Top 5 Online Bachelor's in Behavioral Psychology Programs for 2019

An online behavioral psychology degree can prepare you for versatile careers in fields like research design and behavior modification, but you may also have the opportunity to transform lives. Behavioral health technicians and substance abuse counselors are in high demand; data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates more than 21,000 new jobs will open by 2024.

In addition to human-service careers, the best online behavioral psychology degree programs prepare graduates for entry-level positions in industries like advertising, human resources, and market research. The following page offers a variety of key information -- including sample courses and career paths -- designed to assist you in the pursuit of a behavioral psychology degree online.

Featured Online Schools

What are the Best Online Bachelor's in Behavioral Psychology Programs?


Mercy College Dobbs Ferry, NY


Mercy offers two online behavioral psychology degrees that combine psychology and sociology to study human behavior. Students can earn a degree in behavioral science as either a BA or BS, each of which includes 40 credits of major coursework.

The school is friendly to transfer students, allowing students to apply up to 75 credits from a two-year institution or 90 credits from a four-year institution towards their degree. However, students must earn at least 18 credits of major coursework at Mercy to graduate. All online students pay the same tuition rate, regardless of residency. Applications are evaluated holistically, so students do not have to submit ACT or SAT scores. Successful applicants demonstrate both academic achievement and extracurricular leadership.


University of Kansas Lawrence, KS


KU offers a bachelor of arts in applied behavioral science that is one of the best behavioral psychology degree programs in the country. Students in this 33-credit major must choose one of the following specializations: adults with disabilities, research and conceptual foundations, community health and development, early childhood (with subspecialties in education and intervention, autism, or research), organization behavioral management research and practice, or youth development and juvenile justice.

Applicants to KU must have a high school GPA of at least 3.0 and submit ACT and SAT scores to be considered. Students can then apply to the major once they have completed two introductory courses with a combined GPA of 2.3 prior to their junior year. Students can join the program in the fall, spring, and summer terms.


Bellevue University Bellevue, NE


Bellevue offers a bachelor of science in behavioral science that combines the disciplines of psychology, social psychology, sociology, and counseling to prepare students for careers in social services. This 127-credit program consists of just 27 core credits, meaning that students spend the majority of their time immersed in 40 credits of major courses and 51 credits of electives. The curriculum for this online behavioral psychology degree also includes the Kirkpatrick Signature Series, a sequence of three courses that explore American values and freedoms. Applicants must submit an online application along with high school transcripts or GED scores to be considered. All online students pay the same tuition rate, regardless of residency.


Wilmington University New Castle, DE


Wilmington offers a bachelor of science in behavioral science that, unlike other online behavioral psychology degrees, combines the disciplines of psychology, sociology, and cultural anthropology to examine the behavioral dimensions from an individual to a cultural level. The 121-credit credit can be completed in four years and consists of 40 general education credits, 45 major core credits, 18 major-related electives, and 18 free electives. Wilmington also offers a behavioral science degree completion program for students who have already earned an associate degree.

All online students at WIlmington pay the same tuition rate, regardless of residency. Freshman applicants must submit an online application, high school transcripts or GED scores, and SAT scores to be considered. Transfer applicants must submit college transcripts along with their application and schedule an appointment with a university adviser.


Central Methodist University-College of Graduate and Extended Studies Fayette, MO


CMU offers a bachelor of science in applied behavior analysis that is one of the best online behavioral psychology degree programs in the country. This program prepares students to analyze and administer behavior interventions for people with special learning or behavioral needs. Graduates are prepared to sit for the national accrediting examination.

Courses are taught by professors who have hands-on field experience, ensuring that students receive far more than just theoretical knowledge. All online students pay the same tuition rate, regardless of residency. Applicants must have a high school diploma with a minimum GPA of 2.5 and submit GED plus ACT or SAT scores to be considered; transfer applicants must have a minimum GPA of 2.0.

What Will I Learn in an Online Behavioral Psychology Program?

Students who pursue an online behavioral psychology degree frequently take courses in the areas listed below. This sample curriculum highlights commonly required courses and provides a brief description of course outcomes and how each course can prepare them for professional roles in the field. Coursework varies depending on the program chosen, and students should check with their school to determine specific courses.

  • Abnormal Psychology

    This course explores the differences between normal and disordered responses to stimuli, and examines biological and environmental causes of mental illness. Counselors and psychologists use knowledge of mental illnesses to develop treatment plans and conduct research.

  • Lifespan Development

    This course introduces students to various theories and stages of human growth and development. Students explore the influence of genetics on mental illness, such as addiction and resilience to trauma. Crisis response professionals and addiction counselors rely on knowledge of lifespan development to implement appropriate interventions.

  • Research and Statistics

    From research design to data analysis and publication, this course provides students with an overview of approaches to conducting and interpreting research in the field of social sciences. Academic researchers, clinicians, and consultants rely on these skills to develop and test hypotheses, formulate evidence-based treatment plans, and evaluate programs.

What Can I do with an Online Behavioral Psychology Degree?

While an online behavioral psychology degree sets a solid foundation for graduate studies in social sciences, most prepare graduates for a variety of occupations that work with individuals and families in mental health agencies, schools, and government organizations. With skills in research design and statistical analysis, recent graduates may find positions that work closely with doctors and scientists, and help discover innovative approaches to understanding human behavior. The following table features potential career paths for graduates of online behavioral psychology degree programs.

Addiction Counselor

An addiction counselor helps clients struggling with substance abuse and other addictions, such as shopping and gambling. Job duties include coordinating treatment with other mental health professionals, developing treatment plans, and leading group therapy.

Median Salary: $39,966

Case Manager

Case managers connect clients with potential employers, medical providers, and housing services. They work with a variety of populations, including children, families, and the elderly.

Median Salary: $38,847

Family Service Worker

Family service workers assist families in securing resources and frequently interact with case managers to help facilitate improved living environments. Tasks range from scheduling job interviews to securing legal representation.

Median Salary: $33,047

Mental Health Worker

A mental health worker assists psychiatrists, therapists, and nurses in the daily duties of a facility. Tasks include monitoring patients’ activities, assisting immobile patients, and supervising meals at inpatient units.

Median Salary: $31,027

Research Assistant

Working under the supervision of medical or social science researchers, research assistants analyze data, administer laboratory tests, and conduct interviews.

Median Salary: $37,730

Job Outlook and Salary for Behavioral Psychology Graduates

One of the most common careers paths for behavioral psychology graduates is addiction counseling. Unlike clinical mental health counseling -- which usually require a master’s degree and state licensure -- behavioral health agencies often hire addiction counselors with a bachelor’s degree in psychology.

Substance abuse counselors are in high demand. BLS projections indicate this occupation will grow 22% over the next several years; the table below features employment of substance abuse counselors in 2014, and projected employment by 2024. While job availability varies by location and employer type, recent policy changes, including mandated insurance coverage for mental health disorders and treatment for drug offenders, will continue to influence the need for substance abuse counselors.

Employment Growth for Behavioral Psychology
Employment, 2014 Projected Employment, 2024
94,900 116,200

Salary Growth by Experience for Behavioral Psychologists

Several factors will influence your annual earnings, including the industry, location, and your years of experience. In general, increased work experience tends to result in higher annual earnings.The following table illustrates the relationship between work experience and potential annual earnings in four careers pursued by graduates of online behavioral psychology degree. While the annual earnings of behavioral health technicians remain stable across a 20-year span, a seasoned case manager earns almost double as those in entry-level positions.

To determine the best online bachelor's in behavioral psychology programs, we looked at the most important factors prospective students, mainly common predictors of future success and a school's commitment to online programs. This boils down to admissions rate, student loan default rate, retention rate, graduation rate, and the percent of students enrolled in online classes. All data points are taken from information provided by colleges and universities to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Each factor is weighted evenly in order to give an objective view and determine the best online bachelor's in behavioral psychology programs. To calculate our rankings, we looked at a school's ranking when organized by a single factor, and then averaged each category's ranking to find an overall score: Admissions Rate (20%) + Default Rate (20%) + Retention Rate (20%) + Graduation Rate (20%) + Percent of Students Enrolled in Online Classes (20%) = Final score.