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Best Online Master’s Degrees in: Behavioral Science

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Editor's Picks: Online Schools for Behavioral Science


Saint Joseph's University was awarded the title of best online master's degree in behavioral science for value. This private not-for-profit institution is based in Philadelphia and serves more than 9,000 students. U.S. News & World Report ranked the school 8th on their list of top regional universities in the North. This strong academic reputation combined with experienced faculty members, manageable tuition rates, and a track record of awarding adequate financial aid earned SJU a spot at the top of our list for this category. The school also boasts strong return on investment potential according to statistics from Graduates of Saint Joseph's University can expect an average ROI of 7.2%. This increased to 8.3% once financial aid was considered.

Featured Online Programs


The top online master's degree in behavioral science for flexibility is Capella University. This private, primarily distance learning institution is based in Minneapolis and serves more than 36,000 students. Dedicated to meeting the diverse needs of working adults and non-traditional students, courses are delivered in an asynchronous format. This means there are no scheduled course times. Instead, students are free to log in, complete assignments, access course materials, participate in discussion boards, and contact instructors from any location and at any time that works with their personal and professional schedule. Also, rolling admissions and course schedules allow new students to start their degree track at a number of time throughout the year.

Career Support

Saint Joseph's University was selected as the best online master's degree in behavioral science for career support. Online students have access to the same services and resources provided by the school's Career Development Center as their on-campus counterparts. This includes resume and cover letter critiques, career guides, networking opportunities, mock interviews, career assessments, and electronic job postings. Career counseling appointments are also available in-person, over the phone, or via video chat. Students able to commute to campus are welcome to attend workshops, seminars, career fairs, and other recruiting events. With all this considered, Saint Joseph's University was awarded the top spot in this category.

Financial Support

Saint Joseph's University was also recognized as the best online master's degree in behavioral science for financial support. According to figures published by the National Center for Education Statistics, 94% of new students received some form of financial assistance. Additionally, 93% of those students were awarded grant or scholarship money as part of their financial aid packages. Approximately 60% of students also took out loans, primarily through federal programs, to help pay for their education. The student loan default rate for 2009 was very low at 2%, demonstrating manageable levels of debt for most SJU graduates.

Technology Support

Saint Joseph's University was awarded the title of best online master's degree in behavioral science for technology support. The school's online programs utilize a cutting-edge virtual learning platform complete with live streaming video, audio, interactive discussion boards, chat features, and capability on both Apple and PC computers. In addition, students in need of assistance have access to 24/7 technical support to troubleshoot any problems that could prevent them from completing their work. With this in mind, SJU was selected as the top school in this category.

Student Engagement

National University earned the title of best online master's degree in behavioral science for student engagement. This private not-for-profit institution is based in La Jolla, Calif., and currently serves more than 16,000 students. Dedicated to meeting the educational needs of working adults and non-traditional students, National University has carefully selected faculty with the skills and experience necessary to foster academic growth among distance learners. A student-to-faculty ratio of 9 to 1 ensures that students receive personalized instruction during their time in the program. The virtual classroom also makes it easy for students to interact with their peers through discussion boards, chat, and virtual meetings, building a sense of community despite the lack of face-to-face interaction.

Disability Support

Capella University earned the top spot as the best online master's degree in behavioral science for disability support. As a school committed to providing quality educational programs to students from a wide variety of backgrounds, Capella offers a full range of accommodations for learners with disabilities in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This includes accessible textbooks, additional time for certain learning activities, and special test accommodations, to name a few. With this in mind, Capella was selected as the best school in this category.

Learning Support

Capella University was also recognized as the best online master's degree in behavioral science for learning support. Every student is assigned an academic advisor when they enroll at Capella. This advisor helps them plan their courses, work through any difficulties, and meet all of their degree requirements. Other resources include online writing tutors, electronic library access, and academic success materials. Capella also has a support staff dedicated to serving the needs of military students and their families. With all this considered, Capella won top marks in the learning support category.

Faculty Credentials

The top online master's degree in behavioral science in terms of faculty credentials is Saint Joseph's University. This private four-year institution was ranked among the top 10 regional universities in the North by U.S. News & World Report. An important cornerstone of the school's academic reputation is the strength of their faculty, including a number of instructors experienced working in both academia and a professional setting. This helps to ensure students receive a well-rounded education focused on both theory and practical applications. A student-to-faculty ratio of 13 to 1 also allows students easy access to individualized attention in the virtual classroom. For these reasons, Saint Joseph's University was selected as the best school for faculty credentials.

Prior Learning Options

Capella University was chosen as the best online master's degree in behavioral science for prior learning options. Capella is dedicated to helping students reduce the time and cost of earning their degree by offering opportunities to transfer credits earned at other accredited institutions. In addition, students may be eligible to earn credit for formal and informal work training or self-instruction by taking Capella's Prior Learning Assessment. Military personnel may be able to apply their experience and training as well, depending on the specific degree program and area of study. All of these available options helped to distinguish Capella University in this category.

New Student Orientation

Capella University was also awarded the title of the best online master's degree in behavioral science for new student orientation. Prospective online students can complete a self-assessment to evaluate their readiness for distance learning. Additionally, Capella offers the opportunity to take a free one-week online course. This helps individuals explore the virtual learning environment and familiarize themselves with the tools they will need should they choose to enroll. Students also have access to the assistance of their enrollment and academic advisors to help them during this adjustment period. Should new students encounter any technical difficulties, Capella's full-time tech support team is available to help. With all this considered, Capella earned the top spot for new student orientation.

Explore a Master's Degree in Behavioral Science

A master's degree in behavioral science is for science-related professionals looking to enhance their knowledge and careers. These degrees give students the chance to concentrate their studies into an area that most interests them or correlates best with their career goals. Two disciplines make up the behavioral sciences: sociology and psychology. Once students decide on the discipline that is right for them, it is imperative that they choose a school that offers them the concentration area they wish to study within that discipline. Concentration areas range from social psychology to anthropology.

Generally, a master's in behavioral science is designed to take students about two years of full-time study. However, a degree's duration time is reliant on whether students choose the full-time or part-time study track, and if students have previous master's credits. Additionally, each school also has different degree requirements, which can result in a longer or shorter degree completion time.

Class Curriculum

Students will be enrolled in courses that look at human life from psychological and sociological standpoints. A student's courses will depend on which behavioral science discipline they choose to study, and then the area of concentration within that discipline they study comprehensively. However, generally, required classes might include:

  • Behavioral Science Theories and Methodologies. Students in this course are introduced to the significant theories surrounding the behavioral sciences as well as the methods utilized in the field to gather data. Research methods are an important aspect of such a class, and students will learn how to use methods to obtain and conduct objective and reliable research.
  • Psychopathology. An introductory course for those choosing the psychology route of a master's degree in behavioral science, this course familiarizes students with psychological abnormalities that the human mind can contain. It comprises of the various types of mental disorders that exist, the tools utilized by those in the field to diagnose such disorders, and how to differentiate one mental disorder from another.
  • Internship. Master's programs frequently require students to take an internship so that they can apply the new knowledge they ‘ve acquired and gain experience that studying alone cannot provide. In an internship, students might be asked to use research methods they've learned, conduct studies, or engage in counseling-related activities.

Students of a master's program will complete assignments that involve research, writing, online class discussions, and a lot of reading. Projects in which students must gather and conduct their own research, and then critically analyze it in paper or presentation form are a big part of this type of degree. Assignments may also include the demonstration of computer tools and software necessary for careers related to the degree.

Building a Career

Degree earners develop critical reasoning, writing, and research skills that they can take with them to their careers. Those who would prefer not to go on to a doctoral program commonly find school counseling and psychologist careers fulfilling. The minimum requirement for a career as a school psychologist is a master's degree, though some require doctorates. Field experience is also necessary for such a career, and it is very common for master's degree students to enroll in programs that specifically concentrate on education and behavioral sciences. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) placed school psychologists' salaries at $68,640. Employment demand is expected to grow by 22% in upcoming years.

Counseling at differing educational levels is another common career path. School counselors work with parents, teachers, and students in an effort to maximize students' educational advancement in group and individual counseling sessions. As with a school psychologist, field work is often required for such a career, and many school counselors seek out master's programs that focus on both education and a behavioral science. The BLS identified a typical school counselor's salary as $53,380, and jobs in this sector are expected to see demand increase by 19% into 2020.

Though the BLS reports the above salaries, one should understand that they are not guarantees. Instead, they are simply the average salaries those in the industry nationwide earned. Salaries fluctuate according to a given job's location, a given applicant's experience, the state of the economy, and other determining factors.