Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is the use of techniques and principles designed to bring about positive and meaningful change in behavior. To become a certified ABA specialist, highly specialized skills and education must be acquired. Few programs that lead to Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) certification exist, but those that do exist provide students with the necessary coursework and curriculum needed to sit for board certification.
- Master of Applied Behavior Analysis
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- Simmons University's Online Master's in Behavior Analysis
A scholarship of up to $10,000 is available for students in Simmons’ MS in Behavior Analysis May 2021 cohort. No GRE is required to apply to the respected, ABAI-verified program. Graduate in 23 months prepared to take the BCBA® exam and assume leadership roles in applied behavior analysis.
10 Best Master’s in ABA Programs Ranking Methodology
For the purpose of this list, we looked at 42 regionally and nationally accredited colleges and universities that offer ABA master’s degree programs in a traditional on-campus format. We selected accredited ABA programs, many of which aligned their coursework with the standards set forth by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB). We also chose schools with graduate tuition (inclusive of fees) of less than $25,000 per year. Many of the programs on our list are BACB-certified and offer eligibility to sit for the Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) certification exam. To narrow down our options still further, we included only programs with course sequences approved by the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI). Also, we included only programs with indicated BCBA examination pass rates of 70% or higher.
Ranking the 10 Best Applied Behavior Analysis Schools of 2021
10. Georgia State University
Applied Behavior Analysis, M.S.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $24,517
Georgia State University’s master’s in applied behavior analysis is among the best behavioral analysis degree programs available. Georgia State University ranks with U.S. News & World Report as #3 among most innovative schools. It also ranks among top national universities. This school had a BCBA examination pass rate of 71%. Some of the courses in this program are principles of behavior analysis, psychology of learning & learners, strategies for challenging behaviors, and ethics for behavior analysts. The course sequence is approved by the ABAI, and Georgia State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges & Schools Commission on Colleges. This is one of our top picks for best ABA master’s degree programs.
9. The University of Nebraska Omaha
Applied Behavior Analysis, MS
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $21,718
The University of Nebraska Omaha, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, is one of the best ABA therapy schools. Although it is not the cheapest on our list of ABA programs, it is a high-quality degree, as evidenced by several factors, including its 17-1 student-to-faculty ratio and its BCBA pass rate of 88%. Another factor is that this program ranks among top national universities, according to U.S. News & World Report. It is also one of the top performers on social mobility, which means that it helps students with family incomes below the national median to graduate and acquire jobs. The course sequence for this program is approved by the ABAI; students will need to choose the path that is approved, as there are multiple course sequences offered. The master’s degree in applied behavior analysis is available for those with a bachelor’s degree in education, psychology, or applied behavior analysis.
8. The University of North Texas
MA in Applied Behavior Analysis
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $20,906
The Master of Arts in Applied Behavior Analysis offered by the University of North Texas is one of the top ABA therapy programs available. Some of the courses in this program are: fundamentals & techniques of compassionate & effective behavior change, evidence-based practice: understanding & using applied behavior analytic research, and culturally responsive ethics in behavioral practice. All of the courses in this program are available every semester, so students do not need to wait for the course they plan to take. The course sequence in ABAI-approved. Graduates of this program have a pass rate of 94% on the BCBA examination, which is remarkable among applied behavior analysis schools.The University of North Texas tied for #44 in social mobility, according to U.S. News & World Report, as well as ranking among top national universities and top public schools. It is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges & Schools Commission on Colleges. The University of Texas is among the best applied behaviour analysis schools.
7. The University of Houston Clear Lake
Behavior Analysis M. A.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $20,752
Ranking #7 on our list of top ABA programs, here is a great option from the University of Houston Clear Lake. This program offers a balance of experience, coursework, and research, all three of which are invaluable for those going into the field of behavior analysis. The program emphasises both knowledge, or the theoretical, and skills, or the practical aspects of the field. This emphasis appears to be effective, as the University of Houston Clear Lake has a BCBA pass rate of 100% – rare even among the best applied behavior analysis programs. The University of Houston Clear Lake is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges & Schools Commission on Colleges. It has a student-to-faculty ratio of 17-1. Some graduates take the BCBA exam; others continue further in their studies, either in applied behavior analysis or in psychology.
6. California State University Northridge
M. S., Applied Behavior Analysis
Los Angeles, California
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $18,897
California State University Northridge is a top pick for accredited ABA graduate programs and offers one of the best applied behavior analysis programs. Their course sequence aligns with the standards set forth by the ABAI. Major publications like U.S. News & World Report rank California State University Northridge one of the best global universities. The courses will get students ready to assess patients’ behavior, and it will prepare them to intervene and eventually help to change the patient’s behavior for the better. Graduates of this program had a 92% pass rate on the BCBA examination. Also, this school is accredited by the WASC Senior College & University Commission.
5. Salem State University
Master of Science in Behavior Analysis
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $18,480
Salem State University offers an ABA master’s degree program that is designed to prepare students to be highly competent behavior analysts in applied or research settings. According to the school’s website, the mission of the program is, “To use behavior analysis to inspire solutions that lead to a more rewarding life.” Salem State University graduates had a 71% pass rate on the BCBA examination. Students who complete the graduate degree may need to meet additional requirements in order to be eligible to take the examination to become a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst. In addition to the reputation of the ABA program, Michigan State has earned top rankings with U.S. News & World Report, tying for #36 for social mobility, #44 in top public schools, and #125 in best regional universities in the North.
4. The University of South Florida
Master of Science in ABA
One of the top online ABA programs on our list is the 44-credit master of science in applied behavior analysis at the University of South Florida. Three colleges work together to award this degree: the College of Behavioral & Community Sciences, the College of Arts & Sciences, and the College of Education. This program had a 82% BCBA pass rate. According to the program’s website, this ABA master’s program prepares students for work in the fields of mental health, education, autism, rehabilitation, and others. The University of South Florida has been accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges & Schools Commission on Colleges, and ranks #103 with U.S. News & World Report among best national universities. Also, the course sequence for this program is approved by the ABAI. This school has one of the best ABA programs available.
3. St. Cloud State University
Applied Behavior Analysis (M. S.)
St. Cloud, Minnesota
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $17, 195
Breaking into the top three on our list of the top ABA master’s programs is St. Cloud University’s master’s in applied behavior analysis. St. Cloud University offers this program either online or on-campus. Students in this program have the opportunity to present at conferences during the course of their studies. There are two options for completion of this degree: Plan A is heavy on research and the student writes a thesis, while Plan B finishes with a comprehensive exam. Plan A requires 45 credits, while Plan B requires 46. The course sequence is approved by the ABAI. St. Cloud University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, and the BCBA pass rate for this program is 90%.
2. Cambridge College Boston
Autism/Applied Behavior Analysis Program (MEd)
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $16,266
Cambridge College Boston offers a master of education in autism/applied behavior analysis that takes 38 credits to earn. 14 of those credits are autism or special education credits, and 24 of them are part of the ABA course sequence. Cambridge College Boston is dedicated to helping adult students who have other responsibilities than school, so there are online, evening and weekend options for working students. Graduates of this program had a 94% pass rate on the BCBA exam. Cambridge College Boston is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education and has the remarkable student-to-faculty ratio of 11-1. This affordable college has among the best ABA degree programs available.
1. Queens College
Psychology: Master of Arts (MA) in Applied Behavior Analysis
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $15,488
Queens College offers the most affordable ABA master’s degree on our list. This master of arts in applied behavior analysis program supports students whether they plan to continue with their education and earn a doctoral degree or plan to begin work in the field immediately upon graduation. Those who wish to study in this program must have taken 15 credits in undergraduate psychology, including specific laboratory courses. If they have not met this requirement, but are otherwise qualified for admission, they will be required to take the courses they have missed at the undergraduate level. Queens College tied for #50 in best regional universities in the North and is #23 in best colleges for veterans according to U.S. News & World Report. Queens College had a BCBA pass rate of 88%. This is the most affordable ABA master’s degree on our list of the top ABA master’s programs.
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