Built upon the work of giants like Ivan Pavlov and B. F. Skinner, the field of behavioral psychology has been evolving for more than a century. Looking at everything from organizational behaviors to developmental disabilities, modern behavioral therapists assist millions of patients every year by helping them overcome personal and professional deficits. With exciting developments like Relational Frame Theory (RFT) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), behavioral psychology professionals are transforming the lives of patients with new techniques. The field is adapting quickly to meet the ever-changing needs of today's patients.
Many professionals in the field are choosing to continue their education with a behavioral psychology post master's certificate. Generally these programs are very flexible in order to accommodate the schedules of working professionals; nonetheless, a full-time student could potentially complete a behavioral psychology post master's certificate program in one year. Generally, these programs require anywhere from nine to 15 credit hours of course work and are usually tailored to a specific sub-discipline. The best programs incorporate a practicum of fieldwork, where the candidate has the opportunity to put his or her newly acquired knowledge and skills into practice, under supervised conditions.
As behavioral psychology continues to be split into sub-disciplines, professionals are realizing that each of these subsets encompasses a breadth of knowledge and skills that simply cannot all be covered in a general behavioral psychology master’s degree program. To adapt, many mental health professionals are choosing to enroll in post master’s certificate programs. Offered in a variety of subfields, including community health, school psychology, and behavior analysis, these behavioral psychology certificate programs offer professionals the specialized education they need. Program expectations vary, but common requirements include the following:
- Master’s degree from an accredited college or university, in psychology or a related discipline
- Sufficiently high GPA in the previous program – typically at least 3.0
- Letter of intent or statement of interest
- Letters of recommendation
- Curriculum vitae or resume
- Successful completion of a number of psychology classes, including developmental psychology, abnormal psychology, clinical counseling, and research methods
It is difficult to generalize about the course work of a behavioral psychology post master’s certificate programs due to the unique natures of each sub-discipline. Nonetheless, all certificate programs share a directed focus, and few require any course work outside of the sub-field. Therefore, students do not spend any class time (or tuition dollars) on general education, or even general psychology courses. For example, the typical students seeking a post master’s behavioral psychology certificate in community health and development will take courses only relating directly to community health. The focus of these certificate programs helps graduates truly engage with the material, thereby developing a specialty in the field.
What’s Next for Behavioral Psychology Certificate Holders?
Graduates of certificate programs have a wide array of opportunities available to them. Those who successfully attain certification in applied behavior analysis can go on to attain board certification, and return to their careers as counselors, supervisors, and managers. Professionals in the field with this level of education expect to earn annual median salaries in excess of $62,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). People with these skills are in high demand, and according to the BLS, they can expect jobs in their discipline to grow by over 10% through 2024.
Those who successfully complete school psychology programs often find rewarding work in public and private schools. These graduates enjoy a median annual salary in excess of $70,000, and this field is expected to grow faster than the national average. Graduates of most certificate programs are also qualified to conduct research independently and publish in scholarly journals.