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Master’s Degree Programs for Behavioral Specialists Overview

Majors Overview January 18, 2016

This article talks about master’s degree programs for behavioral specialists and their educational requirements, coursework, and job and wage outlook.

Master’s Programs for Behavioral Specialists

Few schools, if any, offer master’s degrees specifically in behavioral psychology. Specializations in behavioral psychology are more commonly available through master’s degree programs in clinical or general psychology. Students can use these programs to advance their understanding and ability to predict or recognize destructive or abnormal behavior patterns.

Master’s degree programs in this field incorporate research as an essential component. Essential steps in psychology research, including experimentation, observation, and assessment are learned by students. Students in many programs are also taught to gather data using numerous techniques, including laboratory experimentation, hypnosis, psychotherapy, personality tests and psychoanalysis.

A thesis – a significant work of original research – typically marks the culmination of this degree. Schools often require students to participate in clinical practica. In most states, those seeking licensure as a clinical psychologist must hold at least a doctoral degree.

Educational Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a bachelor’s degree, in addition to submitting letters of recommendation, standardized test scores, a personal statement, and a resume. Participation in research during their undergraduate education and aptitudes in statistics would also prove useful to incoming students.


Hands-on and didactic learning are both in the program coursework. The amount of clinical coursework can vary by the type of psychology being taught. For instance, more clinical hours may be logged by developmental and clinical psychologists than by organizational and school psychologists. Core coursework may commonly cover topic areas such as:

•Ethics and Culture
•Cognitive psychology
•Research methodologies
•Lifespan development
•Social psychology

Job and Wage Outlook

All psychologists can expect a faster-than-average 19% job growth, over the 2012 – 2022 decade (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). In May 2014, clinical, counseling and school psychologists brought in an average annual wage of $74,030 (BLS).

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