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Designed to deepen your understanding of human behavior, the Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a concentration in Mental Health at Southern New Hampshire University can prepare you to pursue graduate degrees in clinical psychology and counseling.
But if you're not interested in that route, the mental health concentration appeals to many students because it doesn’t limit you to careers that are just within the field. Skills transfer to areas ranging from social services to human resource departments to marketing and public relations firms. Additionally, you'll have 39 free electives and the opportunity to earn an embedded Certificate of Data Literacy in Psychology, making this a results-driven and transfer-friendly program to join.
Learn how to:
A goalkeeper has 0.08 of a second to make a decision on how to stop a penalty kick, Dr. Michael Hendery, SNHU psychology professor, told former MLS player Calen Carr in this look at how psychologists analyze split-second information processing and decision-making.
The field of psychology – and mental health, in particular – offers so many options.
"Depending on an individual’s interests, passions, career, community and educational goals, there really is an exceptional fit for most professionals,” said Dr. Nicole Martinez, an adjunct psychology instructor at SNHU.
Today, people with mental illness and professionals in the field are fighting to counter the stigma associated with disorders. According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, 1 in 5 adults and 1 in 6 youths (ages 6-17) experience mental illness each year.2
And as more people come forward for treatment, more counselors are sought to treat them. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics sees the need for substance abuse, behavioral disorder and mental health counselors growing 22% through 2028 – much faster than the national average of other occupations.3
In addition, mental health counselors will be needed to work with people living with addiction – as the criminal justice system increasingly recommends treatment over incarceration – as well as military veterans living with a range of disorders.3
Today, counselors are helping clients cope with disorders such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), autism, anxiety, schizophrenia – and so many others. Counselors can diagnose and then treat clients through therapy, allowing clients to better understand their disorders.
While becoming a licensed counselor most often requires additional education and training, which can vary by state, this mental health degree can prepare you for graduate study, such as SNHU's online master's in clinical mental health counseling or master's in psychology online. With the solid foundation in the assessment and counseling process that this degree provides, you'll be ready to succeed in graduate counseling or psychology programs.
If clinical or graduate work isn't the best fit for you, earning your mental health degree online at SNHU can position you for roles like market research analyst, which could see 20% growth in job opportunities through 2028, human resources manager with 7% growth and social and community service manager with 13% growth.3
The broad range of career possibilities includes:
Students often choose the mental health concentration because they have a passion for helping others and want to better the world.
“Now, more than ever, we need mental health professionals to serve their communities," said Tiffany Daniels, an adjunct psychology instructor at SNHU. With a concentration in mental health, not only will students gain personal insights into their own experiences, but they will also develop valuable academic and occupational skills that will prepare them for what comes next.”
This might be done directly in settings like mental health facilities, social services agencies, the criminal justice system or indirectly in places like the corporate world, where departments such as human resources or training and development place great value on the skills gained in this concentration.
Students in this program have experiential-learning opportunities to better understand community-based mental health services. These practical experiences can also provide the chance to network with potential employers.
Knowledge in areas like human personality, testing and assessment translates to many other professional settings, like public relations or marketing. Daniels herself has integrated her skills into teaching youngsters life skills like anger management and communication through the arts.
Note: This mental health degree doesn't lead to any type of licensure and certification. It does not directly qualify you for positions that require additional education and state licensure, like a role as a clinical mental health counselor or clinical psychologist.
If you are interested in pursuing a licensed profession – such as clinical mental health counselor – you’ll need additional education in a graduate program, like SNHU’s online master's in clinical mental health counseling. You’ll also need to fulfill your state’s specific requirements for licensure.
With no set class meeting times, you can learn on your schedule and access online course materials 24/7.
Take advantage of some of the lowest online tuition rates in the nation, plus financial aid for those who qualify. We also make it easy to transfer to SNHU by accepting up to 90 credits from your previous institution.
Founded in 1932, Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit institution with over 100,000 graduates across the country. SNHU is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), which advocates for institutional improvement and public assurance of quality.
Recently, SNHU has been nationally recognized for leading the way toward more innovative, affordable and achievable education:
At Southern New Hampshire University, you'll have access to a powerful network of more than 200,000 students, alumni and staff that can help support you long after graduation. Our instructors offer relevant, real-world expertise to help you understand and navigate the field. Plus, all students are invited to join our online SNHU Psychology Club and to tap into our nationwide network of alumni for internship and career opportunities.
96.5% of students would recommend SNHU.* Discover why SNHU may be right for you.
Part of our mission to expand access to quality higher education means removing the barriers that may stand between you and your degree. That’s why you can apply at any time and get a decision within days of submitting all required materials.
Acceptance decisions are made on a rolling basis throughout the year for our 6 (8-week) undergraduate terms.
Simply work with an admission counselor, who can help you explore financial options, answer all your questions and walk you through the application process. Start by:
SNHU's degree in mental health focuses on applying the theory you'll learn in class to a community-based service organization as you prepare to graduate. You'll gain a comprehensive understanding of the concepts and principles involved with therapy and assessment.
In your mental health program, you'll have experiential-learning opportunities that can help you enhance your skills through projects you can show future employers. You also can choose to do an internship – another option to make you more marketable in the workforce.
By earning your mental health degree online at SNHU, you'll gain skills that include:
The online format of the program allows you to participate and learn when it works best for you without sacrificing community and support. SNHU can also help you succeed with a variety of aids, including dedicated advisors, online tutoring and a writing center.
With the mental health concentration, you'll get to take an experiential-learning course, which can help you better understand the direction you'd like to take your career, as well as enhance your skills through real-world practice. In addition, the curriculum allows you to take an optional internship, giving you more ways to add valuable experiences to your resume.
If mental health is not the area of psychology you'd like to study, SNHU's online psychology degree offers 5 other concentrations: addictions, applied psychology, social psychology, child and adolescent development, and forensic psychology degree focuses.
Curriculum Requirements & Resources
Total Credits: 120
Tuition rates for SNHU's online degree programs are among the lowest in the nation. We offer financial aid packages to those who qualify, plus a 30% tuition discount for U.S. service members, both full and part time, and the spouses of those on active duty.
Tuition Rates are subject to change and are reviewed annually.
No Application Fee, $150 Graduation Fee, Course Materials ($ varies by course)
A degree in behavioral health or mental health is the first step toward a rewarding career helping others. But the types of jobs available will depend on the specific degree you earn.
For example, a master’s degree or higher is required to gain licensure to work as a clinical mental health counselor. But earning a psychology bachelor’s degree can give you the knowledge you need to start a career right away.
Jobs for behavioral health bachelor’s degree holders include:3
While the terms mental health and behavioral health are often used interchangeably, there are some differences.
Mental health includes our emotional, psychological and social well-being. Our mental health impacts how we think, feel and act and determines how we handle stress and make decisions.4
Behavioral health is a broader term that looks at how behaviors impact someone’s physical and mental health. The behavioral health discipline includes the mental health field as well as other health fields, like substance abuse treatment, marriage and family counseling and chronic disease management.
A master’s degree is typically required to earn a license and work as a clinical mental health counselor. Master’s degree courses cover topics including research methods and program evaluation, group counseling, substance abuse disorders and diagnosis of emotional and mental disorders.
A master’s degree can also help prepare you to sit for a state licensure exam. While clinical mental health counseling licensing requirements vary, all involve the completion of at least a master’s degree, a certain amount of internship or post-degree supervised clinical experience and passage of a state-recognized exam.4
This mental health degree online also provides a strong foundation in the principles of psychology that will prepare you for graduate programs in psychology, which is the next step in becoming a clinical psychologist.
Working as a licensed mental health counselor requires at least a master’s degree.4 But a bachelor’s degree is an important first step toward a graduate degree and can help you get started working in the mental health field.
A bachelor’s degree in psychology with a focus on mental health can give you a strong understanding of human thought and behavior and the factors that influence them. This knowledge can prepare you for admission into master’s degree programs in mental health counseling, psychology and related fields.
SNHU’s mental health degree concentration also focuses on applying your coursework to real world learning experiences, bridging the gap between theory and practice.
This hands-on experience can help you put your bachelor’s degree to work right away. Mental health bachelor's degree holders can work in social services, human resources, substance abuse, corrections, marketing and more.
Most mental health jobs require some kind of college degree, but you can start working in the field without advanced education or licensure. Earning a bachelor’s degree in mental health can provide many opportunities.
With a job as a social services assistant, you could help connect clients to key health and wellness services within a community, including mental health services. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for social service assistants are projected to grow 13% by 2028.3
You could also apply your understanding of human behavior toward a career in substance abuse counseling. While working in private practice requires state licensure, there are opportunities in the field for bachelor's degree holders. Jobs for substance abuse counselors are projected to grow 22% by 2028, according to the BLS. Note that requirements for education and experience vary by state.
The terms mental health counselor and therapist are often used to describe the same roles. Sometimes, however, the terms may be used to highlight a practitioner’s level of education or credentialing.
For example, mental health professionals with a master’s degree in counseling or a related field can typically gain licensure as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) or a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC).5
While the word therapist can be used to describe a licensed mental health counselor, it’s also often used to describe clinical psychologists. Psychologists need either a PhD in psychology or a Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) degree – and state licensure – before working in a clinical setting.5
It depends. A bachelor’s degree in mental health typically takes about 4 years to complete, but your time until graduation could vary depending on your past educational experience.
SNHU has a generous transfer policy, allowing up to 90 credits to transfer to an undergraduate degree. If you transfer the maximum amount of credits, you could complete your degree in just 5 terms, or 10 courses.
In addition, SNHU's flexible online student experience allows you to fit your education around your work and family commitments. With no set class meeting times, you can access online course materials 24/7.
Your total education could take longer, however, if your career plans include earning an advanced degree.
Some psychology students will move on to a master’s degree online, or on campus, which typically takes about 2 years to complete. If your goals include working as a psychologist, it’s also possible to move straight into a research-based PhD or clinical-based PsyD doctoral program, which can take about 7 years to complete.
Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit institution accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE) as well as several other accrediting bodies.
*According to more than 9,200 SNHU online students in survey responses from the fall of 2019.
2 National Alliance on Mental Illness, Mental Health by the Numbers, on the internet, at https://nami.org/mhstats (viewed May 15, 2020)
3 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, on the internet, at:
Cited projections may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions and do not guarantee actual job growth.
4 MentalHealth.gov, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, What Is Mental Health?, on the internet, at https://www.mentalhealth.gov/basics/what-is-mental-health (viewed May 11, 2020)
5 American Counseling Association, Licensure Requirements, on the internet, at https://www.counseling.org/knowledge-center/licensure-requirements (viewed May 11, 2020)