Behavioral Psychology Graduate Programs: Master's Degrees & PhD Info

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What kind of job can you get with a graduate degree in behavioral psychology? Find out program requirements, online options and info on courses on behavioral psychology.
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Studying Behavioral Psychology: Master's Degrees and PhDs at a Glance

The behavioral branch within the field of psychology entails the study of individual and societal traits that affect an individual's behavior. Behavioral psychology professionals work in counseling, organizational, clinical, research, and academic settings. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a doctoral degree is the minimum requirement for becoming a licensed psychologist; however, a master's degree may be enough to work under a licensed practitioner. The BLS also projected that the field of psychology would grow by 22% from 2010-2020, which would be faster than the average for all occupations.

Master's PhD
Who is this degree for? - Students looking to earn credits towards a PhD
- Aspiring professionals looking to start practicing under supervision of licensed psychologists
- Aspiring behavioral psychologists looking to become licensed, do research, or teach
Common Career Paths (with approximate median annual salary) - Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists ($68,000)*
- Behavioral Disorder Counselor ($39,000)*
Same as master's degree, plus: Postsecondary Teacher ($68,000)*
Time to Completion 1-2 years full time 4-5 years full time
Common Graduation Requirements - Roughly 12 courses
- Thesis or capstone project
- Exams
- Completion of coursework
- Research
- Dissertation
- Exams
- Possible teaching requirement
- Possible research/lab requirement
Prerequisites - Bachelor's degree in psychology or related field
- Possible GRE/GMAT score prerequisite
- Possible work experience minimum
Same as master's degree, plus:
- Possible master's degree requirement
Online Availability Yes No

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2012 figures).

Master's in Behavioral Psychology

Master's degree programs in behavioral psychology train students in the analysis and research of behaviors in various settings, including clinical and counseling situations. As a graduate, you will have the ability to design experiments and conduct research, as well as assist in the treatment of patients.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Credits may count towards a PhD
  • The psychology field is expected to grow 22% in the upcoming decade*
  • A master's degree may allow you to become certified and/or licensed to work under licensed supervision, depending on the state*

Cons

  • A PhD is the standard to become a licensed psychologist
  • A master's degree may not be enough to work in academia
  • For certain counseling positions, you would compete with bachelor's degree holders and high-school graduates*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Courses and Requirements

Your coursework will focus on research methodology, psychology theory, cognition, and therapy and treatment theory and practices. Some of your classes may include:

  • Statistics
  • Research design
  • Clinical behavior analysis
  • Counseling

Online Degree Info

Behavioral psychology master's degree programs are available in online and hybrid formats, usually as a concentration within a general psychology program. The requirements and coursework tend to be the same as on-campus programs, but with time flexibility to accommodate working students.

Stand Out With This Degree

You may want to consider getting an internship or research assistant position, since those could both lead you to better networking opportunities and count as experience for certification in the future. Research projects that get published are also another good source of valuable and accredited experience. If you're considering continuing your education, you may want to check the transferability of your program's credits.

PhD in Behavioral Psychology

Doctoral programs in behavioral psychology allow you to delve deeper into the subject through research, lectures, and faculty mentoring. As a student, you may have to comply with a teaching requirement or a programmed research plan.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • A doctoral degree would allow you to work in the private and public sectors in a variety of settings
  • A PhD would let you become a licensed psychologist*
  • A PhD would allow you to work in academia

Cons

  • Earning a PhD means an additional 3-5 years after your undergraduate studies
  • Competition for research and academic positions can be fierce*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Courses and Requirements

As a doctoral student, your classes would cover the same areas of a master's degree program, but at a higher level. You may also have to fulfill research and teaching requirements, not only for your dissertation, but also as integral parts of your degree plan. Some of your courses may cover:

  • Principles of behavior
  • Applied behavioral analysis
  • Research methods
  • Clinical treatments

Online Degree Info

Online PhD programs in behavioral psychology are rare, if existent at all. However, schools may allow you to take some courses online while enrolled in a traditional program. Studying on-campus may be your best choice, since it would allow you to pursue networking and research opportunities that may not be available otherwise.

Get Ahead With This Program

Getting a faculty mentor can be key to broadening your research and networking choices, all of which may enhance your career. Being published in scholarly journals can also contribute to your career advancement. If you want to work in academia, you should get as much teaching experience as possible. Becoming certified and/or licensed through an association, such as the National Board Certification in Behavior Analysis and the American Board of Professional Psychology, may expand your professional opportunities after graduation.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master: Psychology/Applied Behavioral Analysis
      • MS in Psychology
      • Master: Psychology/General Psychology
      • MSPY - Industrial/Organizational Psychology Specialization
      • Master: Psychology/Addictions
      • MS in Educational Psychology
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • M.S. Psychology with an Emphasis in Gerontology
      • M.S. in Psychology with an Emphasis in Health Psychology
      • M.S. in Psychology with an Emphasis in Human Factors
      • MS in Psychology: General Psychology
      • MS in Psychology: Industrial & Organizational Psychology
      • Master in Christian Counseling
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Northcentral University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • M.A. in Psychology - General Psychology
      • M.A. in Psychology - Gender Studies
      • MS - Health Psychology (MSPSYHL)
      • MS - Industrial/Organizational Psychology (MSPSYIO)
      • MS - Forensic Psychology (MSPSYFS)
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Sacred Heart University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MSAP - Community Psychology
      • MSAP - General Track
      • MSAP - Industrial/Organizational Technology
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Saint Joseph's University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS in Criminal Justice Behavior Analysis
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Colorado Christian University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Counseling, M.A.
      • Counseling, M.A. Online
  • San Francisco, CA

    San Francisco State University

  • Online Programs Available
    8. Regent University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership - Coaching and Mentoring

Featured Schools

Kaplan University

  • Master: Psychology/Applied Behavioral Analysis
  • MS in Psychology
  • Master: Psychology/General Psychology

Which subject are you interested in?

Grand Canyon University

  • M.S. Psychology with an Emphasis in Gerontology
  • M.S. in Psychology with an Emphasis in Health Psychology
  • M.S. in Psychology with an Emphasis in Human Factors

What is your highest level of education?

Northcentral University

  • M.A. in Psychology - General Psychology
  • M.A. in Psychology - Gender Studies
  • MS - Health Psychology (MSPSYHL)

What is your highest level of education?

Sacred Heart University

  • MSAP - Community Psychology
  • MSAP - General Track
  • MSAP - Industrial/Organizational Technology

What is your highest level of education completed?

Saint Joseph's University

  • MS in Criminal Justice Behavior Analysis

What is your highest level of education completed?

Colorado Christian University

  • Counseling, M.A.
  • Counseling, M.A. Online

What is your highest level of education completed?

Regent University

  • Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership - Coaching and Mentoring

What is your highest level of education completed?