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Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Online Certificate Programs

Online certificate programs in ABA are typically available at the graduate level and can be completed in 1 to 2 years. Find out more about these certificate programs, like common courses and accreditation, as well as career options for those with a background in ABA.

Best Online Certificate Programs in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)

Online ABA certificate programs help prepare graduates for professional licensure in the field and/or for working with individuals who need help developing functional behavioral skills. Some of the best of these online programs are approved by professional organizations in the field, are taught by expert faculty, and/or provide unique hands-on learning experiences. Explore some of the top ABA certificate programs below.

1.Texas A&M University- College Station

LocationGraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
College Station, TX$9,812

Texas A&M University in College Station has an online ABA graduate certificate program that is approved by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB), Inc. and meets the requirements for graduates to take the Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) examination. However, family members, direct service providers, job coaches, and others who could benefit from training with challenging behaviors can still take the program even if they are not planning on becoming a BCBA. The program requires 18 credits and follows a cohort model. Coursework includes both synchronous and asynchronous formats.

2. University of Arizona

LocationGraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
Tucson, AZ$13,044

The University of Arizona offers an online graduate certificate program in ABA, and its course sequence is approved by the BACB. The program totals 18 credits and can be completed in as little as 16 months. Students also have the option to spread courses out over multiple semesters. Applicants are not required to take the GRE, but those wanting to take the BCBA exam are required to have a master's degree. Students in the program complete 45 hours in ethical and professional conduct, 20 hours in experimental design, and 28 hours in behavioral analysis.

3. University of Cincinnati- Main Campus

LocationGraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
Cincinnati, OH$14,468

The University of Cincinnati's main campus provides an online behavior analysis graduate certificate program that totals 21 credits. The program's course sequence is approved by the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) and helps qualify students for the BCBA exam. Students can complete the program in 1 to 2 years and can choose from a full- or part-time format. The program also offers multiple start dates throughout the year for flexibility.

4. Niagara University

LocationGraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
Niagara University, NY$14,308

Niagara University has an online advanced certificate program in ABA that requires 27 credits. The program meets the requirements for practice as a New York state licensed behavior analyst and provides a Catholic-based perspective. Students in the program are required to complete 250 hours of supervised fieldwork in ABA to gain hands-on learning experience.

5. St. Joseph's College- Long Island

LocationGraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
Patchogue, NY$18,802

St. Joseph's College offers an online ABA certificate program, and it is the first to meet New York state's newest regulations, according to the school's website. Students can choose the appropriate track within the program that includes the necessary coursework for their desired certification. The program totals 29 credits and gives students the option to participate in elective courses with practicum experiences. Students in the program learn from diverse and experienced faculty members.

Rank School Name Location Graduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
6Saint Joseph's UniversityPhiladelphia, PA$16,992
7Monmouth UniversityWest Long Branch, NJ$26,814
8California State University-San MarcosSan Marcos, CA$9,147
9Arizona State University-SkysongScottsdale, AZ$6,462
10Drexel UniversityPhiladelphia, PA$34,995

All statistics provided by the National Center for Education Statistics, tuition based on 2018-2019 school year

Learn.org's school ranking methodology categorizes and assesses data from schools and other reliable sources, such as the U.S. Department of Education, and weighs the information based on quality, cost, value and other factors critical to students' academic decisions.

Overview of Online ABA Certificate Programs

Online certificate programs in ABA are typically offered at the graduate level and help train students to identify, assess, and treat behavioral and learning challenges in individuals. These online certificate programs generally range from 18 to 29 credits and can usually be completed fully online. Some of these programs may follow a cohort model, and coursework may include synchronous and/or asynchronous formats.

Many of these programs are approved by the BACB or ABAI to help prepare students to take the BCBA exam. However, not all students in these programs take the exam. Online certificate programs in ABA can usually be taken as stand-alone programs or in conjunction with a master's degree program. Some schools with certificate programs may offer optional practicum experiences or require supervised hours for hands-on learning that is usually required to take the BCBA. Learn more about the general nature of online ABA certificate programs below.

Program Length

The length of an online certificate program in ABA varies by institution. Some of these programs may take 3 terms, or about 1 year to complete. Others may take 16 to 24 months to complete.

Common Courses

Coursework for online certificate programs in ABA consists of core courses in the subject, with some programs including optional electives. Some programs may require a capstone course that allows students to apply the knowledge they have gained throughout the program. Common course topics for ABA certificate programs include:

  • Ethics- Courses in ethics typically focus on the ethical codes and issues for behavior analysts. Students learn about ethical practices and how to conduct themselves with patients and others involved in the treatment process. Some of these courses may use case studies for examples of ethical issues.
  • Assessment- Courses that discuss topics in assessment may look at assessments for specific disorders, such as autism, or examine assessment on a broader scale, like functional behavioral assessment. In either case, these courses are designed to equip students with the necessary tools to identify and measure behaviors of individuals with disabilities in order to provide the best treatment possible.
  • Intervention- Intervention courses may also focus on specific interventions, such as family or early intervention, or examine behavior analytic interventions as a whole. These courses help train students to develop behavior change systems based on findings in behavioral assessments. Students may also further develop their interviewing and observation skills in these courses.
  • Research Methods- Students in research methods courses learn about the different research designs and techniques utilized in ABA. Students may also learn about the different measurements used in the field, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of different experimental designs.
  • ABA- Some online certificate programs in ABA may include a foundational and an advanced course in ABA. The foundational course lays the groundwork for advanced study in the field by discussing basic concepts in ABA, various philosophies in the field, and different therapeutic approaches. Advanced courses build upon these concepts and explore how to apply these principles to correcting behavioral issues.

Admissions Requirements

Some online certificate programs in ABA have multiple start dates throughout the year for flexibility, so students wishing to apply should check with their institution for admission deadlines. Some schools with online programs may allow students to apply with only a bachelor's degree, but many schools require applicants to hold a master's degree. The master's degree can be in behavior analysis, psychology, education, or a related field. It is also fairly common for schools with online programs to require that applicants meet a minimum GPA, usually around a 3.0.

Most students do not need to take the GRE to apply for these certificate programs, but they are usually required to include an official transcript, letters of recommendation, a resume, and/or a personal statement. Students should also expect to have some experience being supervised by a BCBA.

How to Choose an Online ABA Certificate Program

Finding the right online ABA certificate program can be challenging, as there are many program options and different factors to consider. Students may need to consider their schedule and time commitment when looking at a program's length and/or format for coursework. Students may also need to think about any required or optional hands-on experience and how this would fit in with their career goals and/or schedules. A few other important considerations for choosing an ABA certificate program are discussed in more detail below.

Accreditation

Accreditation is a formal way of ensuring that a school or academic program has met academic guidelines and standards set by an accrediting organization. Students should always look for an accredited school and/or program to make sure that they are receiving a quality education. Most schools that offer online certificate programs in ABA are regionally accredited by organizations like the Higher Learning Commission.

Although it is not the same as program-specific accreditation, students, especially those wishing to take the BCBA exam, should look for programs with course sequences approved or verified by the BACB or the ABAI. This approval indicates that these programs meet specific guidelines set for professionals in the field of ABA. Depending on a student's career goals and/or plans to stay in a particular location, students may also want to find a program that meets their state's requirements for professional licensure in the field of behavior analysis.

Cost of Program

The cost of a program may also be a limiting factor for students based on their personal budget. Tuition rates vary greatly from school to school and may also vary with factors like residency. However, some of these online certificate programs in ABA may cost between $495 and $739 per credit hour. Students should be sure to research whether the cost of a program includes any fees, such as a distance learning fee, instructional fee, or other general fees.

To help students find ways to save, many schools provide links to various financial aid and scholarship options. There are also some schools that offer discounts for military members, accept employer reimbursements, and/or may offer employer and association discounts.

Career Options for Graduates in ABA

The knowledge and skills learned in an online certificate program in ABA can be applied to a wide range of careers that involve closely working with adults and children of different backgrounds. These careers are found in an array of settings, including schools, clinics, hospitals, residential facilities, and more. Many students with a certificate in ABA may go on to take the BCBA exam and become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, but there are also other careers that benefit from having specialized training in ABA. Some of these jobs may require additional education and/or licensure. Check out the list of job titles below.

  • Special education teacher
  • Mental health counselor
  • Speech pathologist
  • Sociologist
  • Counseling psychologist
  • Teacher
  • Social worker
  • School psychologist

Special Education Teachers

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), special education teachers typically need at least a bachelor's degree and a state teaching license to work at public schools. As of 2018, these teachers made a median annual salary of $59,780 and had a job outlook of 3% from 2018 to 2028, per the BLS. This job outlook was slower than the national average; job demand may be dependent on school enrollment and/or funding.

Special education teachers are needed in elementary, middle, and high schools to work with students with various types of disabilities. These teachers need to be able to evaluate students' skills, help adjust lesson plans for students as needed, and prepare students for the next grade level. Special education teachers are also responsible for developing, implementing, and updating students' Individualized Education Programs (IEPs).

Psychologists

There are many different kinds of psychologists, such as school psychologists, counseling psychologists, clinical psychologists, and developmental psychologists, and the level of education required may vary by the kind of position. For example, school psychologists may only need a master's degree, while clinical psychologists may need a doctorate and a license to practice. According to the BLS, psychologists as a whole made a median salary of $79,010 as of 2018 and had a job outlook of 14% from 2018 to 2028. This job outlook was much faster than average.

Job duties for psychologists also vary by position, but in general, psychologists study how people interact with each other and their environments. They may observe behaviors, cognitive processes, and more as they interview patients and diagnose any psychological issues. Psychologists may also conduct research, help counsel patients, and/or help educate others about psychological issues.

Social Workers

There are also several different kinds of social workers, including clinical social workers, school social workers, child and family social workers, and healthcare social workers. Education requirements may vary by the kind of social work. For example, clinical social workers may need a master's degree, a license, and clinical experience, while most social workers only need a bachelor's degree. In 2018, the BLS reported that social workers as a whole made a median annual salary of $49,470 and had a job outlook of 11% from 2018 to 2028. This job outlook is much faster than average.

In general, social workers address behavioral, mental, and emotional problems to help their clients deal with everyday challenges. All social workers aim to provide their clients with much needed resources, and some focus on specific populations. Social workers may be responsible for evaluating clients' needs, assisting clients during crisis situations, advocating for resources, and helping clients adjust to big life changes.