30 Best Applied Behavior Analysis Programs Online [2020 Guide]

We’ve ranked the 30 Best Masters in Applied Behavior Analysis Programs Online. Compare online ABA degrees & Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) schools.

 Applied Behavior Analysis Programs

People facing challenging circumstances often struggle with everyday life skills. For those with autism, PTSD, addictions, or dementia, applied behavior analysis can provide a pathway toward success. Specialists in this field help others improve their lives through behavior modification.

Specialists in applied behavior analysis receive the satisfaction of knowing that their efforts make a real difference in people’s lives. Plus, they’re highly employable; this field is expected to grow 22% from 2018 to 2028.

To pursue a career in behavioral science, consider earning your master’s degree in applied behavior analysis.

Online Masters in Applied Behavior Analysis Programs

Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is a branch of psychological study that deals with behavior modification. As an expert in ABA, you can help people curb their undesirable behaviors and choose positive actions.

ABA relies on evidence-based practices and scientific principles. This type of therapy is often used for people with autism and other developmental disorders. The concepts can also be applied in classrooms, dementia care and personal relationships.

To learn ABA principles, get your master’s degree in this field. Your studies will equip you with skills, knowledge, and practical tools that you can use when working with clients, students or employees under your supervision.

Graduate-level studies are required before taking the exam to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). Your master’s degree program can provide the necessary credit hours, but additional fieldwork may be required after graduation.

As a BCBA, you’ll be able to apply behavior-modification concepts in clinical and counseling settings. You could also pursue an ABA master’s to improve your skills as a teacher, a healthcare provider or a public health worker.

Curriculum for an ABA Degree

Curriculum for an ABA Degree

A master’s degree in this field may be an MS in Applied Behavior Analysis or an MS in Psychology with an ABA concentration. Alternatively, some students choose to earn education degrees, such as a Master of Education or an MA in Special Education, with ABA concentrations.

Whichever path you choose, your coursework will prepare you to better understand human behavior and thinking. You’ll learn how to help people adjust their behaviors so that they can become more successful in their daily lives.

The following overview provides a general idea of the sort of classes you can expect in an ABA master’s program:

Assessment Methods: Practitioners must use tests, data collection and other forms of assessment to identify deficiencies or problems that can be addressed through ABA principles. In this class, you’ll learn to conduct such assessments and incorporate your findings into effective intervention strategies.

Behavior Interventions: ABA focuses on reducing negative behaviors and increasing positive ones. Intervention strategies are the means of effecting such changes. You’ll learn how to create intervention plans, put them into practice and evaluate their effectiveness. You may also discuss supervising practitioners as they implement behavior interventions.

Data Analysis and Research: Across disciplines, master’s students must be skilled at gathering scientific information and applying it to their research. This class will develop your skills in designing experimental tests and collecting measurable data.

Ethical Practice: Everyone who works in this field should adhere to the Professional and Ethical Compliance Code for Behavior Analysts from the Behavior Analyst Certification Board. In this class, you’ll explore the standards set forth in that code, and you may also discuss legal issues related to your professional practice. Your coursework may involve case studies and real-world examples.

Foundations of Applied Behavior Analysis: Your master’s program will likely begin with a general overview course that introduces you to the basic concepts of ABA. You’ll learn the principles involved in this branch of psychology and study their various applications.

Human Development: Helping people change their behavior requires an understanding of how humans typically grow and develop. You’ll study physical, cognitive and psychological changes through the years to help you identify normal and abnormal development.

Some schools also require capstone classes and projects before graduation as a way to synthesize students’ learning experiences over the course of the program. Other schools may have a practicum component in which students gain field experience and carry out related projects. The practicum hours may count toward requirements for BCBA certification.

Applied Behavior Analysis Degree Careers & Salaries

behavior analyst meeting with client

Many master’s graduates choose to pursue clinical work as counselors in private practices, medical centers, community agencies or rehabilitation facilities. Others use their education as behavioral experts in healthcare, education or social work settings.

Those with a particular interest in autism and other developmental disorders may want to work with special-needs populations in therapeutic, healthcare or research roles.

You could consider the following ABA careers after earning your master’s degree:

Addiction counselor:

  • Help people with their substance abuse problems and any co-occurring mental health disorders. The average annual pay is $44,630.

Educational consultant:

  • Evaluate how well schools are doing at providing disability services and suggest methods of improvement. Annual pay may range from $35,550 to $101,500.

Mental health therapist:

  • Focus on helping clients with mental health disorders modify their behavior. Your annual earnings could range from $26,950 to $70,100.

Rehabilitation counselor:

  • Earn approximately $35,630 per year as you equip people with skills for independent living.

Social worker:

  • Help people work through challenging life circumstances. Common job settings include community agencies, healthcare facilities, and schools. The average annual pay is $49,470.

Sociologist:

  • Earn around $82,050 each year as you study human behavior among individuals and groups.

Special education teacher:

  • Work in the school system with students who have disabilities. You may earn $59,780 per year.

Earning your ABA master’s degree can prepare you for a fulfilling career in which you help others along a path toward success. Not only can this be personally satisfying, but it can also mean that you have in-demand, professional skills that are applicable in many fields.

BCBA Programs

logo of Behavior Analyst Certification Analyst

Earning a BCBA certification is an excellent investment to further your career in applied behavior analysis, and become an independent practitioner or private consultant for behavior analytic services.

What Is a BCBA Certification?

Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) is a certification awarded by the BACB or Behavior Analyst Certification Board. It is one of the many career paths for applied behavior analysis (ABA) and is an integral certification for professionals who want to take positions in the education sector.

Professionals who want to help others in advancing their careers in ABA should have a BCBA Certification. It is an on-going career path that needs continuous certification to work with clients who exhibit behavior difficulties.

It will also enable you to work in various sectors, like social service and professional behavior analysis.

Earning this certification means a professional is efficient in identifying behaviors, managing crisis and assaultive behaviors, and creating behavior plans. Most professionals with BCBA also work as practitioners who assess students who have severe or complex behavioral disorders.

How Do I Become BCBA Certified?

behavioral therapist receiving a professional certificate

A master’s degree in Applied Behavior Analysis is the first qualification that you’ll need before you can send your application for a BCBA Certification.

Once you’ve submitted all the requirements, the Behavior Analyst Certification Board will review your request for any discrepancies. If there’s none, you’ll go through the BCBA examination.

You need to submit your official and original transcripts, experience in the field of behavior analysis with verification forms, your published article in applied behavior analysis, post-doctoral expertise, and proof of professional credentials. You can only submit your application for BCBA Certification once every 90 days.

BCBA deals with a very intricate field, so the Behavior Analyst Certification Board requires all professionals to go through regular recertification every two years. This policy ensures that your knowledge and practices remain current and meets the industry standard.

BCBA recertification requires a professional to undergo continuing education and training. You also need to meet the ethics requirements of the Behavior Analyst Certification Board and conduct self-reporting of all your activities in the field of applied behavior analysis before you can apply for recertification.

How Do Online BCBA Programs Prepare You for the Exam?

behavior analyst professionals taking an exam

Online BCBA programs can help professionals in passing the exam by providing them with insights, tips, ideas, and best practices that can help them earn their certification. It also helps them stay updated with the changes in the standards that the Behavior Analyst Certification Board implements for accreditation or recertification.

Some of these online BCBA programs have a community of professionals who have a keen interest in applied behavior analysis, autism, and even those who want to pass the exam. It creates an environment that aims to advance the practices in behavior analysis or increase your chances of earning certification.

The demand for BCBA is growing at a rapid pace and with increasing standards.

With the help of online BCBA programs, you can get a good headstart in practical application that you can use to pass the exam and earn your certification. It will also help you gain in-depth knowledge on what to expect during the exams with minimal on-campus obligations.

How Do You Find BCBA Certification Programs Online?

Behavior Analyst degree graduate working on her laptop in a cafe

When looking for online programs that can help you in getting BCBA certification, you have to look at every factor objectively. A lot of students pick an online program because a big-name university offers it, but it shouldn’t be the case.

Nonprofit colleges often have better online BCBA programs. A lot of these colleges have programs that cost less than $13,000 per year for a BCBA certification and still manage to get a passing rate higher than 75%.

These colleges rely on high-quality education to promote their reputation as an educational leader, instead of making profits through expensive online BCBA programs.

The online program that you will take should also have regional accreditation to ensure that you are getting the highest standard of learning and practice.

Look for colleges or universities with certification from the Behavior Analyst Certification Board or the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs.

These organizations closely monitor programs on and off campuses to ensure that they are providing their students with knowledge that meets industry and regional standards.

Are There Bachelors Programs or Only BCBA Masters Programs?

Applied Behavior Analysis students listening to a lecture in a university classroom

Some schools offer a bachelor’s degree in Applied Behavior Analysis. It is a four-year program that goes through strict regular assessment from the Behavior Analyst Certification Board.

To this day, there are only 35 colleges and universities throughout the United States that have accreditation to offer a bachelor’s degree in Applied Behavior Analysis.

A bachelor’s degree in BCBA aims to provide students with a foundation in applied behavior analysis, together with various skills to understand behavior and social problems.

It also focuses on teaching students how they can successfully apply behavioral interventions to individuals, groups, and communities.

Students who choose this program will undergo a curriculum that includes a wide range of topics in the field, such as general education courses, various psychology courses, and core behavioral courses.

It will require students to complete different research projects and submit a thesis from research that they conducted using the practices that they have learned.

Admissions Requirements for a Masters in Applied Behavior Analysis Online

student applying for a Masters in Applied Behavior Analysis listening to interviewer during admissions interview

A bachelor’s degree is an essential prerequisite for all ABA master’s programs. Other admissions requirements vary among schools but may include:

  • Completed application
  • Personal essay
  • Previous transcripts
  • Recommendation letters
  • Resume
  • Test scores

Although some schools require GRE test scores from applicants, many offer no-GRE master’s programs. Even schools that ask for scores may grant waivers on the basis of GPA or professional experience.

Accreditation for Applied Behavior Analysis Degrees

logos of six regional accreditors

Reputable colleges are accredited by one of the regional accrediting associations that are recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). These include the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).

Attending a regionally accredited school is important if you want to transfer credits or qualify for financial aid.

Some schools also carry national accreditation that applies to their specific style of education. For an online ABA master’s degree, you may want to look for a school approved by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission.

Program-specific accreditation indicates that specific degree programs meet accepted industry standards. For an ABA degree, this type of accreditation is granted by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board.

Although you can take the BCBA exam after graduating from a non-accredited school, earning your degree from an approved program is more likely to fully prepare you for the test.

Financial Aid for Online BCBA Programs and ABA Programs

screenshot of FAFSA website

To help you afford the cost of a master’s degree program, look into your financial aid options. Submitting the FAFSA is a great first step as it will outline what federal resources are available to you. These might include loans, grants or Federal Work-Study.

Your state may have similar resources to assist with your tuition. As with federal financial aid, your FAFSA details may be used to determine your eligibility for state programs.

Scholarships and fellowships often come from private sources, such as universities and community organizations. You may be eligible based on your accomplishments, personal characteristics or financial need.

Questions Related to Enrolling in Online ABA Programs

Here are our answers to a few more questions you might have.

Can I Get a Master’s in Applied Behavior Analysis Online?

Online study is a common approach to getting a master’s degree in this field. You’ll take similar classes to the ones offered in campus-based programs, and you will complete comparable assignments. Just be sure to choose an accredited college.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Master’s Degree in Behavior Analysis Online?

The average length of an ABA master’s program is two years. You may be able to speed up your studies with transferred credits, accelerated schedules or self-paced studies. Full-time programs are quicker than part-time ones, but practicum requirements can add to the length of a program.

What Are the Requirements for an Online Master’s in Behavioral Psychology Degree?

Studying for a master’s in this field requires that you take classes in human development, psychology, data analysis, interventions, and research. Many schools expect students to submit a capstone paper or project before graduation. Others have students engage in fieldwork and carry out research or a project in that setting.

What Certifications and Licenses Does A Masters in Behavior Analysis Online Prepare You For?

Master’s in ABA programs typically meet the educational requirements for the Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) exam. Sitting for this test also requires logging fieldwork hours, which may need to be earned outside of the master’s program. If your state has additional licensing requirements, look into whether your program fulfills them.

What Is a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA)?

Board Certified Behavior Analysts are professionals who help others replace negative behaviors with positive ones so they can live life to their full potential. Through study and certification, BCBA professionals have earned the right to practice independently, and they may also be able to supervise others.

Does a BCBA Require a Master’s in Behavioral Psychology?

To become a BCBA, you must hold a related graduate degree at the masters or doctoral level. In general, your graduate studies must include classes specifically related to ABA, but some exceptions are made for college faculty and post-doctoral researchers.

What Is the Format of the BCBA Exam?

The BCBA examination is a multiple-choice test with 150 questions. Just over half of the test is dedicated to Basic Behavior Analytic Skills, such as procedures and systems used in this field. The rest of the exam focuses on Client-centered Responsibilities, including ethical behavior and the implementation of interventions.

What Jobs Can You Get with a Master’s Degree in Applied Behavior Analysis Online?

You may have your sights set on clinical practice and earning a master’s degree and BCBA certification will prepare you to work as an independent practitioner. You can provide services for people with behavior disorders and developmental disabilities in private practices, healthcare organizations or community agencies.

Not all ABA professionals choose to work in counseling settings. Others may work with people with disabilities in schools or residential facilities. You could also pursue employment as a social worker, a behavioral consultant or an addiction specialist. Research is another career path that may be open to you.

Can You Get into Masters in Behavioral Science School Without GRE Scores?

GRE results are not always a requirement for grad school. Many ABA programs do not ask for any test scores during the application process. Others allow waivers for qualified candidates, such as those with high undergrad GPAs or previous graduate studies.

How Is Applied Behavior Analysis Connected to Autism?

Scientific research has demonstrated that applied behavior analysis is an effective approach for working with people with autism. For example, ABA therapy may help individuals improve their social or language skills. In fact, autism treatment is one of the most common applications of ABA practices.

What Is the Cheapest BCBA Online Program?

The cost of online BCBA programs will vary, but it rarely makes a difference in the quality of education that you will receive from an institution.

We believe that nonprofit schools provide the best value because instead of focusing on making large profits, a nonprofit school relies on a high standard of education to build their reputation as a leader in BCBA.

Some of the cheapest online BCBA programs can even match the passing rate of other more exclusive schools.

An objective evaluation of the school’s reputation, faculty, and flexibility will not only provide you with cheap online BCBA programs but also excellent education that greatly benefits future career advancements.

Applying for student aids that different organizations offer for those who want to earn a BCBA degree will also help in lowering overall costs. These financial assistance programs will also cover other fees and expenses that pursuing a BCBA Certification might incur.

List of Universities Offering Applied Behavior Analysis Masters Degree Online

Rankings Methodology

The following colleges and universities are regionally accredited and offer ABA master programs online.

#1  Arcadia University

Arcadia University campus

  • Master’s in Education – Applied Behavior Analysis

Arcadia is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

#2  Arizona State University

Arizona State University campus

  • MA in Special Education – Applied Behavior Analysis

ASU has been continuously accredited by the Higher Learning Commission since 1931.

#3  Ball State University

Ball State University campus

  • MA in Applied Behavior Analysis – Autism

BSU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

#4  Bay Path University

Bay Path University campus

  • Master’s in Applied Behavior Analysis

Bay Path is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

#5  Cairn University

Cairn University campus

  • MA in Applied Behavior Analysis

Cairn is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

#6  California University of Pennsylvania

California University of Pennsylvania campus

  • MEd – Applied Behavior Analysis (Autism)
  • MEd – Applied Behavior Analysis (General)

Cal U is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

#7  Capella University

Capella University campus

  • MS in Psychology – Applied Behavior Analysis

Capella is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

#8  Drexel University

Drexel University campus

  • MS in Applied Behavior Analysis

Drexel is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

#9  Endicott College

Endicott College campus

  • MEd – Autism and Applied Behavior Analysis
  • MEd – Applied Behavior Analysis

Endicott is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).

#10  Monmouth University

Monmouth University campus

  • MS in Education – Special Education – Autism/Applied Behavior Analysis

Monmouth is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

#11  National University

National University campus

  • MS in Applied Behavioral Analysis

NU is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

#12  Northeastern University

Northeastern University campus

  • MS in Applied Behavior Analysis

Northeastern University is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Inc. (NEASC).

#13  Penn State World Campus

Penn State World campus

  • MEd in Special Education – Applied Behavior Analysis

Penn State World Campus is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

#14  Pepperdine University

Pepperdine University campus

  • Master’s in Applied Behavior Analysis

Pepperdine is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges—Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

#15  Regis College

Regis College campus

  • MS in Applied Behavior Analysis

Regis is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

#16  Saint Joseph’s University

Saint Joseph’s University campus

  • Master’s in Special Education – Applied Behavior Analysis

SJU is regionally accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.

#17  Simmons University

Simmons University campus

  • MS in Behavior Analysis

Simmons is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).

#18  Southeast Missouri State University

Southeast Missouri State University campus

  • MA in Applied Behavior Analysis

SEMO is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

#19  St. Cloud State University

Saint Cloud State University campus

  • MS in Applied Behavior Analysis

St. Cloud is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and a member of the North Central Association.

#20  The Chicago School of Professional Psychology

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology campus

  • MS in Applied Behavior Analysis

The Chicago School is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

#21  The Sage Colleges

Sage Colleges campus

  • MS in Applied Behavior Analysis & Autism

The Sage Colleges is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

#22  University of Cincinnati

University of Cincinnati campus

  • MEd in Foundations – Behavior Analysis

UC and all regional campuses are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

#23  University of Dayton

University of Dayton campus

  • Master’s in Applied Behavior Analysis

UDayton is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

#24  University of Kansas

University of Kansas campus

  • MA in Applied Behavioral Science

KU has been continuously accredited by the Higher Learning Commission since 1913.

#25  University of Nevada – Reno

University of Nevada Reno campus

  • MA in Psychology – Behavior Analysis

UNR is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

#26  University of South Florida

University of South Florida campus

  • MA in Applied Behavior Analysis

USF is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools’ Commission on Colleges.

#27  University of Southern Maine

University of Southern Maine campus

  • MS in Educational Psychology – Applied Behavior Analysis

USM is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

#28  University of Washington

University of Washington campus

  • MEd in Applied Behavior Analysis

UW is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

#29  Walden University

Walden University campus

  • MS in Psychology – Applied Behavior Analysis

Walden is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

#30  Western Connecticut State University

western connecticut state university campus

  • MS in Applied Behavior Analysis

WCSU is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

Analysis Complete

behavioral therapist talking to a child during play therapy session

A fulfilling career as an expert in behavior modification is waiting for you. To become a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst who helps others improve their lives, enroll in an ABA graduate program. Your expertise will make an important difference for people with autism, addictions and other life challenges.

If you’re ready to gain the in-demand skills that you’ll need as a BCBA, it’s time to start filling out applications for applied behavior analysis master’s programs.

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Hannah Davis
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