According to PayScale, professionals in applied behavior analysis who hold a master's degree earn about 10% more than those with an undergraduate degree. Pursuing a master's in behavioral psychology online is the first step toward earning a higher salary in the field. This guide covers the most important factors to consider when choosing an online degree program.

What are the best behavioral psychology programs of 2020? Here are our top 10:

Rank School Location
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

What Are The Best Online Master's in Behavioral Psychology Programs?

Rank School Location Cost Graduation Rate Description Toggle

University of South Florida

Tampa, FL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 73%

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

Boston, MA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 80%

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

Philadelphia, PA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 74%

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

Longmeadow, MA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 59%

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

Muncie, IN Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 63%

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

Amherst, NY Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 57%

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

Glenside, PA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 71%

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

Victoria, TX Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 19%

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

Cape Girardeau, MO Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 49%

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

Saint Cloud, MN Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 44%

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.

Enrollment for Online Behavioral Psychology Master's Programs

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment for those with a master's degree is lower than unemployment for those with an undergraduate degree. Earning a master's degree creates higher earning potential and more job opportunities. The Council of Graduate Schools releases a yearly report on applications and enrollment to graduate programs. The table below outlines some of these findings from fall 2016, in relation to master's degree programs and enrollment data.

Master's Institution Type Total Enrollment Full-Time Part-Time
Public 67,517 33,597 33,920
Private, not-for-profit 44,665 25,755 18,788

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

Online master's in behavioral psychology programs have varying requirements and offer different courses. Below are a few courses common to most master's in behavior psychology online programs.

Curriculum for an Online Master's Degree in Behavioral Psychology

Although curricula vary by program, below are sample courses often offered in most master's in behavioral psychology online programs.

  • Behavior Change Systems: Behavioral psychologists create and implement interventions and programs to assist clients and patients in changing unhealthy and destructive behaviors. This course teaches students to create these plans and provides fundamental background knowledge.
  • Behavior Assessment: This course prepares students to assess the behavior of new patients and clients and to use this initial assessment to create appropriate intervention plans.
  • Research Methods: This course provides the fundamental research skills that graduate students in all areas need to produce quality research and to contribute to the field.

How Long Does it Take to get an Online Master's in Behavioral Psychology?

Generally, online master's in behavioral psychology programs require about two years to complete. However, this timeframe varies widely. Many online programs are individually paced and allow students to complete coursework according to their own timeline. Other programs operate in cohorts; groups of students progress through the program together, at the same pace.

Credit requirements vary by program, and some programs require internships and/or supervised practicum hours. Whether the student is enrolled part-time or full-time also significantly impacts completion time; part-time students typically take longer to complete coursework.

Certifications and Licenses a Master's in Behavioral Psychology Prepares for

  • Board Certified Behavior Analyst: Most online master's in behavioral psychology programs prepare students to sit for the Board Certified Behavior Analyst exam. This official certification allows professionals with graduate degrees to practice. A set number of internship and practicum hours are required to sit for the exam.
  • State Licensing: While many states require only certification, some states have their own licensing procedures. Students should research their state's requirements prior to graduating and entering the job market.

Accreditation for Online Master's in Behavioral Psychology Degrees

Accreditation is the process by which schools and programs are held to academic standards. Accreditation is very important to choosing a reputable school. Unaccredited programs are often non-reciprocal, meaning degrees and credits may not be recognized by other institutions or employers.

A school may be accredited regionally or nationally, but regional accreditation is more popular. Regional accrediting agencies are widely recognized, and degrees and credits from regionally accredited schools are more easily transferred to other institutions. Some programs also have field-specific accreditation. Master's in behavioral psychology online programs are often accredited by the Association for Behavior Analysis International, which provides a list of accredited programs on its website.

The Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation offer comprehensive databases of all regionally and nationally accredited institutions. Choose an accredited school to ensure eligibility for federal aid.

Employment Outlook for Master's in Behavioral Psychology Graduates

Master's in Behavioral Psychology Salary

Salaries vary by employer, position, and geographic location. According to PayScale, the average salary of a board certified behavior analyst is $57,511 per year. The table below details the five U.S. cities in which behavior analysts earn the highest salary.

City Median Pay % Above National Average
Miami $75,942 27%
New York $69,031 16%
Los Angeles $65,049 9%
Orlando $63,900 7%
Chicago $63,311 6%

Master's in Behavioral Psychology Careers

Each online master's in behavioral psychology program prepares students for different careers. Programs may be housed within master's of arts, science, or education degree tracks. Each type of degree fosters different skills, preparing students for specific roles.

Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors

These counselors often work in drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers, with patients recovering from substance abuse. They may also work in mental health facilities.

Median Annual Salary: $41,070
Projected Growth Rate: 22%

Social Workers

Social workers work within communities to help struggling clients build stable lifestyles and create healthy environments for families and children. Clinical social workers may also diagnose and treat mental illnesses and substance abuse issues.

Median Annual Salary: $46,890
Projected Growth Rate: 12%

Mental Health Counselors

Mental health counselors work in a variety of settings, including private practices, university health centers, hospitals, and mental health treatment facilities. They counsel patients and provide support.

Median Annual Salary: $44,170
Projected Growth Rate: 19%

Rehabilitation Counselors

Rehabilitation counselors work with clients who have a physical, mental, or emotional disability. These counselors may work in assisted living facilities, rehab centers, physical therapy practices, or youth centers.

Median Annual Salary: $34,670
Projected Growth Rate: 9%


Sociologists study the behaviors and cultures of people within certain groups, including organizations, workplaces, and neighborhoods. These researchers often work at universities or colleges, but some work in government.

Median Annual Salary: $79,750
Projected Growth Rate: -1%

Financing Your Online Master's in Behavioral Psychology Program

Financing a graduate degree can be difficult, but there are plenty of options. First, complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine how much federal funding you are eligible for. Many graduate programs offer fellowships and graduate assistantships; check your program's guidelines for applying for these funds. Some employers may offer tuition assistance to employees earning a higher degree or certification.


Approximately two-thirds of today's college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.


Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.


Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you'll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn't always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.


Online college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree and securing their family's financial future. We've compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.


Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.