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Top 50 Online ABA Master’s Programs and Certificates in 2018

There is a recent and growing need for qualified professionals in the field of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). ABA therapy, the leading treatment for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), helps children on the Spectrum improve in many areas of development, including communication, social skills, and day-to-day living skills.

The ABA field is led by Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) who are responsible for creating all of the individualized treatment plans and supervising one-on-one therapy sessions with Registered Behavior Technicians (RBTs).

For students seeking a career as a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), below are the top 50 colleges (in no particular order) that offer fully web-based ABA or autism-related programs in the United States.

Auburn University

Auburn University’s distinguished degrees and teacher certification programs, such as the Graduate Certificate in Intervention for Students with Autism and Developmental Disabilities, have earned Auburn University a spot in the top 25 percent of all Schools of Education in the United States, according to U.S. News and World Report.

Arizona State University

Arizona State University provides their students with a variety of education programs, including those in the special education field. ASU offers programs like the BACB-approved graduate certificate in ABA, as well as a M.Ed program with an emphasis in ABA. These programs equip graduates to feel comfortable with a diverse range of client populations.

Northern Arizona University

Northern Arizona University solidified a spot on our list by offering its Positive Behavior Support, Graduate Certificate program to aspiring BCBAs.  This 100% electronic program allows students to engage in group work that involves communicating via video chat with classmates during real-time situations.

The University Of Arizona

The University of Arizona has a fast-track web-based BCBA course sequence for Behavior Analysts who are looking to make a quicker transition into the field. The program can be finished in a short time of 16 months, allowing students to work through the program while actively holding a job.

The University of Arkansas

The University of Arkansas offers a flexible learning environment for the Master’s in Special Education with Graduate Certificates in both Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). The ABA program’s recognized faculty is one of the most noteworthy factors of their online program.

Brandman University

Brandman University offers a remote based Master’s in Special Education program with an emphasis in ABA. The university provides students with the tools they need complete the course in accelerated eight week sessions. BU also facilitates bi-weekly webinars for students to participate in trainings and communicate with other students and instructors.

California State University

California State University offers a BACB-accredited program for BCBA candidates through their ABA Certificate of Advanced Study. CSU also helps students by staying flexible with through their quick-paced program and lower financial costs.  

National University

National University’s Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis is recognized for equipping students with the ability to offer behavior management techniques and strategies in a variety of settings, including schools, hospitals, mental health agencies, businesses, and group homes.

University of Colorado

The University of Colorado has a known history of accommodating the needs of students who are already in the workforce. The University of Colorado’s 100% electronic Applied Behavior Analysis course sequences help best prepare students to sit for the national Board Certified Behavioral Analyst exam.

University of Northern Colorado

The University of Northern Colorado’s BACB-verified online courses are available for those seeking a career in ABA. UNC’s flexible program permits students to complete their BCBA course sequence simultaneously with a master’s degree. The expert faculty and impressive UNC resources exemplify the university’s dedication to its web-based program.  

Western Connecticut State University

Western Connecticut State University is an institution dedicated to higher standards of education and research. WCSU provides high-quality behavior analytic instruction to practitioners, earning its online ABA program a spot on this list.

Florida Institute of Technology

Florida Institute of Technology offers students much more flexibility than the average ABA program with the opportunity to enroll in FIT’s online program multiple times throughout the year – the new course sequences for the program start every three months. This allows students interested in a BCBA certification, particularly those who are already in the workforce, to plan enrollment around their busy lives.

Nova Southeastern University

Nova Southeastern University operates through the Southern Regional Education Board’s Electronic Campus, which facilitates an advanced coursework program to help students qualify for BCBA certification while they work. The flexible learning program  makes it easy for students to access all resources and materials needed to complete all courses 100% electronically.

University of West Florida

The University of West Florida stands out for their remote flexibility, offering five different start dates per year. This allows students to kick off the program at their utmost convenience. UWF offers a BACB-Accredited program for BCBA candidates, with an optional Master of Arts in Exceptional Student Education.  

Chicago School of Professional Psychology

Chicago School of Professional Psychology makes it extremely simple for students to access their computer-based work through a program called Global Student Dashboard. Global Student Dashboard allows students to access their assignments and interact with fellow peers in the class, as well as the professor.

Southern Illinois University

Southern Illinois University’s BACB-approved course sequence is comprised of a total of 18 credit-hours, which can be completed entirely online. SIU’s program effectively prepares students who already hold a master’s degree or higher, in an approved field of study, to earn their BCBA credentials.

Ball State University

Ball State University offers a BACB-Accredited program for BCBA candidates with its Master of Arts with an emphasis in Autism. BSU was the first university in the state of Indiana to offer online ABA Master’s programs. This program is perfect for people seeking employment with children or adults with Autism.

Purdue University Global

Purdue University Global gives students the option of zero on-campus requirements and many different start dates, allowing them to begin an ABA program when it’s most convenient. Each student is offered personalized support by career services, an online library, and many social networking communities to keep in touch with classmates and stay up-to-date on new trends in the ABA field as a whole.

University of Kansas

Impressively, the University of Kansas is the second most research-productive university in the field of Applied Behavior Analysis. KU offers a Master of Arts or a Doctorate of Philosophy in behavioral psychology, which are BACB-accredited programs for aspiring BCBAs.

Nicholls State University

Nicholls State requires students to complete a field-based research seminar, which demonstrates firsthand how to work with and evaluate student learning environments. NSU offers computer-based programs for its M.Ed of Curriculum and Instruction, High Incidence Disabilities with an ABA option.

University of Southern Maine

University of Southern Maine offers a BACB-accredited ABA program through their Master of Science in Educational Psychology. USM’s program is known for its flexibility, with the program being 100% electronic so students are able to attend classes and complete coursework remotely.

Endicott College

Endicott College offers a diverse array of options for students seeking a career in ABA. All of Endicott’s programs are 100% electronic and do not have a residency requirement. The 36-credit online program makes it easier for those who are already working professionals to earn their degree. They also offer a 14:1 student-to-faculty ratio, enabling faculty members to really focus on their students.

Northeastern University

The BCBA exam pass rate for Northern University is at an extremely high rate of 83 percent, recieving world-wide recognition and attention. Northeastern University offers a flexible learning environment that is BACB-Accredited for BCBA candidates.

University of Wisconsin Whitewater

The University of Wisconsin Whitewater offers an online ABA graduate certificate that can be taken as a post graduate program, or may be applied toward a Master’s in Special Education. The university’s dedication to online learning is evident through their thorough and challenging modules that concentrate on evidence-based interventions.

West Virginia University

West Virginia University, one of the top 100 public universities in the U.S. according to U.S. News and World Report, offers a BCBA Course Sequence for post-graduate students or for students earning a graduate degree. WVU allows students in these programs to engage in live sessions through the university’s web-based learning platform.

University of Texas at Austin

With the growing need for ABA therapy in Texas, UT Austin is helping to foster new generations of BCBA supervisors with its online program that emphasizes ABA and Special Education. UT Austin also made it easy to enroll in their certificate program by not requiring any entrance exams.

Texas A&M University

A&M’s Department of Educational Psychology, also known as EPSY, has one of the nation’s largest outputs of special and bilingual education teachers in the state of Texas. The university offers up to 21 practicums each semester for students participating in online ABA courses.

Simmons College

With Simmons College’s online courses, students are able to earn their degrees in as short as 19 months with class sizes as small as 15 students. Simmons’ flexible learning environment has also proved to earn a BCBA exam pass rate of 83%, which is impressively the same rate of on-campus students

Drexel University

Drexel University’s ABA courses include traditional coursework, research, and some hands-on experience. Students also have the opportunity to accumulate their practicum hours required in order to sit for the national exam.

Cairn University

For those looking for a biblically-centered learning environment, Cairn University provides just that. Cairn University’s Online MS in Special Education (ABA) was the first Christian university program worldwide that was verified to meet the eligibility requirements to take the BCBA exam. Cairn also offers a 50% tuition discount for educators working in Christian schools.

St. Cloud State University

St. Cloud State University is one of the most affordable web-based ABA programs, with tuition as low as $12,000 for out-of-state applicants. The university offers students the opportunity to learn from PhD-level instructors. Not only is St. Cloud affordable, it is also ranked by the U.S. News and World Report as 35th in top public schools. Admission into the ABA program requires a bachelor’s degree and a minimum GPA of 2.75.

University Of Southern Maine

Another very affordable online program, the University of Southern Maine offers a rigorous ABA track to prepare students for the BCBA exam. Their programs include a Master of Science in Educational Psychology with a concentration in Applied Behavioral Analysis, as well as a Certificate in Applied Behavioral Analysis.

University of Massachusetts Lowell

The University of Massachusetts Lowell offers courses taught by world-wide expert behavior analysts who work at some of the most renowned autism treatment and research facilities. Such experienced faculty ensures a highly credible learning experience for students.

Michigan State University

Michigan State University’s Graduate Certificate Program in Applied Behavior Analysis equips students with the skills and knowledge needed to design, implement, and supervise ABA therapy sessions. MSU has provided post-secondary education for 60+ years and is one of the leading universities in the United States.

Capella University

Capella University provides students with several remote learning opportunities. This includes the university’s Masters of Science in Psychology with ABA specialization, which meets all of the requirements in order to sit for the BCBA exam. Some benefits of participating in Capella’s program include access to their career center for post-graduate job opportunities, as well as employer, association, and military discounts.

Southeast Missouri State University

Southeast Missouri State is a recognized leader for their online education programs. SMSU’s Masters of Arts in ABA is a 100% web-based program that allows students to complete their supervision through the required fieldwork.

Webster University

Webster University is known for its distinguished faculty and globally-minded curriculum. The university does an outstanding job at preparing students for practicing behavior analysis in different scenarios such as schools, residential centers, and community agencies.

Montana State University

Montana State University offers a Master of Science in Special Education Advanced Studies with an ABA emphasis. Graduates of this remote learning program have a high rate of employment and job offers. MSU also serves students with faculty who have a wide range of experience in the Special Education field, including those with their BCBA certification.

Arcadia University

With a 10:1 student-to-faculty ratio, Arcadia faculty members are able to give students a highly individualized educational experience. This 36-credit online program gives students the option to choose elective coursework that focuses on ASD, as well as emotional and behavioral disorders.

Kaplan University

Kaplan University, which was acquired by Purdue University to create Purdue University Global, now offers more than 180 remote-based programs. With Kaplan’s program, students will develop the skills they need to cultivate effective intervention strategies for their future clientele. Kaplan also offers multiple start dates that allow flexibility for those seeking higher education while still working.

Pennsylvania State University

Students are able to choose from three different focus areas when earning their online degree at Penn State. The focus areas include Academic and Behavioral Supports, Applied Behavioral Analysis, or Autism. Full time students are able to finish the program in about one year, while part time students are able to complete it in two years.

Central Methodist University

CMU’s online ABA program provides students with the opportunity to gain knowledge in behavior assessment, behavior change procedures, research and data analysis methods, and verbal behavioral analysis. Through CMU’s computer-based program, students will be prepared to sit for the national Board Certified Behavioral Analyst exam.

Ashford University

Ashford University Makes it easy for those balancing work, school, and life by offering one course at a time that lasts 5 weeks. Ashford also makes it easy for transferring students, allowing up to 90 transfer credits. Some courses include Applied Behavioral Sciences, as well as statistics for the behavioral and social sciences.

University of North Texas

With enrollment offered every term, UNT’s BACB-approved program provides students with top notch courses like Techniques in Applied Behavioral Analysis and Ethical Issues in the Science and Practice of Behavior Analysis. UNT also offers 24/7 access to their online courses.

Oregon Institute of Technology

Oregon Tech’s Applied Psychology Program highlights core curriculum such as Developmental, Abnormal, Social, Cognitive, and Behavior Modification. Through Oregon Tech’s web-based program, students will meet the American Psychological Association Standards.

Troy University

Troy University’s courses provide students with the ability to earn a bachelor’s in psychology with no on-campus requirements, while also minoring in Applied Behavior Analysis. Those participating in Troy’s courses have the option to participate in the classroom, online, or a combination of the two.

St. Joseph’s College

St. Joseph’s College’s online courses are made up of 29 credit hours that include courses like advanced research methods in autism and assessment of Autism Spectrum Disorder. St. Joseph also offers an optional 6 credit supervised practicum for students who are eager to gain additional experience.

Pepperdine University

Pepperdine’s School of Education and Psychology offers an online Master of Science program for students interested in becoming a BCBA. The online courses allows students to prepare for the Board Certified Behavior Analyst exam and become Behavior Analysts. Although these courses are online, students will receive the same curriculum and experience as students taking courses on campus. The online program offers students easy access online course work, face-to-face classes via webchat, and local clinical experiences.

University of Cincinnati

The University of Cincinnati makes it easy for students to earn their Behavior Analysis Graduate Certificate with their 100% web-based program. Students can earn their certificate in as little as 1-2 years, while the masters program can be completed in 20 months.

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100 Things to Know About Autism Spectrum Disorder in 2018

  1. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) represents a group of developmental disorders: autistic disorder, Asperger’s syndrome, pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), and childhood disintegrative disorder.
  2. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 68 individuals are affected by ASD.
  3. Autism Spectrum Disorders can be diagnosed as early as 18 months to 2 years of age.
  4. Although reliable diagnoses can be given at 18 months to 2 years, the average child isn’t diagnosed with autism until 4 years of age.
  5. Scientists are discovering more innovative ways to diagnose autism. In 2017, a team of researchers were able to use brain scans and artificial intelligence to predict which 6-month old infants would go on to be diagnosed with ASD. Impressively, they performed at a 96 percent accuracy rate.
  6. No case of autism is exactly the same as another. Each person on the Spectrum is a unique individual.
  7. People of all races, ethnicities, and socioeconomic groups are affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder.
  8. Individuals on the Autism Spectrum range from having very mild symptoms to very severe developmental delays.
  9. Autism is about 4.5 more common in males – data shows that 1 in 42 boys have autism compared to 1 in 189 girls.
  10. New Jersey has the highest rate of autism in the U.S., with 1 in 28 boys being affected.
  11. In autism terminology, milder cases of the disorder are said to be in “high functioning” individuals while more severe cases are said to be in “low functioning” individuals.
  12. Autistic disorder typically describes those who are on the “low functioning” end of the Spectrum.
  13. Individuals with autistic disorder often struggle with severe deficits in speech, communication, social skills, motor functioning, and adaptive skills.
  14. Adaptive skills are the practical, day-to-day skills needed to live independently: bathing, getting dressed, brushing teeth, feeding oneself, and more.
  15. Asperger’s syndrome typically describes those who are on the “high functioning” end of the Spectrum.
  16. Children and adults with Asperger’s syndrome commonly struggle with social interactions or restricted interests, but don’t usually have difficulties with language or cognitive development.
  17. Sometimes referred to as ‘atypical autism,’ PDD-NOS is often thought of as being in between Asperger’s syndrome and autistic disorder. It’s common for those with PDD-NOS to struggle with communication, social behavior, and repetitive movements.
  18. Childhood disintegrative disorder, also known as disintegrative psychosis, is the rarest of the Spectrum disorders. It’s characterized by severe development deficits, often in children who were developing normally but then quickly regressed between ages two and four.
  19. These disorders were all placed under the umbrella term of Autism Spectrum Disorder in the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders).
  20. Restrictive and repetitive behaviors are a common sign of ASD. These might include hand flapping, rocking back and forth, and fixations on certain objects.
  21. It’s common for individuals on the Spectrum to have difficulties with language or be completely nonverbal.
  22. Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder might show typical language development and then quickly lose their ability to speak in words or phrases. This is called regression.
  23. Many children who are nonverbal at the age of four go on to overcome their severe language delays, according to a large study of 535 nonverbal children with autism.
  24. Children with autism often struggle with transitions. A slight change in routine can lead to meltdowns or temper tantrums.
  25. Echolalia describes a behavior involving repetition of words or phrases. It’s a common sign of Autism Spectrum Disorder.
  26. Children on the Autism Spectrum often avoid eye contact.
  27. Some children with autism may engage in aggressive or self-injurious behaviors, like head banging against walls or floors when upset.
  28. Sensory sensitivities to lights, sounds, and textures are commonly seen among those with autism.
  29. Many people with autism are extremely gifted in certain areas, like mathematics, music, or art.
  30. Micah Miner, a young gymnast with autism, is a prime example of this. By the time he was nine years old, Micah competed in the gymnastics National Championship for the third time.
  31. Epilepsy is common among individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder, seen in up to a third of the autism population.
  32. April is Autism Awareness Month.
  33. Back in 2007, the United Nations named April 2nd as international Autism Awareness Day.
  34. To help raise autism awareness, Autism Speaks launched the Light It Up Blue campaign.
  35. To show support for autism, landmarks like the White House, the Empire State Building, the Great Pyramid of Giza and more will light up blue on April 2nd.
  36. There’s no single cause of autism.
  37. Some of the high-risk factors for autism include genes and genetic mutations, chromosomal conditions, family factors, environmental influences, prenatal influences, and birth complications.
  38. There are treatments that can help ease the symptoms of ASD, but there is no cure for autism.
  39. Applied Behavior Analysis therapy is the leading treatment option for young children on the Spectrum.
  40. Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) involves figuring out the motivation behind certain behaviors, and then applying this to reduce undesirable behaviors and increase positive ones.
  41. Decades worth of scientific research shows that ABA therapy is effective at helping children with autism make significant strides to overcome their developmental delays.
  42. One of the main techniques used in ABA is DTT (discrete trial training). Basically, DTT breaks down tasks into small components. Children build up skills by tackling each smaller component one-by-one.
  43. Another main technique used in ABA is NET (natural environment training). Children might work on many of the same goals as in DTT, but in a more natural play environment.
  44. Generalization is a common term used in ABA to describe a child’s ability to naturally implement behaviors and skillsets in a variety of settings.
  45. ABA therapy is endorsed by the U.S. Surgeon General, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Institute of Mental Health, and the Autism Society of America.
  46. The earlier ABA therapy is started, the better the outcome. Children who start receiving ABA therapy at 2 years old make more significant changes than those who start ABA at later ages, according to research.
  47. Ole Ivar Lovaas is known as the pioneer of Applied Behavior Analysis.
  48. ABA therapy used to be seen as controversial due to aversive therapy techniques. However, nowadays, there are no aversive procedures used in ABA.
  49. ABA therapy focuses largely on positive reinforcements. ABA therapists will reinforce desirable behaviors with a child’s favorite toys, snacks, and social praise.
  50. ABA therapy is an all-encompassing approach to overcoming the deficits associated with autism. Target areas of ABA therapy include speech, nonverbal communication, social skills, play skills, adaptive skills, toilet training, food therapy, and much more.
  51. Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) are Master’s level health practitioners. They create the child-specific treatment plans implemented in ABA therapy centers.
  52. ABA therapists provide one-on-one therapy for children in ABA autism facilities.
  53. Registered Behavior Technicians (RBTs) are ABA therapists who have gone on to complete 40 hours of training and pass the RBT exam.
  54. Other autism therapies include speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, art therapy, and music therapy.
  55. There is currently no scientifically proven link between autism and vaccines.
  56. Individuals with autism are particularly vulnerable to being bullied. Studies have found that over 60 percent of children on the Spectrum have experienced bullying.
  57. Data shows that the most severe bullying tends to occur among children in 5th to 8th
  58. There are a number of tips recommended by autism experts to help a child on the Spectrum who is being bullied, including identifying emotions and creating bully-proofing plans. See them here.
  59. Unemployment rates are a big issue in the autism community. A report out of the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute found that a third of young adults with autism didn’t have a job or educational plans.
  60. Integrate Autism Employment Advisors is a program that helps adults on the Spectrum lock down jobs through job coaching boot camps and networking opportunities. The organization also reaches out to employers to encourage more hiring of autistic individuals.
  61. Rett’s Syndrome is often confused with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Rett’s Syndrome, a rare neurological disorder that mainly affects girls, is characterized by a rapid loss of speech, coordination, and use of the hands.
  62. Research has shown that parental interactions with babies can ease the signs of autism as the baby progresses to toddler age.
  63. Temple Grandin, one of the most prominent voices in the autism community, didn’t speak until she was three and a half years old.
  64. Temple Grandin went on to become an author and speaker on autism and animal behavior, as well as a professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University. Many people view her as showing the world the true potential of those on the Spectrum.
  65. Temple Grandin has inspired many with her well-known quote, “Different, Not Less.”
  66. Some other well-known people considered to be on the Spectrum include Susan Boyle, John Elder Robinson, Daryl Hannah, and Andy Warhol.
  67. Technology can be a huge help for individuals with autism who struggle with communication. There are a number of iPad apps designed to help nonverbal children communicate their wants and needs.
  68. There are also daily scheduling apps for iPads to help ease the anxiety associated with transitions.
  69. Some common autism assessments for an autism diagnosis include M-CHAT (Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers), CARS (Childhood Autism Rating Scale), ASQ (Ages and Stages Questionnaire), and ADOS-2 (Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule – 2nd edition).
  70. The ADOS-2 is largely seen as the gold standard of diagnostic assessments for autism.
  71. Autism Spectrum Disorder can be diagnosed by developmental pediatricians, pediatricians, neurologists, and psychologists.
  72. Autism is becoming more included in pop culture, with shows like Atypical and The Good Doctor making their ways to Netflix and ABC.
  73. In April of 2017, Sesame Street debuted Julia: a new four-year-old character with autism. The goal was to familiarize children with the differences they might notice in their classmates who have autism – and to know that different is okay.
  74. Some people believe that autism is the result of bad parenting or child neglect. This is not the case.
  75. It’s common for children with ASD to only like eating two or three foods. Therapists can work through a slow process of introducing new textures and foods to build up to a more nutritious diet.
  76. The autism community has a strong online presence. Many parents, therapists, and individuals on the Spectrum run blogs to educate and connect with others. Check out some of the most outstanding autism blogs here.
  77. Weighted blankets can be an anxiety-reducer for some kiddos on the Spectrum. Weighted blankets provide a gentle pressure that eases the sensory issues associated with ASD.
  78. Sensory swings provide a number of benefits. They can encourage motor planning, balance, and core stability.
  79. The largest-ever study on twins and autism found that if one identical twin has autism, there is a 76 percent chance that the other identical twin will also have autism
  80. The same twins study found that same-sex fraternal twins have a 34 percent chance of both having an autism diagnosis, while opposite-sex fraternal twins share an 18 percent chance of Autism Spectrum Disorder.
  81. Autism was first described by Dr. Leo Kanner in 1943.
  82. Reporting on 11 children, Dr. Kanner’s initial observations on autism described the children as having “a powerful desire for aloneness” and “an obsessive insistence on persistent sameness.”
  83. Before Dr. Kanner’s work, autism was often confused with schizophrenia.
  84. Autism is the fastest-growing developmental disorder. The prevalence of ASD in children increased by 119.4 percent from 2000 to 2010.
  85. In 2014, researchers identified a whopping 60 genes with more than a 90 percent chance of increasing the risk for autism in a child. Previously, just 11 genes had been linked with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
  86. Just last year (2017), an analysis published in Nature Neuroscience identified 18 new genes linked with autism.
  87. In September 2018, the National Institutes of Health awarded nine research grants to the Autism Centers of Excellence (ACE) program. The grants totaled nearly $100 million.
  88. The nine research grants will delve into improving autism treatments, identifying the early signs of autism by studying social interaction, how autism differs between girls and boys, and more.
  89. The Autism Science Foundation (ASF) is a nonprofit organization with a mission to further scientific research on Autism Spectrum Disorder.
  90. ASF provides funding and other resources/assistance to organizations and scientists conducting autism research.
  91. Many top colleges and universities offer degree programs in Applied Behavior Analysis. Some of the best ABA programs can be seen in this list.
  92. There are a number of books on autism that have made the New York Times Best-Seller List, including Look Me in the Eyes by John Elder Robison and The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida.
  93. Jordan Keller, a 12-year-old on the Spectrum, published a book called Jumbled Pieces: Autism. His mission is to help others understand what it’s like to grow up with autism.
  94. Insurance oftentimes covers the majority of the cost for ABA therapy, speech therapy, and occupational therapy.
  95. Unfortunately, in some states, Medicaid provides no coverage for ABA therapy. This leaves many families in need of autism services with little to no options.
  96. Congress passed the ABLE (Achieving a Better Life Experience) act in 2014.
  97. Under the ABLE act, individuals with disabilities are given the opportunity to open tax-free savings accounts without risking eligibility for Social Security and other government programs.
  98. Many children sit on waitlists to see a developmental pediatrician for 9 months or more. This delays the start of therapy and can significantly hurt a child’s ability to overcome developmental deficits.
  99. Waitlists are also an issue at many ABA centers.
  100. People on the autism spectrum are extraordinary, gifted, and loving human beings!

What Does a Typical Day of ABA Therapy Look Like?

Once a child receives a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), ABA therapy is the go-to treatment option recommended by doctors to help children overcome their developmental delays. Decades of evidence-based research support the effectiveness of ABA (applied behavior analysis), but for many families, ABA therapy is something they’ve never heard of before.

So, what goes on in a typical day of ABA therapy?

The first few days of ABA therapy are all about fun and play. Before therapists will dig into working on a child’s specific therapy goals, they want to make sure the child is comfortable in the new environment. The first handful of ABA therapy sessions are all about “pairing” – establishing a rapport, figuring out a child’s favorite toys and games, laughs, tickles, snacks and treats.

Once a relationship between the child and therapist is established, that’s when the work can begin. ABA is split into two main methods: Discrete Trial Training (DTT) and Natural Environment Training (NET).

DTT is more of what typical school lessons might look like. Kids will work on a specific task one-on-one with a therapist, sometimes across a table with books, iPads, and games. Therapists use the DTT teaching method to build skills like matching pictures, pointing to objects, imitation, sustaining eye contact, and learning how to make sounds and say words, to name a few.

NET is more of a naturalistic, play-based approach in which children may play more independently while being prompted by their therapist or socialize with others to master the skills needed to thrive in real-world settings. Many of the skills taught in DTT will also be woven into NET sessions to ensure those skills transfer over in an organic way.

At Action Behavior Centers, each team is structured with one BCBA supervisor and five certified therapists who implement lesson plans and oversee the progress of four children. We believe it’s important to always have an extra set of hands on deck and keep the caseloads at a manageable level to ensure the highest level of care and attention for our kids – quality over quantity!

Throughout the day, each child works through therapy sessions in a block rotation schedule with four different therapists – each session lasting 2 to 3 hours – to keep things fresh and help children generalize across therapy styles. Progress is tracked in an online software program called Skills® For Autism. Parents and physicians can stay updated with graphs and progress reports that outline daily success rates with therapy goals. Once a goal is mastered within Skills, children move on to tackle new challenges.

ABA therapy also covers a variety of day-to-day living skills like potty training, brushing teeth, holding eating utensils, getting dressed, self-regulating emotions, and more. The best way to think of ABA is as an all-encompassing approach to build skills in the areas needed to live out a valuable and fulfilling life – cognition, language, social skills, play skills, motor skills, executive functioning, and self-care.

Top 35 Education Programs for Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)

There’s a growing need for qualified professionals in the field of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). ABA therapy is a leading treatment option for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), which affects 1 in 68 children.

For those interested in pursuing a career as a Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) or a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), below are some of the best undergraduate and graduate ABA or autism-related programs in the United States (in no particular order).

Trinity Christian College

Trinity Christian College’s Behavior Intervention Specialist Master’s program includes a BACB pre-approved Verified Course Sequence that prepares students for the BCBA exam. In fact, it’s the only master’s program in Illinois that offers this BACB-approved course sequence as well as the Behavior Intervention Specialist endorsement.

Wayne State University

Wayne State University solidified a place on the list with its BCBA and BCaBA (Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst) training programs. The school offers course sequences with seminar and practicum experience to train students in ABA with a focus on treating autism.

Mercyhurst University

The graduate certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis, offered by Mercyhurst’s Special Education and Applied Disability Studies graduate program, helps students develop the skills needed to be successful in the world of ABA. The program provides students with opportunities for graduate assistantships through service contracts with organizations like the Erie School District Autism Program.

Fresno State University

Fresno State University’s M.A. in Psychology gives students the opportunity for an emphasis in Applied Behavior Analysis. The program trains students to provide high-quality therapeutic intervention with ABA for both kid and adults on the autism spectrum. Further, students learn about behavioral management consultancy in business.

University of North Alabama

The University of North Alabama offers a BACB-approved 12-credit Certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis. The university also offers support to help students in the program find potential locations to earn the required supervision hours to be eligible to sit for the BCaBA exam.

Central Michigan University

Central Michigan University’s College of Humanities and Social and Behavior Sciences offers an 18-credit BACB-approved course sequence for students pursuing a career as either a BCaBA or a BCBA. The school also requires 2 of the following 3 categories for practical experience: 1500 hours of Supervised Independent Fieldwork, 1000 hours of Practicum, or 750 hours of Intensive Practicum.

Rowan University

The Psychology Department at Rowan University has its very own Center for Behavior Analysis, Research & Services. Students are able to choose from a variety of coursework options: the Concentration Program in ABA for Psychology Majors, the Post-Baccalaureate Certificate Program in Applied Behavior Analysis, Master of Art in ABA, or the Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies in ABA.

McNeese State University

McNeese State University offers a graduate training program – approved by the BACB and accredited by the ABAI – in Applied Behavior Analysis. The Department of Psychology also has the McNeese Autism Program, which provides early intervention services for children with autism. The Autism Program’s team of BCBAs also conduct social skills groups, language training, feeding interventions, and family training.

Williams College

Williams College’s undergraduate psychology program comprehensively covers Developmental Psychology, which is a major part of ABA. The college specifies that its psychology degree will prepare students with the skills need for many mental health professions, including a behavior analyst.

Bay Path University

Bay Path University has 3 program options for students interested in practicing ABA: a 39-credit MS in Applied Behavior Analysis, a 45-credit MS in ABA/Autism Spectrum Disorders, or a 39-credit EdS in ABA/Applied Research Focus. Bay Path faculty members oversee 1,500 hours of supervised fieldwork for students, and the course sequence is verified by the BACB.

Texas State University

Texas State University offers a top-notch Master’s of Special Education with a Concentration in Autism and Applied Behavior Analysis. The Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) approved the concentration as meeting the eligibility requirements for taking the BCBA exam. The university landed a high BCBA exam pass rate in 2016 at 83 percent.

University of West Florida

The University of West Florida offers quality online ABA course sequences for undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate students. The program allows for a more flexible schedule, with start dates in January, March, May, August and October. The course keeps students engaged with weekly virtual class meetings with instructors and peers.

Baylor University

Baylor University’s ABA program offers hands-on learning experience in its own Clinic for Assessment, Research, and Education (CARE) – part of the Baylor Center for Developmental Disabilities. With excellent funding opportunities that award students with free tuition, Baylor is an ideal choice for a 15-month ABA Master’s program.

Kaplan University

Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), Kaplan University offers a postgraduate certificate in ABA that meets the BACB requirements to sit for the BCBA exam. Both on-campus and online students are eligible for the program.

University of Nevada, Reno

The University of Nevada-Reno provides options for undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students to receive specializations in ABA. Their programs are accredited by the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI), and in 2016, 100 percent of University of Nevada-Reno students passed the BCBA exam on their first attempt.

Saint Cloud State University

Accredited by the ABAI, Saint Cloud State University’s MS program in ABA is the only accredited online ABA program in the world. The university also offers an on-campus cohort. The university boasts a 96 percent first-time BCBA exam pass rate.

Florida State University

The Florida State University (FSU) Applied Behavior Analysis program is accredited by the Association for Behavior Analysis International, making it one of just 24 universities with this distinction. FSU boasts a high BCBA examination pass rate of 88 percent.

Nova Southeastern University

There are a number of ABA program options for both undergraduate and graduate students at Nova Southeastern University. Undergrads pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in education or psychology can complete ABA minor programs. Graduate students pursuing a Master’s degree in Counseling have the option to specialize in ABA or Advanced ABA.

Winthrop University

Winthrop University’s College of Education has a well-rounded program with special education classes specializing in ABA and how to effectively deliver one-on-one instruction to children on the autism spectrum. In fact, Winthrop University’s Education professors have published books on how to bring ABA into inclusive classrooms and working with students with behavior problems and learning disabilities.

University of Texas Austin

With an 82 percent first-time BCBA exam pass rate, the University of Texas Austin offers M.Ed and M.A. programs with concentrations in Autism and Developmental Disabilities. The program is approved by the BACB and many students who complete the program go on to become BCBAs or BCBA-Ds.

University of Texas San Antonio

Not too far from UT Austin, the University of San Antonio also has educational opportunities for those hoping to become RBTs or BCBAs. In addition to strong undergraduate and graduate programs for students interested in working with special needs children, the University of Texas San Antonio also has the option of a Graduate Certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis.

University of Nebraska

Remarkably, the University of Nebraska has locked down a 100 percent BCBA exam pass rate for two years in a row. The Department of Psychology’s MA program typically takes about two years to complete and equips students with the necessary skills to become a BCBA.

California State University Northridge

California State University Northridge surpasses the national average with a 94 percent first-time pass rate for the BCBA exam. The rigorous program teaches students how to conduct behavioral assessments and how to implement outcome-based behavioral interventions.

University of the Pacific

The University of the Pacific was the only other university on this list to secure a 100 percent BCBA exam pass rate two years in a row. The Department of Psychology places ABA track students in internship sites to learn how to design treatment plans and implement behavioral interventions.  The majority of ABA track students work 20 hours per week in one of the community settings.

Stephen F. Austin State University

Stephen F. Austin University has a number of programs – both campus-based and online – to help undergraduate and graduate students build a solid foundation for working with children with autism, including programs that focus on special education, speech-language pathology, school psychology, and visual and hearing impairments.

University of Maryland Baltimore County

In 2016, 100 percent of the students from the University of Maryland Baltimore County who took the BCBA exam passed on their first attempt. The UMBC Department of Psychology has an ABAI-accredited M.A. in Applied Behavior Analysis program which thoroughly prepares students for success as professionals in the industry.

University of California Santa Barbara

UC Santa Barbara has a great Developmental and Evolutionary Psychology program for undergraduates interested in the ABA field, as well as a Professional Certificate in ABA for those already enrolled in master’s or doctorate programs.

University of North Texas

The University of North Texas’ Department of Behavior Analysis was the first to earn the highly-esteemed ABAI accreditation, and has since attracted talented ABA professionals from around the world. UNT students are given a wealth of research opportunities, including the Behavior Analysis Resource Center, the Easter Seals North Texas Autism Treatment Program Research Group, the Behavior Analysis Online Research Group, and more.

Whittier College

For undergraduate students with an interest in later pursuing an MS in ABA or a career as an RBT, Whitter College’s Department of Psychological Sciences offers a solid foundation on the social, developmental, emotional, and biological bases of behavior.

Texas Tech University

Texas Tech University offers a variety of undergraduate majors in its Psychological Sciences department for those interested in becoming an ABA professional. Texas Tech graduates then have the option to pursue a Master of Education in Special Education with an emphasis in Applied Behavior Analysis or an online Applied Behavior Analysis Certificate.

James Madison University

With an impressive 100% BCBA exam pass rate, James Madison University easily solidified its spot on this list. The program involves a mix of coursework, research, and practicum experience for those students interested in becoming a BCBA or doctorate level behavior analyst.

St. Edward’s University

For undergraduate students looking for a college experience at a smaller school, St. Edward’s University has a comprehensive psychology degree with a capstone project that completes a two-semester research/experiential course sequence. This gives students the opportunity to work with current professionals and develop the skills to become professionals themselves.

Abilene Christian University

Abilene Christian University, conveniently located by the West Texas Autism Center, is a prime location for undergraduates interested in getting involved with the autism community while earning their degree. ACU’s Psychology Clinic acts as a training facility for Master’s-seeking students and professionals administer tests to test for autism.

Arizona State University

Arizona State University offers an online Master’s of Education in Curriculum and Instruction (Applied Behavior Analysis) through its Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. The graduate education program was ranked 11th in the nation in U.S. News & World Report’s 2018 rankings.

Texas A&M

Texas A&M’s Department of Educational Psychology offers both the coursework and the fieldwork supervision needed to be eligible to take the BCBA exam. The course allows students to hit the required 1500 hours of field experience in 4-6 semesters, which is 50-67% faster than hiring an independent supervisor, A&M reports.

 

For students pursuing a degree in ABA or autism-related studies, Action Behavior Centers awards a bi-annual scholarship. Details can be seen here.