Best Online Master’s in Behavioral Psychology

TBS Staff Writers
Updated November 2, 2023
Earning a master's in behavioral psychology builds an understanding of the connection between the human mind and behavior.

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Earning a master’s in behavioral psychology builds an understanding of the connection between the human mind and behavior.

With behavioral science degrees online, graduates can pursue rewarding, in-demand careers helping others achieve their mental health goals.

Behavioral psychologists observe human behavior and identify environmental stimuli that cause negative and positive responses. These psychologists focus on behavior to understand thoughts, values, and ideas — rather than the other way around.

Most schools don’t offer master’s in behavioral psychology degrees. Instead, “behavioral psychology” is more commonly understood as a theory or approach to psychology. The name of the degree is typically “applied behavior analysis” or “behavioral neuroscience.”

A master’s in behavior analysis teaches students about theories of psychology, ways to observe human behaviors, and therapeutic techniques to address harmful or dysfunctional behaviors.

A behavioral science degree online program can offer a flexible and affordable option for aspiring counselors. A master’s degree is a stepping stone to completing a doctoral program in the discipline. Psychologists must have a doctorate in psychology and a state-issues license.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, psychologists have increasingly offered online sessions with patients. Psychological services remain increasingly important and useful for individuals as the impacts of COVID-19 continue to emerge.

Now is an ideal time to earn a discipline because the demand for mental health providers remains high. This guide provides information about the best online master’s degrees in behavior analysis.

The Best Master’s in Behavioral Psychology Programs Available Online

#1 Best Online Master’s in Behavioral Psychology

Southeast Missouri State University

  • Location-markerCape Girardeau, MO
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$6,606
  • Out-of-state$12,636
  • Retention Rate75%
  • Acceptance Rate86%
  • Students Enrolled10,637
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment52%
  • AccreditationYes
#2 Best Online Master’s in Behavioral Psychology

University of Cincinnati

  • Location-markerCincinnati, OH
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$9,476
  • Out-of-state$24,810
  • Retention Rate88%
  • Acceptance Rate77%
  • Students Enrolled39,263
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment49%
  • AccreditationYes
#3 Best Online Master’s in Behavioral Psychology

Saint Cloud State University

  • Location-markerSaint Cloud, MN
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$7,394
  • Out-of-state$15,686
  • Retention Rate67%
  • Acceptance Rate90%
  • Students Enrolled13,049
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment31%
  • AccreditationYes
#4 Best Online Master’s in Behavioral Psychology

Western Connecticut State University

  • Location-markerDanbury, CT
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$5,924
  • Out-of-state$17,726
  • Retention Rate74%
  • Acceptance Rate76%
  • Students Enrolled5,631
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment28%
  • AccreditationYes
#5 Best Online Master’s in Behavioral Psychology

Arcadia University

  • Location-markerGlenside, PA
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$43,740
  • Out-of-state$43,740
  • Retention Rate80%
  • Acceptance Rate66%
  • Students Enrolled3,463
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment29%
  • AccreditationYes

Best Online Masters

Behavioral Psychology


The Best Schools

Online Master’s in Behavioral Psychology Programs Ranking Guidelines

We ranked these degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.

Rankings Methodology

Featured Online Master’s in Behavioral Psychology Programs

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What Is Behavioral Psychology?

At the core of behavior psychology, also called behaviorism, rests the assumption that all behavior results from emotions, thoughts, and beliefs derived from external stimuli. Psychology professionals in this field observe human behavior, identify negative behaviors, and work with clients and patients to replace them with positive alternatives.

Behavior analysis professionals treat negative behaviors through clinical techniques like desensitization, exposure and response therapy, applied behavior analysis, and modeling.

What Is an Online Master’s in Behavioral Psychology?

An online master’s in behavior analysis comprises roughly two years of coursework. Individuals develop assessment and intervention skills to use behavioral concepts and theories with patients during a behavior analysis master’s degree,

Designed for students with bachelor’s degrees in psychology or related fields, a master’s degree in behavior analysis focuses on assessing human behavior as it relates to external stimuli. Online programs blend practicum requirements and didactic coursework. Graduate programs in behavior analysis typically emphasize specific therapeutic techniques and research addressing human behavior.

Practicing counselors who want to advance their knowledge and training in behaviorism might benefit from a graduate degree in behavior analysis. A master’s degree also serves as a step along the path to a doctoral degree in the discipline.

What Can I Expect in Pursuing an Online Master’s in Behavioral Psychology?

Behavior analysis coursework in an online master’s program explores principles and theories of human behavior, foundations of social and emotional development, and evidence-based practice in counseling. Students also take classes in qualitative and quantitative analysis to develop their research skills. Practical requirements accompany a thesis or capstone project in most programs.

Behavior analysis programs may offer specialized coursework in areas such as:

  • Applied behavior analysis
  • Applied child and adolescent psychology
  • Applied behavior science
  • Behavioral neuroscience

Common Courses in Master’s in Behavioral Psychology Online Programs

Each online master’s in behavior analysis program varies in specific coursework, but general classes remain consistent across curricula. Standard courses build foundational knowledge of psychology concepts and develop observational and analytical skills.

  • Research and Experimental Design: This course introduces learners to data collection and measurement methods, single-subject and group research, and research design and methodology. Enrollees often develop research study projects.
  • Applied Behavior Analysis: This course develops the skills needed to conduct functional analyses across the lifespan. Students learn to conduct evaluations, observe interactions, and develop assessment and therapy plans. Learners typically take this foundational class in their first year of the program.
  • Behavior Assessments: A course in behavior assessments trains students to observe, identify, and target behaviors that interfere with human function. Behavior assessment skills are applicable in workplace environments and everyday life. They are often used to assess young learners in classroom settings.
  • Advanced Intervention: Advanced intervention coursework integrates didactic content with practical requirements. Students learn best practices to research, develop, and implement behavior analysis interventions to improve individual and social interactions for clients and patients.
  • Diversity in Clinical Practice: This course expands students’ knowledge and understanding of diverse populations in clinical settings. Diversity in clinical practice emphasizes cognitive and social psychological development, experiences, and needs of diverse groups. Learners also develop practical skills to work within diverse communities.

Choosing an Online Master’s in Behavioral Psychology Program

Prospective enrollees should consider several factors to identify their ideal online psychology master’s program, including program length, flexibility, and overall cost. Learners also need to fully understand all research and practical requirements before applying to a behavior analysis program. Additional considerations include reputability, transfer credit options, and program format.

Accreditation status ensures a program’s overall quality. Learners should research if they can transfer in coursework from previous degrees or receive credit for work experience. Prospective enrollees can also contact schools to determine if their program uses asynchronous, synchronous, or hybrid classes.

Accreditation for Online Master’s in Behavioral Psychology Degrees

Colleges and universities in the United States generally maintain national or regional accreditation. Accreditation status confirms a school’s educational standards and the overall quality of its programs.

Alongside regional and national accreditation, individual programs may hold additional accreditation through a professional body geared toward a specific discipline. The American Psychological Association accredits psychology programs, while Association for Behavior Analysis International accredits behavior analysis programs.

Behavioral Psychology Careers

Careers for individuals with master’s degrees in behavior analysis span several industries and sectors. Therapists, school counselors, and mental health professionals rank among the most common jobs, but with a degree in behavior analysis, students can also find opportunities in business, social work, and teaching.

A degree in behavior analysis equips learners with knowledge and skills to work as human resource managers, child and family social workers, and marketing professionals. Graduates can also teach or pursue careers in research at educational institutions, government agencies, and corporate entities. Master’s degree-holders can also go on to earn doctorates in psychology to find work as psychologists or in academia.


Median Annual Salary (2020): $82,180

Psychologists explore social, emotional, and cognitive processes and behavior by observing individuals and communities. They meet with patients and clients in clinical settings or carry out observational research to gather information. These professionals also develop treatments and plans to address issues and disorders. Psychologists can specialize in developmental psychology, forensic psychology, or rehabilitation psychology.

A psychologist needs a minimum of a doctoral degree. Clinical psychologists need licensure from their state of residence.

School Counselor

Median Annual Salary (2020): $58,120

School counselors work with children and adolescents to help them develop social and academic skills. They visit classrooms to observe behavior, coordinate with teachers and school administrators about issues and behaviors, and collaborate with families to determine student needs and limitations.

School counselors may work at elementary, middle, or high schools. High school counselors typically guide students about career options and other post-graduation strategies. A school counselor typically needs at least a master’s degree and a license or certification issued by their state. Some states also require a certificate in education.

Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors

Median Annual Salary (2020): $47,660

Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors evaluate patients and clients to determine treatments for health, addiction, and mental health disorders.

Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors may work with individuals or groups to help them through treatment, modify their behaviors, and manage the stresses and expectations of their personal and professional relationships. Mental health counselors often meet with individuals, families, and couples to focus on specific conditions such as depression and anxiety.

Most counselors have master’s degrees at minimum, and substance abuse and mental health counselors working in private practice must be licensed within their state.

Behavioral Psychology Career Certifications and Licensure

Social workers, mental health counselors, marriage and family therapists, and behavioral psychologists typically need licenses to practice. Licensure requirements vary by state, but often include an accredited degree, supervised practicum hours, and an exam.

Mental health professionals who earn licensure in one state before moving to another state can apply for reciprocity, depending on the state. They may need to meet additional professional requirements before practicing in their new location.

Some behavior analysis professionals, such as board-certified behavior analysts or certified autism specialists, need certification to practice. Requirements vary by specialty but typically include direct clinical hours, continuing education credits, and an examination. Students should research the credentialing options and requirements for their intended career paths.

Behavioral Psychology Professional Organizations

Professional organizations for behavior analysis graduates open doors to individuals at all stages of their educational and professional careers. Students can join a professional organization to gain insight into the field of behavior analysis, receive mentorship, and find career guidance.

Professional organizations also help members stay up-to-date on developments in behavior analysis, encourage collaborations, and provide continuing education and professional development programs.

American Counseling Association

ACA supports counseling professionals and students by advocating for the profession, providing professional development, and ensuring ethical and inclusive practices through its code of ethics.

American Psychological Association

APA unites researchers, clinicians, educators, and students to promote psychological science. Members receive access to networking opportunities, publications, discounts on continuing education programs, and resources provided by APA partners.

Association for Behavior Analysis International

As a leader in behavior analysis science and practice, ABAI provides access to its learning center, webinar series, blogs, and continuing education programs. Additional benefits include presentation submission privileges, a job board, and discounts on journal publications.

Association for Psychological Science

APS promotes and supports scientifically oriented psychology through research programs and advocacy initiatives. Members gain access to the latest research in the field, policy updates, and award and honors programs. Students who join receive career resources, mentorship support, and grant and award opportunities.

National Association of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapists

Established in 1995, NACBT trains and certifies cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) professionals worldwide. Members can access its national conference, downloadable materials, and the CBT job board.

Frequently Asked Questions About Behavioral Psychology

The entire process of becoming a behavioral psychologist can take 6-7 years. It takes about two years to earn a master’s degree for full-time students. Students also need practical experience and state licensure. Aspiring behavioral psychologists also need a doctorate, which takes 4-5 years to complete.

4-5 years. To become a behavior therapist, an individual needs a master’s degree, which takes 2 years of full-time study. Graduates will also need 1-2 years of supervised work to earn licensure.

Yes. Most states require a Ph.D., Psy.D., or Ed.D. in counseling and professional licensure to work as a psychologist.

Jobs for individuals with behavioral science degrees include social worker, psychologist, or research analyst.

Portrait of Melissa Sartore

Melissa Sartore

Melissa Sartore holds a Ph.D. in history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her BA and MA in history are from Western Illinois University. A medievalist by training, she has published on outlawry in medieval England with additional publications on outlaws in popular culture and across geographic and historical boundaries.

Portrait of Reviewed by: Megan Pietrucha, Psy.D.

Reviewed by: Megan Pietrucha, Psy.D.

Megan Pietrucha, Psy.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist who currently practices in the Chicago area. She holds a bachelor’s in psychology from Illinois Wesleyan University and a master’s and doctorate in clinical psychology from the Illinois School of Professional Psychology at Argosy University. Her clinical interests include the treatment of eating and body image concerns, college student and student-athlete mental health, mood disorders, health and wellness, mindfulness, sport and performance psychology, and consultation. In addition to her clinical work, Dr. Pietrucha has served as the training director for an APA-accredited internship program and has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in psychology. She has also worked with high school and college athletes and teams, as well as recreational fitness programs, to provide mental skills training for athletic performance and fitness adherence.

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