A master's degree is considered the terminal degree for school psychologists and industrial-organizational psychologists, and other types of psychologists typically need a doctoral degree. The educational requirements for those who work under the job title 'counselor' rather than 'psychologist' vary by job setting and state requirements, but a master's degree is often required or preferred. Both substance abuse/behavioral disorder counselors and psychologists are generally required to be professionally licensed or certified. Check with the Association of State and Provincial Licensing Boards for state-specific requirements.
Online degrees in behavioral psychology include a Master of Science (M.S.) or Master of Arts (M.A.) in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). A bachelor's degree, behavioral science coursework, and general education subjects and prerequisites for enrollment. Students will complete an off- campus supervised internship as part of their program.
Behavioral Psychology Master's Degree Program
These programs are science-focused and place emphasis on behavioral disorders, disabilities, experimental analysis and therapeutic approaches. Some programs also concentrate on specific disorders in behavioral psychology, such as autism. Graduates are awarded a Master of Science (M.S.) or Master of Arts (M.A.) in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). Applicants must possess a bachelor's degree, and other typical requirements include coursework in behavioral science and other general education subjects, transcripts, a career goals statement, a resume, letters of reference and an interview.
Program Information and Requirements
Online master's degree programs in behavioral psychology consist of 30-45 credit hours and take approximately 18-24 months to complete. Students must also complete a supervised practicum at an approved agency or site, and the number of hours depends on state licensure requirements. Some schools also offer graduate assistantships performing activities in research and teaching. A thesis or written examination is usually required to complete the program.
Online courses can be accessed from any personal computer and Internet connection meeting the minimum technical requirements of the program. Communication with teachers and other students is done via e-mail, discussion boards, chat rooms, websites and educational delivery systems such as Blackboard or Mediasite.
List of Common Courses
Master's degree-level coursework in behavioral psychology covers assessment, research, analysis, treatments and therapeutic methods in the field. Specialty coursework in specific behavioral disorders may also be included.
The principles, processes and procedures used in behavior analysis are introduced in this class. Some topics covered include behavioral characteristics, changes, fluency, interventions and research.
Behavioral Assessment and Consultation
Students learn to design and implement interventions and therapeutic treatment for various types of behavior disorders. Disorder identification, problem solving and outcome evaluation are studied.
Behavioral Intervention and Therapy
Students learn how to apply current evidence-based treatment methods to behavior therapy disorders in this class. Models in psychiatric, educational and medical approaches are explored. Topics also include functional assessment, ethical issues and therapies used in different populations and settings.
Job opportunities are expected to be favorable in counseling depending on specialty, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Employment in behavioral health and substance abuse counseling was expected to grow by 22%, much faster than the average for all occupations, between 2014 and 2024, and the median annual wage as of May 2015 was $39,980 (www.bls.gov).
Continuing Education Information
For those aspiring to continue their education, doctoral degree programs are available in psychology. Counselors with a doctoral degree have better employment opportunities in supervision, research, administration, consultation and college teaching. In addition, the American Psychological Association (APA) offers many different continuing education opportunities through its online academy and independent study book or DVD programs.
Online behavioral science degrees are offered at the master's level, with a master's being the terminal level of education for school psychologists and industrial-organizational psychologists. Students commonly pursue work in the area of behavioral health and substance abuse counselling, in which career opportunities appear quite favorable.