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To become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (or BCBA), aspiring individuals must obtain a master’s degree in applied behavior analysis or a similar field. BCBAs work with patients who suffer from behavioral and psychological disorders. They help their clients overcome daily barriers that otherwise affect their quality of life. BCBAs frequently treat individuals on the Autism spectrum who require assistance with basic communication and social skills. Graduate students can complete an online master’s in BCBA within two years if attending full-time; the average tuition for the program is $15,000 to $20,000.

Coursework for an online master’s in this specialty integrates philosophy, scientific investigation, and application of behavior analysis techniques. The program equips graduates to work with various populations across residential, school, or senior settings. Established programs fulfill the academic and fieldwork requirements for board certification and licensure; however, candidates must still complete a licensure exam before earning their official BCBA credential.

Projection data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests that employment opportunities for mental health counselors will increase rapidly over the next decade (upwards of 22%). Individuals working in this field make an average salary of $48,520. A graduate degree and board certification will add to your earning potential.

How to Choose an Online BCBA Master’s Degree Program

Choose your area of study

To become a BCBA, candidates first earn their graduate degree. In most cases, the degree to pursue is a Master of Science in Applied Behavioral Analysis. Some institutions offer a master’s degree option through an education or psychology degree program but with a specialized track for behavioral analysis. All options should fulfill the necessary educational components for eventual board certification.

From there, some BCBA degrees house concentration electives in addition to core coursework. Standard concentrations include Autism, childhood clinical disorders, mental health, and organizational behavior management.

Research schools and programs

After determining which online BCBA programs provide the necessary academic coursework for your professional interests, the subsequent step is to research each program further.

  • Is the program accredited? Accreditation is essential for future board certification. Only choose programs recognized by the Association for Behavior Analysis International and meet the academic requirements to take the BCBA exam after graduation.
  • What is the online format? Courses are available through either synchronous or asynchronous delivery methods. Choose a program that works around your learning style and schedule; those continuing to work full-time might benefit from fewer scheduled class sessions. To better understand the remote experience, see if your program offers sample online coursework to try first-hand.
  • How does the program facilitate fieldwork? Significant hands-on practice under the supervision of an experienced BCBA is crucial to future board certification and professional success. Determine how each program integrates internship and other fieldwork components for online students.

Contact an admissions counselor or program advisor if you need help finding the answers to your questions via the program’s website. Your school may also host valuable information sessions remotely.

Prepare for tests and applications

Few online master’s in BCBA require GRE scores. However, your application packet should include undergraduate transcripts, a personal essay, and several letters of recommendation. Preparing these materials can take several weeks, so pay attention to submission deadlines and plan accordingly.

Select your program

Determine which programs match your professional goals, learning style, and financial situation. Then, it’s time to apply. While programs can have several start dates each year, space is usually limited. Apply early if you can.

Determine how you’ll pay for your degree

There are several avenues to consider when planning how to pay for your degree:

  • Submit the FAFSA to ascertain whether you qualify for federal grants or loans.
  • Share your professional goals with your employer; if you currently work in the educational or mental health field, you might qualify for employee tuition assistance.
  • Speak with a financial aid counselor or academic advisor through the school; they can guide you on whether you qualify for discounts, scholarships, or other funding opportunities.

Ultimately, paying for your degree is a serious financial commitment, but most institutions and loan agencies can help you set up a payment plan that works for you.

Best 50 Accredited Online BCBA Master’s Degree Programs

Best BCBA Master's Degree Program Badge

Northeastern University

Pepperdine University

UW College of Education

Ball State University

Saint Louis University

Endicott College

Arizona State University

Western Connecticut State University

University of South Florida

George Mason University

Simmons University

Saint Cloud State University

University of Southern Maine

MSU Billings

University of West Florida

Slippery Rock University

Florida Institute of Technology

Southeast Missouri State University

UMass Global

Oregon Institute of Technology

Bay Path University

National University

Shenandoah University

Mary Baldwin University

University of Cincinnati

Discover More Options

How We Rank Schools

This list features the best online BCBA master’s degree programs at top colleges nationwide. Each school featured is a nonprofit, accredited institution — either public or private — with a high standard of academic quality for post-secondary institutions. The programs on our list are accredited by reputable organizations, such as the New England Commission of Higher Education and the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, that assess the objectives, quality, and overall effectiveness of colleges and universities.

We evaluated each school’s program on tuition costs, admission, retention and graduation rates, faculty, reputation, and the student resources provided for online students. Then we calculated the Intelligent Score on a scale of 0 to 100. Read more about our ranking methodology.

Next, we compared this comprehensive list of online BCBA master’s degree programs to a list of aggregated college rankings from reputable publications like the U.S. News & World Report, among others, to simplify a student’s college search. We pored through these rankings so students don’t have to.

What Can You Expect from an Online BCBA Master’s Degree Program?

An online BCBA master’s degree provides students with the academic knowledge and practical experience required for eventual BCBA examination and licensure. Participants learn the industry expectations for ethical and professional conduct, the principles of behavior analysis, research methods, and application. Many programs facilitate the theoretical component through online discussion or asynchronous study, but the practical application of behavioral analysis techniques demands several hundred hours of in-person, supervised fieldwork.

Most full-time attendees can graduate within two years, though many programs provide a path for part-time attendance. All programs feature a thesis, comprehensive exam, or some form of pinnacle assignment before graduation.

Potential courses you’ll take in an online BCBA master’s degree program

  • Science and Human Behavior. This course enhances student understanding of behavior analysis and how to apply the concept to real-world problems. Participants establish a solid philosophical base; students will read, discuss, and critique fundamental behavioral analysis theory.
  • Behavior Assessment. Students learn how to facilitate and interpret behavioral assessments. Based on their findings, students practice setting behavioral goals and meaningful strategies for clients.
  • Ethics for Behavior Analysts. Using the Professional and Ethical Compliance Code for Behavior Analysts as a foundation, participants discuss ethical considerations for BCBA practice.
  • Graduate Research in Behavior Analysis. This course prepares individuals pursuing a thesis option. Students develop their research questions and begin conducting research toward their final thesis.

What Can You Do With an Online BCBA Master’s Degree?

Career outlook

The career outlook for individuals holding an online Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) master’s degree is promising, reflecting the growing demand for professionals skilled in applied behavior analysis (ABA). The field of ABA has gained prominence for its impactful contributions to improving the lives of individuals with behavioral challenges, particularly those with autism spectrum disorders and other developmental disabilities. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job opportunities for BCBA-certified professionals are projected to grow by 22 percent over the next decade. The median annual wage for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors is $48,520. However, with the growing demand for ABA services and specialized expertise, BCBA-certified professionals often command competitive salaries and rewarding career paths.

Career paths

Graduates with an online BCBA master’s degree have a wide range of career paths to explore, each centered around applying ABA principles to create positive behavioral changes. Here are some possible career options for individuals with this degree:

  • Substance abuse counselor — Teach clients how to cope with life and stress while recovering from addictions to alcohol or drugs
  • Autism specialist — Focus on serving individuals on the autism spectrum, providing tailored interventions and support to enhance communication, social skills, and daily living abilities
  • Program coordinator — Manage ABA programs, supervise behavior specialists, and ensure the successful execution of behavior plans to achieve desired outcomes
  • Researcher or academic — Engage in research and contribute to the growing body of knowledge in ABA; academic positions at universities or research institutions offer opportunities to teach, mentor students, and advance the field
  • Private practice owner — Establish and manage an independent ABA practice, providing services to clients in need of behavior intervention support

Behavior Analyst

Earning Potential: $60,000-$90,000 annually

Education Required: Online BCBA master’s degree and BCBA certification

A behavior analyst applies principles of applied behavior analysis (ABA) to assess, analyze, and modify behaviors in individuals. They work across diverse settings, collaborating with clients to develop behavior intervention plans. Through data collection, observation, and analysis, behavior analysts identify triggers and develop strategies to promote positive behavior change and skill acquisition. Their expertise is crucial in addressing challenges related to autism, developmental disabilities, mental health, and more. By using evidence-based interventions, behavior analysts improve the lives of individuals and foster functional skills, independence, and social engagement, contributing to enhanced well-being and quality of life.

Clinical Director

Earning Potential: $70,000-$110,000 annually

Education Required: Online BCBA master’s degree and BCBA certification

A clinical director oversees the strategic planning, development, and implementation of behavior intervention services for a range of clients. They provide leadership to behavior analysts and staff, ensuring effective program delivery and adherence to ethical guidelines. Clinical directors collaborate with clients, families, and interdisciplinary teams to create tailored behavior plans, monitor progress, and make necessary adjustments. They conduct staff training, supervise assessments, and maintain quality assurance. Through their expertise, clinical directors drive the program’s success, promote positive behavior outcomes, and uphold the highest standards of ABA practice.

Educational Consultant

Earning Potential: $60,000-$90,000 annually

Education Required: Online BCBA master’s degree and BCBA certification

An educational consultant specializing in students with behavioral challenges collaborates with schools, educators, and families to create inclusive and effective learning environments. They assess individual needs, develop behavior intervention plans, and train teachers and staff. Educational consultants offer guidance on implementing evidence-based strategies, adapting curriculum, and fostering positive behavior support. They play a pivotal role in advocating for students’ academic and social success, promoting understanding and awareness of behavioral challenges, and ensuring that schools provide a supportive and enriching educational experience.

Online BCBA Master’s Degree Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply to an online BCBA master's degree program?

Confirm your admissions eligibility. You must have an undergraduate degree, preferably in a field related to psychology, social work, counseling, or education. Moreover, institutions typically set a GPA minimum for undergraduate coursework. You’ll need a 3.0 or higher to be competitive for a BCBA master’s program.

Each BCBA master’s degree will list its application requirements and deadlines via the program website. In general, you will need to submit the following:

  • A graduate school application form
  • Official copies of your undergraduate transcripts
  • A personal statement
  • A processing fee
  • A resume
  • Two to three letters of recommendation

For specific questions regarding eligibility or application materials, contact an admissions counselor.

How much does an online BCBA master's degree cost?

The average tuition for an online BCBA master’s degree costs between $15,000-$20,000, though out-of-state tuition can be significantly higher ($25,000 or more). Most schools charge similar tuition regardless of course delivery (in-person or online), and some online programs include an additional technology fee. On the whole, in-state tuition for online students is more affordable. Besides tuition, there are other costs for online BCBA students, including books, technology needs (such as webcams, computers, and reliable home internet), and travel expenses for in-person components.

How long does it take to earn an online BCBA master's degree?

If you attend full-time, you can finish an online BCBA master’s degree within two years. Part-time students may need closer to three years. A standard M.S. in Applied Behavioral Science is 30 to 40 academic credit hours, which includes supervised field experience.

Is an online BCBA master’s degree worth it?

Earning an online Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) master’s degree offers many advantages for individuals seeking to make a meaningful impact in the field of applied behavior analysis. A master’s degree equips students for leadership roles and higher salary options than they would earn with a bachelor’s degree.

According to, the salary range for a behavior analyst with a master’s degree education is $67,926-$71,892.

An online BCBA master’s degree equips you with specialized knowledge and skills in behavioral analysis, allowing you to make a significant difference in the lives of individuals with behavioral challenges. The increasing demand for certified behavior analysts across various sectors, including healthcare, education, and community services, ensures ample job opportunities and the potential for significant career growth.

An online degree program offers a higher level of flexibility than can be found in on-campus programs, often allowing students to take classes at a time that is convenient to them. This makes an online program particularly appealing to adult learners, who may have other personal or professional commitments that take up much of their time.