It's an amazing feat of educational technology to know that there are online Ph.D. in Behavioral Psychology degrees available for professionals in America. This is thought to be an effect from a rising demand for licensed psychologists and a shortage of such professionals. And while a traditional education is certainly a good option for psychologists, an online program may be a good choice for busy professionals.
When it comes to online degrees, especially at the doctoral level, it is important that professionals understand their needs. Not every program is built exactly the same, and some programs may offer opportunities that aren't common but helpful for a certain career goal. That's why being able to compare two or more schools at the same time can be helpful.
This ranking was built by using the National Center for Education Statistics and its public-use College Navigator. An initial pool of 25 schools was created from our research. From there, the ranking was narrowed down to 10 exceptional schools based on in-state graduate tuition rates. These schools are listed below in order of least to most affordable.
Ranking Low-cost Online Behavioral Psychology PhD Programs
10. University of Texas at Austin
Online Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology
The University of Texas at Austin provides a pathway to earn a behavioral psychology Ph.D. online. The school's Ph.D. in Psychology is a hybrid program that enables students to choose their own graduate area of expertise, which includes a cognate area in behavioral psychology. This is a research-based degree, meaning that students will be required to complete original research as part of the degree requirements. It should be noted that at this time, this degree alone will not satisfy the requirements for licensure. Students can also expect residency requirements, which will be approved by the department and be scheduled for a student's convenience. Other degree requirements include 60 credit hours of coursework, including core and cognate curriculums, as well as a research paper or dissertation. Sample courses include Principles of Sensory and Behavioral Neuroscience, Theory and Explanation in Social Psychology, and Advanced Behavior Pathology.
9. Western Kentucky University
Bowling Green, Kentucky
Online Doctor of Psychology in Applied Psychology
Western Kentucky University confers an online Ph.D. in Behavioral Psychology that is a pathway towards licensure in the state of Kentucky. This is an applied practice degree, meaning it was created for psychologists who are working towards the goal of becoming licensed psychologists. It is a hybrid program that comes with two specializations: Clinical Psychology and Applied Psychology. Students are reminded that many of the courses at WKU are only available on campus; for this reason, it is best suited for students who already live in the area. The program is not currently accredited by the American Psychological Association, but it is in the application process; this means that the program does adhere to the guidelines set forth by the APA. Students can expect to complete 48 credit hours of coursework, practicum hours, a research project, a comprehensive exam, and a dissertation. Sample courses include Individual Differences and Human Diversity, History and Systems of Applied Psychology, and Clinical Psychopharmacology.
8. Old Dominion University
Online Doctor of Philosophy in Human Factors Psychology
Students interested in a Ph.D. behavioral psychology online that focuses on technology will want to research Old Dominion University's offering in this area. The Ph.D. in Human Factors Psychology is built on the scientist-practitioner model and has a stated focus in behavioral science as well as psychological theory. This is an applied degree that requires students to both teach a graduate class in their field as well publish a research paper in a peer-reviewed journal. It is a comprehensive degree that, while not currently offering a pathway to licensure, is nevertheless an important degree for any academic or researcher. Students can expect to complete at least 48 credit hours of coursework, research, a comprehensive exam, and a dissertation. Sample courses include Advanced Social Psychology, Analysis of Variance and Experimental Design, and Human Cognition.
7. Texas Tech University
Online Doctor of Philosophy in Human Factors Psychology
Fully accredited by the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, Texas Tech University offers an applied research behavioral psychology doctorate online degree. This is a hybrid program that requires a few residencies a year but is perfectly designed for students who are interested in joining academic and government workplaces after graduation. This program has a stated employment success rate of 100 percent for all of its graduates, often with graduates getting multiple job offers prior to graduation. The program requires a combined total of 74 hours of coursework, research, and dissertation efforts; students must also complete a comprehensive exam. Sample courses include Biological Bases of Psychological Functioning, Psychopharmacology of Psychoactive Drugs, and Group Process and Intergroup Relations.
6. Arizona State University
Online Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology, Concentration in Behavioral Neuroscience
Arizona State University is long known for offering students all over the country access to its virtual school, which is currently one of the highest-rated online undergraduate and graduate virtual programs in the country. This is continued by its online Ph.D. in Behavioral Psychology, which is a concentration of the school's research-based Ph.D. in the field. This is a program headed by psychologists on staff and is renown for both its original research opportunities as well as its state-of-the-art online curriculum. It is also possible for students to take on their Juris Doctor along with this Ph.D. in a concurrent program. Students can expect to complete 84 credit hours past the master's level, a comprehensive written and oral exam, a prospectus, and a dissertation. Sample courses include Social Psychology, Cognitive Science, and Behavioral Neuroscience.
5. West Virginia University
Online Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology – Concentration in Behavior Analysis
West Virginia University confers an online Ph.D. in Behavioral Psychology that has been around since 1976, making it one of the oldest doctoral programs in the field. The program was built for working professionals with a vested interest in going into academia or research; it has an evidence-based approach to the theories and concepts taught in a seminar. It also requires students to do original research, whether with the faculty or through self-study. Practicums are also necessary, but since this is an online degree, that requirement can be met at a student's area of residence. It's also important to note that this program has been accredited by the Behavioral Analysis Accreditation Board. This degree requires 45 credit hours of coursework, a practicum, research, a comprehensive exam, and a dissertation. Sample courses include Advanced Experimental Analysis of Behavior, Assessment and Intervention for Severe Behavior, and Biological Aspects of Behavior.
4. Utah State University
Online Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology, Behavior Analysis Concentration
Currently named one of "America's Best Graduate Schools" by U.S. News and World Report. Utah State University is home to a behavioral psychology online Ph.D. that is currently in demand. The program was developed for professionals interested in research, including projects on parenting in LatinX families, impulsivity, and cognition issues in young children. It is a plan of study that offers seven specializations, including Behavior Analysis, Socio-behavioral, Epidemiology, and Brain and Cognition. It is a hybrid degree, so students will be expected to make annual trips for short residencies, but most coursework can be completed online. This degree requires 72 credit hours of coursework, including a research paper and a dissertation, along with comprehensive written and oral exams. Sample courses include Diversity Issues in Treatment and Assessment, Professional Ethics and Standards, and Supervision and Consultation in Psychological and Educational Settings.
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2. University of South Florida
Online Doctor of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)
Students interested in an online Ph.D. in Behavior Analysis need look no further than the University of South Florida. This hybrid degree is buoyed by active researchers and psychologists; the list of faculty on the program's website also indicates their current research areas, which is a great gift to students interested in a certain cognate area for their specialization. The ABA is a research-based degree that requires a cohort model and imbues the followed curriculum with original research projects as well as team projects to ensure that each student learns soft skills while learning the core concepts of the field. The program is also aligned with ABAI accreditation requirements, so students will be eligible for both licensure and certification after graduation. Students can expect to complete a teaching practicum, a research project, 54 credit hours of coursework, and a dissertation. Sample courses include Experimental Analysis of Behavior, Statistical Applications in Translation Research and Evaluation, and Functional Analysis.
1. University of Florida
Online Doctor of Philosophy in Counseling Psychology, Behavior Analysis Concentration
The University of Florida confers an online Ph.D. in Behavior Analysis that is a specialization within counseling psychology. It is a hybrid program designed to help professionals interested in becoming licensed psychologists; this is because assistantships, which are necessary for licensure, are awarded to first-year students who can commit to a full year at the university's campus. Students will have the chance to also co-major in another field, enabling them to combine interests while pursuing a joint degree. This degree requires 90 credit hours of coursework, research projects, practicums, and a dissertation. Sample courses include Advanced Introduction to Behavioral Analysis, Behavioral Neuroscience, and Statistics and Research Methodologies in Behavioral Psychology.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the Career Options for an Online Doctorate in Behavioral Psychology?
An online Doctorate in Behavioral Psychology is not only a professional degree but also a terminal degree. This means that a student who completes the doctorate has reached the peak education of their field; it also means that they can fill any position within the field of behavioral psychology, even if they are overqualified.
The most common career option is that of a behavioral psychologist. These professionals can work in schools, the government, in public or private sector positions, or even for themselves in private practice. They can work basically anywhere and have little headway in their careers; they only need to go where there is demand for their profession.
Another career option is that of an academic. Many behavioral psychologists go into professorships, working within universities and colleges in order to teach the next generation of psychologists. It is an incredible opportunity for students who have always wanted to teach; this is why so many programs require students to take on a teaching practicum.
The last career option is that of the researcher. While not a common choice, it is one that can lead to fulfilling work and a significant feeling of purposefulness. Students work within university settings, think tanks, or even the government to work on psychological experiments. The results of these experiments can lead to breakthroughs in the psychology field, which is always welcomed by the community.
How Much Can You Earn in this Field?
Most professionals in this field become behavioral psychologists. The median salary for these types of psychologists can expect to earn around $87,015 per year, depending on the city or region they live in and the demand in the area for psychologists in their area. It's also possible to earn more than this if a professional has a private practice; the increase can also include evening and weekend sessions, which generally constitute overtime for the psychology.
Professionals who become college and university professionals make an average of $76,000 a year as a starting salary. Depending on the prominence of their position and whether or not that institution is a public or private college or university, these professors can stand to make as much as $100,000 a year when they reach tenure. International faculty, or those professors who teach as visiting fellows at different international universities, stand to make more than this salary amount.
Researchers often make around $80,500 per year in the field of behavioral psychology. This is because while the field has been around for decades, new and emerging research has changed the face of the field. More research is needed to truly understand the field, so it makes sense that researchers in this field would make a substantial amount of money.
What are the Various Disciplines of Behavioral Psychology?
Behavioral psychology, also known as behavior analysis, is a broad subfield of psychology. It is also one that can be considered transdisciplinary; this means that the field transcends the traditional borders between disciplines.
Most professionals will encounter psychology, sociology, and neuroscience in their day-to-day activities in the field. It is also possible to find other disciplines at play, including counseling, research methodologies, communications, and public administration to a certain degree. It's important to remember that the types of disciplines found in the field depend on a student's area of focus and that not all disciplines are represented in all career options.
Is Accreditation Important for this Degree?
Accreditation for an online doctoral degree in behavioral analysis can be hard to come by, but it is possible. The ABAI, or the Association for Behavioral Analysis International, is the most prominent accrediting body for this specialization; attending an APA, or American Psychological Association, accredited doctoral program is also a massive advantage.
Accreditation is only important for students who are interested in becoming licensed psychologists or counselors. This is because not attending an accredited program can actually hinder a student's chances to earn licensure. If they come from a program like this, most students will have to take on a certification or a workshop, which costs time and money, in order to get back on track for licensure.
Students should keep in mind that licensure requirements vary by state, and not all online doctoral programs will pave a way towards licensure in their state of residence. It is advised that students take the time to seriously consider their options prior to making a decision based on their career goals.
Can an Online Degree Help You Become Licensed as a Psychologist?
Some online doctoral degrees can provide a pathway to becoming a licensed psychologist, but it is up to the student to do research to see which programs provide pathways to this career option. In most cases, these programs will state upfront if they lead to licensure; it is a condition of law that they do so. If a student cannot find that information, they can call the admissions department or call the department directly to ask whether or not it can lead to licensure. If the department cannot answer this simple question, then it's advisable to think that the answer is no.
Additionally, some online schools cannot provide licensure options to students from specific states. Again, students are advised to call the school to ask about this directly or call the APA or the ABAI to see if the program they are currently interested in can lead to licensure. If no one knows the answer, again, it is best to consider that program will not lead to licensure.
Students will need to do their due diligence in this area. If licensure is required for their career option, then the phone calls and emails are an important part of the process. Students should not allow assumptions to sway their decision; choose a school that definitely offers a pathway to licensure.
Behavioral psychology is a field that garners a lot of attention in that it is a profession that is closely linked with mental health issues and other forms of therapy. Deciding to become a behavioral psychologist is not easy; students must go through years of formal training, earn a doctorate degree, and become licensed in order to take their place in the field. Then they become the psychologists that society needs. This ranking was designed in order to help those professionals who are currently well on their way to becoming psychologists. All a student has to do now is pick a school from this list and apply for their online Ph.D. in Behavioral Psychology.