If you've ever wondered why people do what they do, even when its harmful to them, then the field of behavioral psychology might just be for you! Behavioral psychology is rooted in the psychological school of thought known as Behaviorism — the dominant form of psychology in the 1950s — which believes that human behavior is primarily a reflexive response to stimuli in the environment. The stimuli can be present, or past, but the basic premise is that humans respond to the stimuli around them and therefore behavior can be observed and studied.
Though behavioral psychology is no longer as dominant in the field, insights from the school of thought have made their way into many fields where a degree in behavioral psychology is a necessity. Some careers include social workers, mental health or substance abuse counselors, rehabilitation counselors, or professional working with children with developmental delays, autism, or other learning challenges.
These fields are also likely to grow significantly over the next decade. According to the Department of Labor, jobs in the fields of substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health are predicted to rise by 23 percent, which is much higher than the average. A bachelor's degree is a requirement to be qualified to work in these fields, and the more interdisciplinary the degree the better. This is because humans are complex, and understanding the many ways that human behavior is shaped and determined requires a complex set of analytical tools. The following 5 Online Bachelor's Degrees in Behavioral Psychology fit that need to a T!
Best College Reviews provides degree rankings, such as the 5 Best Online Bachelor's Degrees in Behavioral Psychology, from carefully researched data sets published from government and non-profit organizations across the United States. Five primary factors affect how we rank degrees:
- 25% Student Satisfaction
- 30% Earning Potential
- 15% Retention Data
- 20% Affordability
- 10% Acceptance Rates
For an in-depth breakdown of how we calculate each ranking, check out our Methodology page.
#5 CENTRAL METHODIST UNIVERSITY
BACHELOR OF SCIENCE IN APPLIED BEHAVIOR ANALYSIS
Central Methodist University has over 5,000 students enrolled. Only 1,100 of those students are enrolled at the main campus in Fayette, MO. The other 4,000 participate through a variety of extended study programs, including online offerings. CMU offers a Bachelor of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis through its College of Graduate and Extended Studies. The program is designed to equip graduates to work with individuals who have autism, behavioral challenges, developmental delays, or other special needs.
The ABA requires 120 credit hours for completion, while the major itself has 42 credits. Students are required to take or transfer in 21-24 credit hours of general education courses. There are three prerequisites for the major: Child Development, Autism Spectrum Disorders, and Applied Behavior Analysis. Within the major are courses like Professionalism in Applied Behavior Analysis, Behavior Assessment, Behavior Change Procedures, and Research & Data Analysis Methods. There are also electives within the ABA program that students can choose from, including Verbal Behavior Analysis, and Behavioral Pharmacology.
The degree also includes 13 credit hours in a practicum where students gain hands-on experience. Online courses at CMU run either in eight or 16-week formats so that students have the ability to craft their course of study around their own schedule or needs. The per credit hour cost is relatively low at $260. CMU also has a Career Development Center that works with students to help them hone their interview skills and connect to potential employers.
Net Price: $10,850
#4 WILMINGTON UNIVERSITY
NEW CASTLE, DE
BACHELOR OF SCIENCE IN BEHAVIORAL SCIENCE
Wilmington University is located in New Castle, DE. WU is a private institution with over 20,000 students enrolled. The College of Social and Behavioral Sciences offers a Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Science. The degree is interdisciplinary and includes coursework in a variety of fields, including sociology, cultural anthropology, and psychology.
The degree is organized around three core competencies. The Knowledge competency refers to the expectation that students will have a substantial and broad grasp of the theory and application of behavioral science. The Skills competency refers to an individual's development of key skills like communication, critical thinking, planning, etc. Finally, the Personal and Professional Development competency refers to an awareness cultivated in students in regard to professional expectations in the various fields associated with behavioral science.
The major includes 45 credit hours in behavioral science core courses like Ethnic Groups and Minorities, Social Change, Social Deviance, Abnormal Psychology, and Ethics and Values in Behavioral Science. In addition to these core courses, students are also expected to take 18 credit hours in behavioral science electives which include courses in psychology, sociology, criminal justice, and organizational dynamics. Students are also required to take 18 credit hours in free electives, which are enough credit hours to put toward a minor in another field. Online courses are facilitated through Blackboard and are offered both in semester format as well as block format. In the block format, a course meets for seven weeks instead of the traditional 15 weeks in a semester format. Each course offers flexibility as students complete their assignments on their own time during the week, though there are fixed due dates for assignments and discussion board participation.
Net Price: $14,955
#3 SAINT FRANCIS UNIVERSITY
BACHELOR OF SCIENCE IN BEHAVIORAL SCIENCE
Saint Francis University is located in central Pennsylvania in the town of Loretto. The Adult Degree and Continuing Studies program offers a Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Science. The degree requires 128 total credit hours with 54 credit hours in behavioral sciences core courses. Students also have 32 free elective credits, all of which can be transferred into the program. Courses in the major come from several different disciplines including social work, sociology, statistics, psychology, and political science.
Among the required courses are Abnormal Psychology, The Family in Theory and Practice, Social Welfare Policies, Programs, and Issues, and Developmental Psychology. In addition, there are 42 credit hours in the general education curriculum which deal with topics like economics, math, history, philosophy, and English. Within the major, there are also an additional 15 electives that can be chosen from a list of approved courses from several disciplines. Beyond the major, the 32 free electives offer ample space for one, and in some cases, even two different minors which can further enhance an individual's degree and educational experience.
SFU offers significant flexibility for students since they will allow up to 98 credits to be transferred into almost any of their degree programs. For courses to receive transfer credit they must undergo a transfer credit evaluation and have been passed with a C average, though in some cases a C- is allowable. SFU also works with active military and veterans and will accept transfer credits for military service. Students can gain more information through the Office of Military Affairs at SFU.
Net Price: $27,446
#2 MERCY COLLEGE
DOBBS FERRY, NY
BACHELOR OF ARTS IN BEHAVIORAL SCIENCE
Mercy College is located in Dobbs Ferry, NY on Long Island. The school has a highly diverse student body and enrolls over 11,000 students annually. The School of Behavioral Sciences offers a multidisciplinary Bachelor of Arts in Behavioral Science. The program also offers specializations in Gerontology, Community Health, and Health Services Management. The program consists of 120 credit hours. 60 are devoted to general education with 36 in the major and an additional 24 open electives. The 24 open electives make it relatively easy to gain a minor and, in some cases, even double major.
Within the major, there are four required courses including Social Psychology, Computers for the Social and Behavioral Sciences, Methodology for the Social and Behavioral Sciences, and Classics in the Social and Behavioral Sciences. Students then take up to eight classes in classes that are usually cross-listed with psychology and sociology. These include Medical Ethics, Health Care Management, Employment Law, Perspectives on Aging, and Philosophy and the Social Sciences among others. Students are also encouraged to take an internship and can receive credit for doing so. MC also offers internship grants to students who wind up getting unpaid internships.
In 2009 MC founded the PACT or Personalized Achievement Contract program and a PACT mentor is assigned to each student. These mentors help students navigate their degree and course choices, and can also offer advice for how to create a professional profile on Career Maverick, which is MC's professional development website where students learn how to create a resume and gain skills in how to create a professional social media presence.
Net Price: $16,246
#1 BELLEVUE UNIVERSITY
BACHELOR OF SCIENCE IN BEHAVIORAL SCIENCE
Bellevue University, which is based in Bellevue, NE, was from its beginning focused on adult learning and distance education. The school enrolls around 10,000 students annually. BU offers a Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Science, which is one of several online programs available. The program is an accelerated cohort program which provides grounding for professional work or further graduate study and is a multidisciplinary program incorporating methodologies and practices from disciplines like psychology, sociology, counseling, and social psychology. Students are also given a grounding in ethics, diversity and intercultural competence, as well as treatment strategies.
Students applying for the degree must have completed an associate degree in a related field or have completed 60 credit hours with a C- or higher. The degree is 127 credit hours, and 30 hours must be completed at BU to fulfill the residency requirement. There are 36 credit hours in the general education curriculum, including the Kirkpatrick Signature Series, and 40 credits in the major. All required courses in the major are worth four credit hours and include classes like Multicultural and Diversity in Human Services, Counseling Microskills for Human Service Professionals, Applied Human Growth and Development, and Treatment Strategies and Ethical Considerations. There are also 51 elective course credit hours that are required, many of which can be fulfilled via transfer.
Standard tuition for online courses is $415 per credit hour, while active duty military qualifies for a reduced tuition rate of $250 per credit hour. Because of its long history of adult and distance education, BU is very intentional in working with students coming from a variety of backgrounds so as to make it possible to obtain whichever degree an individual may choose.
Net Price: $11,359