Online Master’s in Behavioral Psychology Degree Programs

Whether you're already working in the mental health field or you're just getting started with learning how you can use psychology to positively affect the lives of others, you're taking a step in the right direction by researching online programs in behavioral psychology. Behavioral psychology allows you to use your mental health knowledge to analyze behavioral issues and help your clients make the long-standing changes necessary to create a happier, healthier life.

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Some people who work in behavioral psychology work with children to help them gain the social, emotional, and learning skills they need to succeed. Others in the field work with adults who are working to make positive behavioral changes. This may mean working with people who want to solve problematic behaviors like addiction, engaging in unhealthy relationships, or struggling to succeed at work.

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Here, we'll explore everything you need to know about earning your online master's in behavioral psychology, from what you can expect to learn over the course of your program to the current outlook for the behavioral psychology career field.

What Is a Behavioral Psychology Degree?

We’ve all been there: your mind tells you to exhibit a certain behavior (like staying away from something that’s not good for your health, standing up for yourself in a hard situation, or setting positive habits), but you struggle to follow through. The connection between psychology and behavior is complicated, and earning your behavioral psychology degree will allow you to help your clients explore how they can use specialized techniques to create desired behavioral changes.

Understanding how to analyze client behavior is a key part of developing solid plans that help your clients move toward their behavioral goals. Your behavioral psychology degree will teach you how to uncover behavioral patterns and work with patients to understand the complex history behind their behavior. You’ll also learn how to speak to your clients with empathy, while still getting the answers that you need to create an effective treatment plan.

In your behavioral psychology program, you’ll dig into research methods and statistics, allowing you to understand how to utilize the best practices in the field to positively affect your clients. You may also choose to participate in research while you’re going through your studies, allowing you to make valuable contributions to other mental health practitioners. Your research methods and statistics classes will help you decipher research in a way that allows you to transform academic language into actionable steps that make a difference in the day-to-day lives of your clients.

Your degree program will also teach you how to develop treatment plans that will help your clients implement small changes that will lead to big steps in behavior modification. You’ll continually move back and forth between behavior analysis and adjusting treatment plans, allowing you to find what works best for each of your clients.

What To Look for in an Online Master’s in Behavioral Psychology Degree Program

When you start the search for an online master’s in behavioral psychology program, you’ll find that you have plenty of options.

There are many factors that you’ll want to consider as you work to choose the right online master’s in behavioral psychology program for you, including:

  • Specialty options: If you want to specialize in a specific area of behavior change, it’s important to ensure that your program has the resources necessary for you to gain the knowledge you need in your focus area. Popular focus areas for behavioral change professionals include addiction, health and wellness, disruptive behaviors, and habit change.
  • Accreditation: It’s vital that you choose a program that’s accredited. This means that a psychological association has vetted the program, meaning the program is using the latest research and best practices available in the field.
  • Coursework: Your work and home schedules may require you to carefully consider when you’ll be able to complete your coursework. Some programs allow you to complete your work whenever your schedule permits, while others require that you’re online at certain times. You’ll also want to find out whether you need to stick to a predetermined schedule, or if you’re able to choose how many credits you take each semester. You’ll also want to explore whether you need to complete your work full-time or if you have a part-time scheduling option.
  • Research options: You may want to complete research as a part of your master’s program. If this is something you’re interested in, be sure to talk with the faculty of programs you’re considering to learn whether online students have the opportunity to participate in behavioral psychology research.

Behavioral Psychology Accreditation

When you choose an accredited program, you’ll be able to rest assured that your studies are providing you with the latest behavioral psychology research and techniques. Finding a program that’s accredited by the American Psychological Association is a smart way to ensure that you’re getting up-to-date knowledge and best practices in the field of behavioral psychology. You may also want to look for programs that are accredited by the Association for Behavior Analysis International.

Top 7 Online Master’s in Behavioral Psychology

You’ll have many options when it comes to finding the right online master’s degree programs in behavioral psychology. Here, we’ll take a look at some of the most popular programs in the field.

University of Kansas

The University of Kansas offers students a Master of Arts degree in Applied Behavioral Science. This degree is available completely online, so students are able to access their coursework from anywhere in the world. The classes are designed to fit the needs of a working professional, and allow you to complete your work on your own time. Some classes are synchronous, meaning you’ll need to be online during the time the lecture is presented. If you have a confining schedule, be sure to chat with an admissions rep to ensure you’re able to meet the program requirements.

Florida State University

The Applied Behavior Analysis master’s degree at Florida State is a great fit for students who are interested in a non-thesis master’s degree. The program runs over the course of five semesters and requires students to complete both a capstone project and a professional portfolio. Students in Florida State’s behavioral psychology master’s program get a well-rounded education that touches on research methods, behavioral analysis, and social issues that involve behavioral issues.

Simmons University

The master’s in behavioral analysis program at Simmons University prepares students who are interested in becoming certified behavior analysts. The program works to help students gain the skills they need to improve the lives of neurodivergent clients. In addition to working with people of varying neurotypes, students also graduate prepared to work with people who have dealt with brain injuries, people who are living with mental health issues, and in animal training.

St. Cloud State University

The M.S. degree in applied behavior analysis at St. Cloud University provides training for those who want to specialize in behavior modification for people who have autism, developmental differences, and more. In this program, you’ll also learn how to help your clients integrate into their community, creating a sense of purpose and fulfillment. If you’re near the university, you can take advantage of graduate assistantships that are offered in both the fall and spring.

Arizona State University

At Arizona State University, students can earn their Master of Science in Applied Behavioral Analysis online. The program focuses on teaching students how to create treatment plans for both adults and children living with autism, as well as other adults and children who experience behavioral issues. The applied behavioral analysis program at ASU focuses on three main components: foundational knowledge, basic behavior-analytic skills, and client-centered responsibilities.

Drexel University

Drexel University School of Education offers students a Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis. Students in the program can choose one of two focus paths: social, emotional, and behavioral wellness or autism spectrum disorders. Drexel University’s schedule is unique in that it operates on a quarter system instead of a semester system, allowing students to earn more credits in a shorter period of time.

Pepperdine University

Pepperdine University’s Applied Behavior Analysis master’s degree allows students to complete their graduate studies in just 15 months. This program teaches students how to work with adults and children who are differently abled, and can prepare you to begin working toward your doctorate degree. The program offers the same curriculum used for the on-campus program, and students attend face-to-face classes with faculty members to allow for one-on-one interaction.

Benefits of an Online Master’s in Behavioral Psychology

When you choose to earn your master’s degree online, you’re setting yourself up to continue to make strides in your career while also creating the educational foundation you need. Some online master’s courses require that you be online at certain times, while others allow you to complete your coursework whenever you’re available. It’s important to carefully research whether you’ll need to adhere to a certain schedule when you’re researching your online master’s program options.

Completing your online master’s in behavioral psychology won’t just benefit your professional life–you’ll also learn more about how to live a healthier, more productive life by using behavioral modification techniques. You may also find that you’re able to apply the principles you’re learning in class to help those around you when they’re struggling.

What Can You Do with a Behavioral Psychology Master’s Degree?

When you earn your behavioral psychology master’s degree, you’ll likely find that you have many career options following graduation. Some professionals in the behavioral psychology field work in schools, helping teachers and students find the best ways to learn. In schools, behavioral psychology professionals may take on a caseload of students who share certain behavioral issues. You may work with students one on one, or you may hold group behavioral modification workshops that help students develop the skills that they need to make positive strides in the classroom.

Some behavioral psychology professionals work in private practice, helping people who want to make behavioral changes. Working in private practice can mean that you have the ability to be selective with your clientele, so this can be a good option if you only want to work with clients with a specific type of behavioral issue, or if you only want to work with a certain age group. You may choose to create private practice on your own, or you may join together with other behavioral psychology professionals to create a group practice that allows you to serve your community.

Working in a hospital can also be an option for behavioral psychology professionals. As a behavioral psychology care provider, you may work with pediatricians and other health specialists to help people make behavioral changes. You may also work in a hospital’s addiction care unit, where you can work with adults who are living with addiction and want to make positive changes that allow them to lead a healthier lifestyle.

Master’s in Behavioral Psychology Salary and Job Outlook

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for behavioral disorder therapists was $48,520 in 2021. It’s expected that openings for behavioral disorder therapists will grow by 22% from 2021 to 2031. This is a much faster growth trajectory than the average trajectory for all occupations in the United States.

How Much Does an Online Behavioral Psychology Master’s Degree Cost?

Typically, online master’s degrees are less expensive than in-person master’s degrees. When you choose to earn an online degree, you’ll also need to factor in the cost of any equipment or services that you’ll need, such as a laptop and a reliable internet connection. If affording these components is an issue, reach out to the financial aid division of your school to find out if they offer programs that may be able to help.

If you’re currently working, talk with your employer about whether they offer tuition reimbursement for employees who complete college coursework. Your employer may be willing to pay the full cost of the degree if you agree to work for them for a certain amount of time after your degree is complete. Be sure to chat with your employer about any stipulations you need to be aware of to be eligible for tuition reimbursement, such as keeping a certain GPA or taking a certain number of credits each semester.

Scholarships for Master’s in Behavioral Psychology Students

Earning a master’s degree can be expensive. Thankfully, there are many scholarship options for students who are interested in pursuing a graduate education.

Organizations that offer scholarships to psychology students include:

Admissions Requirements

Admissions requirements for online master’s in behavioral psychology programs differ from school to school, so it’s important that you closely examine the admissions requirements for the programs you’re considering. All master’s programs will require that you have at least a bachelor’s degree before you can be admitted to the program.

If you’re currently in the process of completing your bachelor’s degree, you’ll need to show the admissions board that you’ll complete your bachelor’s program before you begin the first semester of your master’s program. Some online master’s in behavioral psychology programs prefer that you have your bachelor’s degree in a related field (such as education, psychology, or sociology), while others are more open to other majors. Some programs also ask that you submit proof of your clinical experience. If you don’t have experience in the field, completing an internship can be a great way to get your foot in the door and bolster your application.

In addition to having an undergraduate degree, your online behavioral psychology master’s program will likely have a minimum recommended GPA, typically 2.75 or higher. While you can still apply to the program with a lower GPA, your chances of being admitted will be lower than if you had the recommended GPA.

You may also need to submit a statement of purpose explaining why you’re interested in going into the field of behavioral psychology and what you plan to do with your career after you complete your degree. Finally, your admission package may need to include letters of recommendation from your professors or employer explaining yourpart academic abilities and experience that are likely to contribute to your success in the program.

Common Courses in a Behavioral Psychology Master’s Degree Program

Courses will vary from program to program, but most online behavioral psychology master’s degree programs cover the same general topics.

Courses that you’ll likely take during your course of study include:

  • Single subject research designs
  • Behavioral assessment
  • Legal and ethical considerations in psychology
  • Methods for changing behavior
  • Applied behavior analysis
  • Practicum and/or internship experience

You may also have the opportunity to take an elective class in a specialty area of your choice.

How Long Does It Take to Complete an Online Master’s in Behavioral Psychology?

Usually, it takes about two years to complete an online master’s in behavioral psychology program. If you’ve already taken graduate courses, you may be able to shorten the amount of time it takes you to complete your degree, as you may be able to count some of your courses toward the requirements for your program. If you choose to go through an internship or practicum experience that is not already a part of your program’s curriculum, it may take you longer than two years to complete your degree. Choosing to take classes part time instead of full time can also make it take longer for you to complete your degree program.

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