Best Online Master’s in Behavioral Psychology Programs of 2021

August 19, 2021

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Behavioral psychology degrees provide learners with the training they need to launch careers in an in-demand field. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that jobs for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors will grow by 22% between 2019 and 2029. An online master's in behavioral psychology prepares learners for both psychology-based careers and professional certification and licensure.

This page looks at common behavioral psychology program requirements and provides an overview of potential career options for graduates. Read on to learn more about online behavioral psychology programs.

What Are the Best Online Master's in Behavioral Psychology Programs of 2021? Here Are Our Top 10:

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#1 University of South Florida Tampa, FL
#2 Simmons University Boston, MA
#3 Drexel University Philadelphia, PA
#4 Bay Path University Longmeadow, MA
#5 Ball State University Muncie, IN
#6 Daemen College Amherst, NY
#7 Arcadia University Glenside, PA
#8 University of Houston-Victoria Victoria, TX
#9 Southeast Missouri State University Cape Girardeau, MO
#10 St. Cloud State University Saint Cloud, MN
How We Rank Schools

At BestColleges, we believe a college education is one of the most important investments you will make. We want to help you navigate the college selection process by offering school rankings that are transparent, inclusive, and relevant for online students.

Our rankings are grounded in a few guiding principles and use the latest statistical data available from trusted sources. Read our Ranking Methodology. We hope our approach helps you find the school that is best for you.

2021 Best Accredited Online Master's in Behavioral Psychology Programs

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University of South Florida View School Profile Tampa, FL

The University of South Florida is a state research university with three campuses in the Tampa Bay region. Together, these locations serve more than 50,000 students, including about 11,000 learners enrolled in graduate programs. USF also offers a number of online programs, such as a master's in applied behavior analysis.

Recent graduates of this 41-credit program boast a nearly 100% employment rate. Required courses cover topics including behavior therapy, observational methods, and single case experimental design. Students must also participate in a supervised practicum and directed research experience.

To qualify for admission, prospective students must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA and a background in applied behavior analysis — through coursework or experience. Applicants also need to submit GRE scores.

Simmons University View School Profile Boston, MA

Simmons University is a private institution located in the heart of Boston. The university offers undergraduate programs for women and a coeducational graduate school, serving more than 6,500 students each year. Online offerings at Simmons include programs in public health, nursing, social work, and behavior analysis.

The school's online master's degree in behavior analysis prepares graduates to sit for the Behavior Analyst Certification Board's examination. Students complete a 42-credit curriculum, including 2,000 hours of supervised fieldwork. During fieldwork, Simmons-appointed board certified behavior analysts host individual and group mentoring sessions in live, online classrooms.

Prospective students must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents with a bachelor's degree. Applicants need to submit a current resume, an essay, official transcripts, and two letters of recommendation.

Drexel University View School Profile Philadelphia, PA

Drexel University is a major research university with a global reach and a commitment to experiential learning. Online students at Drexel receive access to numerous virtual support services, a large professional network, and opportunities to study abroad. The school offers an online master's in applied behavior analysis, which requires 46-48 credits.

Core courses cover behavioral interventions, measurement and experimental design, and ethical considerations. Three concentration options are available, in autism spectrum disorders; social, emotional, and behavioral wellness; and fieldwork. All students must complete a thesis or a practitioner capstone course.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA and submit official transcripts, two letters of recommendation, a resume, and a personal essay. Individuals also need to participate in an interview.

Bay Path University View School Profile Longmeadow, MA

Bay Path University is a private institution with a main campus located in Longmeadow, Massachusetts. A member of the Women's College Coalition, Bay Path has a long history of serving women in its undergraduate programs. However, the university's more than 30 graduate programs — including a master's in applied behavior analysis — are coeducational.

Behavior analysis students can take courses entirely online or in a blended format. The 48-credit, five-semester program covers topics related to behavioral assessment and evaluation, ethical practice, and research methods. Independent and supervised fieldwork experiences are interwoven throughout the program.

Applicants must provide official transcripts, an essay, a current resume, and two letters of recommendation. Bay Path accepts applications throughout the year, with program start dates available in February and October.

Ball State University View School Profile Muncie, IN

Ball State University is a public institution in Muncie, Indiana, serving upwards of 20,000 students each year. Ball State extends academic opportunities to learners across the country through its flexible online programs. Asynchronous course delivery provides extra convenience for those with professional and/or personal obligations.

Ball State's online master's degree in applied behavior analysis offers an emphasis in autism and is well suited for students from a variety of educational backgrounds, including psychology, education, and social work. The 30-credit curriculum requires classes in behavioral consultation and verbal behavior, as well as a field-based experience. Participants can graduate in two years.

Prospective students must possess a bachelor's degree and a 2.75 minimum GPA from a regionally accredited institution. However, Ball State does not require applicants to submit GRE scores.

Daemen College View School Profile Amherst, NY

Daemen College is a private school located in Amherst, New York. Approximately 2,500 students attend each year, enjoying small class sizes with a student-to-faculty ratio of 12-to-1. Although the school is primarily residential, Daemen College offers online options for several programs, including its master's in applied behavior analysis.

The 31-credit program can be completed in 18 months and is designed to prepare graduates for licensure and certification in New York. Required courses cover topics in functional assessment, maintenance of client records, and issues of cultural diversity. All students must also complete a final capstone research project.

Admission requires a bachelor's degree in a relevant field with transcripts demonstrating a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA. Applicants must submit a resume, written statement, and two letters of recommendation. Interviews are also required.

Arcadia University View School Profile Glenside, PA

Arcadia University is a private institution in Glenside, Pennsylvania, serving more than 3,500 students each year. Several of the school's programs can be completed online, including a master of education with a concentration in applied behavioral analysis. All instructors in this program are board certified behavior analysts with extensive experience in the field.

The 36-credit curriculum provides specialized knowledge and skills, preparing graduates to work effectively in schools, homes, organizations, and communities. A culminating research project is required. Students looking to meet requirements to sit for the Behavior Analyst Certification Board's certification exam can take advantage of Arcadia's optional practicum opportunities in the Tri-State area.

Arcadia accepts applications on a rolling basis and recommends a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA. Prospective students must provide official transcripts and two letters of recommendation.

University of Houston-Victoria View School Profile Victoria, TX

The University of Houston-Victoria is a public institution boasting a catalog of more than 80 academic programs. A popular destination for online learners, approximately 40% of all undergraduates and 70% of all graduates enroll exclusively in distance education courses. Among UHV's online programs is a master of education in special education with a concentration in applied behavior analysis.

Required courses explore behavior analysis from philosophical, historical, ethical, and applied practice perspectives. While the 39-credit course sequence satisfies curriculum requirements needed to sit for the Behavior Analyst Certification Board's exam, students are responsible for arranging their own supervised experience hours. Additionally, students must complete a final comprehensive exam on site in Victoria or Katy, Texas.

UHV accepts graduate applications on a rolling basis. Prospective students must provide two letters of reference and a statement of purpose. GRE or MAT scores are typically required, although some students may qualify for a waiver.

Southeast Missouri State University View School Profile Cape Girardeau, MO

Nearly 12,000 students attend Southeast Missouri State University each year, enrolling in more than 145 undergraduate and 75 graduate programs. Forty-four percent of graduate students at SEMO enroll exclusively in distance education programs, including the school's master's in applied behavior analysis degree track.

The 42-credit curriculum consists of eight core classes, 750 on-site practicum hours, and a comprehensive examination. Flexible, asynchronous course delivery allows students to complete this two-year, six-semester program at their convenience. This program prepares students to sit for the Behavior Analyst Certification Board's examination.

For admission consideration, prospective students must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Two letters of recommendation and a letter of intent are also required. New cohorts begin each fall semester.

St. Cloud State University View School Profile Saint Cloud, MN

St. Cloud State University is a comprehensive public university in Minnesota that boasts about 200 undergraduate programs, 60 graduate programs, and hundreds of online courses. Students who pursue an online master's degree in applied behavior analysis are prepared for careers as clinical behavior therapists, education behavior support specialists, and behavior analysts.

The program offers a 45-credit thesis track and a 46-credit comprehensive exam track. Coursework provides advanced training in behavior analysis, community integration strategies, program evaluation, and staff development. All students complete 750 hours in an approved clinical internship setting where they are supervised by a licensed psychologist or certified behavior analyst.

Admission requires a minimum 2.75 undergraduate GPA and submission of official transcripts, recommendation forms, and a statement of intent. However, GRE scores are not required.

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What Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Behavioral Psychology Program?

A behavioral psychology master's degree prepares learners for leadership roles in the field while broadening career options and boosting earning potential.

Earning an online master's in behavioral psychology is a great step toward a psychology career. Most students entering these programs have an interest in human behavior and cognitive processes and want to secure positions working directly with people. A behavioral psychology master's degree prepares learners for leadership roles in the field while broadening career options and boosting earning potential.

In addition to learning foundational behavioral psychology concepts, degree-seekers often pursue concentrations like school psychology, addiction psychology, and counseling psychology. While curricula differ among programs, common course topics include behavioral modification, behavioral analysis, and cognitive-behavioral therapy.

Most online master's in behavioral psychology take about two years to complete and require approximately 30 credits. Many schools deliver online coursework asynchronously, providing a largely self-paced format and affording learners the flexibility needed to complete their studies while maintaining personal and professional obligations.

During the application process, prospective students should examine program curricula, financial aid options, and the school's accreditation status.

Admission Requirements for Online Master's in Behavioral Psychology Programs

Specific admission requirements vary slightly from program to program, but applicants can generally expect to submit undergraduate transcripts, letters of recommendation, and a personal statement. Many programs also require standardized test scores.

Prospective students must hold an undergraduate degree from an accredited institution. Make sure to check with the programs you're interested in to learn more about specific requirements they may have.

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What Courses Will I Take in an Online Master's in Behavioral Psychology Program?

While no two behavioral psychology programs are the same, the American Psychological Association sets accreditation standards that inform a program's curricular structure. Many programs also act as a path toward licenses like licensed behavioral health practitioner, licensed alcohol and drug counselor, and board-certified behavior analyst.

Introduction to Applied Behavior Analysis

Focusing on the basic principles of behavior analysis, this course covers topics like reinforcement, motivation, and stimulus control. This course is often taught through a combination of online lectures and collaborative group work, and course materials include case studies and literature reviews.

Behavioral Assessment

This course introduces methods of behavioral assessment while exploring effective clinical planning and educational interventions. Covered topics include behavioral assessment planning and execution, metrics development, and data analysis.

Methodologies for Behavioral Change

This class exposes students to the basic protocols and procedures that influence behavioral change. Students explore contingency contracting, differential reinforcement, and rule-governed behavior.

Ethics and Legal Issues

This course takes a close look at the Behavior Analyst Certification Board's ethical compliance code. Students also become familiar with state and federal policies and regulations that inform the actions of practicing professionals. Degree-seekers examine concepts like discrimination and guardianship.

Verbal Behavior

In this course, students gain a foundation in verbal behavior concepts and examine the practical application of verbal behavior analysis. Students explore verbal behavior in a larger behavioral context, paying close attention to topics like positive reinforcement and stimulus control.

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What Can I Do With an Online Master's in Behavioral Psychology Degree?

Graduates of an online master's in behavioral psychology develop the critical thinking skills needed to work as effective professionals in many psychology and counseling roles. The BLS projects that roles for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors, marriage and family therapists, and social and community service managers will grow significantly between 2019 and 2029.

See where a master's in behavioral psychology can take you. Learn more about psychology careers.

true Psychologist

These mental health professionals analyze how people interact with others and their environments, and use research to help their clients modify behaviors. Psychologists diagnose psychological disorders and work closely with clients to map out treatment plans. Research-focused psychologists conduct scientific studies that identify behavioral patterns and write articles to share their findings with the field.

Marriage and Family Therapist

Addressing interpersonal issues within families and romantic relationships, these professionals employ a variety of effective therapeutic methods to help clients. These professionals address emotional and behavioral challenges faced by their clients and help them navigate difficult life decisions. Marriage and family therapists also possess knowledge about community services and resources that can benefit clients.

Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselor

These counselors work with clients to address substance addiction issues and modify behavioral problems. These professionals evaluate clients' mental and physical health and develop and implement a course of treatment.

Social Worker

Social workers assess client needs, help connect clients to resources and support, and help administrate social services programs. Social workers also advocate for community health and are often trained to assist in crises that involve child welfare and mental health emergencies.

Social and Community Service Manager

These professionals work in managerial roles, overseeing administrative aspects of organizations, planning community outreach, and analyzing data to determine the efficacy of social services programs. These managers also oversee budgetary concerns and secure funding for their organizations.

Behavioral Psychology Not for You? Check Out These Related Careers.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Master's in Behavioral Psychology Programs

Is a master's in behavioral psychology worth it?

For prospective students interested in behavioral psychology careers, these degrees provide the necessary training for many roles in the field. In addition to academic training, many programs prepare students for professional certifications and licensures. An online master's in behavioral psychology can open the door to career options and boost earning potential in this growing field.

What can I do with a master's in behavioral psychology?

Graduates work in a variety of settings, including private practice, nonprofits, and governmental roles. The BLS projects that careers for therapists, counselors, and social workers will grow between 2019 and 2029.

Is behavioral psychology a good career?

Considering the growth projected for this field by the BLS, entering a psychology-based career could be a smart move. The BLS projects that mental health counselor and marriage therapist jobs will grow by over 20% between 2019 and 2029, which is much faster than average. Additionally, psychology coursework also prepares graduates for careers in other fields like marketing and advertising.

How much money can I make with a master's in behavioral psychology?

The earning potential for graduates with a master's in behavioral psychology can vary significantly based on location, experience, and job role. Both substance abuse counselors and marriage therapists earned median annual salaries over $45,000 in 2019. Licensed psychologists made a median annual salary of $80,370 in 2019.

What are the highest paying jobs with a master's in behavioral psychology?

The highest paying jobs with a master's in behavioral psychology depend on professional experience, specialization, and particular role. Careers with high salaries include licensed psychologist and social and community service manager.

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