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What is Behavioral Science?: Find Out From Dr. Tom Edgington

What is behavioral science? Learn more about how Grace College is training social science majors to help people who are hurting in our world.

Sometimes, as a professor in the School of Behavioral Sciences at Grace, I get asked the following questions: “What is behavioral science and why would someone want to study behavioral science?” Before we dive into the first one, let’s start with the “why?” because the answer is simple. We care about people. We want to help people find solutions to difficult life circumstances and we believe that what we provide for people will make a difference in their lives. 

So now that we have the “why?” let’s dive into the “what?”


What is Behavioral Science?

So, what is behavioral science? Broadly speaking, behavioral science tries to understand people, comprehend why they think and do what they do, assess the impact on society, and intervene in a helpful way. At Grace, this can be done through four social science majors: psychology, counseling, criminal justice, and sociology



Psychology is the study of the human mind and human behavior. It focuses on the individual and seeks to understand why we think and act the way we do. Some of the important facets of psychology include psychological testing, research, and the biological basis of behavior. It also analyzes the environmental forces behind behavior and the causes and treatments of mental disorders. In psychology, we want to figure out how people “tick” so that they can cope better with life and more effectively connect to those around them. 



Counseling involves a “helping” relationship. We want to help those who are struggling emotionally, mentally, and/or behaviorally. Counselors help people identify goals, find possible solutions to their problems, and improve important relationships. It emphasizes wellness and personal growth, and what is positive about people. 


Criminal Justice

A career in criminal justice includes fields like law enforcement, court systems, incarceration systems, and rehabilitation programs. This career is a way to give back to those who have a desire for justice and want to make a difference in their community. A career in criminal justice makes a difference for those who are in need through a variety of vocations, such as protection, service, prevention, or rehabilitation. This field works to protect people from criminal victimization as well as help those who are victimized to find justice. People in criminal justice work with crime victims, assist in solving crimes, work to recognize and prevent criminal behavior, and develop programs to help rehabilitate criminal behavior. This field has plenty of jobs available and gives individuals the freedom to switch to different vocations within the criminal justice field if desired. A career in criminal justice is for those who are looking for more than making a living. It is for those people who want to live out a truly rewarding career and have a calling to help others. 



Sociology is different from psychology in that rather than focusing on the individual, it focuses on social relationships and institutions. It moves beyond the individual and looks at the nature of families, communities, nations, etc. Sociology is a wonderful second social science major for those who wish to study psychology, counseling, and/or criminal justice. 


Doubling the Value

In regard to a double major, we offer something at Grace that is quite unique. If a student wishes to get a double major in the School of Behavioral Science (for example: psychology and criminal justice), they can do so for just three credit hours (one course!) more than a minor. This can be done if the student wishes to pursue the three-year accelerated degree. 

Another thing that makes the Grace College School of Behavioral Science unique is that we believe the Bible should be foundational for our classes and in our lives. We believe the Bible is the Word of God, and we want that to guide our thinking and behavior. We offer a course entitled “Biblical Psychology” which looks at psychology through the lens of the Bible. As you can tell, we take this seriously, because we believe the Bible has much to say about behavioral science. 

So what is behavioral science? It all comes down to caring about people. We want to help those who are hurting, guide those looking for answers, and help society as a whole. We have an opportunity to speak into the lives of people and offer God’s hope and encouragement. What a privilege! 

Now that you have a glimpse of what we do here at Grace College, we would love to have you join us if God is calling you to this kind of ministry. Learn more about our School of Behavioral Science, or apply today

Tagged With: Faculty, School of Behavioral Science