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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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Action Behavior Centers

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) or Preschool Program for Children with Disabilities (PPCD)?

When a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) reaches preschool age, many parents ask themselves whether a full-time ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) program or PPCD (Preschool Program for Children with Disabilities) is the best option for their child.

Both programs have value but take a fundamentally different approach.

ABA

After a child receives a diagnosis of ASD, the pediatrician or neurologist will often refer the child to a center for intensive ABA therapy. Based on decades of scientific research, ABA has proven itself as an effective and reliable treatment method for autism. Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) create individualized treatment plans to cater to the specific needs of each child.

ABA consists of two major treatment methods: Discrete Trial Training (DTT) and Natural Environment Training (NET).

DTT teaches target behaviors or goals through simplified and structured steps.  For instance, teaching a child to write his name could be broken down into a five to 10 step process. First, he might work on properly holding a pencil. Then, he might learn how to individually trace an “A,” and so forth. A typical DTT session is similar to how lessons are run in a typical classroom setting – oftentimes taught across a table or with workbooks.

NET sessions are more about learning through play and social interactions in a natural setting. Multiple children will play together in the room at the same time to provide a social setting similar to that of a typical school. This also helps children generalize their learned behaviors with multiple people.

The combination of DTT and NET helps children with autism gain improvements in a variety of areas of developmental delay, including communication, cognition, social skills, play skills, and day-to-day living skills.

PPCD

Under IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act), children with disabilities are entitled to receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment (LRE).

In order to start PPCD in Texas, children must first be evaluated and approved by the school district, and then if accepted into the program, Individualized Education Program (IEP) goals are set for the child. PPCD services typically happen in a classroom in a public school under supervision of a special education teacher.

PPCD classrooms typically contain around 12 or less students with special needs, supervised by one certified special education teacher and 2 educational associates. Each classroom will include children with a variety of special needs, ranging from moderate to severe disabilities. Based on the level of developmental delay, children will work on appropriate activities to improve language, social skills, pre-reading skills, cognitive skills, and self-help skills.

Breaking Down the Main Differences

  • ABA therapy centers focus specifically on children with autism, while PPCD classrooms focus on children with a variety of special needs.
  • BCBAs and therapists are trained in ABA for children with autism, while PPCD teachers have a background in special education.
  • ABA therapy is conducted in a 1:1 child-to-therapist ratio, while PPCD classrooms typically have about 3 adults to 12 children.
  • ABA programs (typically 40 hours a week) are more intensive than PPCD programs.
  • ABA is backed by decades of research