The best online master’s in behavioral psychology could boost your career and earning potential by giving you eligibility to sit for professional licensure.
According to a report from Scientific American, the number of children living with autism is now as high as 1 in 68 in the United States. Shockingly, this number has doubled since the year 2,000. With the best online master’s programs in behavioral psychology, you’ll be positioned to help these children to develop healthy behaviors and lead better lives. You’ll also be gaining skills that could see you enter a range of different careers with strong earning and growth potential.
What will you learn with this degree?
Behavioral psychology degree programs give you an understanding of how to help those affected by autism and other developmental, learning, or mental disabilities. You’ll gain the skills necessary to teach clients how to improve their lives with better thought patterns, coping strategies, and behaviors. A common career choice is to become a behavior analyst, though you could also go into education, research, human resources, and more.
If you enroll in a master’s degree program, you’ll delve into these topics in greater depth, in addition to completing a thesis or research project in some programs. You’ll also have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience, which could help you to meet the supervised clinical hour requirements for licensure, such as the BCBA examination.
What are the Best Behavioral Psychology Degrees?
Accredited Online College uses the most recent data from the Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics. Each program is scored individually. It’s then compared to all other universities offering that degree to determine the final score you see by each ranking. Accredited Online College considers the affordability, student-to-faculty ratio, and the number of programs offered on-campus and online. To learn more, visit our methodology page.
The University of Washington offers the best Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Online Program that was recently ranked for having the “Best ABA Curriculum” in the country. The curriculum contains the necessary courses to sit for the BCBA (Board Certified Behavior Analyst) examination, in addition to offering an optional Master’s in Special Education.
Courses are offered entirely online for maximum flexibility, and all classes meet in the late afternoon to accommodate busy work schedules. However, all courses are synchronous, with students meeting and learning at the same time, so be sure that you can fit your studies around your schedule. In addition, there’s a practicum that will ensure you meet the necessary supervised experience requirements for the BCBA exam.
The cost of tuition varies from program to program at the University of Washington. For this master’s degree, you’ll pay tuition of around $589 per credit hour. Scholarships are available and are based on academic achievement and financial need; you could be awarded up to $8,000 and must apply after acceptance into the program.
Via Cincinnati Online, students can enroll in a Master of Education in Foundations in Behavior Analysis. Graduates of this program commonly work in roles that involve improving the lives of those with autism spectrum disorder, learning disabilities, and other special education needs. This top online program also meets the coursework requirements for the BCBA examination.
It’s also worth noting that UC Online is in the top 10 institutions in the world for the total number of students who pass their BCBA examination the first time. This is a fully online program that won’t require you to make any campus visits. You’ll complete 10 courses and could finish the program in as few as just 5 semesters.
Assuming that you enroll in 12 credits per semester, you’ll pay tuition of around $22,353 for this program, which is around $7,451 per semester. This includes all fees. For a more accurate estimate of your costs, you can also input financial assistance details into the tuition calculator.
Texas A&M University’s Master’s in Special Education (Online) has been ranked in the top 10 programs of its type in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report. While you don’t need a valid teaching certificate for admission, candidates with teaching or clinical experience in special education are likely to have an advantage.
If you’re accepted into the program, you’ll take courses such as:
- Assessment in School Settings
- Multicultural and Bilingual Special Education
- Consultation in Special Education
- Prevention, Support, and Intervention for Students with Emotional and Behavior Problems
In completing the required coursework, you’ll also meet the academic requirements for your BCBA exam, in addition to the ABA graduate certificate.
All courses are delivered online, and you’ll complete a total of 36 credit hours. Students taking 12 credit hours per semester will pay tuition of around $5,447.68 as a state resident or around $11,801.80 as a non-resident, including all required fees. For more accurate estimates, check out the university’s tuition calculator.
The University of South Florida offers a high-value Online Master’s Degree in Applied Behavior Analysis. Courses are available online, and you’ll also have the opportunity to complete fieldwork and a practicum seminar. For admission into the program, you’ll need to have completed a bachelor’s degree or equivalent from an accredited university with minimum average course grades of B (a GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale).
With this program, you’ll meet the academic requirements necessary for your BCBA examination. What’s more, as a student at USF, you’ll complete an exam preparation program to improve your chance of passing the first time around. In 2020, this program was updated in line with the 5th edition BCBA/BCaBA Task List, ensuring its relevance.
Typical graduate students at USF pay tuition of around $347.91 per credit hour, with out-of-state students paying an out-of-state fee of around $424.52 per credit hour. There are several additional fees, including a technology fee for online learners. For more information, check out the tuition calculator on the university’s website.
At Southeastern Missouri State University, you can enroll in an Online Master of Art in Applied Behavior Analysis. Coursework covers a wide variety of topics and is 100% online, and you’ll also work directly with clients in a practical capacity during your second year, which will help you meet the supervised clinical requirements for the BCBA exam.
This curriculum has been designed specifically to meet the Behavior Analyst Certification Standards and can be completed in as few as 6 semesters. Courses have also been reviewed for their quality with Quality Matters. You’ll be assigned your own faculty supervisor too.
Online programs at Southeastern Missouri State University have a single rate of tuition that’s unaffected by residency status. Whether you’re a state resident or out-of-state student, you’ll pay the same rate of tuition. The graduate rate is around $386.50, though you can find additional information about fees and scholarships or other financial aid on the university’s website.
The University of Kansas offers an Online Master of Arts in Applied Behavioral Science. The university favors applicants who have a background in education or psychology, preferably with some degree of clinical experience. Your curriculum includes preparatory work for the BCBA certification, and you’ll also complete an empirical master’s thesis.
In addition to your coursework, all of which can be completed online, you’ll also undertake unique practicums. This is thanks to the university’s partnership with a leading behavioral health service provider. You’ll be able to meet the BCBA exam requirements by gaining experience with individuals who have autism spectrum disorder.
Tuition for master’s degree programs at the University of Kansas depends on whether you’re pursuing licensure or not, though both attract the same rate of around $595 per credit. For a master’s degree with a licensure track, you’ll pay around $19,635 in tuition, while non-licensure degrees cost around $17,850 in tuition.
Ball State University’s program listings include a Master’s Degree in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), which includes an emphasis in Autism. This is a 30-credit program that is available entirely online and can be completed in less than 2 years. You’ll be taught under the Teachers’ College, which has been named in numerous national rankings for teaching quality.
If you enroll in this program, which was the first master’s in ABA in the state and is currently the largest in the nation, you’ll be able to choose one or two courses per semester. These include courses such as:
- Behavioral Consultation
- Advanced Applied Behavior Analysis
- field-based experience in autism
Graduate students at Ball State University will typically pay around $2,846 in tuition and fees per semester. This assumes that you’re a resident of Indiana and are taking 12 credits per semester. For non-residents, the. costs rise to around $8,220. More information is available on the university’s tuition and fees page.
At Saint Cloud University, you have the option of enrolling in a Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis. You’ll gain an understanding of the areas of:
- behavior analysis
- emphasizing autism spectrum disorders
- developmental disabilities
- program evaluation
You will also get professional skills training. You’ll also have the opportunity to be involved in cutting-edge research studies.
Thanks to an extensive network of partnerships with over 120 national and international agencies, you’ll have the opportunity to gain your clinical experience in a wide variety of settings. You might also have the chance to present at a research conference on a state, regional, or even international level.
The typical cost of tuition for a graduate school student at Saint Cloud University is around $9,192 including fees, assuming you’re a Minnesota Resident. Non-residents pay the higher rate of around $13,376 annually in tuition and fees. But graduate assistants could receive up to a $9,250 stipend and a full tuition waiver each year.
Arizona State University offers an Online Master of Arts in Special Education (Applied Behavior Analysis). The courses that make up your curriculum have all been verified by the Association for Behavior Analysis International, which means you can be eligible to sit for the BCBA examination upon graduating.
Some of the courses you’ll take include:
- Concepts & Principles of Applied Behavior Analysis
- Behavior Change Procedures
- Controversial Therapies
For consideration by the admissions department, you’ll need a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 from your last 60 hours’ worth of undergraduate-level study. Alternatively, you could have a 3.0 minimum GPA from a prior master’s degree program.
Assuming a course load of 9 credits per semester, students enrolling in this master’s degree program will pay around $11,296 per academic year. Some scholarships are available to students based on talent, background, creativity, and more. You can check out the university’s scholarships page to see whether you’re eligible.
George Mason University offers a top Master of Education in Special Education degree via Mason Online. Upon enrolling, you’ll choose from two different certification tracks: Autism Spectrum Disorder or Applied Behavior Analysis. Both tracks comprise 30 credit hours and are available entirely online through the College of Education and Human Development.
Students enrolled in the Autism Spectrum Disorders curriculum aren’t required to gain field experience. Those enrolled in the Applied Behavior Analysis specialization will complete supervised experience to satisfy the BCBA exam requirements. Regardless of your choice, the program is part-time, allowing you to continue working outside of your studies.
As a graduate student, you’ll pay tuition and fees of approximately $840 per credit hour. This includes an additional fee of $35 per credit hour for online distance learners. Information on financial aid and scholarships can be found on the Financial Aid page of the university’s website.
At the University of Houston – Victoria (UNV), you can enroll in a Master of Education in Special Education Applied with a concentration in Behavior Analysis. Again, the courses in this curriculum have been designed to fulfill the academic requirements for the BCBA examination.
If you’re seeking your certification as a behavior analyst, then you will have to complete supervised experience hours. You will also take the Verified Course Sequence, which includes those such as:
- Principles of Behavior for the Educator
- Applied Behavior Analysis
- Behavior Assessment & Adjustment of Exceptional Children and Youth
- Supervision and the Behavior Change Program
For state residents, graduate tuition is typically charged at a rate of around $480.72 per credit hour, which includes mandatory fees. For non-residents, the cost per credit hour is around $888.72. UNV awards more than $32 million in scholarships, grants, loans, and work-study programs each year.
Western Connecticut State University (WSCU) offers two options for students wanting to enroll in the Applied Behavior Analysis master’s degree. You can choose either the Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis or the certificate. Regardless of choice, all courses are offered online via distance learning.
In the master’s degree program, you will complete a total of 30 credit hours. For admission into the degree program, you’ll need to hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university, with a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.8. You will also need to complete an essay question, pay a $50 fee, and submit your official transcript.
Part-time master’s degree students pay the same rate of tuition regardless of state residency. This is around $640.00 per credit hour. Full-time tuition and required fees average at around $6,626.50 per semester for most master’s degree programs, though out-of-state students pay around $13,238.50 per semester. More information on tuition rates can be found on the university’s website.
The University of West Florida offers a Masters in Exceptional Student Education that features all courses required to meet the academic requirements for the BCBA exam. Additionally, if you already hold a master’s degree, the university will allow you to enroll solely in the Graduate BCBA Online Course Sequence so that you can meet those requirements.
If you enroll in the master’s program, you’ll be assigned a faculty mentor from the start, who will advise you on academic and career matters. All of your courses will be available online too, which means you can work remotely without needing to visit campus. It’s worth noting that there is a second specialization offered, which is in Special and Alternative Education Specialization.
All of the Applied Behavior Analysis courses in the curriculum are charged at a single flat rate of around $384.60 per credit hour. Based on 30 credit hours, you’ll pay around $11,538.00 in tuition as a state resident. Non-resident tuition is higher, but as a non-resident, you can get a 90% tuition waiver if you’re studying online and registered for online courses on a degree plan.
#14. Simmons University
At Simmons University, you can enroll in an Online Master of Science in Behavior Analysis. Lasting for around 23 months on average, the program requires no GRE scores for admissions consideration, and you’ll follow a curriculum that is ABAI-Verified for the BCBA examination.
The program comprises 8 core courses and 5 mentoring courses. There’s an emphasis on both individual and group mentoring, which will see you gain support and real experience as a practitioner. In total, you’ll complete 2,000 supervised fieldwork hours that can be put toward the BCBA examination prerequisites.
Tuition at Simmons University is calculated on a per-credit basis. For the behavior analysis master’s degree program, graduates typically pay around $1,110 per credit hour, in addition to a $116 student fee due each semester. There are a number of merit scholarships available, and you can find a scholarship search tool on the university’s website.
#15. Drexel University
Drexel University offers an Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Online Program that leads to a master’s degree award. The program will give you the chance to participate in mentor-supported research projects, meet the academic requirements for the BCBA examination, and choose from one of three concentrations.
Students opting for the Advanced Topics in ABA concentration will gain further education in behavior analysis techniques and topics, including verbal behavior and behavioral economics. The Autism Spectrum Disorders concentration is suited to those who want to help ASD sufferers to improve communication and language skills. Finally, the Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Wellness concentration focuses on helping PreK-12 students overcome non-academic learning barriers.
The typical graduate tuition rate at Drexel University is around $1,355 per credit hour. Sometimes, the university offers reduced tuition; for example, the 2021-2022 rate was set at around $1,017. These rates apply to new online students, but students enrolling in a traditional or hybrid degree will typically pay more.
At Oregon Tech, you can enroll in a Master Degree in Education Program with Emphasis in ABA and ASD. This collaborative degree program is offered through the Oregon Institute of Technology and Southern Oregon University. Comprising a total of 45 credits, you’ll graduate with a Master Degree in Education (MEd) with an emphasis in two areas.
It is a broad curriculum that includes 27 credits’ worth of BCBA courses that’ll prepare you to sit for the examination, in addition to 18 credits of ASD course requirements from Southern Oregon University. Upon completion of the supervised practical experience that forms part of your curriculum, you’ll be able to sit for the national exam immediately after graduation.
Online graduate programs at Oregon Tech attract a tuition rate of around $489.21 for state residents. If you’re an out-of-state student, you’ll pay around 37% more, which works out to approximately $821.25 per credit hour. A list of mandatory fees can be found on the university’s tuition and fees page.
McNeese State University has a Master’s Degree in Psychology with a concentration in Applied Behavior Analysis. Like any good accredited program in ABA, the curriculum has a verified course sequence that will ensure you meet the academic requirements for the BCBA examination. The program lasts for around 2 years and can be completed entirely online. However, note that only the campus-based program meets these requirements at present.
There is also a need to attend supervised practicum placements at the McNeese Autism Program (MAP) on campus. This is a custom-built outpatient treatment facility that offers ABA services to those who have been diagnosed with neurodevelopmental disorders. Here, you’ll be able to gain real-world experience working directly with clients.
Some graduate assistantships are available for ABA students, which could see you accrue paid hours at MAP. What’s more, graduate assistantship students could receive a 50% tuition discount for in-state students or a 100% waiver on out-of-state enhanced tuition for non-residents. This is in addition to receiving a stipend for the number of paid hours worked.
#18. Daemen College
Daemen College offers a Master’s Degree in Applied Behavior Analysis, which has seen a competitive increase in demand over the last few years. Featuring a verified course sequence for students hopeful to sit for the BCBA exam, the program was one of the first to be approved for licensure in New York State. Courses take place asynchronously for distance learners.
You’ll have the opportunity to learn and practice the development and evaluation of assessment techniques and interventions including:
- behavior measurement
- ethical practice
You’ll also complete a practicum course that will help you meet the 150 required hours of supervised clinical experience for licensure.
Typical graduate tuition at Daemen College is around $997.00 per credit hour. There’s an additional graduate fee of around $14 per credit hour for part-time students or a $130 flat fee for full-time students. Scholarships available to master’s degree students include a Graduate Merit Scholarship, Graduate Alumni Scholarship, and Americorps Matching Scholarship.
#19. Bay Path University
You can enroll in a fully online Master’s Degree in Applied Behavior Analysis at Bay Path University. There are 3 program options, which include a 48-credit Master’s in Applied Behavior Analysis, a 51-credit EDS in Applied Behavior Analysis, and a 57-credit Master’s Degree in Applied Behavior Analysis & Autism Spectrum Disorders. Curriculums have been aligned with the BACB 5th Edition Task List, with all supervised practical experience included.
When it comes to practical experience, you have some degree of influence over the area in which you gain your experience. You can work in a number of special interest areas including:
- environmental sustainability
- supervision and staff training
- organizational behavior management
- health and safety
In total, you’ll accrue 2,000 hours’ worth of supervised fieldwork experience.
Graduate tuition at Bay Path University varies depending on the program that you choose. For the Applied Behavior Analysis degree, tuition is charged at a rate of around $735 per credit hour. This makes it cheaper than most master’s degrees offered by Bay Path.
#20. Russell Sage College
Russell Sage College offers a Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis & Autism. Class sizes are kept small, at around 16 students per class, and you can complete the program in as few as 2 years. The program has also been approved by NYSED as a program that leads to licensure in New York State as a behavior analyst.
As part of the curriculum, you’ll gain hands-on experience that will see you meet the required hours to sit the BCBA examination. A thesis track is also offered, and if interested, you may apply to become a graduate research assistant. The faculty often utilizes students to generate evidence-based solutions to real-world problems.
Tuition for the Applied Behavior and Autism program is set at a rate of around $685 per credit hour for graduate students. However, for the most accurate estimate of tuition and fees, check out the net price calculator on the university’s website.
Under Florida Tech’s School of Behavior Analysis, you can enroll in a number of graduate programs. Five master’s degrees are offered, which include:
- MS in Applied Behavior Analysis
- MS in Organizational Behavior Management (OMB)
- MS in ABA plus OBM
- MA in Professional Behavior Analysis
- MA in Behavior Analysis Practice
There’s also a doctoral degree in ABA for those interested in further study.
Since many of the School of Psychology faculty members engage in applied research outside of teaching hours, you’ll have the opportunity to participate in these studies. You could even publish your own research article in well-known ABA journals. If you’re stuck on which program to choose, there’s a useful “What Program Should I Choose?” guide on the university’s website.
Tuition rates at Florida Tech for online programs are the same regardless of your residency. For master’s degrees, you’ll pay around $777 per credit hour. With most programs comprising 30-33 credit hours, you’ll pay approximately $23,310-$25,641 in tuition. These costs don’t include books and supplies that can vary in cost from one program to the next.
Saint Joseph’s University offers an M.S. in Applied Behavior Analysis. The curriculum is approved by the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI), and all courses are offered entirely online. The degree has been designed mostly for students who have a background in social sciences or education, and with this curriculum, you can meet the academic requirements to become a BCBA.
You’ll also be studying at a university that is home to the Kinney Center for Autism Education and Support. Through this facility, you’ll have numerous opportunities to gain real-world, practical experience. You can also apply for a supervised internship that will see you working with learners who are enrolled in one of Kinney’s programs.
If you enroll in this program, you’ll pay tuition of around $905 per credit, with an additional education fee of $100 per semester. You could also save 10% on your tuition costs if you’re alumni of Saint Joseph’s. More information on tuition and fees can be found on the university’s website.
#23. Arcadia University
Arcadia University offers a Master of Education in Applied Behavior Analysis, in addition to a Graduate Certificate. You’ll be studying under a faculty that has a wealth of combined experience working as licensed behavior analysts. The program comprises a total of 36 credit hours to complete, which will give you specialist knowledge of behavioral principles, assessment methods, and intervention strategies.
As part of the master’s degree curriculum, you’ll have the option to complete applied behavior analysis practicum opportunities. If you want to sit for the BCBA examination, then it’s worth using these practicum experiences to help meet the minimum number of supervised hours required for exam eligibility.
Arcadia University typically charges a flat rate of fees for all graduate programs. You’ll pay a graduate fee of around $50 per semester, in addition to $100 per semester technology fees. For students enrolling on a part-time basis, the costs can vary slightly; you’ll find more information on the university’s tuition and fees page.
Saint Elizabeth University offers a Master of Arts in Applied Behavior Analysis, which is suited to those who want to sit for the BCBA examination. For admission into the graduate program, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree, official transcripts, an up-to-date resume, 2 letters of recommendation, and a 500-word essay on your long-term goals.
You’ll take courses such as:
- Behavior Analysis & Learning
- Interventions & Evidence-Based Practice
- Assessment & Strategic Design
- Applied Ethics
- Behavior Change Systems
All courses in this online program can be completed remotely to fit your schedule, and you’ll need to complete 35 credit hours in total.
For graduate degree programs, Saint Elizabeth University typically charges around $1,001 per credit, with a couple of degree programs exempted. A number of fees also apply, with a general college fee of around $325 due in the first semester, reducing to $75 in the intersession and summer semesters.
Northeastern University has a Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis degree program that is verified by the Association for Behavior Analysis International. You’ll complete 7 core courses and 3 courses linked to clinical practice and research methods. There are also two different options for meeting your required supervised fieldwork hours for the BCBA examination.
The first option is to take a selection of specific courses, namely Intensive Practicum in Applied Behavior Analysis 1-4. Alternatively, supervised clinical fieldwork can be undertaken. The capstone in this program is the completion of a professional portfolio, which can be compiled electronically for distance learners.
Your tuition as a graduate student at Northeastern depends on your program. Tuition for this applied behavior analysis program typically runs at around $1,285 per credit hour. Fees include a $70 student center fee and others that you can find on the university’s tuition and fees page.
What can I do with a degree in Behavioral Psychology?
As a graduate with a master’s degree in behavioral psychology, you’ll be positioned to help clients understand the cause and effect of their own behaviors. Through this, you’ll be able to put together treatment plans to improve the lives of your clients. You’ll work with people from diverse backgrounds and a range of age groups, and you may work one-on-one or with groups like families.
As a result, you’ll develop a broad and diverse skill set that can be applied to multiple industries and roles. Some graduates choose to become researchers, drawing on the extensive research methods developed in a psychology graduate degree. Some graduates work in education, becoming teachers at the elementary, middle or high school level.
Many graduates choose to become counselors or behavioral analysts. This is one of the most popular choices, which is why the best accredited online colleges for behavioral psychology are listed above. The vast majority of these programs will lead to eligibility to sit for the BCBA examination. Finally, some graduates move into other roles in marketing, human resources, child and family social work, and more.
Do I need a master’s degree to be a behavioral psychologist?
You do need a master’s degree to become a psychologist; in fact, many positions typically require you to have a doctoral degree in psychology. However, for certain positions, especially those in schools and industrial organizations, a master’s degree may suffice. Bear in mind that you’ll also need a license to practice clinically.
Behavioral psychologists participate in a great deal of research activity, in addition to education and training, and clinical practice. It’s a popular career choice, which is why one of the most common behavioral psychology programs is the master’s degree in applied behavior analysis. You’ll gain a deeper understanding of key issues and further clinical experience than you’d gain on a bachelor’s degree.
You’ll typically be able to specialize in greater depth within specific subject areas that interest you. For applied behavior analysis programs, this means focusing on areas such as Autism Spectrum Disorders or Applied Behavior Analysis. You may also get the opportunity to participate in research directly with members of your faculty, or even have your research published in a psychology journal.
How much do psychologists make?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for psychologists in May 2020 was around $82,180. The lowest earners were employed by elementary and secondary schools, earning around $46,270 or less. The highest earners were on more than $137,590 and working in government organizations.
Salaries in other areas of counseling can vary. For example, in 2020, the BLS said that the median pay for a school and career counselor was around $58,120 annually. For substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors, the median salary was around $47,660 in the same time period.
Graduates who decide to find work as a social worker can hope to earn a median annual wage of around $51,760. Meanwhile, two other popular areas include marketing and human resources. The median pay for market research analysts in 2020 was $65,810, while the salary for human resource specialists was around $63,490.
What are the entry requirements for Applied Behavior Analysis programs?
The entry requirements for your program could vary from one institution to the next. However, many colleges and universities require you to have a minimum 3.0 GPA from your undergraduate studies, which means you must also have a bachelor’s degree. Some universities also offer 5-year accelerated programs that could see you earn your bachelor’s and master’s degrees simultaneously. In some cases, you might also be asked to show GRE scores.
Aside from academic requirements, it’s not uncommon to be asked for up to 2 letters of recommendation, in addition to your official transcripts. Some colleges and universities will also ask that you write a personal essay on a designated question, so it’s worth checking the admissions pages to understand if that is the case. If accepted, as an online learner, you could choose from multiple start dates throughout the year to ensure that your studies fit alongside your existing commitments.
If you’re interested in pursuing higher education, then you should check out 10 Online Doctorates in Behavioral Psychology and The 20 Best Online Master’s in Behavioral Psychology!