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10 Best Online ABA Degree Programs (Bachelor’s) 2021

Badge for ranking of top online aba programsIn this article, we profile the 10 best online ABA bachelor’s degree programs available from accredited colleges and universities for 2021.

The interaction between learning and behavior gives rise to the field of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). Individuals seeking certification as an applied behavioral analyst must sit for the Behavior Analyst Certification Board examination. To be eligible to take this exam, students must have completed a sequence of board-certified courses. Few board-certified assistant behavior analyst online programs are available, especially from accredited institutions. However, we created a list of the 10 best applied behavior analysis bachelor’s degrees that are accredited, affordable, and meet appropriate and necessary standards. Read to the end to find answers to frequently asked questions about online bachelor’s in applied behavior analysis degrees!

Ranking the Top Online Bachelor’s in Applied Behavior Analysis Degrees

For the purpose of this list, we looked at approximately 15 regionally and nationally accredited colleges and universities that offer board-certified assistant behavior analyst online programs or closely related degree programs. All but two of the ABA programs on our list meet the Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) certification exam criteria, which makes these qualify as BCaBA certification programs online. This means that the program adheres to the standards of BCBA certification and offers a course sequence required to sit for the exam. We ranked the board-certified assistant behavior analyst online programs according to affordability, based on out-of-state tuition. 

Below is our list of the 10 best online applied behavior analysis bachelor’s degrees for 2021.

10. Saint Joseph’s University

General Studies (Autism Studies Concentration)

Staunton, Virginia

Website

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BCaBA programs online – Saint Joseph’s University!

Undergraduate Tuition: $47,940

Saint Joseph’s University offers a high-quality degree that is similar to an applied behavior analysis bachelor’s degree. This unusual degree combination may be just what you need if you are looking for BCaBA certification programs online. The degree is a bachelor’s in general studies with an autism studies concentration. Saint Joseph’s University offers the 10-course sequence that is required for students to sit for the BACB examination. A few of the goals for this degree are that students understand the potential causes and symptoms of autism spectrum disorder, that they will understand the needs of students with autism spectrum disorder and how those needs can be met, that they will understand what it means to conduct themselves in an ethical and professional manner, and that they will understand how to analyze and change harmful behavior through the use of applied behavior analysis. Saint Joseph’s University ranks third in best colleges for veterans and eighth in best regional universities in the North.

9. Mary Baldwin University

Online Bachelor’s in Autism Studies and Applied Behavior Analysis

Staunton, Virginia

Website

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Mary Baldwin University’s online ABA degree programs – accredited and affordable.

Undergraduate Tuition: $31,110
Recognized as the first Virginia college or university to offer the major in autism studies and ABA, Mary Baldwin University earns a spot on our list for accreditation and affordability. The online ABA degree program, which is also available on campus, prepares students for careers in the applied behavior analyst field. Coursework covers topics like ABA ethics and professional standards, behavior assessment, behavior change procedures, and data collection and research design. Courses in the autism sequence include characteristics and assessment of autism spectrum disorders and social skills instruction. Mary Baldwin ranks with major publications like U.S. News & World Report. In fact, current 2021 rankings include tying for #29 in top performers on social mobility.

8. Ball State University

Online Bachelor’s in Applied Behavior Analysis (Autism)

Muncie, Indiana

Website

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Ball State University’s online ABA program is BACB-approved.

Undergraduate Tuition: $27,132

Ball State University’s online bachelor’s in applied behavior analysis program is one of the most affordable online ABA degrees available. Several undergraduate options are offered, including the minor in autism spectrum disorders, the applied behavior analysis specialization, and minor in applied behavior analysis. The minor prepares students for careers in ABA with course content that is approved by the BACB for the Board-Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA) exam. This 15-credit minor is offered entirely online, as is the entire degree. Ball State ranks with major publications like U.S. News & World Report as having tied for 284th place in the list of best national universities and 191st in top performers on social mobility.

7. University of Arizona Global Campus

Online Bachelor’s in Applied Behavioral Science

San Diego, California

Website

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Study human behavior at the University of Arizona Global Campus.

Undergraduate Tuition: $12,160

The University of Arizona Global Campus offers accredited online ABA degree programs, including the online bachelor’s in applied behavior analysis. This completely online degree program offers courses one at a time that run five weeks in length. Courses include applied behavioral sciences, introduction to applied behavioral science, psychological assessment, research methods, and statistics for the behavioral and social sciences. This program does not lead to licensure or BCaBA certification online, unlike most of the other programs on the list. Of note, the University of Arizona, a nonprofit school, recently acquired Ashford University, which was a for-profit school. It now exists as the University of Arizona Global Campus.

6. Central Methodist University

Online Bachelor’s in Applied Behavior Analysis

Fayette, Missouri

Website

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Central Methodist University’s online ABA bachelor’s degree is designed to meet the standards needed to sit for the national exam.

Undergraduate Tuition: $25,780

Central Methodist University offers one of the best online ABA degree programs available. The applied behavior analysis bachelor’s degree is an online program designed to prepare students to work with children who have autism, developmental delays, and other related conditions. BCaBA degree classes may be completed online, and they include behavior assessment, behavior change procedures, leadership and management in ABA, research and data analysis methods, and verbal behavioral analysis. The BCaBA degree program is designed to meet the educational requirements needed to sit for the national accrediting examination. 2021 rankings for Central Methodist by U.S. News & World Report include #78 in best regional universities in the Midwest and #15 in top performers on social mobility.

5. University of West Florida

Online Minor in Applied Behavior Analysis

Pensacola, Florida

Website

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Affordable online ABA bachelor’s degree ! University of West Florida.

Undergraduate Tuition: $19,241

The University of West Florida now offers an ABAI-verified online minor in applied behavior analysis; the minor can be put together with another online degree. This fully online degree is designed to prepare students for BCBA, BCaBA, and RBT certification. The cohort begins every semester, so that students may jump in and start taking classes immediately. Coursework for the undergraduate minor meets the requirements for the Behavior Analyst Certification Board Fourth Edition Task List. These BCaBA courses cover topics like functional applications of behavior analysis in health science, health science essentials of behavior analysis, methodology in behavior analysis in health science, and problem identification and functional assessment in health science. UWF ranks with U.S. News & World Report as the 36th best regional university and 56th best value school.

4. Purdue University Global

Online Bachelor’s in Psychology – Applied Behavior Analysis

Indianapolis, Indiana

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BCaBA programs online! Purdue University Global’s online ABA programs.

Undergraduate Tuition: $14,478

Purdue University Global offers an online bachelor’s in psychology that is designed to prepare students to sit for the Board-Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst examination, which makes this one of the best options for BCaBA certification online. Courses run 10 weeks in length and require approximately 15-18 hours of study per week. BCaBA courses offered through the online program include autism spectrum disorders in young children, clinical psychology, exceptional needs children, personality development, and program design and evaluation. Purdue Global accepts transfer credit from community colleges. This is among the best online BCaBA programs for a bachelor’s degree in ABA.

3. Capella University

BS in Psychology – Applied Behavior Analysis

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Website

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Capella University offers an online bachelor’s in psychology – applied behavior analysis for those interested in BCaBA programs online.

Undergraduate Tuition: $14,148

This online bachelor’s in psychology with a specialization in applied behavior analysis is designed for those who want to hone their professional skills and be prepared for both employer’s expectations and the needs of the people they will work with. In this program, students will learn how to evaluate behavior, understand collected data, identify which areas need to be changed, plan for change, and put those plans into action to help people with behavioral issues. This program serves as preparation to take the BCBA examination, making this one of the top BCaBA online programs. This program includes “built-in BDS exam preparation software” to help students be more prepared, which is especially useful since it is an online program. Students can plan on one to three courses per 10 weeks. Capella University’s online bachelor’s in psychology – applied behavior analysis counts as one of the best online bachelor’s in ABA.

2. Troy University

Online Bachelor’s in Psychology – Applied Behavior Analysis Minor

Troy, Alabama

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Troy University’s online ABA programs include courses approved that meet the BCBA certification standards.

Undergraduate Tuition: $8,112

Troy University offers a psychology degree that is designed for those interested in an online bachelor’s in applied behavior analysis program. In fact, the online bachelor’s in psychology offers four minors, including applied behavior analysis. The BCaBAcourses in the ABA minor meet the BCBA certification standards, and this is one of the best BCaBA online programs. The program offers small class sizes and a rigorous curriculum, and it is available on several campuses as a hybrid or entirely on-campus program as well as in the online format we highlight here. Troy is ranked with major publications like U.S. News & World Report as 51st among best regional universities in the South and 48th among best value schools.

1. Bellevue University

Online Bachelor’s in Behavioral Science

Bellevue, Nebraska

Website

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The most affordable on our list! Bellevue University’s online ABA program.

Undergraduate Tuition: $7,851

Bellevue University offers the most affordable degree on our list. While it is not strictly an online applied behavior analysis bachelor’s degree and does not lead to certification, it is a very similar degree. This is an online bachelor’s in behavioral science. In this degree program, students learn about how to analyze individuals’ behavior and design plans to help certain changes take place in that individual’s behavior, and in their life. Bellevue University offers a convenient option: if someone transfers in with an associate’s degree, they can earn the degree as part of an accelerated cohort where one course is taken at a time. Bellevue University ranks #139 in top performers on social mobility with US News & World Report. This is the most affordable degree on our list of top online applied behavior analysis bachelor’s degree programs.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is applied behavior analysis?

Applied behavior analysis is a relatively new field. According to the BACB (Behavior Analyst Certification Board), it began in the early 20th century. It has been used since the 1950s. It has mostly been applied to help those on the autism spectrum, so it is well known in that area, but it is useful for many different problems.

Applied behavior analysis uses the study of behavior to help people stop behaviors that are harmful and gain new behaviors that are more beneficial. According to the website, thousands of scientific studies over time have determined that behavior is very much a product of circumstances, especially of what happens directly after the behavior. If the circumstances surrounding a particular behavior change, the behavior itself will often change. It is up to the behavior analyst to determine how best to accomplish this. Often, this will be accomplished by observing and collecting data, analyzing the data, coming up with a plan to modify harmful behaviors, and putting that plan into practice. 

According to Autism Speaks, behavior analysts often use positive reinforcement, which connects a positive behavior with a reward of some kind. When the desired behavior takes place, the reward is given. Behavior analysts must also understand the principles of antecedent-behavior-consequence, or what leads up to the behavior, the behavior itself, and what happens after the behavior, since, as noted above, the events immediately following a particular behavior may influence whether that behavior is repeated.

For children, according to Child Mind Institute, applied behavior analysis is often play-based. That means that a child and a therapist will not be sitting at a desk, but playing with toys on the floor in a way that the child will find engaging. Often, the ABA therapist is trained to be very engaging, fun, and even silly in order to help the child enjoy their time learning new behaviors. 

What is a BCaBA?

BCaBA stands for Board-Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst. According to the BACB , the BCaBA is an applied behavior analysis certification at the undergraduate level. The board-certified assistant behavior analyst always works under the guidance of a BCBA (Board-Certified Behavior Analyst.) They may, however, be supervisors of RBTs (Registered Behavior Technicians.) 

How is a BCaBA different from an RBT?

RBT stands for Registered Behavior Technician. According to the BACB website, this is a paraprofessional certification. In order to qualify, you don’t need a degree, but you do need to be eighteen years old, have a high school diploma, complete a 40-hour training, and pass a background check and an initial competency assessment. Then, after taking and passing the RBT exam, you must still be supervised, meet ethics requirements, and renew every year. 

How do I become a BCaBA?

To become a BCaBA, you must have earned a degree, taken the proper BCaBA coursework, and completed supervised experience. Once the requirements are met, you can apply and then, if accepted, you can take the BCaBA exam. Once you have passed the exam, you can practice as a BCaBA. As noted above, this will be under the supervision of a BCBA. However, in order to maintain your status as a BCaBA, you must continue to be supervised, meet ethics requirements, meet continuing education requirements, and recertify every two years. 

How much will I make with an online bachelor’s in applied behavior analysis degree? 

BCaBAs, according to Zip Recruiter, make an average of $71,738 per year. This works out to about $34 an hour. This is the national average. The website lists the highest-paying states for BCaBAs. The top 10, in order, were Washington, Maryland, Kentucky, New York, Nebraska, Virginia, New Hampshire, Colorado, South Carolina, and Delaware. The five highest-paying cities were San Mateo, California; Berkeley, California; Daly City, California; Richmond, California; and Stamford, Connecticut.

Once I’m a BCaBA, how can I advance my career?

Usually, the next step is to become a BCBA (Board-Certified Behavior Analyst.) This will put you in a more supervisory role. This requires a master’s degree or certificate that contains the courses required by the BACB, and you must take and pass the exam to become a BCBA. Zip Recruiter lists $87,535 per year, or about $42 per hour, as the national average salary for BCBAs. 

What kind of person should be a BCaBA?

According to I Love ABA, if you want to be an ABA therapist and plan to work with children, you must genuinely enjoy being around children, and you must have good interpersonal skills. You must be consistent and take your job seriously, and you must become invested in the progress of those you are helping. Also, you must continue to improve your own skills in the area. Another important factor is that you have a passion for helping others, because, at its heart, that is what this field does. You must go into the field with an understanding of its challenges, as well. ABA can have frequent setbacks and difficulties, and it is important that a prospective ABA therapist recognize this.

What jobs can I get in ABA?

Drexel University lists several jobs that are available in the field of ABA. Career possibilities include working as a board-certified assistant behavior analyst, which is described in more detail above. Another career option is to work as a special education teacher; this will require more certification. Working as a wellness coach is also an option. A wellness coach is hired to help someone get their life more in order, whether it is helping them with their work-life balance, their exercise habits, or other parts of their life that they wish to change. There are several more career options related to ABA; however, some of them require additional degrees. See Drexel University’s website for more ideas. 

Is an online bachelor’s degree respected?

According to Northeastern University, bachelor’s degrees are becoming more and more popular, leading to more respect in the workplace. In addition, employers recognize that online degrees require self-discipline and self-motivation, which means that those who complete them have those skills. Employers are not likely to look down on your online degree; rather, they are likely to admire the motivation it took to earn that degree. 

ABA Staff
July 2021

Related Resources:

This concludes our ranking of the top online BCaBA programs at the undergraduate level for 2021.