The Best Online Bachelor’s in Behavioral Psychology Programs

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Badge (Online) with 2-Line TitleBachelor'sin Behavioral Psychology2017
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Behavioral psychology is a specialized branch of psychology that studies the motives behind the way we think, feel, act and interact with one another. Also known as behaviorism, this field is grounded in the theory that external stimuli and conditioning are at the root of human behavior. As a result, behavioral psychologists focus on the environmental factors that play a role in how we acquire, learn and hone different behaviors ― as well as conditioning techniques that can be used to address and correct harmful behavior.

‘Psychology’ and its subfields (such as behavioral psychology) are among the most popular majors for bachelor’s degree-seekers. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, roughly 114,000 psychology bachelor’s degrees were awarded during the 2012-13 academic year. However, most careers in psychology require an advanced education; job candidates typically enter the workforce with a master’s or doctoral degree. Additionally, psychologists in public practice must be licensed in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. A bachelor’s in behavioral psychology will provide foundational knowledge for students who are planning to pursue a graduate degree, obtain licensure and compete for jobs in their field. In addition to standard coursework, these bachelor’s programs usually include internships and/or clinical residencies; these onsite courses allow students to receive supervised, hands-on training from experienced professionals. A comprehensive capstone project may also be required. Many of today’s students are choosing to earn their bachelor’s degree in behavioral psychology online, rather than in a classroom. Online students follow the same rigorous curricula as their brick-and-mortar counterparts, leading to the same number of post-degree employment opportunities. The asynchronous (or self-paced) format of most online programs is also ideal for students with part-time jobs, childcare duties and other commitments that may interfere with campus-based learning.

Learn more about what you can do with an online bachelor’s degree in behavioral psychology and what kind of career opportunities you can look forward to with this comprehensive guide.


A bachelor’s degree is a critical first step for students who wish to pursue a career in behavioral psychology. Typically, the curriculum for an online bachelor’s in behavioral psychology degree will introduce fundamental areas of psychology, such as cognitive, developmental, social and organizational psychology. Upper-level undergraduates will also review case studies and learn about the effective research methods. The best online bachelor’s in behavioral psychology degree programs will prepare students to advance into any master’s programs.


Online psychology degree programs offer a flexible alternative to traditional brick-and- mortar education. Students are usually able to access course readings and lectures, submit written assignments, take exams and communicate with their professors on their own schedule. The latest in e-learning technology also enables them to study away from home using a laptop, tablet, smartphone and other Wi-Fi-compatible devices. For added convenience, online psychology students can normally coordinate internships and practicum courses at sites near their current residence.


The bachelor’s in behavioral psychology degree will not be sufficient for pursuing a career as a practicing behavioral psychologist; these job titles require an advanced degree and licensure. However, a bachelor’s program will prepare most students for the challenges and demands of a graduate-level program and post-degree work. Bachelor’s degree-holders may also qualify for entry-level jobs, such as research assistance and supportive clinical staff. Alternatively, bachelor’s in behavioral psychology recipients may be eligible for careers in other fields, such as business, education, social work and criminal justice.


Choosing a program is an incredibly personal decision, and only you can properly evaluate whether a target school’s strengths match your educational needs. The following ranked list of schools should serve as a helpful starting point in your search for the best online bachelor’s degree in behavioral psychology programs in the United States. Our ranking is based on the courses schools offer, available specializations, student outcomes, career support services, and other criteria used to determine academic excellence. If you are considering an online bachelor’s in behavioral psychology, be sure to contact admissions specialists at different colleges and universities to learn more their about specific bachelor’s degree requirements and offerings.

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Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description
1 Duquesne University 67.14 74% Pittsburgh, PA

Duquesne University is a Catholic school in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, that was founded by the Congregation of the Holy Spirit in 1878. Its students hail from all 50 states and more than 90 countries. The university offers a fully online behavioral psychology degree. The online courses in the bachelor of science in behavioral science program are taught by on-campus faculty. The program provides students with an understanding of how scientists approach human behavior and provides a lens for how people think and act in the workplace. Coursework covers theories, concepts, and trends in behavioral science and is designed around the American Psychological Association's learning recommendations.

The 120-credit program can be completed in four years. If students have an associate degree or transferrable credits, it can be completed in two. There are five eight-week terms per year. The program includes a core curriculum plus 36 credits in behavioral science. Eight electives are required and can include organizational research, best practices in organizations, and health and human behavior. An adult learners core of two courses is also required. Students have advisors and support resources available to them, along with online access to Duquesne's writing center and library.

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2 Eastern Kentucky University 64.64 37% Richmond, KY

The online behavioral psychology degree offered by Eastern Kentucky University prepares students for graduate school and careers as mental health counselors, lab managers, and social or human services professionals. The Bachelor of Science in Psychology - Brain and Cognitive Science degree covers knowledge acquisition and functional brain imaging, to improve understanding about how the brain works in relation to human behavior. This is a 120 credit hour program, and each credit hour costs $400. There are six start dates per year.

Adult learners are eligible for tuition assistance, and credit is provided for prior learning, including military experience. Online tutoring is available through the PASS program, which is part of the EKU Psychology Department. Students are encouraged to participate in the Psi Chi psychology networking group. The on-campus faculty in Richmond, Kentucky facilitates the online program, so the online student experience is seamless. EKU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

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3 Southern New Hampshire University 59.00 59% Manchester, NH

The online bachelor's in behavioral psychology offered by SNHU is a pre-professional program. The Bachelor of Arts in Psychology - Mental Health focuses on mental health therapy and assessment. The program consists of research, lectures, and field experience. Experiential learning is required with a minimum of 60 volunteer hours during the academic term, along with eight to ten hours of coursework each week. Students are encouraged to volunteer in a community-based mental health service organization. A senior capstone project is required, but internships (150 hours during a semester) are optional.

Courses in this online degree are asynchronous, so students may participate at their convenience. There are six nine-week term starts throughout the year. This is a 120 credit hour program, and students may transfer up to 90 credits. Online courses average 20 students, and their average age is 32. Each course has a discussion group on the Blackboard online learning platform, and students can interact via the SNHU Connect social media platform.

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4 Saint Francis University 56.43 65% Loretto, PA

St. Francis University in Loretto, Pennsylvania, was founded in 1847 and is one of the oldest Catholic institutions in the United States. It offers a Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Science as an online degree completion program. Delivered in an accelerated format, this online behavioral psychology degree program allows students to use prior college coursework, associate degrees, and military experience for transfer credit.

Coursework consists of liberal studies, free electives, and a behavioral science core, with classes including developmental psychology, introduction to social welfare, and social research. There are 128 credit hours required, which cost $476 per credit hour. The university uses the Blackboard online learning platform, and courses feature videos, lectures, and discussion forums. Professors are available to students via email, chat rooms, video conferencing, and discussion boards. While the university is a SARA participant (National Council for the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements), prospective students should check the State Authorization Status List for details on program availability in their state.

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5 Mary Baldwin College 42.57 49% Staunton, VA

Mary Baldwin University offers a bachelor’s of behavioral psychology degree online. Students may pursue either a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree in psychology with a concentration in mental health. The requirements for the BS are the same as the BA, except two more mathematics courses and an additional lab science course are necessary. Students pursuing either degree must complete a senior thesis, but the BS must be in data collection. Senior theses in the BA program can focus on critical literature review or data collection.

Courses in this program include abnormal psychology, techniques of counseling and psychotherapy, and applied behavior analysis. Internships in the mental health field are recommended, especially if students plan to go to graduate school or pursue related careers. The university has local internship and volunteer opportunities available with service agencies, hospitals, and rehabilitation centers. Students completing volunteer hours are provided extra credit. Mary Baldwin is an approved SARA Institution (National Council for the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements).

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4 to 5 years
Program Costs (when available)
$10,000 to $25,000 in annual tuition
General Psychology, Behavioral Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Cognitive Psychology, Social Psychology, Organizational Psychology, Experimental Psychology, Child Psychology, Educational/School Psychology, Counseling, Social Work
There is no programmatic accreditation for this major field of study at the undergraduate level. Students should defer to the regional/national accreditation of their four-year college or university.
Additional Considerations
All U.S. states and the District of Columbia require public-practice behavioral psychologists to be licensed in the state where they work; in most states, candidates for licensure must first earn a doctoral degree, complete an internship and fulfill at least one to two years of supervised work experience.

Learn More About Other Psychology Degree Programs

Psychology is a complicated field that lends itself to concentrated areas of study. If you want to consider your options beyond a general online psychology degree, click through the following list for information about schools that offer specializations within their psychology degree programs.

Applied Psychology
Forensic Psychology
Organizational Psychology

Job Placement

The job outlook for graduates with a behavioral psychology degree is somewhat mixed. On one hand, bachelor’s recipients overall enjoy a lower unemployment rate than their counterparts with an associate degree or lower. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median unemployment rate for a bachelor’s degree-holder in the U.S. is 2.8% ― a full percentage point lower than the unemployment rate for those with an associate degree.

However, the specialized nature of psychology and its subfields can lead to high unemployment rates for students who do not pursue a graduate degree in their field. The table below looks at the unemployment rates of college graduates between the age of 25 and 29, based on their undergraduate major. This data comes from a recent survey published by the NCES.

Bachelor’s Degree Field of Study Unemployment Rate for 25- to 29-Year-Old Degree Recipients

Nursing 3.2%
General Education 3.3%
General Business 4.1%
Computer and Information Systems 4.5%
Sociology 5.1%
History 5.8%
Psychology 5.8%
English Language and Literature 6.1%
Criminal Justice and Fire Protection 6.2%
Political Science and Government 8.2%

Source: National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)

As the table indicates, the unemployment rate for psychology degree-holders is significantly higher than most of the other majors. Additionally, the unemployment rate for all occupations is currently set at 4.8%.

Earning a Living

In addition to degree attainment level, salary expectations for employees with a bachelor’s in behavioral psychology will largely depend on their specific job title. Other factors include licensure status and city/state of employment. Using data from PayScale, the next table examines career salary projections for five of the most common professions in behavioral psychology. All of these career paths are generally attainable with a bachelor’s degree or less.

Occupation Median Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 years)

Median Salary for Mid-Career Employees (5-10 years) Median Salary for Experienced Employees (10-20 years) Median Salary for Late-Career Employees (20+ years)
Behavior Analyst $49,885 $55,876 $60,185 $69,634
Behavior Specialist $37,944 $40,545 $49,209 $55,788
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Therapist $32,797 $37,493 $42,268 $45,781
Human Resources Generalist $48,879 $53,520 $54,969 $56,232
Medical Social Worker $48,343 $51,525 $56,112 $59,446

Source: PayScale

All five careers listed on the table reported a salary growth rate of at least 15% after 20 years in the workforce. Behavior specialists experience the highest rate of growth: a 47% increase in earnings between the entry-level and late-career stages. Behavior analysts and ABA therapists ranked second in terms of salary growth; both career paths reported a career increase of roughly 40% after two decades on the job.

Career and Further Education Opportunities

Students who earn an online bachelor’s in behavioral psychology and plan to become licensed psychologists will be well-prepared for the demands of successive master’s and Ph.D. programs. However, many bachelor’s in psychology recipients choose to enter the workforce and launch their career without obtaining higher credentials. Four of the most common career pathways for individuals with a bachelor’s in psychology are detailed below.

Human Resources Specialists: HR specialists are primarily responsible for recruiting, interviewing, screening and hiring new employees for their company or organization. In larger workplaces, they may also mediate conflicts, create training programs and assist employees with matters related to their compensation, benefits and professional advancement.

Social Workers: Social workers offer assistance and support to clients in areas like education, employment, independent living and mental health counseling. Social workers often work with niche segments of the population, such as children, families and the elderly. Clinical and non-clinical social workers must be licensed to work in most U.S. states.

Market Research Analysts: Using principles of behavior psychology and sociology, market research analysts develop ways to market and promote products to different consumer demographics. Their work involves thorough analysis of both customer and market trends.

Training and Development Managers: Training and development managers create educational programs for different employee groups in a given company or organization. They also study organizational needs and personnel skill-sets in order to develop programs that are relevant and beneficial for both employees and the company as a whole.

Occupation Median Annual Salary Projected Industry Growth (2014-24)
Human Resources Specialists $58,350 5% (+22,000 jobs)
Social Workers $45,900 19% (+92,300 jobs)
Market Research Analysts $62,150 19% (+92,300 jobs)
Training and Development Managers $102,640 7% (+2,300 jobs)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Students who graduate with a bachelor’s degree in psychology often go on to pursue a master’s degree in the same field. For more information about opportunities for grad students and more advanced careers in this field, please visit our Guide to Online Master’s in Psychology Programs.

Professional Organizations

Making professional connections and learning about different approaches to behavioral psychology is crucial to your success. Professional organizations offer a great entry point for students who want to learn more about their chosen career path. Below you’ll find three of the country’s most prominent organizations established for behavioral psychology professionals. These organizations host networking events, provide online trainings, maintain active job boards, and offer other services for career-ready college graduates.

  • American Psychological Association: The nation’s leading organization for professional psychologists, the APA today boasts more than 117,000 members. The website features a vast online library, a job board, continuing education opportunities, and a Psychology Help Center with links to blogs and articles about various psych-related topics. The APA also serves as the official accreditation agency for collegiate psychology programs.
  • American Board of Professional Psychology: Established in 1947, the ABPP oversees the standards and criteria used to certify and license practicing psychologists. The board awards certification to qualifying applicants in 15 different niche areas, including clinical psychology, couple and family psychology, and school psychology.
  • National Alliance of Professional Psychology Providers: NAPPP is dedicated to promoting professional psychology through academic research and public advocacy. Members receive discounted electronic health records and reduced malpractice insurance, along with free continuing education courses, training tools, and job leads.

Despite the relative affordability of online programs, most students still need financial assistance. Students should complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to learn more about loans, grants, and other opportunities offered through the U.S. government. Additionally, private grants and scholarships are widely available through nonprofit organizations, companies, and other sources. Check out our collection of resources below to learn more about financial aid options.


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