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Learn behavioral science with online courses and programs

Behavioral scientists explore aspects of human behavior as a means of understanding individual and societal well-being. By studying behavioral science, you can help contribute toward positive changes in public health, economics, social policy, and more.

What is behavioral science?

By studying behavioral science, researchers can gain important insights around why and how people do the things they do. Their studies can contribute to a number of non-scientific fields, including marketing, public policy, and consumer behavior.

Behavioral science is a complex field that incorporates a number of disciplines, such as psychology, sociology, economics, anthropology, neuroscience, and cognitive science. Scientists may focus on one particular contributing field within their own studies, or they may combine two or more to gain a bigger-picture perspective around human behavior.

Simply put, human behavior influences the way our society organizes and operates. With a deeper understanding of social norms, social change, economics, innovation, and social networks, behavioral scientists can inform public policy and global leadership, and promote positive change.

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Behavioral science course curriculum

Individuals who want to learn about behavioral science can start by first exploring the individual topics that make up behavioral studies. Whether you choose individualized courses or prefer to study behavioral science more generally, it can be helpful to brush up on key topics such as:

  • Psychology: theories and concepts around social cognition and emotions

  • Sociology: the connection between culture and the process of socialization

  • Economics: the allocation of resources as a means to satisfy human wants

  • Anthropology: the development of human societies and cultures

  • Neuroscience: the influence of neural processes on human behavior and decision-making

  • Cognitive science: the mental processes behind perception, language, and problem-solving

Depending on your learning goals, you may decide to dive deeper into one or more facets of behavioral science. For instance, learners interested in healthcare can gain skills needed to help patients make lifestyle and behavior changes to treat chronic diseases. Learning about behavioral science can even help to bring remote teams closer together. Those in leadership or management positions may find it helpful to enroll in courses that can help cultivate stronger relationships within a virtual workplace.

edX offers online courses that allow learners to study a variety of topics, including behavioral science. ‌ Sign up for an accelerated boot camp or enroll in a full degree program and start working toward a bachelor's degree or (for more advanced learners) a master’s degree in a relevant subject. You can also explore executive education programs specifically designed for busy professionals.

Explore behavioral science jobs

Learning principles of behavioral science can benefit a wide range of career paths. From conducting studies in the field to applying their findings to organizational strategy, some of the roles that use behavioral science in their work include:

  • Marketing specialist: works to understand consumer behavior and applies their knowledge to develop effective marketing campaigns.Footnote 1

  • Human resources manager: facilitates employee motivation, engagement, and satisfaction that can foster a positive work environment.Footnote 2

  • Social worker: addresses individual and community needs to promote positive behavioral changes and overall well-being.Footnote 3

  • Financial advisor: helps clients make informed financial decisions by understanding the impact of cognitive bias.Footnote 4

  • K–12 teacher: creates effective teaching methods, addresses student needs, and manages classroom behavior.Footnote 5

Each of these roles will have different education and skills requirements. For example, you may be able to build relevant skills in a digital marketing boot camp. However, some employers may seek candidates with a specialized degree, depending on the role. Before deciding on a specific learning path, research the positions you hope to pursue and align your coursework with your career goals.

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