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Programs for Behavioral Sciences
The behavioral sciences are a culmination of psychology, sociology, anthropology, and communications, making it a widely applicable subject to earn a degree in. Part of the career of speech pathologists/speech-language pathologists (SPs)/(SLPs) is to try to gain an understanding of what their patients are going through. An undergraduate degree in behavioral science (also offered as behavioral analysis) can give you the tools to better connect with and treat your future patients who will be struggling with communication and swallowing disorders.
Behavioral Science Degrees
There are bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral behavioral analysis degree programs that are offered online and in a traditional classroom environment. You will notice that some schools offer a degree in behavioral analysis while others have a degree program for applied behavior analysis. The general objectives of these two degrees are virtually the same. However, an applied behavioral analysis program may focus slightly more on using psychological theories, whereas a behavioral analysis or science program will place a bit more emphasis on studying the current research available. Since the degrees are so similar, we will use them interchangeably here.
A behavioral science bachelor’s degree program takes about four years to complete, and is designed to give you a broad understanding of the research behind human actions, interactions, and mental and emotional processes. In this degree program you may be required to take the following courses:
- Introduction to Psychology
- Introduction to Sociology
- Research Methods
- Interpersonal Communication and Group Behavior
- Child Development
It is always important to make sure that any degree program you are interested in is accredited by a national, regional, or certified specialized accreditation organization.
A master’s degree program takes approximately two years to complete, and it will build upon what you learned during your undergraduate behavior science studies. Some graduate level programs will have you pick an area of behavioral science to focus your degree on like psychology, education, marketing, economics, policy, or public health. Your courses will vary depending on if you have a concentration, what it is, and the overall structure of the program. However, these core courses are commonly required at the graduate level:
- Quantitative Design and Analysis
- Ethics and Professionalism in Behavioral Science
- Behavioral Therapies
- Childhood Psychopathology
- Communication and Language Interventions
Many graduate programs also require their students to complete a research thesis in order to graduate. If you want to gain an education in behavioral analysis beyond the undergraduate level but not as in-depth as a master’s program, there are online and traditional accredited behavioral science certificate programs that may fit what you are looking for.
Due to the behavioral sciences broad applications, a PhD in behavioral analysis must be tailored to what you would like your career to be in. Public health, marketing, economics, psychology, education, and policy intervention are common areas of study for this doctoral degree.
Your classes and dissertation should relate to the area of your intended career. A PhD program can take between three – six years to complete, and depends on the structure of the program, how long it takes for you to complete your dissertation, and whether you are a full- or part-time student.
Careers Opportunities with a Behavioral Science Degree
An undergraduate degree in behavioral science can provide you with the foundation to continue your education and career in a variety of areas. The following is a brief list of the careers that can benefit from behavioral science education:
- Public Health Occupations: There are several careers that fall under the public health umbrella such as community health workers, health educators, and epidemiologists. The public health field utilizes behavioral science principles to encourage individuals and communities alike to participate in healthy behaviors.
- Mental Health Counselor: A mental health counselor is a trained professional that counsels individuals, families, and couples on a variety of issues including addiction, mood disorders, and other mental illnesses. Counseling and behavioral science are both have ties to psychology, which naturally leads to a great deal of overlap in education. However, counselors are required to receive certification and an advanced degree in psychology or counseling.
- Social Worker: A social worker is a trained professional who is licensed to provide a full range of mental and rehabilitation services, as well as other assistance depending on the client. A social worker may help students find resources to address speech and communication disorders, while providing counseling and other supportive services.
- Speech Pathologist: A degree in the behavioral sciences can be a helpful first step towards a career as a speech pathologist, as it can allow them to work more closely with patients to assess and treat vocal and language impairment. It is important to note that you will need an advanced degree in speech pathology to become an SP.
Behavioral Sciences Degrees
- Ashford University — BA: Applied Behavioral Analysis
- Purdue University — BS: Psychology – Applied Behavioral Analysis
- Purdue University — MS: Psychology – Applied Behavioral Analysis
- Simmons College — MS: Behavioral Analysis
Studying behavioral sciences can give you tools that can be used in a variety of careers, including speech-language pathology. Check out our guide, Understanding Aphasia — Top Resources on Speech-Language Disorders, and explore the rest of our site to learn more about the exciting field of speech pathology.