Masters Degree in Behavioral Psychology: Program Information

A master's degree in applied behavioral analysis may be a Master of Arts (M.A.) in Clinical Psychology with an applied behavior analysis (ABA) specialization or Master of Science (M.S.) in Applied Behavior Analysis. These master's degree programs prepare students to work in rehabilitation or treatment centers, helping patients with autism, learning disorders, behavior disorders or developmental disabilities.

Essential Information

The applied behavior analysis master's degree program trains students to be human services specialists. These professionals work with children who have behavioral, developmental and learning disorders. In most cases, students may specialize in a particular field and tailor their curriculum toward that field. Master's degrees in behavioral psychology often require a thesis based on experimental research. These programs generally require five or six semesters of study.

  • Program Levels in Behavioral Psychology: Master's degree, doctorate degree necessary for licensing in most programs
  • Prerequisites: Bachelor's degree
  • Other Requirements: Psychological research experience; possibly clinical hours necessary

Master's Degree in Behavioral Psychology

A bachelor's degree is mandatory to be eligible for admission to a behavioral psychology master's degree program. College transcripts, standardized test scores and letters of recommendation may be necessary as well. The majority of coursework in this field is based on research, although some programs require students to complete clinical hours to graduate. The following are common courses offered for this degree program:

  • Common behavioral disorders
  • Child development
  • Family dynamics
  • Autism
  • Parenting techniques and training
  • Developmental disorders and treatment

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that the employment rate for all psychologists will increase 12% between 2012 and 2022, which is faster than average (www.bls.gov). The BLS also notes that the median annual salary for clinical, school and counseling psychologists was $74,030 in May 2014.

Continuing Education and Certification Information

Master's degree graduates of a clinical psychology or ABA program with substantial work experience may consider a doctorate degree in the field, such as the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Clinical Psychology and Ph.D. in Behavioral Psychology. Ph.D. degree programs in these fields usually focus on intensive, original research and dissertation publication, which can be based on a large-scale psychological experiment. Graduates of this degree typically pursue careers in psychology.

Students may also consider behavior analyst certification, which is offered through the Behavior Analyst Certification Board and offered through programs across the country (www.bacd.com). This certification is not required; however, it can help with career opportunities.

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