Online Bachelor's Degree Programs in Behavioral Psychology

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Updated on: 12/04/2018
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Behavioral psychology provides evidence to explain why humans think and act the way they do. Behavioral psychologists strive to predict behavior, creating an opportunity to limit undesirable behavior and establish better habits. Students who want to help others might consider an online behavioral psychology degree at the bachelor's level, in which students explore foundational psychology theories and gain hands-on experience for entry-level positions. This page covers tips for selecting a program, common coursework, potential career paths, accreditation, and scholarships.

A bachelor's degree in behavioral psychology qualifies graduates to work for organizations across all sectors. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors can anticipate a 23% increase in job outlook through 2026.

How Much Can You Make in a Behavioral Psychology Career?

Job growth projections can help prospective students develop an academic and professional action plan. Learners pursuing an online bachelor's degree in behavioral psychology qualify for a variety of in-demand careers. According to the BLS, job roles in behavioral psychology should experience growth at average to above-average rates.

Job growth and salary projections may help learners choose a career, but students must also understand that a degree does not guarantee job placement or a specific salary. A degree provides students with pertinent skills and knowledge to adequately perform job duties. The table below covers salary, job outlook, and position descriptions for students with behavioral psychology bachelor's degrees.

Job Growth 2016-2026: 23.2%
Job Description

These counselors assist patients suffering from one or more disorders. Duties include developing treatment plans, which may require collaborating with other health care professionals who work with the client. Counselors also communicate treatment plans to family members, so care can continue at home. Other responsibilities include teaching clients coping strategies and managing outreach programs. Most employers require candidates to have a bachelor's degree.

Job Growth 2016-2026: 5.7%
Job Description

As social service experts, these specialists strive to rehabilitate law offenders. Professional responsibilities include interviewing parolees and their known associates, inspecting parolee residences, and determining rehabilitation plans. At times, specialists might test clients for drug usage. Other responsibilities include researching for pre-hearing trials, testifying, and composing reports for the parolee's file. Candidates must have a bachelor's degree.

Job Growth 2016-2026: 18%
Job Description

These managers supervise civic programs and organizations. This role requires exemplary communication and collaboration skills. Professionals engage stakeholders to identify what programs or services they need. Other duties include managing outreach initiatives and advocating for awareness. Managers often write proposals for fund acquisition. Employers favor candidates with a bachelor's degree in a relevant field.

Job Growth 2016-2026: 16%
Job Description

Social workers help clients who struggle with a variety of everyday problems. Professional duties include creating awareness about at-risk communities, assessing clients, and creating strategies that help clients adjust and thrive. Other responsibilities include researching resources to improve a client's quality of life or developing solutions for crisis situations. Entry-level positions require a bachelor's degree.

Job Growth 2016-2026: 11.5%
Job Description

Training and development specialists create and administer programs that prepare incumbents for job roles. These specialists also provide ongoing programming to foster incumbents' knowledge and skills. Responsibilities includes administering surveys, interviewing employees, and meeting with managers to discover training needs. At times, this role may require conflict resolution when employees display undesirable behavior or productivity levels.

Sources: BLS 2018

As indicated above, projected job growth varies by career path, and behavioral psychology graduates can choose from a wide variety of potential careers. However, other factors influence earning potential. Earning potential for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors varies by state and industry. The top-paying jobs exist in Utah, Alaska, and Oregon, while Vermont offers the highest concentration of jobs. From an industry perspective, outpatient care centers offer the highest levels of employment, while insurance-related roles offer the most money.

What Courses Can be Taken for an Online Behavioral Psychology Degree?

All accredited programs cover general education requirements. Behavioral psychology core coursework varies by school, as each school has its own curriculum, and some programs are more developed than others. Schools with more resources often offer additional electives or concentrations. Below is a list of common courses offered for an online behavioral psychology degree. Contact an admissions specialist if you have program specific questions.

Research and Statistics

Students learn how to apply statistical analysis to research ideas. Other course objectives include drawing conclusions from data and communicating quantitative information.

Lifespan Development

This course examines growth through the lifespan, using pertinent developmental theories and milestones. Students also learn research method strategies, examine case studies, and discuss current issues in behavioral psychology.

Personality Theory

Personality theory covers major theories and research methods. Students employ critical evaluation to identify influences in personality development. This course also examines theorists from a socio-historical context.

Abnormal Psychology

This introductory course examines mental disorders. Students explore the development of abnormal behavior patterns and diagnostic methods used to study disorders. This course emphasizes theoretical treatment perspectives, epidemiology, and etiology.

Interpersonal Communication and Group Dynamics

Students in this course develop awareness regarding processes, issues, and possibilities of communication. Students develop an understanding of relationship complexities, collaboration, and group decision-making. Other topics include conflict resolution and facilitation.

How to Choose the Best Online Behavioral Psychology Program

Multiple factors, including accreditation and overall reputation, can influence the marketability of online behavioral psychology degree holders. Graduation and retention rates can help prospective students gauge their potential success, and digital resources tell students what kind of university support they can expect. Faculty credentials, accessibility, and student-to-teacher ratios reflect school culture and environment. Below are five common questions about online behavioral psychology degrees.

How long does it usually take to complete an online behavioral psychology degree?

Most students complete this program in 4-5 years, if they attend school full time through a traditional program. Many online schools offer accelerated programs, which could shorten time commitments. Self-paced programs allow students to move as quickly or as slowly as they want. Students may also attend school part time, which doubles standard four-year program lengths.

Will I have to take a license exam?

At the bachelor's level, behavioral psychology students do not have to take a licensure exam for most job roles. Clinical mental health, behavioral disorder, and marriage and family counselors must usually complete an advanced degree and pass a license exam.

What accreditation agencies should I consider for an online behavioral psychology degree?

No specific programmatic accrediting agency exists for a behavioral psychology bachelor's, but students should consider advanced degrees that meet American Psychology Association (APA) standards. Students may visit the APA website to compare coursework with APA standards. They should also check for regional accreditation. More than 85% of U.S. universities hold regional accreditation, which implements a higher standard for educational quality.

How much does a behavioral psychology bachelor's degree online cost?

Degree cost varies. Influential factors include school residency and geographical location. Students who have state residency pay less than their out-of-state counterparts. Average in-state costs hover around $50,000, while out-of-state programs can cost more than $80,000. Additionally, schools with brick-and-mortar locations often charge online students on-campus tuition, while their fully online competitors often offer much lower prices.

What sort of professional organizations can behavioral psychology students join?

The International Society for the Study of Behavioural Development (ISSBD) offers a student membership that includes career support and networking opportunities. The Association for Behavioral Analysis International has been around since 1974 and offers discounted student memberships. Also, the National Association of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapists strives to help CBT professionals develop their skills. Students have access to national conferences and mentorships.

Scholarships & Financial Aid for Behavioral Psychology Programs

Prospective behavioral psychology students often consider financial aid to pay for their bachelor's degrees. Federal aid provides grants, loans, and work study to students who qualify. Grants and work-study programs do not require repayment, but students must begin repaying loans shortly after graduation. Unsubsidized loans begin accruing interest immediately. Therefore, students should consider scholarship funds set aside by organizations and foundations to support specific student populations. The table below highlights five scholarships for behavioral psychology undergraduate students.

Psi Chi Undergraduate Scholarships

Geico Insurance and Psi Chi partners offer undergraduate students financial support as they earn their psychology degrees. Qualifying candidates must be in good academic standing at an accredited university. Psi Chi requires transcripts, financial information, and a personal essay demonstrating financial need. Students should also highlight any relevant activities outside the classroom. Psi Chi awards eight students $3,000 each year. Students must use their awards for tuition, school fees, or textbooks.

NIH Undergraduate Scholarship Program

The National Institutes of Health provides competitive scholarships to students with financial need. Students must be enrolled at an accredited university with a 3.3 GPA at minimum. Winners can receive a maximum of $20,000 per year, and students may renew their scholarship for a maximum of four years. Winners also receive a paid research training internship, plus guaranteed employment and training upon earning their degree.

Future Counselors of America Scholarship

Undergraduates who are majoring in an area of psychology and intend to become counselors qualify for the Future Counselors of America Scholarship. Applicants need a minimum 3.5 GPA. Students must submit official transcript copies and a 900-word essay examining psychological challenges facing single people. The essay should also address the impact of digital dating. Winners may receive a maximum award of $4,000.

Learn.org Bachelor's Degree Scholarship in Social Sciences

Learn.org supports students earning a social science bachelor's degree, which includes psychology students. This organization chooses one student per year to receive a $500 award. Applications are due by April 1. Students must submit proof of good academic standing, discuss their experiences outside of the classroom, and submit a 100-word explanation about how a social science related degree can push them toward their ideal career.

Diabetes Scholars Foundation Scholarship Program

The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation offers this scholarship to first-year students earning a mental health-related bachelor's degree. Candidates must have a minimum 3.0 GPA at an accredited university. Students must prove that they participate in community service activities outside of school. Applicants who contribute to the diabetes community have an advantage. Winners may receive a maximum of $1,000.