Applied behavior analysis PhD programs prepare students with the advanced knowledge and skills needed to conduct behavioral research and design treatment plans to remedy behavior-related problems. Graduates of applied behavior analysis PhD programs are prepared to take the Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) certification exam. Once certification is received, individuals may practice ABA.
10 Best ABA PhD Degree Programs Ranking Methodology
For the purpose of this list, we looked at approximately 27 ABA PhD degree programs. We confirmed accreditation (regional and/or national) and selected those schools that offered accredited programs. We also looked for programs that prepared students to take the Doctoral-Level Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA-D) certification examination. 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.
Ranking the 10 Best ABA PhD Degree Programs of 2021
10. The University of Kansas
PhD in Behavioral Psychology
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $25,007
The PhD in ABA from The University of Kansas is offered through the school’s Department of Applied Behavioral Science. This program focuses on teaching its students how to research effectively, and then translate that research into problem-solving in the area of behavior analysis. Some of the coures for this program are legal, ethical, & professional issues in applied behavioral science; conceptual foundations of applied behavioral science; and research methods. Students will be required to complete a research or intervention practicum. They are advised to consult with their advisor on which subject this should be done in, depending on their career plans or their specific interests. The Higher Learning Commission has accredited this program. The University of Kansas is ranked among best national universities, top public schools, and most innovative schools by U.S. News & World Report.
9. The Chicago School of Professional Psychology – Chicago
PhD in Applied Behavior Analysis
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $23,606
One of the top ABA PhD programs available is the PhD in applied behavior analysis offered at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Two tracks are offered: the ABA PhD track, and the ABA PhD credential track. The program is one of the few ABA PhD degrees in the country that also meets the requirements for graduates to become certified as a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB). Courses are offered in a blended format. When enrolled full-time, students may complete the ABA PhD degree within three years (post-master) and five years (post-baccalaureate); the ABA PhD credential track takes four years (post- master). The credential track is offered on-campus, while the non-credential track is offered in a blended format, with some of the coursework taking place online. Courses seen in the ABA PhD program include critical analysis of research in verbal behavior, experimental analysis of behavior, and supervision & consulting in ABA. This school is accredited by both the Higher Learning Commission and the WASC Senior College and University Commission.
8. The Chicago School of Professional Psychology – Los Angeles
PhD in Applied Behavior Analysis
Los Angeles, California
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $23,576
Much like its counterpart in Chicago, The Chicago School of Professional Psychology – Los Angeles offers a PhD in ABA with two options: the credential track and the non-credential track, and both can be completed within four years. Both take place in traditional on-campus settings. This program seeks to give students a strong base in the philosophy and science of behavior analysis, as well as hands-on experience. Graduates may be employed in various settings, such as business, educational, clinical, and nonprofit, as well as government agencies. The Chicago School of Professional Psychology – Los Angeles is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission, as well as by the Higher Learning Commission. This is one of the top ABA doctoral programs.
7. Utah State University
PhD in Behavior Analysis
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $22,598
Utah State University offers a program in which students can work towards a PhD, or, if they prefer, they can earn the PhD + Board Certified Behavior Analyst. The first option focuses more on research, theory, and academics, while the second approach prepares students to practice or research in a clinical setting. The first track offers benefits such as training in experimental analysis of behavior, a curriculum that is tailored to the interests of the student, and a dissertation project. The second track offers training in both experimental and applied behavior analysis, as well as thesis and dissertation projects; students will gain experiences in a clinical practicum over the course of several years. The second track also prepares students for the BCBA examination. Whichever track is chosen, 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, tied for #129 in top performers in social mobility as well as #117 in top public schools.
6. Florida Institute of Technology
PhD in Behavior Analysis
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $22,588
Florida Institute of Technology does not offer BCBA doctoral programs online, but a traditional PhD in behavior analysis. While the classes are not delivered online, the program is designed for ABA professionals. Graduates can plan to continue their research, instruct others in applied behavior analysis, or practice ABA themselves. 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, and verbal behavior. Florida Tech ranks with major publications like U.S. News & World Report as tied for 241st best national university.
5. University of Nevada, Reno
Behavior Analysis PhD
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $21,971
The Department of Psychology in the University of Nevada at Reno offers one of the few ABA doctoral programs in the country. Students learn about topics such as basic & applied research in human behavior, the philosophies of behaviorism, and basic research in animal behavior. They will also learn about how the study of behavior applies to organizations. This program, which is one of the best ABA PhD programs, requires 89 graduate credits. It is accredited by the ABAI and prepares students 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. The University of Nevada at Reno is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges & Universities.
4. Marquette University
PhD in Behavior Analysis
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $21,690
Marquette University offers this PhD in behavior analysis through its Psychology Department, and 63 credits are required to earn this degree. This program has an emphasis on mentorship, putting students in small cohorts to ensure that they get the mentorship they need to help them reach their goals. Graduates of this program have gone on to become directors of clinical programs, professors at universities, and practicing behavior analysts. According to the school’s website, there are four specializations available, depending on what people groups the graduate plans to work with: children & adults with social skill deficits, young children with autism spectrum disorders, children displaying vocal or motor tics associated with Tourette syndrome, or individuals displaying more significant self-injurious behavior or aggressive behavior. Marquette University, according to U.S. News & World Report, tied for #18 among best national universities.
3. Tennessee Tech
Applied Behavior Analysis – PhD
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $20,498
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 students 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; researcher; and 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.
2. Cambridge College
PhD in Applied Behavior Analysis with Specialization in Autism Intervention
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $17,062
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. Students will take classes such as behavior analytic perspective on child development, early intensive behavioral intervention, and 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, prospective students 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.
1. St. Cloud State University
Applied Behavior Analysis (Psy. D.)
St. Cloud, Minnesota
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $12,884
St Cloud State University’s PhD in ABA program is an on-campus program that focuses on ABA for children with autism spectrum disorder. The coursework is approved by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board, and at the end of the program, the student will be equipped to become certified as a doctoral-level board certified behavior analyst, or BCBA-D. The program requires that students complete 90 credits in order to graduate. Graduate assistantships are offered, and the program has access to a modern autism clinic, through which students will be trained using the latest research. According to U.S. News & World Report, St. Cloud State University tied for #86 in best regional universities in the Midwest, and it is ranked #81 in top performers on social mobility and #22 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 ABA PhD degree programs.
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