Behavioral health refers generally to how a person’s thoughts, feelings and behaviors impact their overall health, wellness and social functioning. The most common problems addressed by behavioral health professionals are addictions and other mental health issues. The field of behavioral health deals with the prevention, intervention, treatment and sustained recovery from addictions and other forms of mental illness.

Alvernia’s Bachelor of Art in Behavioral Health degree provides students with a solid core of knowledge and skills to prepare them for professional positions in areas such as counseling, case management, prevention, administration and other areas in the behavioral healthcare field.  With its connections to the closely related disciplines of psychology, social work and criminal justice, the BA in Behavioral Health is designed to develop the broad-based competencies necessary to address the many challenges presented by today’s complex behavioral health problems.

Students who major in Behavioral Health will find their educational experience both enriching and enjoyable.  Coursework is designed with a practice-based emphasis grounded in current theory and evidence-based practices. This critical connection between theory and practice allows for the synthesis of knowledge and skills that can be directly applied in the real world.

At Alvernia, Behavioral Health majors also complement quality classroom education with 400 hours of field placements in approved agencies.  Such placements give Behavioral Health majors valuable exposure to and experience in actual clinical environments prior to graduation.

With almost 40 years of history, Alvernia’s Behavioral Health degree is one of the oldest and best of its kind to be found at the college or university level. In 2018 it was ranked #10 among the Top 25 Small Colleges for Substance Abuse Counseling Degrees by SR Education Group (sreducationgroup.org).

The BA in Behavioral Health is available fully online and in traditional classroom settings offered at Alvernia’s main campus in Reading as well as our Pottsville and Philadelphia campuses.


Behavioral health is a dynamic and growing field with an increasing need for qualified, professional employees. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that employment of substance abuse and behavioral disorder professionals is projected to increase by 31 percent between 2012 and 2022, a rate much higher than the average for all occupations. 

With a BA in Behavioral Health, you might find employment with an inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation center, a hospital, or an agency that serves children. You might work in a mental health facility, for a corporate employee-assistance program, or within the criminal justice system. You may work as a counselor, a case manager, a prevention specialist or a client advocate.  The possibilities and opportunities for meaningful employment and professional advancement are as dynamic as the field of behavioral health itself.

Graduates of Alvernia’s Behavioral Health program enjoy a very high employment placement rate, and members of the Career Services Office are available to offer job search advice and help you prepare for your job search.

Alvernia’s Behavioral Health courses are approved by the Pennsylvania Certification Board (PCB), the foremost drug and alcohol credentialing organization in the state. Certification by the PCB is reciprocal among other U.S. States and internationally. A BA in Behavioral Health fulfills the requirement for certification and re-certification of addiction counselors by the PCB.

For more information about Alvernia’s Behavioral Health program contact the Admissions Office at 1-888-ALVERNIA or 610-796-8269 or admissions@alvernia.edu.


All Alvernia students must successfully complete a minimum of 123 semester credits to complete a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science degree. All Behavioral Health students must complete the following courses within the major. (Note: “C” grade or higher must be obtained for all BH courses)

BH 201 Foundations of Chemical Dependency
BH 202 Origins of Mental Illness
BH 204 Counseling Theories
BH 230 Assessment and Evaluation
BH 303 Counseling Techniques I
BH 305 Group Counseling I
BH 310 Legal and Ethical Issues in Counseling 
BH 330 Crisis Intervention
BH Practicums (404, 405, 406, 407) 12 credits/400 hours of field experience total

PSY 101 Introduction to Psychology
PSY 208 Development Across the Lifespan
PAY 215 Multicultural Psychology 

Students must also choose three major elective courses from BH, CJ, PSY or SW (6 credits must be at 300-400 level)

Behavioral Health Elective Courses Include:

BH 240 Addictive Behaviors
BH 300 Case Management
BH 304 Counseling Techniques II
BH 306 Group Counseling I
BH 315 Treatment Planning and Case Conceptualization
BH 320 Neuropharmacology
BH 400 Marriage and Family Counseling
BH 402 Management of Human Service Agencies
BH 411 Counseling Special Populations -OR- BH 413 Special Issues Seminar

Alvernia’s Behavioral Health faculty members are dedicated, highly qualified professionals who are committed to sharing their expertise and knowledge with students. Faculty members have extensive experience in various aspects of the Behavioral Health field, and bring their expertise to the classroom. They often work one-on-one with students to enhance the student’s learning experience, and serve as mentors to aspiring students.

All Behavioral Health faculty members are experts in the classroom and in their professional areas. Faculty members are actively engaged in research, have written articles that have appeared in prestigious publications and have presented nationally and internationally at conferences.

Alvernia’s Behavioral Health faculty members aren’t just teachers or college professors. They’re highly regarded experts in their respective fields who are committed to passing along their knowledge and expertise to students.  Most importantly, they’re eminently qualified to help you succeed as a future behavioral health professional.

Behavioral Health faculty members possess significant clinical and administrative experience in various settings related to addiction, mental health and other areas of the behavioral healthcare continuum. They understand the many challenges facing today’s behavioral health professionals because they successfully deal with these challenges every day. They include seasoned clinicians, supervisors and mangers, serve as board members of prestigious organizations, and routinely present at conferences both nationally and internationally.

Contact Information

David G. Reyher, MS, CAADC
Instructor, Behavioral Health
Veronica Hall 4

Behavioral Health