Online Master’s in Behavioral Psychology

By Nikita Nath

Updated January 15, 2024
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Nikita Nath

Nikita is a psychologist working primarily with children using a child rights-based approach. She also writes content for various websites and blogs on diverse topics, focusing primarily on academia. Her hobbies include traveling, reading, and discovering different coffee-making techniques.

Degrees

Bachelors in English, Journalism, and Psychology; Masters in psychology with clinical specialization

Areas of Expertise & Credentials

  • 2 years of experience working as a content writer with various start-ups
  • 1 year of experience working as a child psychologist with Insight
  • Working on various projects of inclusion for neurodivergent children
  • 2+ years of experience teaching psychology online

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In a behavioral psychology master’s online, students explore the connections between the complex world of human behavior and the mind. The master’s program focuses on investigating practical and theoretical psychological ideas, developing research skills, and gaining clinical experience. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a career growth in psychology of 8% between 2020 and 2030 [1]. The master’s in behavioral psychology online will equip prospective students with the skills required to expand their career opportunities and options for career advancement.

Online Master’s in Behavioral Psychology

Best Online Master’s in Behavioral
Psychology Programs

Choosing a master’s program is a challenging task. Students must select a degree that prepares them for research-based careers, professional certifications, advanced studies in behavioral science, and employment opportunities in the field. Prospective students would need to evaluate additional factors like the institution’s reputation, accreditation status, quality of the faculty, and affordability. With these and several other essential factors in mind, some of the best behavioral psychology master’s online are: *

Pepperdine University is a private research university with its main campus in Los Angeles County, California. Founded in 1937, it is affiliated with the Churches of Christ and comprises one undergraduate school and four graduate schools, serving more than 10,400 students.
Univ Address Tuition Grad Rate
Pepperdine University 24255 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu, California 90263 $37,300 83%

Universities and programs are ranked by various factors, such as affordability, curriculum and coursework, reputation and availability, program length, statistics, the potential of employment, and return on investment for the students. For a more in-depth analysis, please read about our rankings methodology page

What to Expect from the Behavioral Psychology
Master’s Online Degree Program

Behavioral psychology is a psychology specialization. The online behavioral psychology master’s help students specialize in the field of behavioral science. The program is around 42 to 60 credits, which prospective students can complete in about two years. To become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst or BCBA, graduates should complete all the coursework and experiential or practicum requirements.

The behavioral psychology master’s program can be completed in online, offline, and hybrid learning modes. It majorly takes an interdisciplinary approach to studying human behavior. Cognitive science, anthropology, and artificial intelligence analyze and explore human habits, intentions, and actions, while components from social sciences and neuroscience are also studied. The curriculum explores the possible impact of language, culture, environment, and communication on human behavior. Some of the courses one can expect from a master’s degree in behavioral psychology online include:

Basic Principles in Applied Behavior Analysis

This course connects the different environmental variables and their impact on behaviors. Variables are understood along with their consequences and antecedents. The immediate environment in which one lives is studied.

Methods for Studying the Behavior of Individuals

This course looks at different methods of studying human behavior; this could include research methods like correlational research, experimental method, survey method, case study, and naturalistic observation. It uses scientific approaches to understand human behavior in different contexts.

Professional Ethics and Practice

As professionals, it is necessary to understand the standards of ethics and conduct. Prospective graduates learn about the different obligations and roles they would need to maintain as professionals in the behavioral psychology field. This course helps them understand their responsibilities and the conflict of interest that could harm them.

Principles of Learning and Behavior

This course takes a systematic and comprehensive understanding of the different elementary forms of learning in behavioral psychology. Topics like classical conditioning, instrumental conditioning, aversive control, and habituation are studied.

Human Growth and Development

In this course, different contexts underlying childhood development are understood. Topics like growth, maturation, and development in psychomotor capacity in humans are elaborated. Interdependent concepts like genetic, environmental, and nutritional factors are also examined.

Apart from these, some of the other common courses in the behavioral psychology master’s are:

  • Introduction to Applied Behavior Analysis
  • Practicum in Applied Behavior Analysis
  • Function-Based Assessment and Treatment of Challenging Behavior
  • Methods for Studying the Behavior of Individuals
  • Skill Acquisition and Assessment
  • Behavioral Consultation and Management
  • Conceptual Foundations of Behavior Analysis
  • Verbal Behavior
  • Experimental Analysis of Behavior
  • Professional Standards for Behavior Analysts
  • Single-Subject Methodology
  • Ethics, Disciplinary System, and Professionalism in the Field
  • Principles of Psychopharmacology

Degree Types for Online Behavioral Psychology
Master’s Programs

The two main behavioral psychology master’s available in the United States are the Master of Arts in Behavioral Psychology and a Master of Science in Behavioral Psychology. These online behavioral psychology master’s provide a similar curriculum but vary in some ways.

Master of Arts in Behavioral Psychology

The Master of Arts in Behavioral Psychology or MA in Behavioral Psychology provide students with the skills required to be clinicians and researchers. The degree uses an evidence-based model. Different behavioral psychology concepts are understood through practical experiences, coursework, and training. It is suitable for those who want to apply for certification to become Applied Behavior Analysts or prepare for doctoral education.

Master of Science in Behavioral Psychology

The Master of Science in Behavioral Psychology or MS in Behavioral Psychology has a well-developed curriculum that addresses real-world applications and behavioral theory. This degree helps students conduct behavioral assessments and learn how to monitor and implement evidence-based interventions. The curriculum includes developmental disabilities, human development, psychopathology, behaviorism, etc. Students of this degree are equipped to appear for the Behavior Analyst Certification Board examination.

Areas of Specialization for Behavioral Psychology
Master’s Online Programs

Specialization is a focused area of study in any academic discipline. Prospective students should carefully select a specialization in an online master’s degree in behavioral psychology as it could determine the kind of expertise and field experience gained during the degree. Choosing a concentration will help in acquiring in-depth knowledge within an area of behavioral psychology.

Sometimes behavioral psychology programs are mentioned as a specialty within psychology. Therefore, students can expect various combinations of concentrations related to and within behavioral psychology, such as:

Area of SpecializationDescriptionCareer Options
Addiction PsychologyThis specialization focuses on helping addicts get freedom from their addictions and substance abuse disorders. The science of addiction and different methods of treatment are explored.Substance abuse counselors
Behavioral Neuroscience or BiopsychologyIn this specialization, the connection between biology and neuroscience is evaluated. Topics like social, comparative, developmental, and cognitive psychology are taken up.Behavioral therapists, researchers
Counseling PsychologyIn this concentration, different ways of dealing with a client are understood. Details about how to work with addiction, marital, and more clients are also reviewed. The focus is on psychological assessments, social psychology, and human development.General counselors, marriage counselors
School PsychologyIn this concentration, topics like statistics, educational psychology, crisis interventions, human development, and behavioral assessments are covered. Prospective graduates learn to provide services in different settings, like conducting evaluations.School counselors, child psychologists
Social PsychologyIn this specialization, different ways of interacting with other individuals in their environment are explored. The specialization focuses on how other people’s surroundings affect their behavioral decisions, conflict resolution, cultural behaviors, and more.Behavioral therapists, anger-management specialists
Applied Behavior AnalysisIn this specialization, students typically learn how to work with children with special needs, especially children with Autism. It suits those who want to get their licenses and work as applied behavior analysts.Counselors for special needs persons, researchers

Why should I do a Master’s in Behavioral
Psychology Online?

Online programs are best suited for those who have family, work, or other commitments. Undergrads may find online learning the best choice if they are already working as assistants to professional behavioral psychologists. After completing a behavioral psychology master’s degree, one qualifies for licensure in some instances, opening many possibilities for scaling up and working in the field of behavioral psychology. The degree also benefits those seeking a career change or wanting new roles in behavioral psychology. A master’s degree in behavioral psychology will benefit those who want to work as school counselors, survey researchers, marketing managers, marriage and family, and more. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects occupational growth for jobs as behavioral disorder and mental health counselors to grow by 23% between 2021-2031 [2].

Many skills develop while completing the master’s degree in behavioral psychology. Some of the skills students often graduate with include the ability to:

  • critically examine claims made in the field and form objective judgments supported by non-emotional reasons;
  • recognize the different stress symptoms that affect both the physical and mental state of humans and manifest as a change in behavior;
  • use descriptive statistics to give descriptions of a group of people or an entire population;
  • use inferential statistics to make inferences about groups of people and use those inferences in creating treatment plans;
  • demonstrate in-depth knowledge of the fundamentals of human cognition like learning, memory, recall, and thought;
  • examine human behavior from a multicultural perspective by analyzing concepts of racial identity development, acculturation, and racial prejudice;
  • build a curriculum to highlight the importance of biological systems in human behavior, psychological disorders, memory, emotion, etc.; and
  • demonstrate ethical principles and follow the ethical guidelines laid by the American Psychological society.

Free Courses for Behavioral Psychology Online
Master’s Students

Free courses can sometimes provide insights into how professionals in the field will work. Although these courses can be used to gain additional knowledge on a topic, one must know that they are not accredited or regulated by national and state bodies like a regular degree. Here are a few free courses in behavioral psychology as examples:

CourseDescriptionProvided by
Fundamentals of Psychology[3]In this course, the fundamentals of behavior, conditioning, development, emotions, and personality are taught. It looks at various scientific methods of evaluating the nature of humans in the context of psychopathology.edX
Abnormal Psychology Specialization[4]This course focuses on creating awareness of the historical developments in the mental health discipline. It also looks at how our history would affect us and create our contemporary perceptions of psychopathology.Coursera
The Psychology of Influence and Human Behavior[5]In this course, the key aspects of human behavior and what drives the actions of a human are learned. The influence of others’ communication and developing better relationships are explored.Udemy

How to get into the Online Master’s in
Behavioral Psychology Program?

The behavioral psychology master’s admission requirements could vary from institution to institution. However, everyone must qualify for certain basic requirements to enroll in a master’s program. Those who may not be from a psychology background are frequently required to complete prerequisite courses. Still, some of the common admission requirements are:

Admission form and application fee

Cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA) of 2.5 or more (differs according to the institution)

Graduate Record Examination or GRE scores (not required by all colleges)

All previous official academic transcripts

Two or more Letters of Recommendation

A Statement of Purpose

No GRE Online Master’s in Behavioral
Psychology Programs

The Graduate Record Examination or GRE [6] scores are required by some colleges when enrolling in a behavioral psychology master’s program. However, colleges sometimes exempt this requirement of submitting GRE scores, encouraging applicants from diverse backgrounds to apply for the program. Some institutions that offer a master’s in behavioral psychology no GRE program include the University of Kansas [7], the University of the Pacific [8], and Tseng College [9].

How Long does it take to complete the Behavioral
Psychology Master’s Degree Online

An online master’s degree in behavioral psychology typically takes about two years to complete if pursued full-time. Those opting for a part-time master’s will take longer to finish – another year at the least. The duration also depends on the electives chosen, the number of credits completed in a particular semester, the concentration, and the program delivery mode. Here is a summary of the amount of time required to complete the master’s in behavioral psychology:

  • Time to complete a full-time master’s in behavioral psychology: two years or less
  • Time to complete a part-time master’s in behavioral psychology: two to three years

Accelerated Online Master’s in Behavioral
Psychology Degrees

Accelerated degrees are opted for by those who want to begin working as fast as possible. It takes students less time to finish the curriculum requirements in accelerated degrees than the usual two years. While some schools allow students to take up a heavier courseload and graduate faster, others combine a bachelor’s and master’s degree that can be completed in five years instead of six. George Mason University [10] and Ball State University [11] are two among several universities offering accelerated online behavioral psychology master’s.

Accreditations for Online Behavioral Psychology
Master’s Degrees

Accreditation is a process that ensures that educational institutions provide quality education. Most institutions are expected to qualify the periodic and unannounced external reviews, along with maintaining rigorous internal reviews to ensure that their standards for accreditation are met continuously. The Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs [12] and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) [13] provide information on whether a university is accredited or not.

Colleges offering accredited online master’s in behavioral psychology degrees are often accredited by one of six regional accrediting bodies in the U.S., which are:

  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)
  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)

Academic degrees in behavioral psychology often receive programmatic accreditation from the Association for Behavioral Analysis International [14] and American Psychological Association [15].

How to Pay for an Online Behavioral
Psychology Master’s Degree?

Pursuing an online master’s degree in behavioral psychology is usually a very expensive affair. Even though online students do not have to pay the same expenses as their offline counterparts, the high tuition costs and occasionally additional technology costs can add up quickly. To assist them in paying for their graduate studies, students can consider the following funding options:

Scholarships

Scholarships are financial awards to students based on their academic performance. They can also be given for extracurricular activities such as sports, music, and art. The best thing about scholarships is that students are not required to repay the amount awarded.

Grants

Organizations such as educational institutions, non-profit organizations, and state and federal governments can provide grants to students. They are typically given out based on an applicant’s financial needs rather than merit.

Graduate Assistantships

A graduate assistantship allows students to make valuable contacts in their fields while funding their studies. Graduate assistants assist faculty members, departments, or other departments within the institution in establishing programs, helping with undergrads’ education, and other academic duties. In exchange for their services, their fees are reduced or waived.

Student loans

Students can obtain educational loans with interest from private institutions, national banks, and other financial institutions. If it is difficult to repay the loan on time, one could look for grants or donors to help them pay off their debts.

FAFSA

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, is a form used to determine whether a student is eligible for federal financial aid or can receive funding from an institution. To learn more, read the FAFSA student aid guide.

For more on how to pay for college, read the guide to financial aid.

Scholarships for Behavioral Psychology Online
Master’s Students

Scholarships are an excellent way to reduce educational costs and financial burden. Pursuing a master’s degree in behavioral psychology online on a scholarship will make one’s life less stressful, allowing one to focus on their studies instead of finances. Here are a few scholarships to explore:

Scholarship Description Amount/AwardDeadline
James F. Reville Scholarship [16]This scholarship is awarded to students pursuing full-time study and who work towards developmental and intellectual disability fields like social work, nursing, psychology, healthcare administration and management, and behavioral sciences.$3,000January 13, 2024
APF Graduate Student Scholarships [17]APF Graduate Student Scholarships aim to help prospective students who want to pursue quality research work associated with their master’s thesis.$2,000 to $5,000June 30, 2024
AAC’s Behavioral Health Academic Scholarship Program [18]The American Addiction Centers (AAC) Behavioral Health Academic Scholarship Program assists students enrolled in college programs in behavioral health and provides financial assistance that allows undergraduate and graduate students to pursue careers in behavioral health and addiction-related studies.3 scholarships of $2,500, $2,500 & $5,000TBA

FAQs Related to the Online Master’s in Behavioral
Psychology Programs

What is behavioral psychology?

The behavioral Psychology discipline suggests that our environment shapes our human behavior. It takes a systematic approach to understand the behavior of animals and humans and the conditioning processes that occur when an individual interacts with their environment.

Can you get a behavioral psychology degree online?

How long is an online behavioral psychology master’s degree?

What can I do with an online master’s in behavioral psychology degree?

Is a behavioral psychology master’s degree worth it?

What is the difference between behavioral science and behavioral psychology?

Is there a demand for behavioral psychologists?

Career Opportunities and Salaries after an Online
Behavioral Psychology Master’s Degree

Behavioral psychologists usually go on to seek certification and licensure and work as professional behavioral therapists. Nevertheless, one can see various other roles in diverse settings after completing an online behavioral psychology master’s. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics [19] reports a projected growth of 10% in employment in various community and social service fields from 2021-2031, making it a compelling option for graduates to look beyond working as “pure” behavioral psychologists (with that title). Here are some alternative roles one could consider:

Occupation Job Description Skills RequiredMedian Annual Salary Job Growth (up to 2030)
Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment SpecialistsProbation officers and correctional treatment specialists supervise people placed on parole or probation. They help probationers regulate their behaviors, counsel them, and create rehabilitation plans for them when they are out of prison.Decision-making skills, organizational skills, communication skills, critical thinking skills, emotional stability$60,2500% (little or no change)
Social WorkersSocial workers typically help individuals in facing particular problems and coping with tough situations. They may work with specific clients, like individuals battling substance abuse, the elderly, and domestic violence victims.Interpersonal skills, communication skills, organizational skills, problem-solving skills, compassion$50,3909% (faster than average)
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health CounselorsSubstance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors help individuals overcome their dependency and adjust to life, to optimize their well-being. They look at different solutions to help people and think of the best ways to solve someone’s problems.Interpersonal skills, listening skills, communication skills, compassion, patience$48,52022% (much faster than average)
Social and Community Service ManagersSocial and community service managers plan, direct, and supervise initiatives and institutions that promote public well-being. They supervise employees who provide these services to the general public and work with community members and other stakeholders to identify necessary programs and services.Communication skills, analytical skills, problem-solving skills, time-management skills, managerial skills$74,00012% (much faster than average)
School and Career Counselors and AdvisorsSchool counselors assist students in developing academic and social skills, as well as future plans. Career counselors and advisors assist students and other clients in developing skills, exploring careers, or selecting an educational program that will lead to a career.Analytical skills, speaking skills, listening skills, interpersonal skills, compassion$60,51010% (faster than average)
Rehabilitation CounselorsRehabilitation counselors help people with mental, emotional, and developmental issues and those physical disabilities to live independently. They assist them with achieving their independence and career and personal goals.Critical-thinking skills, interpersonal skills, listening skills, communication skills, compassion, patience$38,56011% (faster than average)

Certifications and Licensing for Behavioral Psychology
Online Master’s Students

Students can obtain credentials that show they can deliver high-quality services and uphold high standards of professionalism by earning professional certifications. Certifications demonstrate to employers and the industry that a person is an authority in a particular field, which increases one’s chances of employment and the potential for higher pay. Students pursuing a master’s degree in behavioral psychology online may consider earning certifications from different specialized associations. Examples include:

Applied Behavior Analysis [20]

Applied Behavior Analysis certification focuses on studying a therapeutic method that centers on behavior and its consequences. These analyses could be used in different areas, including health and fitness, treatment, education, and senior care for individuals with intellectual disabilities and Autism.

Beck Institute CBT Certified Clinician [21]

The Beck Institute CBT Certified Clinician certification provides individuals with an education in mental health and behavioral specialization to gain expertise to work in the field. It prepares individuals to practice as clinicians and see clients. They specialize in psychopathology, human development, and cultural influences.

Interpersonal and Social Rhythm Therapy Training [22]

Interpersonal Social Rhythm Therapy Training guides professionals to understand the natural biological rhythms of people. The certification helps understand mood disorders like bipolar disorder. Professionals will therefore be prepared to assist clients by analyzing how their moods connect to social relationships and life events.

Mental Health Facilitator Training [23]

The Mental Health Facilitator Training certification evaluates those who can identify five signs of mental illnesses. It trains them to identify tools and resources to help individuals in their professional fields.

State-specific licenses might be required to practice as individual psychologists. After completing a master’s, graduates can apply to state-specific boards to work as licensed psychologists and consultants. The American Psychological Association [24] provides detailed information.

Additional Resources for Online Behavioral
Psychology Master’s Students

Graduate students pursuing an online master’s degree in behavioral psychology could become members of prestigious organizations, nationally recognized bodies, or associations for a particular subject. Seeking membership in them leads to many opportunities, such as internships in behavioral psychology, research projects, or grants in the disability field. Here are a few examples:

Title/ResourceDescription
American Psychology Association [25]The American Psychology Association works to promote the communication, advancement, and application of psychological knowledge and science to benefit and improve people’s lives in society. There are more than 133,000 who are part of this association.
American Board of Professional Psychology [26]The American Board of Professional Psychology was founded in 1947 in collaboration with the American Psychological Association. This association is a unitary government body that incorporates unique examination boards assuring the implementation, maintenance, and establishment of specific standards.
Association for Behavioral Analysis International [27]The Association for Behavioral Analysis International, or ABAI, is one of the primary membership associations interested in teaching, philosophy of science, and the application of behavior analysis. They provide many services to their members, which will help their career advancement.
Association for Contextual Behavioral Science [28]The Association for Contextual Behavioral Science comprises an international community of educators, practitioners, researchers, and more. They help disseminate contextual theories and practice research in behavioral science and related fields. Through this association, students are provided with many opportunities for research work, internships, and more are provided to students.
Association for Psychological Science [29]The Association for Psychological Science works with organizations and communities worldwide for victims of injustice and discrimination. They conduct psychological research focused on the harmful effects of racism on individuals and society.

Author Bio:

Nikita Nath

Nikita is a psychologist working primarily with children using a child rights-based approach. She also writes content for various websites and blogs on diverse topics, focusing primarily on academia. Her hobbies include traveling, reading, and discovering different coffee-making techniques.

Degrees

Bachelors in English, Journalism, and Psychology; Masters in psychology with clinical specialization

Areas of Expertise & Credentials

  • 2 years of experience working as a content writer with various start-ups
  • 1 year of experience working as a child psychologist with Insight
  • Working on various projects of inclusion for neurodivergent children
  • 2+ years of experience teaching psychology online

Disclaimer:

The average tuition (based on degree type for in-state students), average graduation rates, and rankings are based on data from various sources, including the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), and are variable over time. All rankings and statistics are subject to change. The rankings are solely the opinion of Find Best Degrees (FBD) and are based on our proprietary methodology. They do not represent the views of the institutions or organizations mentioned, nor do they represent any official government census or survey. Furthermore, any views or opinions expressed on this page are of FBD’s researchers and teams. Unless otherwise specified, they do not represent the thoughts and opinions of the individuals, institutions, or organizations mentioned. This page’s content is provided solely for informational purposes, with data drawn from various sources, including IPEDS. FBD and its employees make no guarantees regarding the accuracy or completeness of any information found on this page or by following any link. FBD will not be held liable for any errors or omissions in this material nor any losses, injuries, or damages resulting from the exposure or use of this information. Although the information on this page is/was correct at the time of publication, readers should exercise caution because some or all of the provided information may have changed over time, potentially resulting in inaccuracies. For more information, please read our Terms of Service. Trademarks and logos are the property of their registered owners.