Meet Our School of Social & Behavioral Sciences

NCU School of Social & Behavioral Sciences

As a student of the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences at NCU, it's important to know who your faculty members are and how they impact certain areas of study within the University. This is especially true in an online setting, where it is more difficult to meet your professors and make personal connections.

To give you a better idea of the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, the Dean, Dr. James Billings, and Associate Dean, Dr. Peter Bradley, have taken the time to share their histories and insights about the program.

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Meet Our Dean: Dr. James Billings

NCU Dean Dr. James Billings

What many people may not realize is that NCU once had separate schools for Marriage and Family Sciences and Psychology. In 2016, the divisions were joined to form the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences. Dr. James Billings helped facilitate the merger.

Billings received his Ph.D. in Marriage and Family Therapy from Loma Linda University. Throughout his career, he has worked in both academic and community-based settings, holding credentials as a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) and approved MFT Supervisor. In 2005, Billings accepted an adjunct faculty position in NCU’s former School of Psychology, eventually transitioning into a full-time role. During his time at NCU, he has held many leadership positions, including program director, department chair, and assistant dean. Billings became Dean of the School of Marriage and Family Sciences in 2014, and subsequently, Dean of the School of Psychology. When the schools joined, Billings continued as Dean.

"I love the fact that our one-to-one, distance-based model allows us to overcome barriers that prevent many professionals from advancing their career goals," says Billings. "I love the diversity of our student body and the rich life experiences they bring to the educational platform. We have students in every state and in almost every possible life circumstance."

Along with his love of newfound opportunities and diversity, Billings has a firm belief that one-to-one weekly starts for all courses allow NCU to support students pursuing their graduate degree when they are ready.

“The opportunities available to students in the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences are unlike anything you will find in traditional settings,” says Billings. "I'm very proud of the hard work of our faculty and staff that lead to our Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) program becoming the first primarily distance-based MFT program to receive programmatic accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE). Our Ph.D. in Marriage and Family Therapy, was also the first distance-based doctoral program, to receive COAMFTE accreditation."

Most degrees in the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences offer students internship and practicum opportunities, allowing them to apply real-world experiences that benefit their local communities. On average, students in the Marriage and Family Therapy program provide over 100,000 hours of therapy each year in their local communities, a service that Billings is especially proud of.

Billings has been published in the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy and has presented at numerous conferences around the country. To learn more about Dr. Billings, please visit his faculty bio page.

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Meet Our Associate Dean: Dr. Peter Bradley

NCU Associate Dean Dr. Peter Bradley

With more than 30 years of professional experience, Associate Dean, Dr. Peter Bradley, has gained a wealth of knowledge and insight that he aims to share with the University to prepare the next generation of Marriage and Family Therapists.

After earning his Ph.D. in Marriage & Family Therapy / Family & Child Development from Virginia Tech University, Bradley went on to complete post-doctoral training at the Mental Research Institute in Palo Alto, CA, as well as a Doctoral Fellowship at the Houston Child Guidance Center in Houston, TX. He began practicing as a therapist in 1989 and later became licensed as a Marriage and Family Therapist in 1994 and Professional Counselor in 1995. He has had the pleasure of counseling individuals, couples, and families across the southwest and also serving as a director for several non-profit agencies. His transition to academia began with faculty positions at four different universities, eventually moving into leadership roles at the University Ombudsman and then transitioning to Assistant Dean of the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences at NCU. Currently, Bradley is now an Associate Dean alongside Dr. Billings, working to improve the overall experience of students and uphold the school's highest standards of excellence.

The Associate Dean reports directly to the Dean and serves as an advocate and liaison to over 3,000 students. He also models best practices related to sustaining and enhancing an inclusive, professional, and welcoming community. "When I made a decision, nearly 20 years ago, to move from a position as executive director of an out-patient, non-profit clinical agency to that of a professor within a COAMFTE Master’s training program, it was driven by the desire to have a larger impact on individuals and families seeking assistance."

Dr. Bradley believes that NCU is helping to inspire a foundation of understanding and positive change, providing opportunities to those looking for self-improvement. "We have grown to become one of the largest MFT training programs with students living in and influencing their communities all over the world. We are also global leaders in MFT training by offering COAMFTE accreditation through our COAMFTE Master’s and Doctoral programs," he adds.

Dr. Bradley believes what sets NCU apart from other Social and Behavioral Sciences schools is its family feel. “Although we are not all in the same location, we look for ways to connect with faculty as well as with our students,” says Bradley. “One example of this is faculty and students of the Marriage and Family Therapy programs spending time together at annual state and national conferences."

Bradley believes that being a student at NCU gives you the opportunity to learn from the best in the industry.

"I am very proud to serve as the Associate Dean of a ground-breaking program dedicated to pioneering innovation in Marriage and Family Therapy, Psychology and Social Work education," says Bradley. "NCU has had a tremendous impact on the growth of these professions for students who may have otherwise been unable to receive this valuable training and opportunity to influence individuals, couples and families within their local community."

Dr. Peter Bradley has been published in several journals related to the field of Marriage and Family Therapy, as well as Higher Education. To learn more about Dr. Bradley, please visit his faculty bio.