    Bethel University offers an online BA degree in behavioral and social science. Remote classes are provided in an accelerated format, allowing students to complete the program more quickly. Graduates are prepared to work in many community and social service occupations.

    Degrees Offered:

    • BA in Behavioral and Social Science
  • Central Methodist University
    Fayette, Missouri

    Central Methodist University offers an online Bachelor of Applied Behavior Analysis degree. The program is designed to teach students how to work with children with autism, developmental delays, behavioral challenges, and other related conditions. Other potentially relevant degrees are available remotely, as well.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Bachelor of Applied Behavioral Analysis
    • BA in Sociology
    • BS in Sociology
    • BS in Behavioral Health
    • BS in Child Development
    • BA in Psychology
    • BS in Psychology
  • Washington State University Global Campus
    Pullman, Washington

    Washington State University offers a few online degree programs that are relevant to the behavioral science field. The programs combine convenience and flexible with 100% online learning. Global Campus students received the same diplomas as those who are enrolled traditionally.

    Degrees Offered:

    • BS in Psychology
    • BA in Human Development
    • BA in Sociology
  • University of Southern Maine
    Portland, Maine

    The University of Southern Maine offers an online BA in social and behavioral sciences. The program provides students with the knowledge and skills needed to shape individual lives and social structures. Graduates can find work in many industries, including law, public policy, public health, mental health, education, and leadership.

    Degrees Offered:

    • BA in Social and Behavioral Sciences
  • University of Alaska Fairbanks
    Fairbanks, Alaska

    The University of Alaska Fairbanks offers a few online degree programs that are relevant to the behavioral science field. Courses are flexible and all remote students qualify for in-state tuition rates.

    Degrees Offered:

    • BA in Psychology
    • BS in Psychology
    • Bachelor of Social Work

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