Behavioral psychology examines the connection between the human mind and human behavior, exploring conditions and stimuli that shape our actions. It is based on the idea that all behavior is acquired through conditioning—what happens as we interact with the environment in which we live. It is our responses to these interactions that shape our actions.
This is a very broad course of study within psychology that opens the doors to many careers. Master’s in psychology programs allow you to delve into learning how people think, feel, and act. There are careers that focus on treating those with emotional disorders and counseling them on techniques to treat those disorders through conditioning. Let’s take a look at the best colleges for behavioral psychology to help you begin working toward your dream career.
The Best 26 Behavioral Psychology Programs
Diversity is key to the department of psychology at Stanford University. Faculty are devoted to educating and training future leaders who will become scientists that work to advance theory and knowledge for the good of humankind as they address real-world problems. With the diversity found at Stanford, this goal can be accomplished with the various perspectives and experiences found within the campus. The campus is inclusive and invites diverse questions, viewpoints and perspectives.
Among the country’s top-ranked psychology programs, Harvard University has had the field of psychology since its pioneer days in the 1800’s. With top professors and intellectual minds that have progressed in the field with an understanding of the connection between mind and behavior, Harvard still leads the country with innovative theories and practices. Some of the pioneers that helped mold the department of psychology at Harvard are B.F. Skinner, Gordon Allport, Jerome Bruner, and Henry Murray to name a few.
University of California -Berkeley
The department of psychology at the University of California -Berkeley focuses on fostering methodological, statistical, and critical thinking skills. With this foundation, students are better equipped to research, apply and create innovative techniques within their specialization of psychology. Areas of specialization available at UC Berkeley are Behavioral and Systems Neuroscience, clinical science, cognition, cognitive neuroscience, and social-personality psychology.
University of California -Los Angeles
University of California -Los Angeles is among the top programs with research, in regards to the structure and functions of the brain and is currently a leader in the neurobiological study of behavior. The department of psychology is committed to excellence and growth in this specialization of educating the future researchers and clinicians. Students have numerous opportunities to be involved with cutting edge research while working closely with faculty.
University of Michigan – Ann Arbor
The psychology department and programs at the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor consistently rank among the top in the country. With excellent faculty, students and programs the research and knowledge of psychology is recognized nationally and internationally. Students have opportunities to learn from some of the most distinguished professionals in the field at the University of Michigan.
A private and statutory research Ivy League institution, Cornell University is home to one of the largest research libraries in North America. The department of psychology focuses on the connections between behavior and its cognitive, hormonal, and neural underpinnings amidst the diverse environmental settings. Students have access to state of the art research facilities, research space and laboratory equipment.
Indiana University – Bloomington
At Indiana University – Bloomington, the department of psychology maintains strop interdisciplinary connection with the natural sciences, social sciences, medical sciences and humanities. Students explore the complexity of the human brain alongside expert faculty as they research eh connections between mind and behavior. Students are trained to become the next generation of scientists that apply scientific knowledge to real world problems.
John Hopkins University
John Hopkins University is home to the first psychological laboratory in America and continues to be among the top-ranking psychology programs in the country. The department of psychology has been investigating the most fundamental questions of connections between behavior and brain since 1883. The programs prepare students to be scientists more than clinical practitioners.
University of Virginia
The University of Virginia is home to the department of psychiatry and neurobehavioral sciences. With a faculty of renowned researches and clinical practitioners, students learn from experts in the field while having opportunities to participate in clinical rotations. Services and rotations occur on campus with in-patient and outpatient services as well as rural telepsychiatry services.
University of Illinois
The department of psychology at the University of Illinois is a nationally recognized program for research and teaching. The degrees offered in this department are related to understanding the complete human being from the brain, mind (cognitive processes), the individual and the community. The goal of each program is to provide a contemporary, comprehensive, and challenging understanding of the complete human being.
A private Ivy League research institution founded in 1746, Princeton University offers a challenging and rigorous degree in psychology that is often used as a springboard for a variety of careers. Top researchers of Princeton involve students in the research process teaching them how to use complex databases and statistical methods after they have built a foundation in language, reasoning, and decision making.
University of Minnesota – Twin Cities
As having one of the most respected psychology programs, University of Minnesota – Twin Cities provides innovative research and teaching methods. Students build on a liberal arts general education and then are able to engage in research and clinical opportunities within the psychology department. The graduate programs are consistently ranked among the top with research in behavioral genetics, cognitive neuroscience, cultural psychology, organizational behavior, and much more.
University of Washington
The University of Washington psychology department generates innovative insights and knowledge into the mind, brain, and behavior of individuals. The research done by expert faculty with the help of students seeks to promote social equality, optimize human potential, and understand behavior through brain sciences. The graduate clinic is among the top ranked and award-winning clinics in the country along with the faculty directed research clinics.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Massachusetts Institute of Technology is committed to training the scientific leaders of the future through a comprehensive and interdisciplinary approach. Students of the graduate program will rotate through three different laboratories giving them exposure to cutting edge methods, model systems and research questions. The MIT philosophy is cross-disciplinary with the psychology program being organized into four areas cognitive science, systems neuroscience, cellular and molecular neuroscience, and computation.
University of Pennsylvania
As one of the oldest psychology departments in North American, the University of Pennsylvania welcomes those studying the connection of mind, brain and behavior. With the breadth of the content of psychology and its methodology, it naturally has cross contact with numerous other disciplines and become multidisciplinary. Students can use this as a focus or as a foundation into other disciplines because of the analytical and conceptual critical thinking skills students gain from this course of study.
University of Texas – Austin
The University of Texas – Austin offers expert faculty and staff with excellent undergraduate and graduate students that support the scientific and education mission of the department of psychology. As part of the department two important are two important centers; the center for perceptual systems and the institute for mental health research. The impact of the research done at UT Austin extends beyond the scope of psychology and into many other disciplines.
University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill
Considered a public Ivy League institution, University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill provides students a similar experience in education and research that they would receive at a private Ivy League institution. With a long history of excellent teaching methods and expert faculty leading innovative research, the department of psychology has been ranked among the top for a century.
University of Wisconsin – Madison
The University of Wisconsin – Madison prepares students to fully participate in a complex and multicultural world. Students in the field of psychology will learn multiple content areas of scientific psychology, think critically and quantitatively, and apply the science of psychology for the benefit of individuals and communities.
As one of the oldest institutions for higher learning in the country, Columbia University is a private Ivy League research institute that continues to educate and graduate some of the leading minds of today. As one of the oldest and most influential psychology programs in the United States, Columbia University’s department is relatively small but still internationally recognized and influential. The faculty consists of outstanding researches and dedicated teachers.
A private research institution, Duke University was founded in 1838 and continues to rank among the top research and academic institutions in the country. The department of psychology now supports two main majors, psychology and neuroscience. Students seeking a career in behavioral science can take either route depending on their career path.
A private research institution, Northwestern University has numerous campuses across the country with the main campus in Illinois. The faculty of the psychology department are top scholars in their field and leaders of innovative research. The faculty along with students make major contributions to the field of psychology that is shaping the knowledge and research of the field.
University of Chicago
A private research institution, University of Chicago runs a world-renowned social sciences division. The undergraduate and graduate programs are intellectually intense and are supported by expert faculty that conduct key research in their specialized fields. The department of psychology is deeply committed to diversity and inclusion from faculty and students within the program.
Ohio State University
Ohio State University is home to one the top ranked psychology departments in the world according to the most recent 2019 Shanghai rating, ranking Ohio State University psychology department as 12th in the world. The programs and research are outstanding, with scholarly minded students and faculty that conducts cutting edge research while collaborating with other disciplines. Undergraduates are trained to embrace and thrive in the challenges of the modern world while advancing knowledge and techniques with creative solutions.
As a private, Ivy League institute Brown University has been a source for education and research since 1764 when Rhode Island was merely a colony in the New World. Undergraduates of psychology are well prepared with courses in cognition, perception, development, behavioral neuroscience and social psychology. Students also have access to state-of-the -art laboratories, clinical experiences and specialized seminars that delve into specialized topics.
University of Colorado
A public research institution, the University of Colorado first opened its door in 1876 to educate the greater region of Colorado. The department of psychology offers a study of behavior form cognitive, social, clinical, and biological perspectives. Those seeking specialized courses will find courses in behavioral genetics, cognitive neuroscience, clinical psychology, child development and more. Currently, the program is ranked among the best with expert faculty with exceptional scholarly research.
University of Iowa
A public research institution founded in 1847, The University of Iowa is the oldest institution for higher learning in the state of Iowa. The department of psychological and brain sciences offers undergraduate and graduate degrees with varying emphasis. Students can choose between the psychology or neuroscience route as they take courses in each. The five areas of emphasis are behavioral and cognitive neuroscience, clinical psychology, developmental science, cognition and perception, and social psychology.
Behavioral Psychology Concentration Areas
When you decide to earn your degree in behavioral psychology, it’s important that you choose a concentration area. If you’re not sure where to start, it can be helpful to talk with an academic advisor to learn more about which path is the best option for your career goals. Generally, behavioral counseling careers fall into one of three categories: counseling, behavioral therapy, and academic research.
Careers in counseling for those with a degree in behavioral psychology are plenty and varied. As there are many people desiring to overcome unwanted habits or behaviors that are not wanted, counselors can help guide them through a conditioning process to help them. A counselor works with their patient through discussions, conditioning techniques and advice as they help people choose the best and most productive behavior.
The settings in which counselors can be employed are vast and varied, as is the age and scope of their patients. Careers within counseling are family counseling, mental health centers, education institutions, substance abuse centers, and rehabilitation centers. Something to note about these careers, however, is that typically a master’s degree in behavioral psychology is required for licensure to be employed in these positions.
Those in this branch of the field have more education and work as counselors and therapists using research-based theories and techniques to help their patients change and improve their behavior. Behavioral Therapists typically use a variety of therapy types as they work with patients. These therapists usually treat mental illness, substance abuse, anxiety, depression and other cognitive-behavioral issues. These professionals have a few choices of employment settings; private practice, hospital, or in-patient mental health care facility. To specialize as a cognitive behavioral therapist you need a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, but better if they have a master’s degree and doctoral degrees are also available in this branch of behavioral psychology. Most clinicians will need a doctoral degree to practice as a clinician.
Academic and Research
Not everyone is cut out to be a counselor or clinician. Those still interested in behavioral psychology but wanting to be employed in a different setting can look into the academic and research branch. Universities hire these individuals to conduct research and oversee research as there are always new theories and techniques being used to modify human behavior. Those desiring the academic route can teach at the high school level up to the university level, depending on education and experience.
Regardless of what career path you choose, they all start with a degree in behavioral psychology. From there, individuals can go through a doctoral program, a clinical program or an educator. Whatever you choose, be sure to attend an accredited program from an accredited institution to begin your career.
Behavioral Psychology Careers
Curious about how your earning power will change after you complete your degree? Here, we’ll take a look at the most common careers for people who have their degree in behavioral psychology, as well as what you can expect as an average annual salary, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Average salary: $81,000
Behavioral psychologists can work in a number of settings, including hospitals, schools, research facilities, and private practice. Some behavioral psychologists also work with people who are living with addiction to help them change their behavior patterns.
Substance Abuse Counselor
Average salary: $49,000
A substance abuse counselor can work in both inpatient and outpatient settings, and supports clients who are living with addiction through detox, rehab, and after-care.
Marriage and Family Therapist
Average salary: $65,000
A marriage and family therapist may work in private practice or may help clients as a part of a larger organization. Some marriage and family therapists work with couples only, while others specialize in serving entire families.
Average salary: $81,000
Interested in working to help solve crimes? A forensic psychologist studies how criminals behave and uses this information to interview suspects and others involved in illegal activity.
Average salary: $60,500
Working as a school counselor gives you the chance to make a difference to students. School counselors are needed from K-12, but most school counselors specialize in either elementary or middle/upper grades.
Behavioral Psychologist Average Salary
When learning more about average salaries in the behavioral psychology field, it’s important to remember that many factors are at play when it comes to determining what you’ll be paid after you graduate. Years of experience, grade point average, cost of living in your area, and other variables can all make a large difference in your salary.
With numerous careers that stem from the study of behavioral psychology, attending the right school is imperative. Whether you are using this degree as a springboard into another discipline or if you plan to advance your education and career in the specialized field of the behavioral neurosciences, this is a comprehensive list of accredited schools with outstanding programs that will help you get where you want to go. Enroll today to change the future of humanity tomorrow. Please contact us with any questions.
The schools included in this article are ranked according to a matrix using the following: specialized programs offered, research opportunities, clinical opportunities, cost, and faculty to student ratio.