In this article, we profile the top 15 best master’s in behavioral psychology online programs of 2020.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Occupational Outlook Handbook reports a highly favorable job outlook for psychologists. In fact, employment of psychologists is expected to grow 14 percent through 2028, significantly faster than the average for all other occupations. To accommodate the anticipated growth in the field of psychology, colleges and universities offer programs, some entirely online, such as the master’s in behavioral psychology online degree. These programs are designed to prepare students for success in specialized areas of psychology.
Top 15 Best Master’s in Behavioral Psychology Online Programs Methodology
We looked at 48 colleges and universities listed by the Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) College Navigator that offered master’s in behavioral psychology online degrees or psychology programs with behavioral psychology studies. We narrowed our original pool of schools by applying the following criteria: accreditation, online pathways to the completion a master’s in behavioral psychology, school and/or program rankings with U.S. News and World Report, and affordability – programs under $35,000 per year. We then listed the top 15 programs according to raw affordability.
Below is our list of the best master’s in behavioral psychology online programs for 2020.
#15 – Drexel University
Online Master’s in Applied Behavior Analysis
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $34,995
ABA programs, such as the one offered at Drexel University, support preparation and skills gained in accredited online behavioral psychology programs. An ABA degree, applied behavior analysis, enables students to recognize, understand, and guide changes in human behavior through a data-driven approach. Courses and curriculum consist of 27 core credits, 12 credits in concentration classes (autism spectrum disorders), and six credits in research. Students may elect to earn their degree online or as a hybrid program at the DC Center. To apply, you will need letters of recommendation and a bachelor’s degree with a GPA of 3.0 or higher from an accredited institution. Drexel’s rankings with U.S. News and World Report include #97 in best national universities.
#14 – Bay Path University
Online Master’s in Developmental Psychology
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $23,787
The online behavioral psychology programs at Bay Path University include this fully online MS in developmental psychology. This program is designed to prepare students to understand human behavior through integrated coursework and study. Classes start three times each year, in February, June, and October. The program consists of 36 credits and 12 classes, along with 160 hours of community-based field work. There is no GRE or GMAT requirement at admission, and part-time and full-time completion pathways add to the program’s flexibility. Online courses include applied research methods in counseling, counseling theories and practice, family systems, and psychological assessment in counseling. Bay Path ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report as the 94th best regional university in the North and 21st most innovative school.
#13 – The Chicago School of Professional Psychology
Online Master’s in Applied Behavior Analysis
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $22,601
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology offers an accredited ABA program that covers curriculum applicable to most master’s in behavioral psychology online degree programs. The online MS in ABA takes approximately 28 months of study on a part-time basis. Classes are delivered online and cover topics like behavior assessment, measurement and design in behavior analysis, and science and human behavior. Students are required to complete a thesis or an advanced applied project for the non-thesis degree completion pathway. Successful admission to this reputable program requires three letters of recommendation, official college transcripts from where degrees have been earned, and two essays.
#12 – Simmons University
Online Master’s in Behavior Analysis
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $21,894
Simmons University offers an accredited online master’s in behavioral psychology programs, such as the master’s in behavior analysis. This 23-month online program requires no GRE scores for admission and is one of the few cohort model programs with online completion options. Students take eight core courses and two mentoring courses. A sampling of available courses includes advanced topics in behavior analysis, behavioral assessment, ethics and legal issues, introduction to applied behavior analysis, introduction to single subject research designs, and methodologies for behavior change. U.S. News and World Report ranks Simmons #125 in best national universities and #35 in best value schools.
#11 – Saint Joseph’s University
Online Master’s in Criminal Justice – Behavior Analysis
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $16,992
Saint Joseph’s University offers accredited online master’s degrees in behavioral psychology degree programs, such as the master’s in criminal justice with behavior analysis concentration. To be admitted to the program, students must have a minimum of one year of applied behavior analysis working with clients or offer volunteer experience. The program’s curriculum is BACB-approved and prepares students for taking the Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) examination. All courses are delivered online and cover topics like applied behavior analysis, basis for behavior change, behavior analysis consulting, clinical behavior analysis, and observation methods. U.S. News and World Report ranks St. Joseph’s #10 in best regional universities in the North.
#10 – National University
Online Master’s in Applied Behavior Analysis
La Jolla, California
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $15,480
National University’s master’s in behavioral psychology online degree programs include the applied behavior analysis master’s degree, designed to prepare students to sit for the board certified behavior analyst (BCBA) exam. The program consists of four-week classes that cover topics applicable to the career as a behavior analyst. Courses include applications of ABA, basics of behavior analysis, behavioral consultation, ethics for behavior analysis, and role and function of schools. By taking fast-paced courses, students focus on one subject at a time during the month, allowing for a faster degree completion time. Students must complete at least 45 quarter units of graduate work. U.S. News and World Report ranks National University among the top best regional universities in the West.
#9 – University of Cincinnati
Online M.Ed. in Behavior Analysis
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $14,468
University of Cincinnati offers programs designed to prepare individuals for careers as board-certified behavior analysts, such as an online master’s in behavioral psychology or in behavior analysis. The graduate degree is an M.Ed. in Behavior Analysis. The degree consists of 30 credits earned in courses like applied behavior analysis, behavioral research and accountability methods, ethics for behavioral practice and research, family intervention and early intervention, and working with cultural and linguistic diversity in schools. University of Cincinnati ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report as the 139th best national university and 150th best value school in the country.
#8 – Arizona State University
Online Master’s in Special Education (Applied Behavior Analysis)
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $12,134
Arizona State University’s master’s in behavioral psychology online programs include the master’s in special education with a concentration in applied behavior analysis (ABA). This program pairs research and hands-on experience to prepare graduate students to work in professional settings as special educators and applied behavior analysts. The program consists of 30 credit hours and a total of ten classes. Each course runs 7.5 weeks and covers topics like behavior change procedures – implementing interventions in behavior analysis, behavior analytic assessment, concepts and principles of applied behavior analysis, ethics of applied behavior analysis, and personnel supervision and organizational behavior management in educational settings. ASU ranks #117 in best national universities, according to U.S. News and World Report.
#7 – Purdue University Global
Online Master’s in Psychology
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $11,414
Purdue University Global offers online behavioral psychology programs, such as the online master’s in psychology with applied behavioral analysis concentration. All professors teaching graduate psychology online classes hold doctorate degrees and relevant industry credentials. Courses cover a wide range of advanced psychology topics and, depending on the concentration, foundational and accelerated study in a focused area of interest. Students enrolled in the ABA concentration learn to use behavioral concepts and theories, while developing assessment and intervention skills. Purdue Global is recognized for its quality online education. In addition to quality classes and programs, the institution has earned top rankings from major publications like U.S. News and World Report.
#6 – University of Kansas
Online Master’s in Applied Behavioral Science
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $11,027
The master’s in behavioral psychology online degree program at University of Kansas emphasizes applied behavioral science. The program seeks qualified students with backgrounds in psychology or education, have clinical experience, and are seeking careers in the field of behavior analysis. The online master’s degree includes preparation for BCBA certification. Classes include behavior analysis in intellectual and developmental disabilities, conceptual foundations, introduction to applied behavioral science, and organizational behavioral management. Admission requirements are standard compared to other graduate programs. However, the GRE is not required, but optional. Students who have performed well on the GRE are encouraged to submit their scores for evaluation and gain an advantage over individuals who have not submitted scores. University of Kansas ranks #130 in best national universities and #116 in best value schools.
#5 – University of South Florida
Online Master’s in Applied Behavior Analysis
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $10,428
University of South Florida’s online master’s in behavioral psychology is an applied behavior analysis degree designed to prepare students to take the BCBA exam and enter behavior analyst careers. Classes are delivered online, making it possible for students to learn from anywhere and continue to work while earning a degree. While taking classes and preparing to sit for the Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) exam, students also apply their knowledge through a supervised practicum. By the time graduation rolls around, students are prepared with knowledge and skill applicable to the career. UF ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, U.S. News ranks UF #104 in best national universities and #60 in best value schools.
#4 – Union College
Online Master’s in General Psychology
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $9,650
Union College’s online behavioral psychology programs include the master’s in general psychology, which consists of 36 credits of 100% online study. The fully online psychology program is for those who wish to pursue doctoral studies in general psychology or want to advance their career. Courses include a wide variety of topics in psychology, behavior assessment and analysis, ethics and professional practice, and behavioral neuroscience. Some of the requires courses include advanced developmental psychology, health psychology, and theories of personality. Union College ranks #45 in best national liberal arts colleges, #82 in best value schools, and #43 in most innovative schools.
#3 – Ball State University
Online Master’s in Applied Behavior Analysis
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $9,392
Ball State University’s online master’s in behavioral psychology is an ABA program offered entirely online following a two-year completion plan. Housed within Ball State’s nationally recognized Teachers College, the online graduate program consists of 30 credits. Students take one or two courses each semester. These courses include advanced applied behavior analysis, behavioral consultation, introduction to applied behavior analysis, professional issues in applied behavior analysis, and research methods for behavior analysis. In addition to Ball State’s accreditation and nationally recognized Teachers College, the school has received rankings from U.S. News and World Report. To be precise, Ball State ranks #192 in best national universities.
#2 – University of West Florida
Online Master’s in Applied Behavior Analysis
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $9,062
University of West Florida’s master’s in behavioral psychology online program uses the science of behavior to prepare students for an ABA degree. In fact, graduates earn a master’s in applied behavior analysis while preparing for BCBA, BCaBA, and RBT certification. Courses are delivered entirely online and taught by faculty who actively work within the field of applied behavior analysis. Courses cover topics in ABA and include applied behavior analysis and system support, ethics in applied behavior analysis, foundations of applied behavior analysis, measurement in single case design, and supervision and management fluency. UWF ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report. Believe it or not, the school ranks #34 in best regional universities in the South and #52 in best value institutions.
#1 – Liberty University
Online Master’s in Applied Psychology
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,333
Liberty University offers applied psychology programs that might appeal to individuals interested in a master’s in behavioral psychology online degree. The 100% online applied psychology non-licensure program is designed to prepare students to understand human behavior in the fields of developmental psychology and industrial or organizational psychology. The program consists of 36 credits and takes 1.5 years, on average, to complete. Courses include adolescent psychology, developmental neuropsychology, developmental psychology, and intervention and behavioral support. Liberty offers the most affordable online behavioral psychology program on our list. In addition to affordability, the school has received rankings by U.S. News and World Report as a top national university.
Frequently Asked Questions
What can I do with an online master’s in behavioral psychology degree?
Psychology is a broad discipline that studies behavioral, cognitive, emotional, and social processes through interpretation and observation. Psychologists work independently, conduct research, and meet with patients in a variety of settings. Some psychologists work in schools while others see patients in a private practice, often working in the evenings and weekends to accommodate client schedules. Behavior psychology is just one branch of this broad field.
To work as a behavioral psychologist, a master’s degree is sufficient for many positions. Behavioral psychologists usually hold bachelor’s degrees in psychology and a master’s in behavioral psychology, applied behavior analysis, or a closely related discipline. To work as a behavior analyst, certification is also required.
Behavior psychologists use their research-intensive background to apply theories to patients. Patients with behavioral issues often seek therapy from behavioral psychologists or behavioral counselors. Common behaviors or problems treated by behavioral psychologists include anxiety, depression, substance abuse, or other behavioral problems. To work as a clinical psychologist and see patients, state licensing and certification are required.
If you have the desire to become a behavioral psychologist, the diverse field of psychology offers challenging and rewarding career paths to qualified individuals. Flexible online degree options are offered from some of the nation’s top institutions. This means you can earn a master’s in behavioral psychology online from anywhere in the world.
What is the job outlook for individuals with a master’s in behavioral psychology online degree?
The job outlook for psychologists is favorable overall for the next several years. To back this up, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports a projected growth of 14 percent from 2018 to 2028. This is a higher growth rate than the average for all other occupations, making psychology one of the top fields to pursue.
College graduates, those with advanced degrees like the master’s in behavioral psychology online degree, should see job opportunities in clinical, counseling, and school settings. There should be a greater demand for psychologist jobs in hospitals, mental health centers, schools, and social service agencies as awareness for the need for mental health professionals increases.
Psychologists with specialized training, such as in behavior, will also be needed as individuals turn to mental health professionals to help them with their problems. Services to the aging population will be needed as more and more people seek professional mental health care to deal with the physical and mental challenges brought on by aging. Psychological services will also be needed in the veteran population, for survivors of trauma and abuse, and to aid in developmental disorders such as autism.
Competition for psychologist jobs will vary by specialty. The more qualified candidates should expect better opportunities. Specialized training, such as earning a master’s in behavioral psychology online degree or becoming certified in areas of psychology, will set you apart from the competition.
How much money can I make with an online master’s in behavioral psychology degree?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports the median average wage for psychologists as of May 2018 was $79,010. Clinical, counseling, and school psychologists showed a slightly lower average wage of $76,990, while industrial and organizational psychologists showed a higher wage of $97,260.
PayScale, a global compensation research organization that compiles salary data, reported the average behavioral psychologist salary of $72,778, as of June 17, 2019. PayScale reports the lowest 10 percent of behavioral psychologists earn $49,000 per year while the highest ten percent of earners made $123,000.
PayScale also reported an increase in pay by experience. This means that an entry-level behavioral psychologist earns less than a behavioral psychologist with five or more years of experience.
PayScale’s pay by experience trend revealed that an early career behavioral psychologist with one to four years of experience earns an average total compensation of $65,000 per year. Mid-career behavioral psychologists with five to nine years of experience earn an average salary of $82,237. Experienced behavioral psychologists with ten to nineteen years of experience earned a total compensation of $99,106.
Several factors may impact the earnings of behavioral psychologists, such as geographic location, certifications and licensing awarded to the behavioral psychologist, and occupational setting.
How long does an online master’s behavioral psychology degree take to earn?
Completion time varies among master’s in behavioral psychology online programs. Different programs have varying requirements that can impact the time it takes to earn a degree. However, the average completion time is 22-24 months for most master’s in behavioral psychology online degrees.
So, what impacts completion time? The first factor impacting the time it takes to earn a graduate degree is enrollment status. If you work full-time, a part-time program may best fit your schedule. The downside of part-time programs is the additional time it takes to earn a degree. In part-time behavioral psychology programs, students take one class at a time, instead of two and three classes. Full-time programs require a greater course load, shortening the time to completion. However, part-time programs offer flexibility, which ideally fits for working students. If you lack large blocks of study time, part-time programs may be a better fit for your schedule.
Another factor impacting the completion time for a master’s in behavioral psychology online degree is the number of core requirements. Some master’s in behavioral psychology programs require an earned bachelor’s degree in psychology. For students without a bachelor’s in psychology, additional classes may be required to ensure a strong foundation of the discipline. While some graduate psychology programs do not require a bachelor’s in psychology, be aware that additional foundational courses may be required, thus lengthening the time it takes to earn the master’s degree.
What are the admission requirements for an online master’s in behavioral psychology degree program?
As with completion time, admission requirements for a master’s in behavioral psychology online degree program vary by school. There are a number of prerequisites that most admission committees look for from applicants. We list the most common admission requirements below:
Bachelor’s degree: The institutions on our list ask for an earned bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. Not all schools require a major in psychology, though many prefer a closely related discipline.
Undergraduate GPA: Reputable and ranked colleges and universities ask for competitive minimum undergraduate GPAs. Most of the programs on our list ask for a minimum GPA of 3.0. In some cases, a higher undergraduate GPA may lead to a waiver for the GRE.
Official transcripts: Be prepared to have official transcripts from all institutions you attended sent to college or university you are applying. Graduate schools want to see how you performed at the undergraduate level.
Letters of recommendation: The number of required letters of recommendation vary by program, but the standard is two to three letters from professors and/or employers who can attest to the applicant’s academic and research protectional.
Test scores: Some master’s in behavioral psychology online programs require GRE or GMAT test scores. Highly ranked programs may provide minimum test scores required to be considered for admission.
Professional work experience: Work experience also varies by program. Competitive colleges or universities may want to see applicants with relevant work experience applying theories and methods in a real-life setting.