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A master’s in behavioral psychology prepares students for careers focused on understanding and modifying human behavior. Graduates can pursue roles such as behavior analyst, mental health counselor, or researcher. Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors, who often have this degree, earn an average salary of $49,710 a year.

Typically completed in two to three years, the program’s average cost varies but falls within the range of $12,000 to $30,000, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Top programs in the field blend psychological theories with practical applications to address behavioral issues and improve the lives of individuals and communities.

How to Choose a Master’s in Behavioral Psychology Degree Program

Choose your area of study

Selecting your area of study is crucial for tailoring your education to your career goals. Consider concentrations such as applied behavior analysis, developmental psychology, or cognitive psychology. Reflect on your interests and career aspirations to determine the best fit. Each specialization offers unique coursework and opportunities for specialization, which can shape your career trajectory in the field of behavioral psychology.

Research schools and programs

Thorough research of schools and programs is essential for finding the best fit for your master’s degree. Consider factors such as accreditation, faculty expertise, and specialization options. Evaluate program formats (online or on-campus), location, and internship opportunities. Delve into student reviews and alumni outcomes to gauge program satisfaction and success rates. Contact admissions counselors or faculty members to gather additional insights and ask questions.

Prepare for tests and applications

Preparation for tests and applications for your program requires careful planning and diligence. Familiarize yourself with each program’s admission requirements, which may include standardized test scores like the GRE, transcripts, letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose. Dedicate time to study for any required exams and aim to showcase your academic abilities and commitment to the field in your application materials. If you find standardized tests challenging, consider hiring a tutor or coach to help you prepare for any tests required.

Select your program

Choosing the right program for your master’s degree is crucial for your academic and professional success. Consider factors such as accreditation, program format, specialization options, and faculty expertise. Evaluate the curriculum to ensure it aligns with your career goals and interests. Explore unique features like research opportunities, internship placements, or industry partnerships. Take the time to compare programs and consider visiting campuses or attending virtual information sessions to make an informed decision. Don’t hesitate to connect with admissions counselors or other staff from a program you are interested in—they can answer questions and help you make the best selection for your interests.

Determine how you’ll pay for your degree

Determining how to finance your master’s degree requires careful consideration of funding options. Research scholarships, grants, and assistantships available through the program or external sources. Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to explore federal financial aid opportunities such as loans and work-study programs. Investigate institutional scholarships and tuition reimbursement programs offered by employers. Consider part-time employment or online work opportunities to supplement your income. Develop a budget and explore payment plans to manage expenses effectively. By exploring multiple avenues of funding, you can make pursuing your master’s degree financially feasible.

Best 50 Accredited Master’s in Behavioral Psychology Degree Programs

Best Master's in Behavioral Psychology Degree Programs

University of Kansas

Simmons University

FSU Panama City

Oregon Tech

Arizona State University

Saint Cloud State University

McNeese State University

University of Massachusetts - Dartmouth

Southern Illinois University

Pepperdine University

University of the Pacific

Western Michigan University

University of Miami

California State University, Northridge

California State University, Stanislaus

University of South Alabama

Marquette University

USC Dornsife

Jacksonville State University

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How we rank schools

We reviewed many master’s in behavioral psychology degrees, including on-campus, online, and hybrid programs. Online programs often require at least some in-person clinical experience and may have a short on-campus component.

All of the degree programs listed are regionally accredited, and many are also accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) or the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB). For you to earn a BCBA credential, your program must be properly accredited.

We evaluated each program on the basis of flexibility, faculty, course strength, cost, and reputation. Then, we calculated the Intelligent Score for each program on a scale from 0 to 100. For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.

What Can You Expect From a Master’s in Behavioral Psychology Program?

In a master’s in behavioral psychology program, prospective students can expect comprehensive coursework that delves into understanding human behavior and its applications in various contexts. Coursework typically covers topics such as behavioral assessment and intervention strategies, research methods, and ethical considerations. Students learn to analyze behavior patterns and conduct research to address behavioral challenges.

The program generally takes two to three years to complete, depending on enrollment status and program requirements. Some programs may include in-person labs, residencies, or internships to provide hands-on experience and networking opportunities. Students may also have opportunities for practical projects or research with real-world applications.

Graduates emerge prepared to pursue careers as behavior analysts, counselors, researchers, or educators, equipped with the knowledge and skills to make meaningful contributions to improving individual and societal well-being through behavior modification and intervention.

Potential courses you’ll take in a master’s in behavioral psychology program

  • Behavioral Assessment and Intervention. Covers principles and methods of assessing and modifying behavior. Students learn about behavior analysis techniques, functional behavior assessment, and behavior intervention plans. Emphasis is placed on designing and implementing effective interventions to address behavioral challenges in various settings.
  • Research Methods in Behavioral Psychology. Explores quantitative and qualitative research methods used in behavioral psychology. Topics may include experimental design, data collection and analysis, and research ethics. Students learn how to conduct research studies and interpret findings to contribute to the advancement of behavioral science.
  • Psychopathology and Behavioral Disorders. Examines the etiology, symptoms, and treatment of behavioral disorders and psychopathology. Students learn about various psychological disorders, diagnostic criteria, and evidence-based interventions. Emphasis is placed on understanding the biological, psychological, and environmental factors contributing to behavioral dysfunction.
  • Developmental Psychology. Explores psychological development across the lifespan, from infancy to old age. Topics may include cognitive, social, emotional, and physical development. Students learn about theories of development, milestones, and factors influencing individual differences in behavior and development.
  • Applied Behavior Analysis. Focuses on the principles and applications of applied behavior analysis (ABA) in various settings. Students learn about behavior modification techniques, functional behavior assessment, and designing and implementing behavior intervention plans. Emphasis is placed on using ABA principles to promote positive behavior change and improve outcomes for individuals with behavioral challenges.

Master’s in Behavioral Psychology Degree Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply to a master's in behavioral psychology degree program?

To apply, gather the materials requested by your chosen institution, such as transcripts, letters of recommendation, a resume, and a statement of purpose. Many programs require GRE scores and may have specific GPA requirements. It’s essential to carefully review the admission criteria of each program and ensure all materials are submitted before the deadline. Speaking with an admissions counselor can provide valuable insights and guidance throughout the application process.

How much does a master's in behavioral psychology degree cost?

The cost of a master’s in behavioral psychology varies depending on factors such as program format and institution. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, average tuition costs for master’s degree programs range from $12,000 to $30,000. In general, private institutions are more expensive than public and land grant colleges and universities. Additional expenses may include textbooks, technology fees, and possibly travel costs for in-person residencies or internships. Online programs may offer flexibility but could have additional technology fees or require exam fees.

How long does it take to earn a master's in behavioral psychology degree?

Completing a master’s in behavioral psychology will generally take two to three years, depending on your enrollment status and program requirements. Full-time enrollment is the quickest way to earn your degree; attending part-time is likely to extend the length of your program. Online programs may offer more flexibility, allowing students to pace their studies and potentially complete the degree at a faster or slower rate compared to on-campus programs. The total number of required credits also impacts program length, with many programs requiring around 36 to 48 credits for completion.

Prospective students should consider their personal commitments and academic goals when determining the most suitable enrollment status and program format for their master’s program.

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