Accredited Behavioral Psychology Masters Programs in California [2024 Guide]

Behavioral Psychology Masters Programs in California

Below is a list of popular schools offering behavioral psychology master’s degree programs in California:

  • University of the Pacific
  • Grand Canyon University
  • University of California, Riverside
  • Capella University
  • University of Southern California
  • Purdue Global
  • The Chicago School of Professional Psychology

University of the Pacific

The University of the Pacific (UOP), a private institution, is located in Stockton, California, and operates additional graduate campuses in San Francisco and Sacramento. As California’s earliest university, UOP boasts many firsts: the state’s inaugural independent coeducational institution, the West Coast’s premier conservatory of music, and the region’s original medical school.

Established on July 10, 1851, in Santa Clara, California, the university was initially called California Wesleyan College. In 1871, the campus relocated to San Jose, before settling in Stockton in 1923. The WASC Senior College and University Commission accredits the University of the Pacific.

Besides its liberal arts college and graduate school, the university also encompasses schools devoted to business, dentistry, education, engineering, international studies, law, music, pharmacy, and health sciences.

Master of Arts Behavioral Psychology

The Master’s program in Behavioral Psychology aims to equip students for careers as researchers and clinicians using the scientist-practitioner model. By combining academic coursework with practical experiences, students gain a well-rounded education in behavior analysis, encompassing experimental analysis of behavior, applied behavior analysis, and service delivery.

To complete the program, students must finish 30 units: 26 units of coursework and 4 units dedicated to their thesis. Typically, 16 units are completed in the first year, and the remaining 14 units in the second year. Full-time students are expected to spend a minimum of four semesters and one summer in residence in Stockton.

During their first year, all students participate in a one-year research apprenticeship and work on an empirical thesis. Practical experience is gained through teaching assistantships or clinical placements in various environments such as homes, schools, care homes, and treatment centers.

Students work with a range of individuals, including typically developing children, children with developmental disabilities, and adults with developmental disabilities or mental health conditions.

Application requirements for prospective students include:

  • A bachelor’s degree in psychology or a related field
  • Demonstrated experience in applied, clinical, or research settings
  • A minimum 3.0 GPA (accepted applicants often have a higher average GPA)
  • A personal statement of interest
  • A current curriculum vitae
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • A list of up to three faculty members the applicant wishes to work with, along with reasons for the choices (included in the online application)
  • Official academic transcripts

University of California, Riverside

The University of California, Riverside (UCR), is a renowned public research institution situated in Riverside, California. It is one of ten campuses that comprise the University of California system. The central campus occupies 1,900 acres within a suburban area of Riverside, while an additional 20-acre branch is located in Palm Desert.

In 1907, UCR’s precursor, the UC Citrus Experiment Station, Riverside, was founded. This institution played a pioneering role in research related to biological pest control and the use of growth regulators, which extended California’s citrus cultivation period from four to nine months. Riverside houses some of the most significant global research collections on citrus diversity, entomology, science fiction, and photography.

UCR is categorized as an “R1: Doctoral University – Very high research activity.” In the U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges rankings, UCR holds the 83rd position nationwide and is tied for 33rd among public universities.

Over 27 of UCR’s academic programs have received high national rankings, including the Graduate School of Education and the Bourns College of Engineering. These rankings are based on peer assessment, student selectivity, financial resources, and additional factors.

Applied Behavior Analysis M.Ed.

This comprehensive program offers intensive education and supervised fieldwork, focusing on applying behavioral principles to support the behavioral health of children and adults.

Led by faculty experienced in ABA, education, and psychology, the curriculum is designed for individuals looking to provide behavioral support services in educational and clinical settings, such as special educators, school psychologists, paraprofessionals, and other behavioral health providers.

Program Duration: 1.25 years/4 quarters in a cohort model, with in-person instruction on the Riverside campus.

Students will engage in 450 hours of fieldwork, dedicating 10 hours per week during the first three quarters and 15 hours per week in the fourth quarter. Fieldwork placements can be assigned through the program or independently sourced by the student, with the latter requiring approval from program faculty and meeting supervision and experience criteria.

The course sequence is verified by the Association of Behavior Analysis International (ABAI). Upon successful completion, students will fulfill the coursework requirements for behavior analyst certification.

UCR’s program offers unique features that provide graduates a competitive edge in the field:

  • Face-to-face instruction
  • Networking opportunities with future colleagues
  • Mandatory practicum providing real-world experience and required for professional certification
  • A focus on practical applications in both clinical and educational settings
  • Unrivaled access to resources and opportunities within the UC system

University of Southern California

Located in Los Angeles, California, the University of Southern California (USC) is a prestigious private research institution. Established in 1880 by Robert M. Widney, this university holds the title of being California’s oldest private research-focused establishment.

USC features a liberal arts college, the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, in addition to 22 schools offering undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs. The student body is diverse, with approximately 21,000 undergraduates and 28,500 postgraduates representing all 50 states within the U.S. and over 115 nations worldwide.

In 1969, USC became a member of the esteemed Association of American Universities. Being among the top academic institutions in the United States, USC’s admission process is known for its highly competitive nature.

Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis

The Master of Science program in Applied Behavior Analysis at USC seeks to prepare students for careers within the ABA field in California. The primary objective is to produce scientist-practitioners who excel at delivering services that enhance life quality for people with autism, developmental disorders, and other populations who benefit from ABA interventions.

Courses within this program have received verification from the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI), meeting eligibility requirements for taking the Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) or Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA) examinations. The program offers 315 hours of ABA coursework and between 1,500 and 2,000 hours of supervised field experience.

Upon completion, students will have fulfilled all necessary coursework and the majority, if not all, of the fieldwork requirements to qualify for the BCBA certification examination.

The curriculum also includes two courses in developmental psychology, providing a comprehensive understanding of current theories and research regarding children’s cognitive, social, and emotional development. Additional elective courses cover subjects like language acquisition, psychopathology, and Autism Spectrum Disorder.

This Master of Science program in Applied Behavior Analysis is structured to be finished in two full-time academic years with an additional part-time summer semester. It includes a Verified Course Sequence from the Behavior Analyst Certification Board.

As an esteemed graduate training program in behavior analysis, the Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis maintains rigorous admission criteria, such as letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and a curriculum vitae.

Pepperdine University

Pepperdine University, a private academic institution, is situated primarily in Los Angeles County, California. The main campus spans 830 acres and boasts picturesque views of the Pacific Ocean, positioned near Malibu, California, along the scenic Pacific Coast Highway.

Founded by entrepreneur George Pepperdine in South Los Angeles in 1937, the university expanded its location to Malibu in 1972. Presently, educational programs are offered at the primary Malibu campus, three supplementary graduate campuses in Southern California, and a center in Washington, DC.

The university comprises an undergraduate liberal arts college and four graduate institutions: the Caruso School of Law, the Graziadio Business School, the Graduate School of Education and Psychology, and the School of Public Policy.

Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis

The Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis degree program at Pepperdine aims to equip students with the necessary knowledge and skills to become a certified ABA therapist, catering to individuals with conditions such as autism spectrum disorders, developmental disabilities, or traumatic brain injuries.

Adhering to the practitioner-scholar model for professional education, this program combines rigorous theoretical exploration with comprehensive clinical training.

Students will gain practical experience by collaborating with experienced behavior analysts, assisting patients in acquiring adaptive skills for improved functioning across educational, familial, social, and professional domains.

The on-campus offering at the West Los Angeles location consists of two 15-week terms in the Fall and Spring, along with two 7-week Summer sessions.

Alternatively, the online offering features four 11-week terms (Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer).

For admission to this program, applicants must provide: an online application, the relevant fee, transcripts, two professional recommendations, and a Statement of Purpose outlining their prior training and experience, current interests, and future professional aspirations.

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology is a private educational institution, founded in 1979 and located in Chicago, Illinois. Initially, its primary focus was on the practical aspects of psychology. However, the institution has since expanded to include more than 6,000 students throughout the United States and online.

Presently, the school provides over 30 diverse academic programs in areas like psychology, business, healthcare, health services, education, counseling, and nursing.

Master of Science Applied Behavior Analysis

The online Master’s program in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) at the Chicago School offers a strong foundation in behavioral psychology principles. Students learn to create meaningful behavior changes through data-driven decision-making and program creation. Utilizing modern technology, the ABA program aims to shape students into leaders within the field.

The Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis (MS ABA) program focuses on providing students with the scientific, analytical, and theoretical tools necessary for delivering effective, ethical, and practical behavior-analytic interventions for various populations.

Under the guidance of experienced faculty, students will explore numerous ABA applications and specialties, such as instructional design, precision teaching, and verbal behavior.

The MS ABA program fulfills the educational requirements for pursuing Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) certification. In addition to completing the program, graduates must pass an exam, complete an application process that may involve fees, a background check, and provide documentation of completed coursework and supervised experience.

For those interested in conducting research or pursuing doctoral studies, the program offers an Advanced Research Project as a thesis option.

Applicants for the MS in Applied Behavior Analysis program at must have a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution and meet other entrance requirements. Prospective students must submit the following:

  • Online Application
  • Application Fee: $50
  • Resume or Curriculum Vitae
  • Essay
  • Official College/University Transcripts
  • Three Letters of Recommendation

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