In this article, we profile the 10 best ABA PhD degree programs.
You’ve finished a master’s in ABA or a closely related topic. Now you’re interested in a PhD in ABA. Maybe you’re planning to get a PhD right away, or just curious to know what’s involved. Either way, this article contains the information you need. PhD ABA programs can prepare you with the advanced knowledge and skills you need. They can prepare you to conduct behavioral research and design treatment plans to help with behavioral problems. When you graduate from a BCBA doctoral program, you are prepared to take the Board-Certified Behavior Analyst certification exam. Once you pass the test and become certified, you will be ready to practice ABA as a BCBA-D.
10 Best ABA PhD Degree Programs Ranking Methodology
For the purpose of this list, we looked at approximately 17 ABA PhD degree programs and BCBA D programs. We confirmed accreditation (regional and/or national) and selected those schools that offered accredited programs. Few online ABA programs exist, so we gathered information on both on-campus and online BCBA doctoral programs. The graduate tuition and fees were taken from the most recent information offered by the National Center for Education Statistics (College Navigator). After gathering our information, we listed the PhD in ABA programs according to affordability.
Table of Contents
- Utah State University
- University of Nevada Reno
- Florida Institute of Technology
- Marquette University
- University of South Florida
- Tennessee Tech
- Cambridge College Boston
- Caldwell University
- Capella University
- St. Cloud State University
Ranking the 10 Best ABA PhD Degree Programs
10. Utah State University
PhD in Behavior Analysis
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $24,008
Utah State University offers a program where you can work towards a PhD. Or, if you prefer, you can earn the PhD + Board Certified Behavior Analyst. The first option focuses more on research, theory, and academics. The second approach prepares students to practice or research in a clinical setting.
This first track offers benefits such as:
- training in experimental analysis of behavior
- a curriculum that is tailored to the interests of the student
- a dissertation project
The second track:
- offers training in both experimental and applied behavior analysis
- requires thesis and dissertation projects
- offers experiences in a clinical practicum over the course of several years
- prepares students for the BCBA examination from the Behavior Analyst Certification Board
No matter which track you choose, this is one of the best applied behavior analysis doctoral programs available. This university is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges & Universities. Utah State University, as ranked by U.S. News and World Report, ranked among top performers in social mobility as well as among top public schools.
9. University of Nevada Reno
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $22,986
The Department of Psychology in the University of Nevada at Reno offers one of the few ABA doctoral programs in the country. You’ll learn about topics such as:
- basic & applied research in human behavior
- the philosophies of behaviorism
- basic research in animal behavior
- how the study of behavior applies to organizations
This program, which is one of the best PhD ABA programs, requires 89 graduate credits. It is accredited by the ABAI and prepares you for the BCBA examination. The University of Nevada at Reno ranks with U.S. News & World Report among the best national universities and top public schools, and offers one of the top ABA doctoral programs.
8. Florida Institute of Technology
PhD in Behavior Analysis
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $22,588
Florida Institute of Technology does not offer BCBA doctoral programs online. However, it does offer a traditional PhD in behavior analysis. The classes are not delivered online, but the program is designed for ABA professionals. Once you graduate, you can plan to:
- continue your research
- instruct others in applied behavior analysis
- practice ABA yourself
Core courses required in the program include:
- advanced organizational behavior management
- applications of behavior analysis to college instruction
- behavioral & functional assessment
- ethical & professional standards in ABA
- verbal behavior
Florida Tech ranks with major publications like U.S. News & World Report among best national universities.
7. Marquette University
PhD in Behavior Analysis
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $22,410
Marquette University offers this PhD in behavior analysis through its Psychology Department, and 63 credits are required to earn this degree. We reached out to Dr. Tiffany Kodak, the Behavior Analysis Program Director at Marquette, asking how the program stands out. This was Dr. Kodak’s response:
“Our program stands out and is unique in several ways. The faculty work closely with students to publish clinical research that focuses on teaching important pre-academic, academic, functional communication, self-help, social, and vocations skills to neurodiverse children and adolescents. The purpose of this research is to develop and evaluate practices that help individuals acquire the skills to participate fully in their education, advocate for themselves, build relationships with others, and live fulfilled lives.
“Students are drawn to our program because they work closely with faculty mentors who are renowned in the field and have won awards for mentorship from various organizations, our on-campus clinics provide specialized training to students seeking to conduct patient-driven research as well as develop supervisory skills, and our program’s emphasis on professional skills training so our students can become leaders in the field following graduation.”
In addition, says Dr. Kodak, “all of our doctoral students have assistantships that come with a full tuition waiver and a monthly stipend, making the program no cost to the students.”
Marquette University, according to U.S. News & World Report, tied for #83 among best national universities.
6. University of South Florida
PhD in Applied Behavior Analysis
Hillsboro County, Florida
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $21,126
One of the top ABA PhD programs available is the PhD in applied behavior analysis offered at the University of South Florida. To be admitted to this program, you must have a master’s degree in behavior analysis or a closely related degree area that includes multiple courses in behavior analysis. Other requirements include:
- a GPA of at least 3.5
- a personal statement
- GRE score
- three strong letters of recommendation
Curriculum requirements include:
- 21 credit hours of core courses
- 15 credit hours of independent research
- dissertation consisting of a minimum of 18 credit hours
Courses you’ll see in the ABA PhD program include:
- experimental analysis of behavior
- statistical applications in translational research and evaluation
- conceptual foundations of behavior analysis
University of South Florida ranks with U.S. News & World Report among top national universities. This is among the best options for BCBA PhD programs.
5. Tennessee Tech
Applied Behavior Analysis – PhD
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $20,708
One of the least expensive ABA PhD programs on our list is this applied behavior analysis PhD. The degree is technichally in exceptional learning, with a concentration in applied behavior analysis. This program offers two specializations within that concentration. The first is Young Children and Families (abbreviated YCF). The second is School-Aged Children and Adult Populations (ABAS). This second option prepares you to take the BCBA examination.
Some of the career options listed on the program website are:
- clinical director/supervisor
- crime, delinquency, & forensic behavior analyst
- organizational behavior manager
- positive behavior support consultant
- university faculty member
Tennesse Tech is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges & Schools’ Commission on Colleges, and is one of the top BCBA degree programs.
4. Cambridge College Boston
PhD in Applied Behavior Analysis with Specialization in Autism Intervention
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $16,923
The ABA PhD program at Cambridge College requires 48 credits. It takes nine terms to earn the degree–one of the top BCBA doctoral programs in the country. This program focuses on autism intervention. You’ll take classes such as:
- behavior analytic perspective on child development
- early intensive behavioral intervention
- evaluation & treatment of severe behavioral disorders
This program is offered mostly online, with the exception of two summer residencies during the first two years of the program. To be admitted into the program, you must complete an interview with the program chair and faculty, as well as completing other requirements. Cambridge College is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education and ranks with U.S. News & World Report among the top regional universities in the North, as well as among top performers on social mobility.
3. Caldwell University
PhD in Applied Behavior Analysis
Caldwell, New Jersey
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $16,536
Caldwell University offers an ABAI-accredited PhD in applied behavior analysis. The program has five main learning objectives. The first is that graduates understand the theoretical concepts behind behavior analysis. The second is that graduates are able apply these concepts in a practical and effective way in real-world environments. The third is that graduates are able to supervise and train others in behavior analysis. The fourth is that graduates understand advanced topics in behavior analysis. And finally, the fifth is that graduates are able to develop and complete independent research in this field. Caldwell University ranks with U.S. News & World Report. Rankings include #14 in best value schools, and tying for #85 in regional universities in the North. This is one of the top BCBA doctorate programs.
2. Capella University
PhD in Psychology with a specialization in Education and Teaching in Applied Behavior Analysis
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $14,826
Capella University offers a PhD in Psychology with a specialization in Education and Teaching in Applied Behavior Analysis. This degree is offered entirely online. The program, according to the website, requires:
- three elective courses
- six specialization courses
- seven core courses
- three doctoral project development seminars
- one comprehensive exam
- one dissertation
Some of the core courses you’ll need to take to complete this program are:
- foundations of theory and practice for doctoral psychology learners
- advanced single-subject research design for behavior analysis
- ethics and multicultural issues in psychology
Some career options listed by the website are:
- board certified behavior analyst
- clinical director
- behavior analyst
- professor of psychology
While this is not strictly a PhD in applied behavior analysis, it is a good option for those who want to learn more about behavior and is worth looking into for those searching for the top BCBA doctoral programs. Capella University ranks with U.S. News & World Report among top psychology schools.
1. St. Cloud State University
Applied Behavior Analysis (Psy. D.)
St. Cloud, Minnesota
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $14,387
St. Cloud State University’s PhD in ABA program is an on-campus program that focuses on ABA for children with autism spectrum disorder. This is a great option if you’re looking for BCBA PhD programs. The coursework is approved by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board, and at the end of the program, you’ll be equipped to become certified as a doctoral-level board certified behavior analyst, or BCBA-D.
The program requires that you complete 90 credits in order to graduate. Graduate assistantships are offered, and the program has access to a modern autism clinic, through which you will be trained using the latest research. According to U.S. News & World Report, St. Cloud State University tied for #95 in best regional universities in the Midwest, #85 in top performers on social mobility and #29 in top public schools. Due to the institution’s affordable graduate tuition, St. Cloud State University earns the #1 spot on our list of the best value ABA PhD programs.
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