Last Updated on December 15, 2022
This is a comprehensive blog which features information on various Masters in Psychology programs, behavioral psychology, personality psychology, and counseling psychology programs in California.
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Behavioral Psychology Masters Programs In California
California State University, Northridge
Department of Psychology
Located in the heart of San Fernando Valley, California State University, Northridge is one of the biggest single-campus universities in the country. Cal State Northridge believes in providing its 38,000 students with a solid academic education that includes hands-on, practical experiences in a diverse range of pursuits. Despite its size, the school affords students a decent faculty-to-student ratio of 24:1 and plenty of opportunities to explore extracurricular involvement. For those interested in pursuing graduate work in psychology or advancing their careers, Cal State Northridge’s Department of Psychology offers three master’s programs under the guidance of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.
M.A., Psychology: Behavioral Clinical Psychology
Created with working students in mind, the M.A. program in Behavioral Clinical Psychology prepares students to work as behavior analysts in various settings. The department’s aim for this program is to instruct students on the “philosophy, theory, science, conceptual framework and methodology” needed to appropriately analyze behavior and implement effective strategies. The program requires 37 units. In addition to completing a master’s degree in psychology, students who finish the program will be eligible to prepare for the Behavior Analyst Certification Board coursework, which enables them to practice with board certification in this field. The board certification process requires an additional 19 units.
California State University, Fresno
College of Science and Mathematics
Located on a sizable campus at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains range, California State University, Fresno offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to about 20,000 enrolled students as of fall 2013. What started as a teaching college in 1911 has evolved into a fully accredited institution within the larger California State University network. Fresno State’s College of Science and Mathematics awards master’s degrees in psychology under the direction of its Department of Psychology, and the programs are both selective and competitive for applicants. Students may pursue a Master of Arts (M.A.) Psychology — General/Experimental Option or a The Master of Arts (M.A.) Psychology — Applied Behavior Analysis Option.
The Master of Arts (M.A.) Psychology — Applied Behavior Analysis Option
The M.A. Psychology in Applied Behavior Analysis requires a minimum of 44 credit hours spread out over two years, which makes it a more demanding program than the generalized master’s degree in psychology offered by Fresno State. The difference in credit requirement comes from the fact that students in applied psychology take more electives and must conduct more research related to their field. Courses focus on topics such as functional assessment and intervention, research methods in behavior analysis, and an elective chosen by the student. Upon completion of the degree, students will be eligible to sit for the international certification exam.
California State University, Los Angeles
Department of Psychology
The urban setting of California State University, Los Angeles attracts more than 20,000 enrollees studying a wide variety of academic programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Founded in 1947, the school now ties for 84th placement on U.S. News and World Report’s list of the best Western regional universities. Within Cal State L.A.’s College of Natural and Social Sciences, students interested in graduate-level programs will find three options offered by the Department of Psychology. In addition to the programs described below, students can participate in valuable extracurricular opportunities like national honor society Psi Chi or the Black Psychology Society.
Master of Arts in Psychology
Students who apply for the Master of Arts in Psychology program at Cal State L.A. do not need a psychology background, but the school only admits those without psychology degrees on a conditional basis. Once approved for study, applicants will be assigned a mentor who will work with them throughout their educational careers on research and focus areas. Students will also select research advisor later in their careers. The M.A. program requires completion of 45 credit hours with at least half of those units coming from 500-level courses. Students must also complete 10 units of non-psychology work within the 45-hour requirement.
Master of Science in Psychology, Applied Behavior Analysis Option
The Master of Science in Psychology, Applied Behavior Analysis Option is designed for students who want to work in a field related to behavior analysis or those who might explore doctoral programs after graduation. Designed in part with Cal State L.A.’s Division of Special Education and Counseling, the master’s program in applied behavior trains students to think critically and apply theoretical concepts of behavior analysis to real-world situations. This program requires 55 units in a quarter-based system, and students can choose to complete a thesis or move directly to candidacy if qualified. Students will also complete four units of field work.
Master’s in Behavioral Psychology?
Students intrigued by examining cognitive processes, human behavior, emotions, perception, and sensory abilities may want to consider a master’s in behavioral psychology. Emerging professionals strive to uncover innovative techniques and methods that redirect destructive behaviors into positive behavior.
At the graduate level, students apply psychological theories, approaches, principles, and methods to real world scenarios. The majority of coursework delves into research, human development, abnormal and social psychology, and personality. Students also develop a specialized skill set to meet the needs of individuals with developmental disabilities in an ethical way. Skills acquired through a behavioral psychology master’s program prepare students to perform task analyses, behavior assessments, pass associated certification tests, and qualify for Ph.D. programs.
Master’s degrees in behavioral psychology are offered both online or in a traditional classroom setting. While online courses offer flexibility, on-campus programs may be more appealing to students who have recently completed their bachelor’s degree. On-campus environments allow students to work directly with professors, tutors, advisers, and classmates. Classroom environments also ensure that students allocate a set amount of hours per week to learning content through lectures, assignment deadlines, and exams. Additionally, students have access to faculty and emerging professionals studying the same content. Many programs also post local job and internship openings and leverage their resources to help students secure employment.
What Else Can I Expect From a Master’s Program in Behavioral Psychology?
Master’s programs in behavioral psychology often include foundational psychological concepts and skills needed for management positions, but schools offer different elective and specialization courses. Despite discretionary course combinations, students can anticipate completing any of the programs below in a behavioral psychology master’s program.
|School psychology students use principles of applied behavior analysis, educational psychology, and developmental psychology to create intervention plans for children and adolescents who struggle with behavioral health issues. Professionals collaborate with parents and teachers to promote school safety and prevent crises through intervention.
|Biopsychology or Behavioral Neuroscience
|Behavioral neuroscience examines biological influences on human behavior. This speciality also focuses on how biological systems such as the nervous system interact with behavior. Statistics and neurobiology are important subcategories of this path as well.
|Learning and education scientist, comparative psychologist, behavioral neuroscientist
|Psychologists who focus on addiction examine research and theories to generate treatment plans for people who struggle with addiction. Addiction psychologists also tend to focus on cognitive-behavioral therapy and psychodynamics to diagnose and treat patients.
|Psychologist, addictions and mental health therapist
|This specialty utilizes psychological concepts to assess everyday struggles such as stress or negative coping mechanisms. Counseling psychology does not include clients who suffer from mental health disorders.
|Family and marriage counselor, substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselor, rehabilitation counselors
|Social psychologists study how people are affected behaviorally when they interact with others. While this particular concentration draws on aspects of sociology, it primarily examines human behavior in varying environments.
|Research psychologist, political strategist, social worker
Master’s in Behavioral Psychology Program Admissions
While graduate school applicants are familiar with the admissions process from their undergraduate experience, there are a few significant differences. Many schools are more selective about graduate candidates and admit less students per academic semester. Graduate admissions also offer multiple admissions deadlines, so students don’t have to start in the fall with undergraduate students.
Applicants should provide a copy of their undergraduate transcript, a personal statement, letters of recommendation, and their Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores. The GRE is a standardized exam that measures how likely a student is to excel in a graduate program. Unlike online programs, some schools may require a face-to-face interview. Students should consider their goals for the program as well as bring a copy of their resume to an interview.
Below, are a few of the prerequisites and admission materials required for students applying for a master’s in behavioral psychology.
- Bachelor’s Degree: Schools often ask for an official transcript proving a student completed a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university. Most schools charge a small fee for retrieving an official transcript.
- Professional Experience: Requirements for experience vary by program. Competitive schools may want students to have experience applying theories and methods in real world situations.
- Minimum GPA: Nearly every reputable psychology graduate program requires a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 for its applicants, though some graduate programs have more rigorous standards.
- Application: Schools look for students who meet their standards because it helps ensure they can succeed in the program and helps to maintain their own statistical goals. The application process also illuminates the academic history of candidates.
- Transcripts: Transcripts indicate how well a student has performed in each class. Schools usually require students to submit official copies.
- Letters of Recommendation: Students are typically required to have three letters of recommendation from teachers or professionals who can elaborate on the student’s skills and work ethic.
- Test Scores: At the graduate level, schools are primarily concerned with the GRE because it speaks to a students’ ability to do well in a graduate level program.
- Application Fee: All schools require an application fee of around $60. Eligible students can apply for a fee waiver if they demonstrate financial need.
What Can I Do With a Master’s in Behavioral Psychology?
Behavioral psychology majors learn basic psychological and scientific principles, develop elite critical thinking skills, and apply decisions based on data. This specialty area also gives students additional skill sets related to behavior analysis, abnormal psychology, and cognition that are helpful for dealing with atypical behavior. Because psychology is a vast field, students who earn a master’s in behavioral psychology can qualify for multiple careers that are in high demand.
Marriage and Family Therapist
Therapists working with couples and families strive to help their clients overcome issues within relationships of all sorts by encouraging them to discuss their emotions or difficulties. Professionals often apply a goal-oriented therapeutic approach to assist clients in achieving a positive and healthy state of mind.
Median Annual Salary: $48,790
Projected Growth Rate: 23%
Psychologists study cognitive, social, and emotional processes communicated through human behavior. The majority of professionals work in clinical, counseling, or school settings.
Median Annual Salary: $77,030
Projected Growth Rate: 14%
Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists
These professionals assess progress of parolees, evaluate probationers to determine necessary rehabilitation, test clients for drug abuse, and conduct pre-hearing investigations. The majority of probation and correctional professionals work for state and local governments.
Median Annual Salary: $51,410
Projected Growth Rate: 6%
Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors
These counselors help people who struggle with eating disorders, behavioral problems, mental health issues, drug addiction, or alcoholism. Professionals work in mental health centers, prisons, community health centers, and juvenile detention centers. At minimum, counselors must have bachelor’s degree.
Median Annual Salary: $43,300
Projected Growth Rate: 23%
Rehab counselors work with people who have developmental, physical, emotional, or mental disabilities. The ultimate goal of these counselors is to help clients manage or overcome the effects of their disabilities. These professionals often work in senior citizen centers, adolescent guidance organizations, or rehab centers.
Median Annual Salary: $34,860
Projected Growth Rate: 13%