By ABAP Staff
Applied behavior analysis is a therapy using proven methods to teach new skills and change behavior. The goal is to increase positive behaviors and decrease negative or less desirable ones. ABA professionals are frequently sought out by schools and organizations serving individuals on the autism spectrum or those with other developmental disabilities. They may assist children and adults to improve communication skills, be more independent, or perform better at school or work. Earning an online masters in applied behavior analysis (ABA) is a great way to gain the knowledge and skills needed to be a successful ABA professional. Online master’s in ABA online masters programs give working professionals the ability to complete their degree without relocating or taking precious time away from their career or family.
One of the most sought-after credentials related to ABA is the Board Certified Behavior Analyst certification. This master’s level certification is awarded after passing a rigorous professional exam. To be eligible to sit for the exam, students must complete a series of ABA courses and a supervised practicum or fieldwork experience. Fortunately, there are many high-quality BCBA programs online that offer the Verified Course Sequence approved by the Association for Behavior Analysis.
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We created this ranking of the top online masters in behavior analysis degree programs to showcase some of the best programs in the United States. Programs selected for consideration in our ranking offer a fully online master’s degree either in, or with an emphasis available, applied behavior analysis. We focused on programs that offer the Verified Course Sequence (VCS) approved by the Association for Behavior Analysis International embedded in the curriculum. Completing the VCS is one of the first steps to earning certification as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. Masters in ABA online programs that met these criteria were then awarded points based on average graduate in-state tuition costs, student/faculty ratio and the percentage of first-time candidates who passed the BCBA exam in 2021. Data for this list of top online ABA programs was obtained from College Navigator, the Behavior Analyst Certification Board website and individual school websites. As always, it is best to consult with the school directly to determine your actual cost of attendance.
Student to Faculty Ratio
- 12:1 or less= 3 Points
- 13:1 to 19:1=2 Points
- Greater than 20:1= 1 Point
Average Graduate Tuition Rate
- Less than $13,000 per year= 3 Points
- $13,000 to $20,000 per year=2 Points
- More than $20,000 per year= 1 Point
Percentage of First-Time Candidates Passing the BCBA Exam
- Less than 25% or N/A-1 Point
- 26% to 75%-3 Points
- Greater than 75%-5 Points
#15 -Florida Institute of Technology – Melbourne, Florida
Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis
Average Graduate Student Tuition: $16,128/year
Student/Faculty Ratio: 18:1
% of First-Time Candidates Passing the BCBA Exam: 74%
The top behavior analysis master’s program from Florida Tech is 100% online and features start dates during the fall, spring, or summer semester. Courses cover areas like:
- assessment and behavior change procedures
- supervision and management
This 33-credit hour ABA masters online includes 21 credits from the BCBA verified course sequence and 12 additional credits. Students can complete the program in six semesters, including the applied experience component necessary to sit for the BCBA exam.
#14 -University of Cincinnati – Glenside, Pennsylvania
Master of Education in Foundations in Behavior Analysis
Average Graduate Student Tuition: $13,224/year in-state and $24,966/year out-of-state
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 19:1
% of First-Time Candidates Passing the BCBA Exam: 47%
The University of Cincinnati features a top online masters behavior analysis program that prepares students to sit for the BCBA exam. There are no classroom visits required and all courses are completed online. Students complete 10 courses and can earn their degree in just five semesters. Courses cover areas like:
- functional behavior assessment
- child development
- behavioral research
New students are admitted to the program in the fall, spring, and summer. Graduates have applied their ABA skills in a variety of fields including:
- special education
- criminal justice
#13 -George Mason University – Fairfax, Virginia
Online Master of Education in Special Education-ABA Track
Average Graduate Student Tuition: $13,035/year in-state and $34,347/year out-of-state
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 16:1
% of First-Time Candidates Passing the BCBA Exam: 63%
George Mason University is the largest four-year public university in Virginia. They offer a flexible Master of Education in special education with program tracks in autism spectrum disorders or ABA. The ABA program online meets the course requirements needed to sit for the BCBA. Courses focus on verbal and functional behavior analysis of both children and adults with a variety of disabilities. This part-time program accepts applications on a rolling basis. Graduates are prepared to work in a variety of settings including community programs, clinics, and schools.
#12 -University of Massachusetts Global – Irvine, California
MA in Special Education, Behavior Analysis Online
Average Graduate Student Tuition: $12,240/year
Student/Faculty Ratio: 22:1
% of First-Time Candidates Passing the BCBA Exam: 58%
The University of Massachusetts Global features a top masters in applied behavior analysis online for professionals who want to help their students be successful in the classroom. The ABA emphasis includes courses like:
- Program Oversight, Collaboration and Management in Applied Behavior Analysis
- Selecting and Implementing Interventions for Behavior Change in Applied Behavior Analysis
- Ethical Behavior and the Compliance Code for Applied Behavior Analysis
Applicants should be employed at least part-time in an ABA related field. Both part-time and full-time program options are available.
#11 -Arizona State University – Scottsdale, Arizona
Online Master of Arts in Special Education (Applied Behavior Analysis)
Average Graduate Student Tuition: $9,774/year
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 25:1
% of First-Time Candidates Passing the BCBA Exam: 45%
The top affordable online ABA program at Arizona State University is a 10-course program covering the principles and foundations of ABA. The curriculum includes the ABAI approved course sequence covering areas like:
- Behavior Analytics Assessment
- Behavior Change Procedures: Implementing Interventions in Behavior Analysis
- Measurement, Data Display, Interpretation and Experimental Design
Applicants should have a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA and submit letters of recommendation and a current resume. There are multiple start dates offered throughout the year. Most students can complete their degree in about two years of study.
#10 -Purdue University Global – Indianapolis, Indiana
Online Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis
Average Graduate Student Tuition: $8,730/year
Student/Faculty Ratio: 27:1
% of First-Time Candidates Passing the BCBA Exam: 34%
Purdue University Global, a leader in online education, offers an applied behavior analysis online masters degree. The ABA program meets the coursework requirements students need to sit for the BCBA exam. Coursework covers ABA theories and concepts using a scientist-practitioner approach. Topics include:
- behavior assessment
- treatment intervention
- program evaluation
Students choose to complete either the thesis track or the comprehensive exam track. All students in the ABA program need to find their own location to complete their field placement hours.
#9 -University of South Florida – Tampa, Florida
Online Master of Arts in Applied Behavior Analysis
Average Graduate Student Tuition: $8,350/year in-state and $19,048/year out-of-state
Student/Faculty Ratio: 22:1
% of First-Time Candidates Passing the BCBA Exam: 68%
The online applied behavior analysis master’s program at the University of South Florida features a comprehensive curriculum that prepares students to become Board Certified Behavior Analysts. Courses are taught by experienced doctoral level behavior analysts in short, eight-week sessions. Courses include:
- Observational Methods and Functional Assessment
- Ethics in ABA
- Behavior Theory
Practicum seminars help guide students complete Concentrated Supervised Fieldwork needed to meet the required 1,500 clock hours of supervised experience. Independent research opportunities allow students to complete a literature review and research proposal. Students can begin the program during the fall or spring semester and complete their degree in two years.
#8 -University of West Florida – Pensacola, Florida
Online Masters in Exceptional Student Education
Average Graduate Student Tuition: $7,088/year in-state and $22,166/year out-of-state
Student/Faculty Ratio: 21:1
% of First-Time Candidates Passing the BCBA Exam: 53%
The University of West Florida offers a unique master’s in exceptional student education with cohorts that begin each semester. Students can choose to specialize in either special education or applied behavior analysis. The ABA concentration offers the approved course sequence required for the BCBA exam. One-on-one advising, a comprehensive curriculum, and career advisement services are just a few benefits offered to online students. Courses last anywhere from eight to 16 weeks and students can complete their degree in 18-24 months.
#7 -University of Washington – Seattle, Washington
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Online Program
Average Graduate Student Tuition: $16,605/year in-state and $29,763/year out-of-state
Student/Faculty Ratio: 21:1
% of First-Time Candidates Passing the BCBA Exam: 84%
The University of Wisconsin College of Education features one of the top ABA master’s programs online that accepts new students during the fall semester. This cohort program provides students with the approved coursework needed to sit for the BCBA exam. Students can complete an optional practicum placement through the UW ABA program. Required courses include:
- Evidence-Based Instructional Strategies in ABA
- Ethics and Professionalism
- Designing Comprehensive Behavioral Interventions
Synchronous online courses use interactive, state-of-the-art technology to keep students engaged. Students can expect to complete the program in two to three years.
#6 -Endicott College – Beverly, Massachusetts
Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis
Average Graduate Student Tuition: $12,746/year
Student/Faculty Ratio: 13:1
% of First-Time Candidates Passing the BCBA Exam: 67%
The Institute for Applied Behavioral Science at Endicott College offers one of the top ABA programs online featuring cutting edge strategies to improve a variety of human behaviors. This 40-credit hour program offers multiple concentrations in areas like:
- Childhood Clinical Disorders
- Mental Health
- Organizational Behavior Management
There is no GRE requirement for admission and new students are admitted to the program three times a year. The program meets the educational requirements needed to sit for the Board Certified Behavior Analyst exam. Students can complete their degree in just 27 months.
#5 -Ball State University – Muncie, Indiana
Master of Arts in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) with an Emphasis in Autism
Average Graduate Student Tuition: $9,482/year in-state and $25,938/year out-of-state
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 14:1
% of First-Time Candidates Passing the BCBA Exam: 54%
The affordable online master’s degree in applied behavior analysis from Ball State University has an emphasis in autism. This 30-credit hour applied behavioral analysis degree program is housed in the Teachers College which has been awarded numerous recognitions and national rankings. There are no on-campus residency requirements, and all courses can be completed online. Required courses include:
- Behavioral Consultation
- Interventions and Treatments for Persons with Autism
- Verbal Behavior
Students can choose to complete a field-based experience in autism or ABA. New students are admitted to the program at the start of each semester.
#4 -University of Southern Maine – Portland, Maine
MS in Educational Psychology with a concentration in Applied Behavior Analysis Online
Average Graduate Student Tuition: $7,776/year in-state and $21,888/year out-of-state
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 13:1
% of First-Time Candidates Passing the BCBA Exam: 60%
The University of Southern Maine offers an innovative educational psychology master’s degree program with a concentration in applied behavior analysis. This 36-credit hour affordable masters in behavior analysis online is accredited by The Association for Behavior Analysis International and meets the coursework requirements needed to sit for the BCBA exam. Courses are offered through a mix of synchronous and asynchronous formats. Program requirements include courses in:
- Consultation and Collaborative Problem Solving
- Behavioral Principles of Learning
Full-time students can complete the program in six semesters. Part-time options are available.
#3 -Saint Cloud State University – St. Cloud, Minnesota
Master’s Program in Applied Behavior Analysis
Average Graduate Student Tuition: $8,009/year in-state and $12,229/year out-of-state
Student/Faculty Ratio: 16:1
% of First-Time Candidates Passing the BCBA Exam: 100%
Our top choice for an online Master’s in ABA is offered by St. Cloud State University. Courses are taught by PhD level instructors who work closely with students to help them reach their professional goals. Graduates have excelled in careers in:
- program evaluation
- organizational development.
Courses cover areas like:
- Ethics in Psychology and Behavior Analysis
- Behavioral Applications
- Functional Analysis
Students must choose between completing a thesis or taking a comprehensive exam to complete their degree. All students complete a required internship supervised by a Licensed Psychologist or a BCBA certificated behavior analyst. This top master’s in ABA is accredited by the ABAI and includes the academic requirements set by the BACB.
#2 -Montana State University – Billings, Montana
Online Master of Science in Special Education Advanced Studies, ABA Emphasis
Average Graduate Student Tuition: $5,878/year in-state and $19,542/year out-of-state
Student/Faculty Ratio: 15:1
% of First-Time Candidates Passing the BCBA Exam: 77%
Montana State University at Billings features a unique Master of Science in Special Education with advanced studies in ABA. Students can complete the applied behavior analysis degree program in two to three years of study. Course offerings include:
- Assessment and Program Planning for Special Populations
- Data Based Instruction
- Conceptual Issues in Radical Behaviorism
Elective course offerings are available in the characteristics and interventions specific to autism or teaching students with emotional and behavioral disorders. Students can choose to complete an internship experience or a thesis depending on their future professional and educational goals.
#1 -Western Connecticut State University – Danbury, Connecticut
The Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis Online
Average Graduate Student Tuition: $7,674/year in-state and $19,768/year out-of-state
Student/Faculty Ratio: 11:1
% of First-Time Candidates Passing the BCBA Exam: 88%
Western Connecticut State University offers an affordable online Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis through their Education and Educational Psychology Department. Courses cover content areas like:
- Personnel Supervision and Management
- Measurement, Data Display, and Interpretation
- Behavior Assessment
New students are admitted to the program during the fall and spring semesters. Students take courses in a prescribed order. All courses are delivered in a flexible, online format. Graduates can apply their degree toward a career in ABA or continue their education in doctoral study.