Earn Your Mental Health Degree Online
- Accredited by NECHE
- Transfer up to 90 credits
- Prepare for a career helping others
- Earn a data literacy certificate
- No application fee or SAT/ACT scores required
Mental Health Program Overview
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:
- Adhere to ethical standards
- Build trust with others
- Communicate effectively
- Conduct and apply research
- Implement scientific approaches
8 Types of Psychology with Real-World Perspective
The study of psychology can be personally and professionally rewarding. Among the many concentrations in the field you can find diverse opportunities to learn about how people interact with one another in relationships, in the workplace and more.
Mental Health Career Outlook
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.1
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.2
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.2
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.2
The broad range of career possibilities includes:
- Assisting mental health professions in residential or outpatient settings
- Facilitating support groups
- Working in a correctional facility or probation department
- Assisting in the hiring process
- Designing job-related training
- Assisting with market research projects
- Helping create public relations campaigns
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.
Start Your Journey Toward an Online Mental Health Degree Concentration
Why SNHU for Your Degree in Mental Health
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:
- “Most Innovative” regional university honors from U.S. News & World Report each year since 2015
- A $1 million grant from Google.org to explore soft skills assessments for high-need youth
- Recognition as a 2017 Digital Learning Innovator by the Online Learning Consortium
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.3 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.
How to Apply
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:
- Completing a free undergraduate application
- Providing previous institutions attended – so we can retrieve transcripts for you at no cost
- Test scores are not required as part of your application.
Courses & Curriculum
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:
- An understanding of the major theories of personality and how they apply to individual and group behavior
- Awareness of the history of helping professions within psychology and related disciplines
- An understanding of helping professions within psychology, human services and sociology
- Familiarity with psychometric techniques
- The ability to apply psychological concepts to various social issues
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
- General education courses: All bachelor's students are required to take general education classes, if not obtained in prior coursework. Through these foundation, exploration and integration courses, students learn to think critically, creatively and collaboratively, giving you the edge employers are looking for.
- Technology resources: We provide cloud-based virtual environments in some courses to give you access to the technology you need for your degree – and your career. Learn more about our virtual environments.
- Earn math credits for what you already know: Save time and tuition with our Pathways to Math Success assessments. Depending on your scores, you could earn up to 12 math credits – the equivalent of 4 courses – toward your degree for less than $50 per assessment.
|View Full Curriculum in the Catalog|
|BA in Psychology - Mental Health|
|Courses May Include|
|BA in Psychology Mental Health Psychology|
|BIO 210||Introduction to Anatomy and Physiology||Discussion/comparison of the principles of mammalian form and function. Includes molecular and cellular mechanisms of major processes (such as muscle contraction, neural transmission, and signal transduction) and examines the structure and function of the 11 organ systems of the human body. Laboratory exercises (BIO-210L) to follow lecture topics.|
|PSY 108||Introduction to Psychology||This course provides students an introduction to the scientific study of behavior and mental processes. Students prepare for more advanced concepts in upper-level Psychology courses by learning the basics of how to evaluate research and exploring various areas of specialization within the discipline.|
|PSY 223||Research I: Statistics for Psychology||How do psychologists organize, summarize, and interpret information? Students in this course study applications of statistical methods in psychological research and practice. The emphasis of the course is on the conceptual understanding of statistics so that students can read and conduct psychological research; those skills will be applied to students' original projects in Research II: Scientific Investigations. Computation of tests will be conducted on the computer. Students will build upon statistical knowledge and develop an in-depth conceptual and practical understanding of hypothesis testing, tests of significance, standardization, correlation, and analysis of variance in a wide variety of psychological uses. Students will learn the theory of statistical decisions, practical application of statistical software, and how to analyze journal articles. This course typically should be completed during the first semester of the sophomore year.|
|PSY 224||Research II: Scientific Investigations||Students in this course will develop an understanding a variety of research methods, including experimental, survey, correlation and case-history techniques. They will become aware of the strengths and weaknesses of each method and understand when each method is best used. Writing intensive course.|
|PSY 315||Counseling Process and Techniques||This course examines the history and philosophy of specific helping professions in the fields of psychology, sociology and human services. Several broad theoretical perspectives will be studied and applied in role-play situations.|
|PSY 335||Assessment and Testing||Students in this course will become aware of the use and abuse of psychometric techniques. Specific techniques that currently are used will be introduced and understood. While knowledge about specific tests may be somewhat limited, students will obtain knowledge and the types of tests and techniques available.|
|PSY 444||Senior Seminar in Psychology (Capstone)||This capstone course integrates previous classroom and practical experience with a focus on current issues in psychology. This course likely will include cross-cultural aspects of psychology, ethics, recent career trends in psychology and other topics dictated by current events in psychology. Coverage may change over time, but the basic focus on integrating the past and anticipating the future for psychology seniors will be the major concern. Writing Intensive Course.|
|Total Credits: 120|
Tuition & Fees
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.
|Online Undergraduate Programs||Per Course||Per Credit Hour||Annual Cost for 30 credits|
(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.
*Note: students receiving this rate are not eligible for additional discounts.
No Application Fee, $150 Graduation Fee, Course Materials ($ varies by course)
Frequently Asked Questions
What can you do with a degree in behavioral health?
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:2
- Social services assistant: Connect clients to services in a wide variety of fields, including psychology, rehabilitation and social work.
- Human resources: Recruit, interview and place workers, manage employee relations and oversee compensation, benefits and training.
- Market research analyst: Study market conditions and trends to examine the potential sales of a product or service.
- Public relations: Create and maintain a favorable public image for an organization, crafting media releases and guiding an organization’s online presence.
- Probation officer: Provide social services to assist the rehabilitation of law offenders in custody, on probation or on parole, and connect them with community services.
What's the difference between mental health and behavioral health?
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.
What kind of degree do you need to be a mental health counselor?
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.
Can I be a mental health counselor with a bachelor's degree?
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.
How can I work in mental health without a degree?
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 2028.2
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.2 Note that requirements for education and experience vary by state.
Is a mental health counselor a therapist?
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
How long does it take to get a mental health degree?
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.
Sources & Citations (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
1 National Alliance on Mental Illness, Mental Health by the Numbers, on the internet, at https://nami.org/mhstats (viewed May 15, 2020)
2 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, on the internet, at:
- https://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/substance-abuse-behavioral-disorder-and-mental-health-counselors.htm (viewed May 11, 2020)
- https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/social-and-community-service-managers.htm (viewed May 11, 2020)
- https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/human-resources-managers.htm (viewed May 11, 2020)
- https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/market-research-analysts.htm (viewed May 11, 2020)
- https://www.bls.gov/ooh/media-and-communication/public-relations-specialists.htm (viewed May 11, 2020)
- https://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/probation-officers-and-correctional-treatment-specialists.htm (viewed May 11, 2020)
- https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/psychologists.htm (viewed May 11, 2020)
Cited projections may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions and do not guarantee actual job growth.
3 According to more than 9,200 SNHU online students in survey responses from the fall of 2019.
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)