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Top 25 Best Applied Behavior Analysis Programs 2020

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the need for professionals in the field of psychology (including applied behavior analysis) is expected to grow by 14% through 2028. Applied Behavior Analysis is a well paid area of psychology focused on improving specific areas of behavior. ABA is used in a variety of settings including education, healthcare, and business. ABA professionals often work with individuals on the autism spectrum or those with developmental disabilities. According to PayScale.com, Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBA) earn an average salary of $63,777/year. To earn this coveted certification, BCBA must complete an approved course sequence and supervised practicum experience under an experienced ABA professional. We created this ranking of the top master’s programs in ABA that include the verified course sequence needed to sit for the BCBA exam.


Below we list the top 25 master’s in applied behavior analysis programs.

Featured Online Programs

In order to be included in our list, programs need to hold regional accreditation and offer the ABAI approved course sequence for BCBA certification. Programs needed to have an average pass rate of at least 80% for first time candidates. Programs also must have at least six first-time candidates during 2018.

Ranking is as follows:
Student/Faculty ratio:

  • 15:1 or less- 3 points
  • 16:1 to 19:1- 2 points
  • 20:1 and above- 1 point

Average Graduate Tuition Rate Per Year:

  • Less than $13,000- 3 points
  • $13,000 to $20,000- 2 points
  • Greater than $20,000- 1 point

BCBA Examination Pass Rate for 2018:

  • Greater than 95%- 5 points
  • 85% to 94%- 3 points
  • 80% to 84%- 1 point

Where there are ties, schools are ranked according to in-state average graduate tuition rates per College Navigator.

#25 -University of Washington – Seattle, Washington

Applied Behavior Analysis (MEd)

School Profile 
Pass Rate: 81%
Ratio: 19:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $18,198/year in-state and $32,439/year out-of-state
Points: 5
The College of Education at the University of Washington offers both an on-campus and online master’s in ABA for students who want to improve the lives of children and adults with disabilities. The on-campus program includes coursework and a group practicum. Courses are offered three evenings a week. The online program uses state of the art technology to help students stay engaged.

#24 -University of North Texas – Denton, Texas

Behavior Analysis Master of Science

School Profile 
Pass Rate: 82%
Ratio: 25:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $5,900/year in-state and $13,496/year out-of-state
Points: 5
The cost-effective behavior analysis master of science from the University of North Texas prepares students for doctoral study or for a career in ABA. Students gain both practical experience and research skills. Courses are taught by faculty recognized by the APA and the NCST for excellence. Research opportunities are available with organizations like:

  • the Behavior Analysis Resource Center
  • the Easter Seals North Texas Autism Treatment Program Research Group
  • the Beatrice Barrett Neuro-Operant Lab.

#23 -Jacksonville State University – Jacksonville, Alabama

M.S. in Psychology with an emphasis in Applied Behavior Analysis

School Profile

Pass Rate: 80%
Ratio: 19:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $9,168/year in-state and $18,336/year out-of-state
Points: 6
The cost-effective applied behavior analysis master’s program at Jacksonville State University is an ABAI accredited program that prepares students to become board certified behavior analysts. Thesis and non-thesis program options are available. Courses cover areas like:

  • Ethics and Professional Development
  • Experimental Analysis of Behavior
  • Personnel Supervision and Management

Students who choose the non-thesis option must pass a comprehensive exam to complete their degree.

#22 -Western New England University – Springfield, Massachusetts

Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis

School Profile 
Pass Rate: 87%
Ratio: 13:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $25,056/year
Points: 7
The College of Applied Sciences at Western New England University offers a top-value applied behavior analysis master’s program with extensive hands-on training opportunities. The curriculum meets the requirements to sit for the BCBA exam and each student works closely with a doctorate-level mentor who helps them throughout their program. Western New England University has a close partnership with the New England Center for Children, home to over 500 children with autism and 1,100 educators. This partnership allows students a multitude of hands-on learning opportunities.

#21 -Florida Institute of Technology – Orlando, Florida

MS Applied Behavior Analysis

School Profile
Pass Rate: 89%
Ratio: 14:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $22,338/year
Points: 7
Florida Institute of Technology features a high-quality Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis with a flexible schedule and a choice of campus locations. Students are engaged in case studies, research, and meaningful internships which provide the skills and knowledge needed for success. Courses are offered during the daytime, evening, or weekends. Faculty are researchers and practitioners dedicated to the development of the field. State of the art facilities and resources like the Scott Center for Autism Treatment and the Behavior Analysis Student Association prepare students for industry success.

#20 -Simmons University – Boston, Massachusetts

MS or Ed.S. in Behavior Analysis

School Profile
Pass Rate: 85%
Ratio: 6:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $21,654/year
Points: 7
Simmons University offers both a master of science and EdS in ABA  in a flexible part-time format. Students complete two to three courses in the evenings which allows them to work during the day. While the majority of these courses are offered on-campus, there may be some online components. This top master’s in ABA is the only program in New England accredited by the ABAI. All students complete five semesters of supervised field courses which is covered by the cost of tuition.

#19 -Rutgers University – New Brunswick, New Jersey

Master’s in Special Education with the Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Sequence

School Profile
Pass Rate: 93%
Ratio: 16:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $17,736/year in-state and $30,144/year out-of-state
Points: 7
Rutgers University offers a high quality master’s in ABA through the Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology. The 42 credit hour program includes foundational knowledge in ABA and education and training in applied areas of the field. The curriculum is verified by the ABAI and includes the coursework needed to sit for the BCBA exam. Graduates are prepared to work as ABA professionals or continue on to graduate level study.

#18 -California State University Sacramento – Sacramento, California

Master of Science in ABA

School Profile 
Pass Rate: 90%
Ratio: 26:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $7,176/year in-state and $16,680/year out-of-state
Points: 7
The College of Social Sciences and Interdisciplinary Studies at Sacramento State features an affordable master of science in applied behavior analysis. This dynamic ABA program engages students in a variety of research with children and adults. Clinical training is a key piece of the program and students can gain clinical experience working under professional BCBAs. The Student Association for Applied Behavior Analysis provides students with additional social networking and professional development opportunities.

#17 -Cambridge College – Boston, Massachusetts

Master of Education-Autism/Behavior Analyst

School Profile 
Pass Rate: 86%
Ratio: 11:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $14,731/year
Points: 8
Cambridge College offers a top master’s in applied behavior analysis and autism available to both online and on-campus students. Courses are available during the evenings and on the weekends. Students can take advantage of the no-hassle application process with no GRE requirement for admission. Most students can earn their degree in two years, meeting the certification standards to sit for the BCBA exam.

#16 -Rowan University – Glassboro, New Jersey

Master of Arts (MA) in Applied Behavior Analysis

School Profile 
Pass Rate: 86%
Ratio: 17:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $12,879/year
Points: 8
The College of Science and Mathematics School of Health Professions at Rowan University offers a low-cost master of arts in applied behavior analysis. This 45 credit hour program includes coursework, two practicum experiences, and clinical research. Courses include:

  • Behavioral Assessment and Functional Analysis
  • Professional Skills for Behavior Analysts
  • Psychopathology of Childhood and Adolescence

The program is designed for working students. Courses are offered during the evening hours and full-time students can complete their degree in just four semesters.

#15 -James Madison University – Harrisonburg, Virginia

Master’s in Psychological Sciences Concentration in Behavior Analysis

School Profile
Pass Rate: 89%
Ratio: 16:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $10,848/year in-state and $27,888/year out-of-state
Points: 8
James Madison University offers a concentration in applied behavior analysis through the psychological sciences master’s program. The program is comprised of:

  • coursework
  • research apprenticeship
  • thesis under the guidance of experienced faculty

Courses include:

  • Experimental Analysis of Behavior
  • Applied Behavior Analysis
  • Behavioral Assessment

James Madison ABA students participate in monthly concentration meetings to discuss published research and best practices in the field. These help keep their perspective fresh and relevant.

#14 -University of Houston-Clear Lake – Houston, Texas

MA in Behavior Analysis

School Profile
Pass Rate: 91%
Ratio: 16:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $7,920/year in-state and $17,568/year out-of-state
Points: 8
The University of Houston Clear Lake offers a low-priced master’s in behavior analysis that combines practical experience, coursework, and research. The program focuses on serving individuals with developmental disabilities. New students are admitted during the fall semester. Unique elective course offerings include:

  • Psychoactive Drugs
  • Behavioral Medicine
  • Psychopathology of Childhood

The program is accredited by the ABAI and graduates are prepared to sit for the BCBA exam.

#13 -Vanderbilt University – Nashville, Tennessee

Special Education (M.Ed.) – Applied Behavior Analysis Specialization Program

School Profile 
Pass Rate: 96%
Ratio: 7:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $48,624/year
Points: 9
Vanderbilt University offers an MEd degree with a specialization in behavior analysis. It’s offered in conjunction with a primary specialization of ECE, high incidence, or severe disabilities. Courses cover areas like:

  • Management Procedures for Academic and Social Behavior
  • Administering Ethical Behavior Analytic Services
  • Experimental Analysis of Behavior

#12 -Western Michigan University – Kalamazoo, Michigan

MA Program in Behavior Analysis

School Profile 
Pass Rate: 97%
Ratio: 16:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $16,360/year in-state and $30,432/year out-of-state
Points: 9
The Department of Psychology at Western Michigan University offers a budget-friendly MA in behavior analysis for students planning to work in:

  • developmental disabilities
  • mental illness
  • substance abuse
  • a variety of other government and business industries

Courses include:

  • Behavioral Interventions
  • Behavioral Assessment
  • Professional and Ethical Issues in Psychology

#11 -Auburn University – Auburn, Alabama

Master of Science degree in Applied Behavior Analysis

Website
Pass Rate: 100%
Ratio: 20:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $9,828/year in-state and $29,484/year out-of-state
Points: 9
The best-value MS in Applied Behavior Analysis from Auburn University is an on-campus non-thesis program available to full-time students. Students complete six consecutive semesters of coursework and an intensive hands-on practicum. Practicum sites include:

  • an on-campus ABA clinic
  • public school districts
  • home-based services

Courses are taught by five full-time faculty who come from diverse areas of research and practice.

#10 -Florida State University – Panama City, Florida

MS in Applied Behavior Analysis

School Profile 
Pass Rate: 100%
Ratio: 21:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $9,684/year in-state and $24,116/year out-of-state
Points: 9
The five-semester ABA master’s program at FSU Panama City is a high-quality program taught by experts. Students in this limited-access program receive a tuition waiver for working with approved behavior analytic agencies including the Early Childhood Autism Program. Courses include:

  • Behavior Analysis in Developmental Disabilities and Autism
  • Behavior Analysis in Mental Health and Aging
  • Behavior Analysis in Performance Management and Supervision

There is no thesis requirement, but students must pass a comprehensive exam and complete a professional portfolio showcasing their knowledge and skills.

#9 -Saint Cloud State University – St. Cloud, Minnesota

MS Program in Applied Behavior Analysis

School Profile
Pass Rate: 100%
Ratio: 20:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $7,460/year in-state and $11,334/year out-of-state
Points: 9
Available in both online and on-campus formats, the affordable applied behavior analysis master’s degree from St. Cloud State University is a flexible program that fits almost anyone’s schedule. Students come from over 18 different countries and all 50 states. Faculty have partnerships with over 120 agencies nationally and internationally. These partnerships provide students with professional development opportunities. Students can choose to complete a thesis or comprehensive exam to complete their degree. Both options require an internship, preparing students for success in the field.

#8 -California State University Northridge – Northridge, California

Master of Science Applied Behavior Analysis

Website
Pass Rate: 100%
Ratio: 26:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $7,176/year in-state and $16,680/year out-of-state
Points: 9
The applied behavior analysis master’s program at California State University Northridge is a two year program that prepares students for success as a BCBA. Students complete practicum requirements through on-campus and off-site experiences, learning from a professional BCBA. Hands-on learning opportunities are available through:

  • conference presentations
  • research
  • assistanceships

Students move through the program following a cohort model which contributes to the high program graduation rate. After graduation, over 90% of students have jobs in the field of ABA.

#7 -University of Hawaii Manoa – Honolulu, Hawaii

MEd Special Education, BCBA


Website
Pass Rate: 100%
Ratio: 12:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $15,912/year in-state and $37,392/year out-of-state
Points: 10
The College of Education at the University of Hawaii at Manoa features an MEd Special Education BCBA that takes two years to complete. This program is delivered in a flexible online format with synchronous online class sessions during the evening. This 31 credit hour program includes courses in:

  • Positive Behavior Support
  • Assessment & Instruction – Severe/Autism
  • Principles of Behavior

New students are admitted to the program during the fall, spring, and summer semesters.

#6 -University of Kentucky – Lexington, Kentucky

Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis

Website
Pass Rate: 100%
Ratio: 16:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $12,055/year in-state and $31,215/year out-of-state
Points: 10
The inexpensive master of science in applied behavior analysis program from the College of Education at the University of Kentucky is an on-campus degree program. It prepares students to work in a variety of ABA settings. Students complete the ABAI verified course sequence and practicum experiences needed to sit for the BCBA exam. The program boasts a 100% pass rate on the BCBA exam for 2018. Courses include:

  • Behavior Consultation in the Schools
  • Overview Of Characteristics And Instructional Strategies For Individuals With ASD
  • Gathering, Analyzing, and Using Educational Data

Students can earn their degree in just four semesters.

#5 -University of Texas – Austin, Texas

Autism and Developmental Disabilities Master’s Degree Programs

 School Profile
Pass Rate: 96%
Ratio: 18:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $11,998/year in-state and $22,966/year out-of-state
Points: 10
The College of Education at The University of Texas at Austin features both an MEd and an MA with a concentration in autism and developmental disabilities. Coursework and research efforts are led by experienced faculty. They understand the field and the needs of individuals with autism and developmental disabilities. The program is designed to be completed in just one-year of full-time study. The MA program is research-oriented while the MEd offers an applied emphasis. Graduates serve as BCBAs, teachers, and clinicians.

#4 -University of Maryland Baltimore County – Baltimore, Maryland

MA in Applied Behavior Analysis

School Profile 
Pass Rate: 100%
Ratio: 19:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $11,862/year in-state and $20,376/year out-of-state
Points: 10
The top master’s in applied behavior analysis from UMBC was created to fill the gap for quality ABA programs in the mid-Atlantic region. Courses include:

  • Behavior Analysis in the Schools
  • Learning and Cognition
  • Ethics for Applied Behavior Analysts

All students complete two practicum experiences. They usually work full-time in a number of different practicum sites within the Kennedy Krieger Institute. Class size is intentionally small and most students can complete their degree in about two years.

#3 -University of North Carolina – Wilmington, North Carolina

Master of Arts in Psychology with a clinical concentration in Applied Behavior Analysis

School Profile 
Pass Rate: 100%
Ratio: 17:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $4,719/year in-state and $18,548/year out-of-state
Points: 10
The University of North Carolina Wilmington features a budget-friendly ABA concentration that takes a data-centered approach. The program places emphasis on ABA services for adults and children with developmental disabilities. This 53 credit hour program includes both coursework and a research practicum. Students then complete a six month (1000 clock hour) internship before completing their degree. Graduates are prepared to sit for the BCBA certification exam and can receive their license as a Licensed Psychological Associate.

#2 -Oregon Institute of Technology – Klamath Falls, Oregon

M.S. in Applied Behavior Analysis

Website
Pass Rate: 100%
Ratio: 15:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $12,108/year in-state and $20,325/year out-of-state
Points: 11
The high-quality applied behavior analysis master’s from Oregon Tech is available to students in both online and on-campus formats. The program meets the requirements for BCBA and Oregon licensure. Students complete an ABA practicum during their second year in the program. Practicums are paid placements with approved ABA agencies. Courses include:

  • Clinical Behavior Analysis
  • Organizational Behavior Management
  • ABA and Education

Graduates are prepared to work in a variety of settings including:

  • homes clinics
  • social service agencies
  • mental health facilities.

#1 -CUNY Queens College – Queens, New York

Applied Behavior Analysis Master’s Program

School Profile
Pass Rate: 100%
Ratio: 15:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $11,090/year in-state and $20,520/year out-of-state
Points: 11
Our top choice for a master’s in applied behavior analysis program is offered by CUNY Queens College in New York. Students will work closely with faculty who have experience in areas like:

  • autism
  • developmental disabilities
  • parent training

The course sequence meets the academic requirements needed to sit for the BCBA exam. The comprehensive curriculum includes coursework in experimental, applied, and the practical application of ABA. Hands-on opportunities are available with organizations like the Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities Evidence-Based Services.

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Filed under: Accredited ABA Master’s Programs

About the Author

Kelley Jacobs is a midwest business consultant and former program evaluator. Past experience includes qualitative and quantitative research, survey development and statistical analysis. With 15 years in social service, Kelley is passionate about helping others and giving back to the community.