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Can I Earn a Certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis?

An Applied Behavior Analysis certificate program prepares students for working with clients in the field. Though these programs often focus on working with individuals with autism, it can also prepare them for working closely with those who suffer from related conditions and with anyone on the autism spectrum. These programs are available online for busy professionals and as traditional programs. Students have the option of earning a basic certificate or a complete degree. Colleges offer these programs at the graduate and post-graduate levels, but some schools also offer programs at the undergrad level.

Certificate vs. Degree Programs

It’s very important that prospective students decide whether to enroll in a degree program or a certificate program. Certificate programs usually only accept students who already have a degree. Those at the graduate level require an undergrad degree, and those at the post-graduate level require a graduate degree. Some certificate programs will accept students who do not have much education but have a high level of experience. Degree programs take longer to finish but will include a wider range of courses. Those who complete an ABA degree program can get their degrees from classes they take on the school’s campus or online.

Types of Classes

Both certificate and degree programs with a focus on ABA therapy include some of the same courses. Students will typically take a course called Methods in Applied Behavior Analysis or a similar class. It looks at the methods that professionals use when they work with their own clients. Most programs feature an ethics course that goes over some of the ethical issues that students may face and helps them come up with ways to respond to those issues. Degree programs will typically feature a statistics course and at least one research class too. Students may need to do a thesis in a degree program.

ABA Internships

ABA certificate programs usually do not include an internship, but most degree programs ask that students complete one of these sessions. During the internship, the student will work for an organization or an agency that specializes in helping those on the autism spectrum. They typically spend at least one semester working for that organization. Some schools have their on-site agencies that allow students to work with those clients in a classroom setting. Even programs that do not require that students do an internship will often allow them to do one for extra credit.


The Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) is a professional organization that is responsible for giving therapists certification in this field. According to the BACB , it offers a certification test with four dates held each year. Students typically take this test at the beginning of one month and get their scores back in around three months. Those applying to take the test must submit proof that they have the minimum amount of experience required and that they have a degree or a certificate in ABA therapy. The BACB also asks that applicants pay a fee to take this test.

Related Resource: 10 Best ABA Master’s Degree Programs

While it’s possible to get an ABA certificate online or from a traditional university, students must also take a test offered by the BACB to get their full certificates. An Applied Behavior Analysis certificate qualifies holders to work with clients diagnosed with autism or any related condition in the field.