What Can I Expect from an Online Master’s in Behavior Analysis Program?

Distance learning options for a master’s in behavior analysis offer several benefits to students. You’ll be able to receive the same quality instruction as a traditional in-person program, and the lack of commute provides you with more time for work, family, and other responsibilities. Online programs also allow you to attend colleges outside your area without the cost and inconvenience of relocating. Every program has its differences, so you should take the time to weigh all your options and find the best match for your career goals.

Available concentrations

Some master’s in behavior analysis programs allow you to focus on a specific subject area within this field. For example, your concentration options may include:

  • Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health: This concentration focuses on the developmental stages of children as they relate to behavior. You’ll learn how to support common childhood stressors and offer targeted care to children and adolescents with behavioral issues.
  • Health Communication: Prepares students to research the public’s relationship with health information. Professionals in this field aid in developing communication strategies and work with healthcare providers to improve the delivery of health-related messages.

Common degree curriculum

When comparing distance learning programs, remember that some may require on-campus courses to complement their online offerings, which may limit your options if you don’t wish to relocate. While the exact curriculum will vary depending on the school, there are some topics covered in just about every master’s in behavior analysis program, including:

  • Research Methods: Learn research techniques and best practices for making scientific contributions.
  • Behavior Assessment: Equips students with the knowledge and skills to assess clients during the initial encounter and use this information to start working on intervention plans.
  • Behavior Change Systems: This course covers developing appropriate intervention plans, assessing their impact on clients, and adjusting these plans when necessary.

Certification and license preparation

You’ll need a master’s degree to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). Earning this credential also involves meeting fieldwork requirements and passing a certification exam. Once you’ve obtained the BCBA designation, you can practice behavior analysis independently and supervise other behavior analysts.

Program accreditation

Only apply to institutions approved by a DOE-recognized accrediting organization, such as the New England Commission of Higher Education or Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. Otherwise, accessing financial aid or transferring credits to another institution may be difficult if needed. In addition to institutional accreditation, the best options for earning a master’s in behavior analysis also have programmatic accreditation from an industry group such as the Association for Behavioral Analysis International.

Program completion timeframe

Master’s degrees in behavior analysis are generally designed to be completed in two years, but several factors can impact this timeline. Some colleges offer accelerated programs that allow you to earn your degree in just one year. However, this pace likely won’t be manageable for students who cannot dedicate themselves fully to the program. Students who can only attend school part-time may need up to five years to earn their degree.

The structure of a program may also influence the timeline. Cohort-based programs will require you to attend classes and complete courses simultaneously as other students. Those who want to earn their degree as quickly as possible should look for a program that offers asynchronous courses, which can be completed at your own pace.

Employment Outlook for Master’s in Behavior Analysis Graduates

Many occupations related to behavior analysis, such as sociologists and school counselors, are expected to grow relatively quickly. The number of jobs for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors is projected to see particularly explosive growth. It should be easy to find a job once you graduate for these occupations.

High-paying opportunities are also available for those with a master’s in behavior analysis. If you can find work as a sociologist, you can expect an average income of nearly $100,000. The top 10% of sociologists make more than $166,040.

However, you should adjust your salary expectations according to where you plan to work. Areas with a higher cost of living tend to offer higher pay. For example, the average salary for school counselors is $81,100 in California but just $48,950 in South Dakota.

Job Title Job Description Median Yearly Salary Projected Growth Rate (2022 – 2032)
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors These professionals provide support and treatment to clients who suffer from drug addiction, eating disorders, mental disorders, and behavioral disorders. $49,710 18%
Special Education Teachers Special education teachers work with children and adolescents with a variety of physical, mental, emotional, and learning disabilities. They develop targeted lesson plans and help students with severe disabilities learn fine motor skills, communication, and literacy. $62,950 0%
School Counselors School counselors help children develop their social and academic skills using assessments and interviews, allowing the counselor to identify problems and help students find solutions. Counselors often address issues such as bullying, substance abuse, and life planning after graduation. $60,140 5%
Sociologists Sociologists are responsible for collecting and analyzing data related to the study of behavior in society, including the development of research projects, presentation of findings, and collaboration with other scientists and policymakers. $98,590 5%

Professional organizations

Professional organizations offer many valuable benefits to their members, including networking opportunities, continuing education courses, and news on the latest industry trends. The following organizations are beneficial for behavior analysis professionals:

Financing Your Online Master’s in Behavior Analysis Degree

Online master’s in behavior analysis programs are typically more affordable than on-campus options, but you still may need help paying for your degree. Your first step should be filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to see if you qualify for federally funded grants and loans. Many nonprofit organizations and private companies offer scholarships as well.

Student Finance Resources and Guides

With all of the financing options available, it can be challenging to determine what you should do next after submitting your FAFSA. The resources listed below will help you make sense of your financial aid situation and save as much money as possible.

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Interested in a degree?

Learn more about online degrees, their start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.