Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Health Science With an Emphasis in Trauma

Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Health Science with an Emphasis in Trauma

Offered By: College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Delve Into Behavioral Trauma With This Bachelor’s Program

Trauma-informed care is a model of delivering behavioral healthcare that treats the whole person. It assumes that every patient is more likely than not to have a history of trauma, and it recognizes that individuals with a history of trauma need to feel safe and empowered.1 This is an enlightened approach to healthcare that requires the insights of professionals and paraprofessionals who have an academic background in trauma. If you feel called upon to assist survivors and help them work through difficult times in their lives, Grand Canyon University invites you to explore our trauma courses.

The Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Health Science with an Emphasis in Trauma, offered by the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, focuses on the biopsychosocial effects of trauma, including the dynamics of trauma throughout the different life stages of an individual. You will be taught best practices in working with client populations affected by trauma. These include informed care assessments, interventions and ethics.

Explore Foundational Competencies in Behavioral Trauma at GCU

Trauma is something that could happen to anyone. In fact, one in four women in the U.S. has suffered from domestic violence. One in five women and one in 71 men have been victims of sexual assault.1 Other types of trauma — from natural disasters to serious medical diagnoses — are also common. The goal of this Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Health Science degree program is to enable you to empower victims of trauma to work toward healing and to cope with their past in healthy ways. GCU strives to graduate practice-ready professionals who are eager to make a positive difference in the lives of others in their communities.

As a Christian school, GCU and our behavioral trauma courses emphasize the role of Christian ethics and principles in the professional space. The guiding beliefs and worldview of Christianity are integrated into the coursework. You will be encouraged to bring the qualities of compassion and empathy to your professional careers.

Get More Information

Loading Form

GCU is committed to providing flexible, accessible options for those pursuing higher education. You can earn your BS in Behavioral Health Science with online trauma courses. As a member of our online student community, you can benefit from our intuitive, interactive e-learning platform, which allows easy access to all your course materials. Although you’ll work through the curriculum on your own, you are able to engage in discussions with your peers and instructors on our digital platform.

If you prefer to earn your Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Health Science with an Emphasis in Trauma via in-person classes, you’re invited to enroll in evening courses on our campus in Phoenix. Through evening classes, you have opportunities to collaborate with your peers as you work through the curriculum led by instructors who are knowledgeable in their fields. Most evening classes meet one night per week, enabling you to take care of your other responsibilities while continuing to work toward your degree.

Behavioral Trauma Courses Enable Specialized Training

One of the goals of this Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Health Science degree program is to empower you to become an effective communicator who can connect with clients and co-workers in a professional manner. This program provides opportunities to develop critical thinking and ethical problem-solving abilities, along with teaching behavioral health science competencies in areas such as:

  • The fundamentals of addiction and substance use disorders, including biopsychosocial dynamics, stages, processes and effects
  • Physical, cognitive and socioemotional development across the human lifespan
  • The origin and development of abnormal patterns and disorders, with a look at the physiological factors that may influence mental health
  • Types of trauma and the effects of traumatic experiences, as well as trauma-informed care assessments and treatments

Develop Your Skills for Trauma-Informed Care

Throughout this bachelor’s program, you will examine the following key concepts in behavioral health and trauma-informed care:

  • The physical, psychological and interpersonal effects of traumatic situations
  • The short-term and long-term consequences of trauma in childhood
  • Advocacy on behalf of diverse clients
  • Applied clinical research and established behavioral health documentation styles

You will conclude your trauma focus studies with a capstone course. It requires the development of a written proposal that focuses on an aspect of trauma or trauma care for a community-based behavioral health organization. This is an opportunity for you to synthesize previous coursework and demonstrate the skills and competencies you’ve been taught.

Career Paths with a BS in Behavioral Health Science: Trauma Emphasis

Working in the trauma field is a calling that requires strength of character, compassion and empathy. With competencies in the behavioral health field, you may be prepared to pursue a position as a trauma specialist, behavioral health technician or paraprofessional. Trauma specialists are needed in a variety of situations. They work with clients of all ages who have suffered trauma as a result of acts of violence and neglect, medical catastrophes, natural disasters or geopolitical unrest. As a graduate with this degree, you may position yourself to work in the following settings:2

  • Psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals or clinics
  • Government agencies
  • Residential mental health and substance abuse facilities
  • Outpatient mental health and substance abuse facilities

The BS in Behavioral Health Science does not lead to clinical licensure. Some individuals who go into this field decide to enhance their qualifications and career opportunities by pursuing further education. A graduate degree in counseling or psychology might pave the way for you to pursue a career as a clinical trauma psychologist.

Earn Your BS in Behavioral Health Science From an Institutionally Accredited University

At GCU, our mission is to provide thoughtfully designed, well-rounded academic programs that empower our graduates to effect positive change in their communities. Our commitment to quality education is reflected in our accreditation.

The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) has continually accredited GCU since 1968. The College of Humanities and Social Sciences shares the university’s commitment to upholding the principles and standards established by our accrediting bodies.

Behavioral Health Science: Trauma Emphasis FAQs

Earning a degree in behavioral trauma can provide the pathway toward pursuing a career you may find meaningful. Before making a decision for your future, you can explore the mental health field further in the following FAQs and answers.

If you’re struggling to choose between a Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Health Science or a degree in psychology, it can be helpful to know the differences between them. Behavioral health science is a broader field that encompasses psychology.3 Whereas psychology explores how a person’s mental health affects them, behavioral health considers how a person’s actions can affect their mental wellness. Your mental health (psychology) includes aspects such as identity, perception, resilience and personality. Your behavioral health includes issues such as lifestyle, habits, social interactions and cultural practices.4

The education required to work in a behavioral health clinic can vary considerably, depending on the particular position you’re pursuing, its seniority level, the requirements and preferences of the employer, and any applicable state-imposed requirements. Some states, for example, require psychiatric technicians to obtain licensure. Some employers prefer to hire job candidates with a relevant bachelor’s degree.5 Regardless of where you wish to work or which type of position you’re interested in, earning a bachelor’s degree can allow you to develop the foundational behavioral health competencies that can help position you for a role on a care team.

A trauma specialist can hold many different job titles, including social worker, mental health counselor, trauma-informed coordinator or other healthcare professional who provides trauma-informed care. Regardless of job title, trauma specialists focus on supporting victims of trauma and helping them heal.6 Becoming a trauma specialist may be ideal for you if you care deeply about others and wish to effect meaningful change.

Find your purpose at Grand Canyon University and pursue a future dedicated to serving and uplifting others in your community. Fill out the form on this page to request more information about the behavioral trauma emphasis.


1 Tello, M., MD, MPH. (2018, Oct. 16). Trauma-informed care: what it is and why it’s important. Harvard Health Publishing. Retrieved Nov. 6, 2023.

2 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2023, Sept. 6). Psychiatric technicians and aides: work environment. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Retrieved Nov. 6, 2023.

3 (n.d.). What is behavioral science? Retrieved Nov. 6, 2023.

4 Gillette, H. (2023, March 28). What’s the difference between mental health and behavioral health? Healthline. Retrieved Nov. 6, 2023.

5 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2023, Sept. 6). How to become a psychiatric technician or aide. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Retrieved Nov. 6, 2023.

6 Resilient Educator. (2019, Dec. 20). Trauma-informed specialist: education, salary, and outlook. Retrieved Nov. 6, 2023.

Total Credits: 120
Online: 7 weeks
[More Info]
Up to 90 credits, only 84 can be lower division
Online: $485 per credit
[Tuition, Fees and Financial Aid]

Cost of Attendance

Course List

General Education Requirements:
34-40 credits
56 credits
Open Elective Credits:
24-30 credits
Degree Requirements:
120 credits

General Education Requirements

General Education coursework prepares Grand Canyon University graduates to think critically, communicate clearly, live responsibly in a diverse world, and thoughtfully integrate their faith and ethical convictions into all dimensions of life. These competencies, essential to an effective and satisfying life, are outlined in the General Education Learner Outcomes. General Education courses embody the breadth of human understanding and creativity contained in the liberal arts and sciences tradition. Students take an array of foundational knowledge courses that promote expanded knowledge, insight, and the outcomes identified in the University's General Education Competencies. The knowledge and skills students acquire through these courses serve as a foundation for successful careers and lifelong journeys of growing understanding and wisdom.


Upon completion of the Grand Canyon University's University Foundation experience, students will be able to demonstrate competency in the areas of academic skills and self-leadership. They will be able to articulate the range of resources available to assist them, explore career options related to their area of study, and have knowledge of Grand Canyon's community. Students will be able to demonstrate foundational academic success skills, explore GCU resources (CLA, Library, Career Center, ADA office, etc), articulate strategies of self-leadership and management and recognize opportunities to engage in the GCU community.

Course Options

  • UNV-103, University Success: 4
  • UNV-303, University Success: 4
  • UNV-108, University Success in the College of Education: 4


Graduates of Grand Canyon University will be able to construct rhetorically effective communications appropriate to diverse audiences, purposes, and occasions (English composition, communication, critical reading, foreign language, sign language, etc.). Students are required to take 3 credits of English grammar or composition.

Course Options

  • UNV-104, 21st Century Skills: Communication and Information Literacy: 4
  • ENG-105, English Composition I: 4
  • ENG-106, English Composition II: 4


Graduates of Grand Canyon University will be able to express aspects of Christian heritage and worldview. Students are required to take CWV-101/CWV-301.

Course Options

  • CWV-101, Christian Worldview: 4
  • CWV-301, Christian Worldview: 4


Graduates of Grand Canyon University will be able to use various analytic and problem-solving skills to examine, evaluate, and/or challenge ideas and arguments (mathematics, biology, chemistry, physics, geology, astronomy, physical geography, ecology, economics, theology, logic, philosophy, technology, statistics, accounting, etc.). Students are required to take 3 credits of intermediate algebra or higher.

Course Options

  • MAT-154, Applications of College Algebra: 4
  • MAT-144, College Mathematics: 4
  • PHI-105, 21st Century Skills: Critical Thinking and Problem Solving: 4
  • BIO-220, Environmental Science: 4


Graduates of Grand Canyon University will be able to demonstrate awareness and appreciation of and empathy for differences in arts and culture, values, experiences, historical perspectives, and other aspects of life (psychology, sociology, government, Christian studies, Bible, geography, anthropology, economics, political science, child and family studies, law, ethics, cross-cultural studies, history, art, music, dance, theater, applied arts, literature, health, etc.). If the predefined course is a part of the major, students need to take an additional course.

Course Options

  • HIS-144, U.S. History Themes: 4
  • PSY-102, General Psychology: 4
  • SOC-100, Everyday Sociology: 4

Core Courses

Course Description

This course provides foundational knowledge regarding addiction and substance use disorders. Topics studied include biopsychosocial dynamics; stages, processes, and impact of addiction and substance use; and the role of the addiction professional in prevention, intervention, relapse prevention, and aftercare. In addition, the course provides overviews of the substance abuse counselor's code of ethics, HIPAA, and legal issues involved in counseling.

Course Description

This course provides foundational knowledge in theoretical approaches to counseling. Theoretical models studied include psychodynamic, existential, Gestalt, person-centered, cognitive and behavioral therapy, family systems, and narrative- and solution-focused therapies.

Course Description

This course provides a broad understanding of group development stages, group dynamics, group counseling theories, and ethical standards pertaining to group work. In addition, this course explores theoretical approaches to group work. The course also addresses the growth and development of group members.

Course Description

This writing-intensive course provides a broad understanding of ethics, legal standards, and responsibilities in behavioral health. Students explore basic ethical concepts, legislation, and current trends in behavioral health ethics. This course pays special attention to technology and its effects on lawmaking and ethics in behavioral health. Important goals of this course are to help students develop a comprehensive understanding of the history and current application of ethics in the behavioral health field.

Course Description

This course provides a comprehensive foundation through exploring the content areas of cultural diversity, social justice, and religious and spiritual values. Examination of these areas strives to offer an overarching framework to guide students and gain perspectives for working with multicultural populations in the behavioral health field. This course assists students with developing knowledge and application of cultural diversity, cultural competency, and the importance of self-awareness, social justice, and advocacy. In addition, this course provides students a blended approach of the beliefs and values associated with religion and spirituality as a component of cultural competency.

Course Description

This course provides an understanding of the nature and needs of individuals across the life-span development. This course covers physical, cognitive, and socioemotional development across various points in human development. Additionally, students learn about the influence of spiritual and moral beliefs throughout the life span.

Course Description

This is a writing intensive foundation course in the science of abnormal behavior that offers students the opportunity to study the origin and development of abnormal patterns and disorders. This course is designed to assist students in recognizing and understanding mental illness through increased awareness of emotional, functional, and physiological factors influencing mental health. Specific topics include symptoms, diagnoses, etiology, epidemiology, and treatment of various psychological disorders and syndromes.

Course Description

This course is a study of elementary theories of probability, distribution, and testing of statistical hypotheses. Practical experience is provided in the application of statistical methods. Prerequisite: MAT-134, MAT-144 or MAT-154.

Course Description

This course provides a comprehensive understanding of the various documentation styles used in the behavioral health field. Students critically examine evidence-based research in the field of behavioral health. The course offers an introduction to conducting applied clinical research.

Course Description

This course introduces the historical and theoretical perspectives of family dynamics and systems. Topics include roles, communication styles, boundaries, generational patterns, cultural influences, and couples and parenting dynamics. Skills and modalities relevant to working with families in the behavioral health field are explored.

Course Description

This course offers an overview of various types of trauma and effects of traumatic experiences within the physical, emotional, sociological, cognitive, and spiritual domains of a human being. It studies the dynamics of trauma throughout the human life-span development. It offers a brief overview of trauma, informed care assessment and treatment, and ethics associated with working with trauma victims.

Course Description

This course offers an overview of the six key principles of the trauma-informed care approach. The purpose of the course is to develop knowledge and awareness about safety building, trustworthiness, peer support networking, connectedness, empowerment, cultural, historical, spiritual, and gender issues. In addition, the course addresses recovery, support systems, resiliency, and an integrated approach when working with trauma victims.

Course Description

This course offers an overview of the evidence-based screening and assessment tools utilized in assessing the impact of trauma. In addition, this course will cover best practice approaches to trauma treatment. Prerequisite: BHS-470.

Course Description

The capstone project is a culmination of the learning experiences while a student is within the behavioral health science program at Grand Canyon University’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Students prepare a written proposal for a community-based behavioral health organization related to the student's specific area of focus. The proposal includes the name, geographical location, identified service gap, target populations, types of service/treatments, potential challenges, ethical considerations, and supervision/oversight considerations. The professional capstone project proposal needs to reflect synthesis and integration of course content. This capstone course needs to be completed at the end of program. Prerequisite: BHS-350.


GCU Online Student

Pursue a next-generation education with an online degree from Grand Canyon University. Earn your degree with convenience and flexibility with online courses that let you study anytime, anywhere.

* Please note that this list may contain programs and courses not presently offered, as availability may vary depending on class size, enrollment and other contributing factors. If you are interested in a program or course listed herein please first contact your University Counselor for the most current information regarding availability.

* Please refer to the Academic Catalog for more information. Programs or courses subject to change.