How to Get a Master’s Degree in Behavioral Science

Degrees in behavioral science prepare students interacting with and learning from others. Popular careers for bachelor’s degree graduates include marketing research, criminology, and occupational therapy. Find the right master’s degree program in social science for you using the resources you can find at

Behavioral Science Master’s Degree Spotlight

As a type of psychology degree, behavioral science master’s degree training encourages focused attention over two years of full-time study. The degree offers the next level of study into the workings of the human mind and interaction, and graduates of behavioral science master’s degree programs go on to a range of careers, including:

  • Public & private organizations
  • Academic & private research
  • Academia & doctoral study
  • Counseling professions with licensure

The degree has a broad application, which means that students may choose to combine their current experience with a master’s degree to pursue their specific interests. For example, a worker with years of experience in marketing analysis might earn a behavioral science master’s degree in order to move up to a management position in their current company or make the move to a new office.

How to Earn a Master’s Degree in Behavioral Science

Ready to learn more and potentially earn more with a master’s degree in behavioral science? Start your journey by researching the degree, finding more resources, and thinking about your application.

Before you can start the application process, you need to think about the type of behavioral science degree you can earn, your future career plans, your learning style and other details. Start by learning the basics of this popular master’s degree.

Step 1: Consider the Major Behavioral Science Degree Options

No two behavioral science degrees are alike, and the distinction starts with the type of degree you can earn after two years of full-time study. Take a look at the major distinctions within the major:

  • Master of Arts (MA): A broad based degree, draws from theory to help explain behavioral science concepts. Popular for student going on to doctoral study, the MA is considered an academic, non-terminal degree.
  • Master of Science (MS): This degree focuses on gathering and interpreting research within behavioral science. Theories, methods, and findings within the field are applied to your own research and interests.

The degrees above are considered academically equivalent, meaning one degree is not inherently preferable to the other. Choose your path based on your personal career goals as well as what attracts you within individual programs. Talk to individual schools to learn more about where alumni found employment after graduation.

Step 2: Establish a List of Potential Behavioral Science Schools

Once you’ve thought about the basic distinctions within behavioral science degree programs, you can begin to make a long list of potential schools. Creating a long list of potential schools can help you learn more about specializations within behavioral science. These online resources should allow you begin your research:

  • Ranking Sites: Take a look at the publications and Web sites that rank top programs based on a range of factors. U.S. News and World Report maintains current rankings of the best behavioral neuroscience graduate schools as well as the best psychology graduate schools.
  • Accrediting Agencies: These third-party agencies measure schools for quality and report their findings. See the schools accredited by the American Psychological Association’s Committee on Accreditation.
  • Professional Organizations: Learn more about behavioral science and the universities that maintain membership in professional organizations within the field. The Federation of Behavioral, Psychological, and Cognitive Sciences is a good place to look for a wealth of resources.
  • School Listings: Browse listings of schools at and use the site to simplify the process of contacting programs for more information. See listings for online degrees in behavioral science, online psychology and behavior degrees, and online social science degrees related to behavioral science.

Use the resources above to begin your search for behavioral science master’s degree programs. Establishing a long list of programs helps you get a sense of the options available to you. Keep your options broad. In the next steps, you can begin to narrow down your long list based on your individual preferences. Next, you then can consider whether you would prefer to earn a master’s degree online or complete your training at a campus-based location.

Step 3: Consider Campus-Based and Online Behavioral Science Master’s Degrees

As you established your long list of potential schools, you may have noticed that both online and campus-based behavioral science programs are offered to master’s degree students. Because master’s degree programs in behavioral science don’t necessitate hands-on research, it is common for students to choose between online and on-campus degrees in the field.

Use the online education resources at to find out more about online master’s degree programs and the e-learning process itself:

  • Find out how your learning style can help determine the type of master’s degree you should choose.
  • Learn about different types of online degree programs and the future of instructional models.

Whether you choose the hands-on style of the traditional campus-based classroom or the convenience and flexibility of online education, your choice should reflect on your needs as a behavioral science student. Adult learners benefit from both styles of learning and it’s up to you to determine which style would suit you best.

Step 4: Confirm Accreditation Status in Each Behavioral Science Degree Program

It’s up to you to ensure the quality of your future behavioral science school. Make sure that each school on your list offers a quality education by ensuring current accreditation status. The process of accreditation requires a third-party agency to examine each school based on factors like:

  • Academic records
  • Faculty hiring
  • Financial practices

Even if you recognize the name of a college or university, it’s important to make sure that the school holds current accreditation. For more information on the accreditation process itself, see’s guide on the subject. Ensuring your behavioral science institution is accredited means:

  • Other schools and employers recognize your school transcripts
  • You may be eligible for federal financial aid only at accredited schools
  • Ensure your behavioral science degree will be valued in the marketplace

Search the U.S. Department of Education‘s database for the behavioral science schools on your list. Search by school name, location, or accrediting agency for each school. This step of the process can take some time depending on the length of list, and both online and campus-based master’s degree programs should be accredited. Working through the accreditation process can help increase your confidence in the quality of your master’s degree.

Step 4: Narrow Down Your Behavioral Science Master’s Degree List

Take your long list of accredited master’s degree programs and begin focusing your options. You started your search by looking over resources and compiling a long list. Now, it’s time to turn that extensive list of behavioral science schools into a focused list that expresses your true preferences and needs as a student. Begin to examine potential schools using the following categories:

  • Admission Standards: Each behavioral science master’s degree program comes with its own admission standards. The most selective schools typically come with the most restrictive standards, including transcripts, resumes, and graduate exam test scores.
  • Location: Think about each school’s location if you have campus-based behavioral science programs on your list. Consider each location as if you were on a job search, seeking out marketing agencies, research organizations, and businesses that appeal to your career path. The more potential jobs you find in the area, the more success you may have with internships and jobs while you’re in school.
  • Convenience: Think about the details of each online school if you intend to earn a master’s degree online. One program may offer an extensive virtual library, while another could present material in an interesting format. Keep in mind that no two online universities are alike, and think about what you value most in terms of convenience and accessibility
  • Finances: Think about the potential cost associated with each behavioral science master’s degree. Balance tuition and relocating costs with federal financial aid and potential scholarships. While weighing your options, consider how your potential post-graduation salary stacks up against the debt you may accrue in school.
  • Reputation: From rankings to word-of-mouth, the reputation a behavioral science school earns can mean getting your foot in the door with doctoral programs and hiring managers alike. However, be sure to balance rankings and reputation with the price tag attached. Schools on the top of rankings lists may charge a higher tuition than the school that offers you the same skills for a lower price.
  • Faculty: Consider faculty members employed by each behavioral science master’s degree program. Find out where professors are publishing and researching by reading faculty biographies on individual department Web sites. Consider programs where the research interests of faculty members match your own, and look for departments with strong overall professor teams over one or two prodigious publishers.
  • Extras: As your last step in the elimination process, think about the small extras offered by each behavioral science program. You might be encouraged to complete an internship, delve into community service or research, or teach and assist classes. Consider these small perks as your final step, once you need to cut just a few programs from your long list.

Work your way through the list above, and your results should be a short list of behavioral science programs that seem truly personalized to your preferences. Considering each school closely can help you learn more about each program, more about your own needs as a student, and more about the degree itself. Next, you can begin the degree application process with only the strongest psychology and behavior schools on your list.

How to Apply for Behavioral Science Master’s Degree Programs

Once you have a condensed list of schools, you should be ready to apply to your top list of behavioral science master’s degree programs. Whether your goal is to earn a master’s degree online or attend a campus-based program, you need to submit a different application for each school. Keep the following in mind as you begin the process:

  • Meet Requirements: Each school comes with different requirements, ranging from resumes to recommendation letters, transcripts to test scores. Contact individual behavioral science programs for more information on requirements.
  • Observe Deadlines: Each behavioral science application also has different deadlines. Keep your application process organized by using a calendar to observe deadlines for test scores, transcripts, and application packets.
  • Get Educated: As you apply, learn more about behavioral science itself. Read publications distributed by professional organizations like those at The Federation of Behavioral, Psychological, and Cognitive Sciences.

Researching behavioral science programs will help you learn more about the degree and application process. What’s more, learning about different schools before you apply and you can save time and money when the time comes to apply. This research takes time and careful consideration, but you should find ample rewards in the confidence you feel when applying to your strongest behavioral science master’s degree program options.


  • Accreditation Search U.S. Department of Education
  • Behavioral Science Program Description The University of Rhode Island
  • Home The Federation of Behavioral, Psychological, and Cognitive Sciences
  • Master of Science – Behavioral Science Cameron University
  • Psychology Specialty Rankings: Behavioral Neuroscience U.S. News and World Report
  • Rankings: Psychology U.S. News and World Report
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