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Online Colleges for Behavioral Science

Human behavior is complex and most certainly never dull. Behavioral scientists spend their entire careers delving into the forces that shape human behavior. They also help individuals overcome mental and emotional challenges and replace them with healthier habits. They may connect individuals with community resources or promote strategies to help strengthen family bonds. For those interested in this rewarding field, online behavioral science degrees can provide instruction in human development as well as an understanding of how social structures can affect behavior.

Best Online Colleges for Behavioral Science

As more and more mental health services fall under insurance coverage, the need for trained behavioral disorder counselors is expected to grow, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. We've compiled a list of the top five online bachelors degree programs in behavioral science using data provided by the National Center for Education Statistics' Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). You can learn more about how we created this list at the bottom of this page.

1

Western International University

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$6,000
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
N/A
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
22
School Type
4-year

Western International University was founded as a campus-based institution in Phoenix in 1978, but today more than 89 percent of the university's student population attends West online. Several factors place WIU at the top of our list of best online colleges for behavioral science, including an open admissions policy, cost of in-state tuition, and percentage of behavioral science degrees awarded by the university in 2015.

The university's Bachelor of Arts in behavioral science degree explores many important themes in the discipline, including:

  • How early childhood experiences determine behavior in older adults
  • Sensory experiences and complex cognition
  • Normal development and pathology
  • Interaction of genetics within social and cultural environments

The program requires 120 credit hours to complete and includes 45 credits in the program major, 21 credits in electives, and 51 credits of general education courses. It is estimated to run for 189 weeks, or approximately 3.6 years.

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission

Location:

1601 W. Fountainhead Pkwy.
Tempe, AZ 89528
2

Mercy College

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$18,076
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
34.41%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
42
School Type
4-year

Mercy College serves residents of Dobbs Ferry from its main campus location, with additional campuses in the Bronx, Manhattan and Yorktown Heights. Annual student enrollment exceeds 10,000 full- and part-time students from 43 different states. Being a runaway first for percentage of behavioral science degrees awarded in 2015, it's no surprise Mercy makes it so high on our list.

The college offers a B.S. degree in behavioral sciences that requires 120 total credit hours to complete, and it includes the option to specialize in health services management, gerontology or community health. Students must complete 60 credits of general education courses, 24 credits in open electives and 36 credits in the major concentration to earn this degree. Also, a minimum of 18 credit hours must be completed at Mercy College for classes that fall within the program major.

Accreditation:

  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Location:

555 Broadway
Dobbs Ferry, NY 10522
3

Wilmington University

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$10,430
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
84.96%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
40
School Type
4-year

Wilmington University primarily serves residents of Delaware and New Jersey, although 41 percent of the university's more than 20,000 students are enrolled in online classes. The university offers 26 online bachelor's and 20 online master's degrees, including a fully online Bachelor of Science in behavioral science. Coursework emphasizes in-depth study of normal and abnormal human behaviors, as well as group and family behavioral dimensions. Students must complete a minimum of 33 credit hours of general education courses and 45 credit hours in the program major. The degree is also offered as a completion degree for transfer students who have completed the requirements for an associate's degree from an accredited institution. Wilmington University lands in the No. 3 spot in our list of best online colleges for having all-around solid rankings in all areas of our metric, from tuition to graduation rate.

Accreditation:

  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs -- Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program

Location:

320 DuPont Hwy.
New Castle, DE 19720
4

Granite State College

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$7,257
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
81.83%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
40
School Type
4-year

Granite State College is one of four institutions within the University System of New Hampshire. The college serves residents of the Granite State from full-service campus locations in Concord, Claremont, Conway, Manchester and Rochester. Eighty-four percent of students in 2016 were transfer students from 47 different states. With its open admissions policy, it's not hard to see how this could be possible.

This college offers an online Associate of Science in behavioral science degree that is designed to smoothly transition students into the college's bachelor's degree in psychology program. The program requires 60 credits to complete, and a minimum of 16 credits must be completed at Granite State College. Students study a broad range of topics, including psychology, biology, sociology, human development and the latest research methods.

Granite State College scored fourth out of the 12 schools in our methodology for affordability of in-state tuition, and having two degree options for behavioral science means it has twice as many as the three schools above it on the list.

Accreditation:

  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges

Location:

25 Hall St.
Concord, NH 03301-3471
5

University of Phoenix-Arizona

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$11,003
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
97.74%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
115
School Type
4-year

University of Phoenix -- the fifth-place winner on our top 5 list of best colleges for online behavioral science degrees, due to its cost for in-state tuition, graduation rate and percentage of behavioral science degrees awarded to students in 2015 -- takes a slightly different approach than other institutions on this list with its Bachelor of Science in Correction Program Support Services. The name may be different, but the principles are still the same: students learn the communication, problem-solving and analytical tools needed to work with people who have had interaction with judicial courts to help them better transition from the criminal justice system. This intriguing program requires 120 credit hours to complete, although credit requirements can vary depending upon a student's eligible transfer credits.

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission

Location:

1625 W. Fountainhead Pkwy.
Tempe, AZ 85282

Degree Overview: Behavioral Science

Behavioral science is an interdisciplinary field that can lead to many different career paths. That is because the subject incorporates courses from various areas, including counseling, psychology and sociology. People with an education in this field could pursue a career in mental health care, social services or even sociology. In this section, courses that could be taken in a degree program and helpful skills they can impart are discussed.

Online Behavioral Science Courses

Online programs for behavioral science have different coursework components depending upon the degree level being pursued and the college at which it is being pursued. Certificate programs are the shortest in length; as they move up in degree level, students can build knowledge and advance toward research. Example topics and courses, divided by degree level, are covered below.

  • Certificates in behavioral science can introduce students to relevant topics in the field, such as sociology of aging, psychology of health, brain and behavior and lifespan development. Students may be able to transfer some of this coursework toward an associate degree program.
  • In an associate degree program, students typically study basic behavioral science topics such as sociology, general psychology, child growth and development and lifespan growth and development. Associate degree students are also expected to complete core curriculum in subjects such as math, language arts or science to satisfy their school's general education requirements.
  • Online bachelor's degree programs in behavioral science will usually introduce coursework in human services, counseling theories, social deviance, and diversity in human services. Such coursework is intended to delve into behavioral science in greater depth; it may be finished off with the assignation of a capstone project to finish out the program.
  • Online master's degrees in behavioral science exist to give students even more opportunity to advance their understanding. Coursework may delve into fields as diverse as alcohol use and misuse, obesity in the 21st century, qualitative methods in research, applied research methods and more. Master's programs that are particularly heavy in research may require students to conclude their program by completing a thesis.
  • At the doctoral level, students can find PhD programs that are focused specifically on the social and behavioral sciences, or related programs that put a different spin on the field, such as a Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) degree in behavioral health leadership. Students may be able to choose a specific focus for their doctoral degree, such as "health education and communication" or "social and psychological influences on health." They may additionally need to produce a dissertation or pass a final oral examination as part of their degree program.

Career-Related Skills to Develop

A variety of skills are necessary to succeed in the behavioral science field. Some of these skills might be developed through an online education for behavioral science, while others can be strengthened when working in the field. A sample of some particularly important skills to focus on is provided below.

  • Listening: This skill is important to anyone who intends to pursue a career in behavioral science, especially a career such as social work, the social services or counseling. Being able to hear and understand a client's challenges is the first step to being able to help them overcome those challenges. Even a more research-oriented behavioral scientist will likely be gathering some portion of their data from interviews or social experiments; carefully listening to this data is the only way to draw accurate conclusions about it.
  • Verbal communication: In addition to listening, speaking can be an important part of a behavioral science career. Whether behavioral scientists are working one-on-one with a client or presenting their research results at a conference, they need to be able to communicate their points clearly and convincingly, with consideration for their audience. Verbal presentations in behavioral science courses can be good preparation for these responsibilities.
  • Sensitivity: The more you learn about why people act the way they do, the easier it becomes to understand their actions, sharing in their struggles and sympathizing with their situation. As such, behavioral science courses can be a great way to develop sensitivity to others. This sensitivity can enable behavioral science students to better be respectful of a client's feelings and frustrations, as well as help them to pick up on subtle behavioral clues that indicate possible solutions to a problem.
  • Organization: This can be a nearly essential skill for anyone working with a range of clients or conducting ample amounts of research, regardless of field of study. Notes need to be organized and easy to locate; relevant documents should be nearby for discussion or completion. Keeping track of your assignments in school is only the beginning!
Sources and Methodologies

Methodology

To be included in these rankings, all colleges had to meet the following criteria for the specific subject being ranked:

  1. Offer an undergraduate degree (either associate or bachelor's) in that subject online
  2. Have awarded at least one degree or certificate in that subject in 2014-15

Once we had our list of schools for each subject, we ranked them on five criteria:

  1. In-state tuition, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
  2. Graduation rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014
  3. Accessibility, based on the admissions rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014
  4. Program prominence, based on how many of the degrees and certificates awarded in 2014-15 were in this particular subject, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
  5. Related subjects, based on the number of similar topics for programs in relevant CIP codes that are offered at any level, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015

Sources:

  1. Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, accessed April 2017, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/substance-abuse-and-behavioral-disorder-counselors.htm
  2. Our History, Western International University, http://west.edu/why-west/history.html
  3. Bachelor of Arts in Behavioral Science, Western International University, http://west.smartcatalogiq.com/en/2016-2017/Academic-Programs-Addendum-September-2016/Academic-Program-Requirements/Undergraduate-Program-Listing/Bachelor-of-Arts-in-Behavioral-Science
  4. Fast Facts, Mercy College, https://www.mercy.edu/about-mercy/fast-facts
  5. B.S. in Behavioral Science, Mercy College, https://www.mercy.edu/degrees-programs/bs-behavioral-science
  6. Wilmington University at a Glance, Wilmington University, http://www.wilmu.edu/about/ataglance.aspx
  7. Behavioral Science, Bachelor of Science, Wilmington University, http://www.wilmu.edu/behavioralscience/behavioral-science-curriculum.aspx
  8. Facts and Figures, Granite State College, https://www.granite.edu/about/facts-and-figures/
  9. Behavioral Science (A.S), Granite State College, https://www.granite.edu/degree-programs/associate-degrees/behavioral-science/
  10. Associate in Science in Behavioral Science, Granite State College, https://www.granite.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/AS_BehavioralScience.pdf
  11. Bachelor of Science in Correctional Program Support Services, University of Phoenix, http://www.phoenix.edu/programs/degree-programs/human-services/bachelors/bscpss.html
  12. Behavioral Science Programs, Macomb Community College, Accessed September 2017, http://www.macomb.edu/future-students/choose-program/behavioral-sciences/index.html
  13. Behavioral Science, Texarkana College, Accessed September 2017, https://www.texarkanacollege.edu/study/behavioral-science/
  14. Behavioral Science Degree, Bellevue University, Accessed September 2017, http://www.bellevue.edu/degrees/bachelor/behavioral-science-bs/
  15. Doctor of Philosophy in Social and Behavioral Sciences, Johns Hopkins, Accessed September 2017, https://www.jhsph.edu/departments/health-behavior-and-society/degree-programs/phd-in-social-and-behavioral-sciences/index.html
  16. Masters in Behavioral and Social Science, Brown School of Public Health, Accessed September 2017, http://www.bellevue.edu/degrees/bachelor/behavioral-science-bs/
  17. Mental Health Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016-17 Occupational Outlook Handbook, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/mental-health-counselors-and-marriage-and-family-therapists.htm#tab-4
  18. Summary Report for Child, Family and School Social Workers, O*Net OnLine, Accessed September 2017, https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/21-1021.00
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Sources and Methodologies