Many Doctor of Behavioral Health (D.B.H) programs can be taken completely online. Most of them are designed to cater to working clinical professionals. This doctorate is a relatively new field made to meet the demand of a global community with an increasing awareness of mental health.

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What does a Doctor of Behavioral Health do?

doctor behavioral health dbh

Doctors of Behavioral Health or DBH for short are medical practitioners who are primarily concerned with how people’s behavior affects overall well-being. They address mental problems based on evidence in an integrated health model. This profession is one of the results of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a law that aims at providing economical health care to low-income households. DBHs reduce hospital or clinic cost by assessing mental health issues and suggesting behavioral-change solutions to address problems like depression, substance abuse, hypertension, anxiety, HIV, addiction, and similar others in more or less the same way as psychologists and psychiatrists do, but all while charging a relatively lower professional fee.

Contrary to the common assumption, DBHs are not psychologists. The DBH curriculum might hold some psychological inputs, but they approach mental health concerns differently. Psychologists diagnose their patients through counseling and therapy sessions. They have a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and the widely focus on research. On the other hand, DBH targets not only the mental health issues per se but how such mental health issue affects them physically.

To illustrate this slim line of difference, let’s talk about insomnia, a mental health issue. Psychologists will talk to their patient and might find out that using smartphones at bedtime or overthinking of a problem might have caused the insomnia. A DBH not only speaks to patients about their condition but also suggest action plans or prescribe medication to cure the mental illness. A DBH will confide to the patient that insomnia can have far-reaching negative effects on the body, causing high blood pressure, heart problems, and even obesity. The DBH then advises lifestyle changes or sleeping pills.

In the medical field, psychiatrists also deal with mental issues by investigating the neurotic disturbance or any brain damage. However, psychiatrists, with their hectic days, do not have the luxury of time to interact with patients often. A DBH then attends to this need, providing the same or similar services to that of a psychologist and psychiatrist. The DBH plays a key role in a holistic wellness program. Thus, a DBH bridges the gap between mental health care providers and physical healthcare providers.

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What sort of accreditation should I look for in a school?

The National Institute of Behavioral Health Quality (NIBHQ) oversees the accreditation programs of DBH graduate schools and programs across the United States. There also other regional accreditation bodies that supplement the credibility of DBH programs.

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How do I earn my D.B.H. degree?

If you want to enroll in a DBH program, you need to have a master’s degree in specific fields, including the clinical field, social work, or managerial line. DBH students are expected to have diverse backgrounds and will be educated on health care reform. There are two basic concentrations in a DBH program: Clinical concentration and Managerial concentration.

Clinical concentration DBH programs are offered to master-level clinicians who are license holders. These include nurses, therapists, psychometricians, counselors, dietitians, physician assistants, and others. DBH students with Managerial concentration come from the same background as those in the Clinical concentration track, but the former take on extra credits in the field of business and entrepreneurship.

Both program concentrations have similar coursework units, but the elective subjects depend on your desired area of specialization. Many institutions observe a blur dichotomy between clinical and managerial levels, as long as the program will train aspiring DBH to practice integrated healthcare and population health management.

The DBH program lasts two to three years, depending on whether or not you want you are attending on a full-time or part-time basis. Most students study part-time while balancing their responsibilities at work, school, or family. Aside from completing anywhere between 240 and 250 internship hours, a DBH student may be required to complete a capstone project as a culminating requirement.

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What type of degree do I need to pursue research or educate others in DBH?

Most of the faculty line of DBH programs are composed of DBH degree holder professionals. Other practitioners from psychology and medicine most likely join the teaching workforce in DBH graduate schools for discipline integration.

Some DBHs engage in research work to evaluate and continuously update DBH services. Along with social scientists and medical practitioners, DBH researchers write and publish books and journals such as the Journal of Behavioral Health (JBH).

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How do I earn a transitional or bridge D.B.H. degree?

Most of DBH programs adopt an online format to cater to working clinical professionals. If you visit their website and check out their curriculum, it is highly likely that you will encounter a DBH program you can attend without going to an actual campus.

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What kind of career and salary can I expect with my D.B.H. degree?

DBH work as a team player with psychologists, therapists, counselors, and medical doctors. They can work on the following career opportunities: Behavioral Health Provider, Behavioral Health Consultant, Healthcare consultant, Health Educator, Clinical Manager.

However, the wage rate for DBHs, who primarily assume managerial roles, depends on their employer. Clinical managers have a median salary of $98,350 annually.

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Do I need a license to be a DBH?

Currently, there are no specific licensure examinations for DBH graduates. However, one needs a certification provided by each state to deliver mental health services to communities as professional practice. Many DBH professionals have multiple licenses from their previous fields (e.g., RN, LCSW, LMFT, etc.) as are often reflected on their business cards.

DBH is a relatively new profession brought by health care reform, and the workforce is gradually growing. You may expect changes in license requirements in the future as more people get more access to mental health care.

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What schools offer Doctor of Behavioral Health degrees?

Most DBH institutions have options for either full-time on-campus education or a completely digital distance-learning program. Notable examples of these schools are: The Cummings Graduate Institute for Behavioral Health Studies in Phoenix, AZ; Arizona State University in Tempe, AZ; and Freed-Hardeman University in Henderson, TN.

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Do your friends open up to you when they have problems? If you are that kind of person, the DBH degree might be a fulfilling career path for you.





School Highlights: One of the many benefits of attending the Cummings Graduate Institute is its incredibly low tuition rate. Students in the Doctor of Behavioral Health degree complete 60 credit hours of coursework at $350 per credit hour, which is drastically less expensive than most any doctoral program throughout the United States. It is also a great choice for veterans and active-duty members of the military, and has been recognized as such. This degree is offered 100% online with no internship or residency requirements and students typically graduate in about three years. However, students are free to transfer credits from another university, which can significantly reduce the amount of time spent in school, and there are part-time and full-time pathways available. Graduates are prepared to work in any behavioral health environment, such as Primary Care Medical Homes, managed behavioral healthcare organizations, private practices, and more.

Concentration Options:

  • Pathophysiology in Biodyne Context
  • Psychopharmacology for the DBH
  • Population Health Management, Cost, Offset, & ROI

Campus Location: Phoenix, AZ


  • Distance Education Accrediting Commission
    1101 17th Street NW, Suite 808
    Washington, D.C. 20036, (202) 234-5100
  • Institute for Healthcare Improvement
  • Arizona Health Information Network





School Highlights: Arizona State University has been acknowledged as one of the best online schools in the country time and time again. It provides outstanding distance education curricula, all of which are offered entirely online with no required trips to campus. The Online Doctor of Behavioral Health includes a Clinical concentration that requires students to take part in learning opportunities in medical literacy, behavioral interventions, and entrepreneurship. Or, students who are more interested in an administrative approach to their doctoral degree can focus in Management. This is an accelerated online Doctor of Behavioral Health, in which students complete 84 credit hours, or 13 classes, throughout 7.5-week terms. Graduates have gone on to become consultants, educators, healthcare providers, clinical managers, and health coaches.

Concentration Options:

  • Clinical
  • Management

Campus Location: Tempe, AZ


  • Higher Learning Commission
    230 South LaSalle Street, Suite 7-500
    Chicago, Illinois 60604, (800) 621-7440

Acceptance Rate: 85% Retention Rate: 85% Graduation Rate: 67%




freed hardeman


School Highlights: Freed-Hardeman University’s Doctor of Behavioral Health is a highly flexible, 60-credit program that can be completed in two years or less. The coursework is available either on-campus or online through web-conferencing modalities. It is an affordable doctoral degree with a tuition rate of $610 per credit hour, which is competitive rate compared to other schools throughout the U.S. The distance learning option includes connecting with professors and other doctoral students, completing clinical rotations, and real-time video consultations. Research projects take place in students’ professional environments. The goal of the curriculum is to enhance advanced skills in leadership and entrepreneurship.

Coursework Sample:

  • Suffering and the Human Condition
  • The United States Healthcare System
  • Advanced Clinical, Ethical, and Legal Issues in Behavioral Healthcare

Campus Location: Henderson, TN


  • Higher Learning Commission
    230 South LaSalle Street, Suite 7-500
    Chicago, Illinois 60604, (800) 621-7440
  • Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education Programs

Acceptance Rate: 93% Retention Rate: 80% Graduation Rate: 57%