Aspiring behavioral specialists usually enroll in master's degree programs in psychology with a focus on behavioral psychology. These programs train students to recognize, predict and understand abnormal or destructive behavior patterns. They also emphasize the essential steps of psychology research, including observation, experimentation and assessment. Students can expect to gain experience with a wide variety of data-gathering techniques, including hypnosis, laboratory experimentation, psychotherapy, psychoanalysis and personality tests. This degree typically culminates in a thesis, which is a significant work of original research. Clinical practica are often required as well. In total, most programs last about two years.
Master's Degrees in Behavioral Psychology
In order to apply, students must hold a bachelor's degree. Applicants must also submit standardized test scores, letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and, in some cases, a resume. Many programs give preference to applicants with previous research experience who have demonstrated aptitude in statistics.
The following are courses commonly found in the curriculum:
- Lifespan development
- Research methodologies
- Ethics and culture
- Social psychology
- Cognitive psychology
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that employment of psychologists will grow by 19% between 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov), which is faster than average. The median annual salary for clinical, school and counseling psychologists was $70,580 in May 2015.
Continuing Education Information
In most states, a doctoral degree is the minimum academic requirement to obtain licensure as a clinical psychologist. After earning a master's degree, students are prepared to enroll in one of these programs.
In summary, a master's degree in psychology with a focus in behavioral psychology is the first educational step toward becoming a behavioral specialist. These programs prepare you for enrollment in doctoral programs and licensure, which are necessary to practice as a clinical psychologist.