Online Master's Degrees in Behavioral Psychology

Behavioral psychology examines how people think, learn, and develop in order to change their thinking, behavior, and communication. From depression to trauma to stress management, behavioral psychologists address a variety of mental health concerns, measuring the way their clients process their emotions to create individualized solutions.

Many of them use applied behavior analysis (ABA), a type of therapy rooted in behavioral psychology research. Taught in many psychology programs, ABA puts behavioral psychology analysis into practice. Through careful monitoring and continuous evaluation, ABA may help to modify learned behaviors.

Sponsored Online ABA Programs
Simmons University

Earn your master's in behavior analysis online in as few as 23 months from Simmons University. ABAI-verified; No GRE required.

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University of Dayton

You can earn a master's in applied behavior analysis online from University of Dayton in just two years. Bachelor's required.

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Pepperdine University

Complete Pepperdine University's online master's in applied behavior analysis in less than two years. No GRE required.

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Psychology professionals interested in providing ABA services may earn the Board Certified Behavioral Analyst certification. Those interested in ABA may also pursue bachelor’s and Ph.D. programs in this area.

Compare ABAI-Accredited Online Master’s Degrees in Applied Behavioral Psychology, Analysis & Science

The Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) accreditation board determines and implements standards for educational programs in behavioral analysis at the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels.

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School Location GRE requirement GPA requirement Full-Time or Part-Time Total Credits
Caldwell University Caldwell, New Jersey Yes (satisfactory) 3.3 Both 45
California State University, Los Angeles Los Angeles, California No 2.75 Both 52-56
Florida Institute of Technology Melbourne, Florida Yes, but can be waived for Orlando campus applicants with a GPA of 3.3 or above 3.0 Both 44
Florida State University, Panama City Campus Panama City, Florida Yes, typical scores of those admitted are 50th percentile on verbal and 40th percentile on quantitative 3.0 Both 39
Jacksonville State University Jacksonville, Alabama Yes None Both 39
McNeese State University Lake Charles, Louisiana Yes, median score in 2019 (verbal and quantitative 292) 2.5 Both 58
Montana State University Billings Billings, Montana Yes, if GPA is low (Median scores: 145 verbal, 145 quantitative, 3.5 writing)
No, if GPA is at least 3.0 or already have a master’s degree
3.0 Both Contact admissions board
Ohio State University Columbus, Ohio Yes Contact admissions board Both 34
Rollins College Winter Park, Florida Yes, 300+ preferred 3.0 Both 57
Simmons University
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Boston, Massachusetts No Contact admissions board Both 42 (behavioral analysis MS only)
Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Illinois No 2.7 Both 45
St. Cloud State University St. Cloud, Minnesota Contact admissions board 2.75 Both 45
Teachers College, Columbia University New York, New York Yes Contact admissions board Both 47
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, Chicago Campus Chicago, Illinois No (for master’s), Yes (for doctoral) 3.0 Both 45
University of Houston-Clear Lake Houston, Texas Yes Contact admissions board Both 39
University of Kansas Lawrence, Kansas No, but school considers it an advantage (median scores: 144 quantitative, 147 verbal, 4.25 writing) None (median is 3.37) Both 30
University of Maryland, Baltimore County Catonsville, Maryland Yes None (median is 3.6) Both 36
University of Nebraska Medical Center’s Munroe-Meyer Institute Omaha, Nebraska Yes No Both 42-45
University of Nevada, Reno Reno, Nevada Yes (median scores 150 verbal, 146 quantitative, 4 writing) Yes (median GPA 2.91) Both 36
University of North Texas Denton, Texas Yes 3.4 Both 30
University of South Florida Tampa, Florida Yes None Both 45
Western Michigan University Kalamazoo, Michigan Yes (corresponds to 50th percentile in verbal and quantitative sections) 3.0 Both 37

Insights into Online Master’s Degree Programs in Behavioral Psychology

Considering any of the programs listed above? We’ve gathered admissions information for your review.

Caldwell University

California State University, Los Angeles

Florida Institute of Technology 

Florida State University, Panama City Campus

  • Program Name: Master’s in Applied Behavior Analysis from Florida State University
  • Program Length: Two years
  • Admission Information
    • GPA of 3.0 GPA
    • GRE required
    • Personal statement
    • Three letters of recommendation (two from faculty)
    • Minimum of 15 hours of undergraduate psychology courses required (general psychology, developmental psychology, applied behavior analysis, conditioning and learning, research methods)
    • Resume

Jacksonville State University

McNeese State University

Montana State University Billings

Ohio State University

Rollins College

Simmons University Sponsored

Southern Illinois University

  • Program Name: Master’s in Applied Behavior Analysis from Southern Illinois University
  • Program Length: Contact admissions board
  • Admission Information:
    • Personal data
    • Transcripts
    • Resume
    • Statement of purpose
    • Research interest/ professional experience
    • Letters of recommendation
    • Research paper or thesis
    • Also need 9 hours of supervised internship in rehabilitation required,

St. Cloud State University

Teachers College, Columbia University

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, Chicago Campus

University of Houston-Clear Lake

University of Kansas

University of Maryland, Baltimore County

University of Nebraska Medical Center’s Munroe-Meyer Institute

University of Nevada, Reno

University of North Texas

University of South Florida

Western Michigan University

  • Program Name: Master of Arts in Behavior Analysis from Western Michigan University
  • Program Length: N/A
  • Admission Information:
    • Bachelor’s degree with at least 18 semester hours in psychology
    • Minimum GPA  of 3.0
    • Minimum scores corresponding to 50th percentile on verbal and quantitative portions of the GRE
    • Previous behavioral psychology coursework/ research experience
    • Letters of recommendation
    • Personal statement

How to Choose a Master's Program in Behavioral Psychology

When choosing a master’s in behavioral psychology, it’s useful to consider accreditation. In order to obtain a Board Certified Behavioral Analyst certificationan aspiring behavioral psychologist may earn their master’s from a program accredited by either the Association for Behavior Analysis International or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

Provided that the degree program is accredited, aspiring behavioral psychologists may think about the program’s compatibility with their lifestyle. For individuals with professional or personal obligations, an online master’s in behavioral psychology may be ideal as it allows students to pursue their education without relocating—and often on their own schedules as well.

Sponsored Online ABA Programs
Simmons University

Earn your master's in behavior analysis online in as few as 23 months from Simmons University. ABAI-verified; No GRE required.

Request more information from Simmons University
University of Dayton

You can earn a master's in applied behavior analysis online from University of Dayton in just two years. Bachelor's required.

Request more information from The University of Dayton
Pepperdine University

Complete Pepperdine University's online master's in applied behavior analysis in less than two years. No GRE required.

Request more information from Pepperdine University

Sponsored

Master's in Behavioral Psychology Program Requirements

The criteria for admission to a master’s in behavioral psychology program will differ between universities, but there are some general expectations. A bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution is typically required. Most schools require at least a 3.0 GPA and at least some previous coursework in areas of psychology and/or education. Letters of recommendation should come from an academic or professional source. While a bachelor’s in behavioral psychology is not necessary, the Association for Behavior Analysis International does lay out accreditation standards for bachelor’s in behavioral psychology programs.

Behavioral Psychology Course Learnings

There are certain course requirements that a master’s in behavioral psychology program typically meets, according to the ABAI.

ABAI-accredited master’s degree programs in behavioral psychology should include at least 405 hours of instruction and 90 hours of supervised experience. Additionally, coursework may cover six specific subject areas—principles of behavior, research methods, conceptual analysis, applied behavior analysis, basic behavior analysis, and ethics—and the curriculum should culminate in a thesis or equivalent component.

Career Paths and Salary

While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not collect data on behavioral psychologists, it does track career outlook and salary information for all psychologists. The BLS reports that the median pay for psychologists was $80,730 per year in 2019. The BLS also reports that the number of psychologists employed will rise 14 percent from 2018 to 2028.

Many psychologists hold a master’s or doctorate degree in psychology. As previously mentioned, if you wish to specialize in ABA, you can obtain the Board Certified Behavioral Analyst credential from the Behavior Analyst Certification Board.  To earn this BCBA credential, you’ll be required to earn a master’s in behavioral psychology or a similar graduate degree in psychology or education. How much you earn as an ABA psychologist depends on factors such as location, employer, education level and more.

Behavioral Psychology Degree & Career Comparison

Behavioral psychology may lead to a variety of career outcomes depending on which degree you decide to choose. According to the APA, a bachelor’s degree in psychology prepares graduates for working in public affairs, education, and health. They may work as counselors, personnel analysts, probation officers, and writers. A master’s degree, which typically requires an additional two years of coursework plus a thesis, can prepare students to look at roles in consulting, market research government, counseling, research, or universities. A Ph.D. prepares graduates to do research too and requires on average five to seven years to earn.

Behavioral Psychology vs Cognitive Psychology

Behavioral psychology focuses on the relationship between environmental factors and behavior. Cognitive psychology, however, focuses on the relationship between internal mental processes and behavior. In other words, behavioral psychology focuses on the patient’s external world, while cognitive psychology focuses on their internal world. Within the APA, cognitive psychology is grouped with experimental psychology, indicating the field’s focus on research (rather than practice).

Behavioral Psychology vs Clinical Psychology

Behavioral psychology focuses on external influences impacting behavior. Clinical psychology focuses on individual differences, normal and abnormal behavior, mental health, and psychopathology. You can get an online master’s in clinical psychology to start on that career path.  Health psychologists, for example, work in clinical settings to help patients overcome mental disorders such as depression. They may specialize in physical health concerns such as managing diabetes.

FAQs

Interested in a career in behavioral psychology? The following questions and answers describe what behavioral psychologists do and what kind training is needed to become one.

What is Behavioral Psychology?

Behavioral psychology is the study of how factors in an individual’s environment influence their actions. Also known as behavior analysis, behavioral psychology has a division within the American Psychological Association, the leading professional organization for psychologists in the United States. Practitioners of behavioral psychology are known as behavioral psychologists or behavior analysts, who use evidence-based research to help patients modify their behavior, especially in regards to intellectual disabilities, childhood learning, substance abuse, mental health disorders, and environmental contamination.

What Does a Behavioral Psychologist Do?

Behavioral psychologists use a variety of techniques, including education, monitoring, and therapy, to minimize negative behavior in clients and promote appropriate behavior. They focus on patients’ behavior, rather than other aspects of their psychology—such as their unconscious, which psychoanalysts would focus on.

How Long Does It Take to Earn a Master of Behavioral Psychology?

Obtaining a master’s in behavioral psychology will typically take two to three years. The ABA accredits behavioral psychology and related educational programs. In order to be accredited by the association, master’s programs typically include 405 hours of instruction and 90 hours of supervised experience. Check the specifics of your desired program to help you determine how long it will take you to become a behavioral analyst.

What Can You Do with a Degree in Behavioral Psychology?

Having a behavioral psychology degree may help you gain relevant skills to work in a variety of settings. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, psychologists are generally employed in their own practices or by schools, healthcare services, government agencies, or hospitals. Behavioral psychologists work in areas such as autism, sports, child maltreatment prevention/intervention, education, and sports.

What is ABA?

ABA is a short acronym standing for “Applied Behavioral Analysis,” but what is ABA? It is the application of behavioral psychology practices based on the science of learning and behavior. ABA helps people navigate and understand behavior—how it works, how the environment impacts it, and how we learn it. ABA therapy may help improve behavior, communication skills, focus, social skills, memory, and attention skills over time. It may shape how we respond to stressful triggers, create better thinking habits,  and find healthier coping skills. It may be applied in a variety of settings, such as schools and hospitals. ABA helps create problem-solving strategies that are tailored individually to the client and adapting to their needs, interests, skills, preferences, and family situations. THey work closely with behavioral analysts to identify and modify behavioral responses. Driven by positive reinforcement, ABA helps decrease problematic behaviors. It may be treated for people of all ages.

Last updated: September 2020