As the field of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy continues to expand and develop, there is becoming a much higher need for ABA professionals. Both Registered Behavior Technicians (RBTs) and Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) do such important clinical work to help improve the lives of children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
Students aiming to become BCBAs must complete all required coursework by the BACB (Behavior Analyst Certification Board), 1500 hours of supervision, and pass an extremely challenging exam in order to become a mastered-level clinician with BCBA credentials. A high-quality ABA program is critical since BCBAs must be equipped with the knowledge and skills to individualize treatment programs to the specific needs of each child with ASD.
Action Behavior Centers took into account several different factors to compile a list of the Top 40 University Programs for ABA in 2020 (in no particular order), including program quality, BACB requirements, student-to-faculty ratio, tuition, and percentage of first-time candidates who passed the BCBA exam.
Simmons University offers a partially online master’s program in Behavior Analysis (MS or Ed.S.). The program is flexible for working students with evening classes. The course sequence meets the BACB standards to qualify for taking the BCBA examination. Simmons University’s ABA program is affordable and can be completed in as little as 23 months!
WCSU offers a virtual experience for students to do their coursework online – perfect for those working full-time jobs! As one of the top ABA master’s degree programs in the country, WCSU has a 30 credit hour program that allows students to dive deeper into behavior assessment, behavior change procedures, and grant writing in ABA. With WCSU having a 13:1 student-to-faculty ratio, 66% of graduates are passing the BCBA exam upon their first attempt.
The University of South Florida offers various BACB-approved courses for students pursuing a career in Applied Behavior Analysis: ABA in Developmental Disabilities, ABA in Complex Communities, and Ethics in ABA. These courses, developed by doctoral-level behavior analysts, are eight weeks long and provide the coursework and practicum experience needed for the BCBA exam. Impressively, USF has a 92% first-time pass rate for the BCBA exam!
Saint Cloud State University has a perfect 100% first-time pass rate for candidates taking the BCBA exam! Students are supported by Ph.D. level instructors at a 20:1 student-to-faculty ratio. The program is online and accredited by the ABAI (Association for Behavior Analysis International).
Ball State University offers both online and on-campus courses for students to complete their 2-year programs in Applied Behavior Analysis. Ball State has also been featured as one of the top online programs for students to obtain their master’s degree in not only ABA, but also psychology, criminal justice, and social work. Excitingly for students on the ABA track, Ball State has a 64% passing rate for first-time candidates taking the BCBA exam.
Students get a lot of support in the Chicago School of Professional Psychology’s ABA online master’s program with a student-to-faculty ratio of 6:1. The program runs for 28 months and includes coursework in Science and Human Behavior, Measurement and Design in Behavior Analysis, and Behavior Assessment.
The Florida Institute of Technology offers both Master’s and Doctoral programs for those pursuing a career in ABA. Their master’s program is accredited and can be completed both on campus or via remote learning. BACB-aligned coursework includes behavioral and functional assessment, radical behaviorism, ethical and legal consideration for behavior analysis, and organizational behavior management.
Caldwell University offers both Master’s and Ph.D. programs for Applied Behavior Analysis. Students are supported with a 12:1 student-to-faculty ratio, and the program includes a research thesis and a capstone project. The program goal is to prepare students for careers in behavioral and developmental services, mental health, and special education.
Working full-time and looking to be a part-time student? University of Washington’s program accommodates students on that track. While offering online classes for a virtual college experience, UW’s program covers approved coursework in as little as 2 years. Students enrolled at UW can feel confident when the time comes to sit for their BCBA exam as they have a first-time candidate pass rate of 81%.
The University of North Texas (UNT) offers an on-campus M.S. in Behavior Analysis. Impressively, UNT’s Department of Behavior Analysis was the first ever to earn ABAI accreditation, attracting international students from all around the globe! The Behavior Analysis Department provides an array of research opportunities, including the Behavior Analysis Online Research Group, the Behavior Research Laboratory, the Behavior Analysis Resource Center, the Easter Seals North Texas Autism Treatment Program Research Group, and more.
Offering an affordable and BACB-aligned Master’s ABA program for students, Central Washington University prepares students on the BCBA track to work with individuals with autism, intellectual disabilities, traumatic brain injuries, and more. Coursework covers a variety of important areas, including basic principles of ABA, behavioral assessments and observation, and ethics.
The University of Kansas offers an on-campus master’s program in Applied Behavioral Analysis with a student to faculty ratio of 17:1. At KU, students will learn about the empirical and conceptual foundations of behavioral science. Supervision is highly emphasized at the university, and students are required to defend an empirically-based thesis for a portion of the program at KU.
The University of Nevada offers a top-of-the-line master’s program in psychology with a specialization in Behavior Analysis. This on-campus program helps students prepare for their next steps in entering the working world of education, mental health, business and industry, and more. What is especially unique about the university is that students will not only receive training and supervision in basic and applied research in human behavior but also in animal behavior.
The University of Cincinnati has a variety of outstanding programs; however, one that particularly stands out is the Ed.S in School Psychology degree. This specialist-level master’s program focuses on gaining real-world experience through the 10-month long full-time internship required after completing the 2-year on-campus program.
The University of Houston at Clear Lake offers an on-campus experience to students seeking an MA in Behavior Analysis. The program includes a combination of coursework, practical experience, and research that help students fully develop their ABA skills to prepare them for working with both children and adults with developmental disabilities. Something special about U of H at Clear Fork is that students will have the opportunity to gain experience in a variety of clinical settings, such as the Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities.
Arcadia University offers a fully online experience for students to obtain their Master’s degree in Applied Behavior Analysis with a 12:1 student-to-faculty ratio. Arcadia prides itself on offering courses that cover behavioral consultation in homes, schools, and community settings, ethics and professionalism, ABA training, and supervising human service staff. One additional perk to enrolling at Arcadia is the optional ABA practicum opportunity.
Purdue University is another stellar institution offering students an online experience to obtain a Master’s degree in Psychology with an emphasis on Applied Behavior Analysis. Students that enroll at Purdue University can expect to expand their knowledge in the following courses: lifespan development, testing, measurement, assessment, and advanced research methods.
The University of Maryland in Baltimore County offers students an on-campus program in which they can receive their MA in Applied Behavior Analysis. UMBC has partnered with the Kennedy Krieger Institute in order to support an uncompromising program in behavior analysis. This program gives students peace of mind knowing that the coursework has been accredited by the ABAI and will qualify them to sit for their BCBA exam upon graduation.
Arizona State University is a great choice for students looking to obtain a master’s degree in Special Education, along with a specialization in ABA. As this program slightly differs from a standard ABA degree, there are 10 classes lasting seven and half weeks at a time, rounding out to 30 credit hours. ASU coursework has been verified by the BACB, therefore, graduates are eligible to sit for the BCBA exam.
Endicott College offers a fully online learning experience to students seeking their M.Ed in Autism and ABA. This program requires 40 hours of credits which cover supervision and management, measurement and experimental evaluation of behavioral interventions, and conceptual issues in ABA. To top it all off, Endicott College has a 63% pass rate for first-time candidates taking the BCBA exam.
Eastern Michigan University offers a Clinical Behavioral M.S. in Psychology which focuses on teaching students the foundations of behavioral psychology. Students can expect to gain experience and expand their knowledge in behavior analysis, psychotherapy, and psychological assessment.
Queens College of CUNY
Queens College of CUNY provides students with hands-on ABA experience working alongside professionals at the Queens College Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities Evidence-Based Services. The college offers programs for both students working towards a Master’s degree and those who already have a Master’s (M.A. in Applied Behavior Analysis and an Advanced Certificate Program in ABA). The 15:1 student-to-faculty ratio ensures students will get adequate academic support needed to be successful.
George Mason University offers an M.Ed in Special Education with a certification in Applied Behavior Analysis. The university’s coursework meets all BACB requirements needed to sit for the BCBA exam upon graduation. The 30-credit hour program focuses on both verbal and functional behavior analysis and teaches students about assessments and interventions, ethical and professional conduct for behavior analysis, and empirical bases.
Jacksonville State University offers an on-campus experience for students to obtain their M.S. in Psychology with a specialization in ABA. Students will have exposure to both experimental analysis of behavior and Applied Behavior Analysis. One of the many perks to attending Jacksonville State University’s program is that students will have first-hand experience with the university’s animal and human research facilities.
With a first-time candidate pass rate of 75%, students on the BCBA track can feel confident enrolling in the University of Southern Maine’s online MS in Educational Psychology with a concentration in ABA. At USM students can expect to learn more about consultation and collaborative problem-solving, physical bases of behavior, and psychopathology, along with real-time learning activities with their peers.
California State University in Los Angeles offers an M.S. in Counseling with a focus on ABA for students interested in providing ABA services, behavioral consultation, and/or wanting to work in case management. With a student-to-faculty ratio of 25:1, CSU provides plenty of opportunities and support to their students.
McNeese State University has a lot to offer their students! MSU has both an on-campus and online experience for students to obtain their MA in Psychology with a concentration in ABA. With a student-to-faculty ratio of 21:1, students have plenty of opportunities to engage closely with professors to maximize their learning. Along with receiving training that will prepare students for the BCBA exam, they also have the opportunity to attend the McNeese Autism Program internship (on-campus only) to help acquire adequate experience for both assessments and intervention skills.
OSU offers an M.A. in Educational Studies, Special Education, with an ABA emphasis. This degree is a strong option for students as it is both accredited through the Behavior Analysis Accreditation Board of ABAI, as well as the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and the Council for Exceptional Children. When enrolled in this program, students will learn how to analyze and develop learning and behavior programs to best prepare them for working with students with disabilities.
MSUB is an ideal university for the working student! MSUB offers an online master’s program in ABA with affordable tuition rates. With the high level of attention students get with the student-to-faculty ratio of 14:1, first-time candidates have shown to pass the BCBA exam at a 75% rate. While attending MSUB, students can expect coursework to cover the experimental analysis of behavior, ethics in education and human services, and assessment/program planning for special populations.
Brandman University offers an online master’s degree program in Special Education with a specialization in Applied Behavior Analysis. In this program, students can expect coursework to cover basic technologies of behavior change, procedures and experimental design, and ethics. This is an ideal program for students seeking to teach in the school systems, while also designing and implementing effective behavior intervention plans and strategies for their students.