What You Should Know About This Degree
The master’s in behavioral psychology is a specialized degree that prepares students specifically to pursue careers as Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBA). Those who want to go on further can later complete a doctoral degree in the field and become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst – Doctoral (BCBA-D). A master’s degree and coursework in behavioral counseling are required to become a BCBA.
Students who already have a master’s degree in a related field, such as psychology or counseling, don’t need to complete a full master’s in behavioral psychology. A certificate program in behavioral psychology is sufficient in this situation. Certificate programs aren’t eligible for financial aid due to federal guidelines, however.
Because behavior analysis involves working directly with people, these master’s degrees commonly include a supervised practicum that must be completed in person. You may be able to complete the practicum in a setting near you, but consider how this time requirement will fit into your schedule when evaluating online program options.
Upon completion of a master’s in behavioral psychology, you must pass a certification exam before earning the BCBA credential. Some states also have their own licensure requirements, but most rely on the BCBA to regulate professionals in the field.
Here are some questions to ask when considering a master’s in behavioral psychology:
- Are courses offered synchronously or asynchronously? Online programs usually include both synchronous and asynchronous courses. All enrolled students attend synchronous ones at the same time (although remotely), while asynchronous coursework is completed on the students’ own schedules. Consider how you’ll fit both types of courses into your schedule as you evaluate online degree options.
- What licensing or certifications are required? You have to pass a certification exam to become a BCBA after graduating from your degree program. Some states also have licensing requirements, although many don’t. Check with your state to see whether it has specific licensing requirements outside of what the BCBA requires.
When you have a list of potential degree programs, check their admissions requirements and deadlines. You can get these details directly from programs or their websites.
Also consider how you’ll cover the cost of tuition. Ask program counselors about scholarship opportunities and other financial aid provisions. If you’re employed, your employer might provide tuition reimbursement.