Social and Behavioral Sciences

BA in Social and Behavioral Sciences

The Social and Behavioral Sciences major is an interdisciplinary program providing perspectives and critical analyses from Anthropology, Psychology, and Sociology to prepare students for the complexity of diverse local communities and the global world we live in. The major provides an excellent  foundation for careers in social services, mental health, public health and public safety, early childhood care and education, law and public policy.  Designed to enhance understanding of the psychosocial and cultural influences shaping individual lives and social institutions, the curriculum interweaves interdisciplinary courses in liberal arts with foundational SBS courses and an extensive array of electives, including professional applications. 

With approximately 70 community partners in the local area, SBS embraces community engagement as a high-impact practice that fosters engagement in civic life and ethical citizenship.

The major provides tremendous flexibility to students who wish to design their own focal area, while also offering an array of predesigned pathways of specialization: Counseling, Early Childhood Studies, Public Health, and Community Response and Mental Health. In all of these areas, exploring the intersections of individual, social, and cultural influences deepens understanding and professional competencies. Students may also choose to integrate the SBS major with related minors or certificates, such as Leadership and Organizational Studies, Gerontology, or certification as an Early Childhood Teacher (Maine 081 endorsement) or Mental Health Rehabilitation Technician /Community (MHRT/C).

A critical component of the SBS degree program is the internship (LAC 447). With the assistance of their faculty advisor and the Internship Coordinator, students identify an organization that will enable them to evaluate potential career opportunities and develop workplace skills. Students also participate in a sequence of two 1.5-credit hour seminars where they learn aspects of career decision making and launching a successful career.

The SBS major provides accelerated pathways to graduate programs including the Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT) program, the Master of Leadership Studies (MLS) program, and the Master of Public Health (MPH) program at USM.  Additional accelerated undergraduate-to-graduate programs are currently in development.

As of Spring 2015, the general SBS degree is available fully online.  The concentrations are not  available fully online, however a subset of courses from each concentration is offered in online format. For more information contact Admissions at or visit the Office of Undergraduate Admission for application information.

Courses for the major may be met through coursework, prior learning assessments sponsored by USM, or in rare cases through waivers (worked out with advisors in conjunction with course instructors.)  No more than two courses from outside the major may be used toward completion of the requirements for the major without permission of the faculty—students may work with their advisor for this permission.  Before taking 300-level courses in this major, students must have completed a 100-level college writing course with a grade of at least C+.

SBS Prerequisite Courses are expected to be taken before 300-level courses:

     SOC 100 Introduction to Sociology
     PSY 101 General Psychology I
     PSY 102 General Psychology II
     ANT 101 Anthropology: The Cultural View

SBS Required Courses:

     LAC 150 Statistics for Informed Decision Making
     SBS/HRD 200 Multicultural Human Development
     SBS 300 Deviance and Social Control (or SBS 310 Childhood and Society for Early Childhood
           Studies or teacher preparation pathways)
     SBS 329 Research Methods
     LAC 269 Exploring Careers, Choosing Life Roles
     LAC 370 Toward a Global Ethics (writing instruction)
     LAC 413 Job Search Skills for the 21st Century
     SBS 430 Applied Social Policy
     LAC 447 Internship
     LAC 480 Senior Seminar (writing Instruction)

SBS Electives:

Students complete at least six upper division (300-level or above) electives in SBS. They may select a concentration to structure their choice of electives. Alternatively, they may more fully customize their choices for the general degree, selecting a minimum of two courses from the list of Fundamentals, below, and the remainder from any 300-level or above SBS electives.

  • For a complete list of SBS courses click here. 
  • For information on SBS Concentrations, Minors, and Certificates click here.

SBS/SCI 209 Human Genetics
     SBS/LOS 301 Group Dynamics
     SBS 305 Child Development
     SBS 306 Adolescence
     SBS 310 Childhood and Society
     SBS 311 Theories of Personality
     SBS 341 The Family
     SBS 345 Diversity: Many Voices
     SBS/LOS 381 Introduction to Globalization
     SBS 390 Brain and Behavior

USM Core Requirements and General Electives:

In addition to completing course requirements for the major, baccalaureate degree students must meet the proficiency and residency requirements of the University of Southern Maine, and complete the Core curriculum and additional courses to accrue a minimum of 120 credit hours of coursework. For information on the USM core requirements, click here:  (Note: all USM core requirements may be met with LAC-based courses.) 

Because of its interdisciplinary nature, the SBS degree has extensive overlap with the USM core, providing a highly efficient pathway to degree completion and additional freedom in selecting courses to reach the 120 credit hour minimum. The following SBS required courses also fulfill USM core curriculum requirements (note that this is not a complete list of LAC-based courses that fulfill USM core requirements):

  • ANT 101 Anthropology: The Cultural View can be used to meet either the Diversity (DIV) or the International (INT) core requirement.
  • SOC 100 Introduction to Sociology meets the Sociocultural Analysis (SCA) requirement.
  • LAC 150 Statistics for Informed Decision-Making meets the Quantitative Reasoning (QR) requirement.
  • SBS 300 Deviance and Social Control meets the Diversity (DIV) requirement.
  • LAC 370 Toward a Global Ethics meets both the Ethical Inquiry, Social Responsibility, and Citizenship (EISRC) and the International (INT) requirement.
  • LAC 480 Senior Seminar meets the Capstone (CAP) requirement.

Additional courses towards the required minimum of 120 credits may be chosen from any other courses within or outside of the major (general electives) based on student interests, career plans, and prior transfer credits. In some cases, this may entail pursuit of a minor or certificate. Students should consult with their advisors on these choices.

Concentrations, Minors, and Certificates 

In addition to the general SBS degree, SBS offers four concentrations for SBS majors

  • Counseling
  • Early Childhood Studies
  • Public Health
  • Community Response and Mental Health.

SBS offers two minors available to students in any USM major:

  • Early Childhood Studies
  • Public Health

Finally, SBS offers three certificate pathways:

  • The MHRT/C track within the Counseling Concentration (open only to SBS majors in the Counseling Concentration)
  • The 081 Early Childhood Teacher Birth - Age 5 (open to Early Childhood Studies minors)
  • The Undergraduate Certificate in Public Health (open to anyone, not limited to SBS or USM majors)

In addition, SBS graduates are eligible to apply for the Maine CADC (Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor) examination, and the LSX (Licensed Social Worker - Conditional).

For more information on SBS concentrations, minors, and certificates, see

For more information about the fully online option, contact Admissions at


Before taking 300-level courses in this major, students must have completed a 100-level college writing course with a grade of at least C+.

To avoid slowing student progress toward their degree, SBS courses have very few formal prerequisites. However the recommended progression is as follows (with general electives filling out semesters as needed):

  1. College Writing, EYE, SBS Prerequisites, LAC 150, and SBS/HRD 200
  2. USM core courses, SBS 300 or 310, SBS 329, LAC 269, and SBS electives
  3. USM core courses, LAC 370, LAC 413, SBS electives
  4. SBS 430, LAC 447 (Internship), LAC 480 (Capstone), SBS electives

SBS graduates enjoy success in a wide range of professional positions...

While most social and behavioral sciences (SBS) graduates go directly into employment, many have also successfully pursued graduate studies in social work, occupational therapy, counseling, teaching, law, and public policy and management. SBS graduates are working in a wide range of professional positions such as:

  • Employment specialist/program development
  • Head Start/early childhood education
  • Hospice work
  • Human services casework (child/family, adoption/foster care)

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