Why This Matters

  • 1 IN 59 KIDS DIAGNOSED WITH AUTISM IN 2016

    According to the latest data released by the CDC, Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnoses are on the rise. Applied Behavior Analysis has been identified as an effective therapy for children and adults living with ASD.

  • CHOOSE FROM ONE OF 8 COMMON CAREER PATHS

    Although many BCBAs work with individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder, ABA can be used in other areas such as organization behavioral management, traumatic brain injuries, special education, and mental health.

  • DEMAND FOR MENTAL HEALTH COUNSELORS UP 23%

    An opioid epidemic, and increasing rates of post-traumatic stress disorder in war vets are two factors in the increasing need for mental health counselors who can use ABA treat a variety of issues.

Our Research

Individuals can complete their BCBA coursework by earning a master’s degree in Applied Behavior Analysis, or another area, like special education, with a concentration in ABA. The type of degree also varies – Master of Arts, Master of Science, and Master of Education degrees are all acceptable for board certification. Some programs offer a graduate certificate in ABA, for individuals who already have a master’s degree in a related field.

All ranked programs are accredited by a regional accrediting body. Many also have programmatic accreditation through organizations like the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB), or the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).

The coursework for all programs can be fully completed online. However, the BACB requires an intensive practicum, which must be completed in person.

We evaluated each program’s courses, flexibility, cost, and reputation, and calculated their Intelligent Scores on a scale of 0 to 100. Our top picks for the best online BCBA program are respected, accredited, and affordable. (For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.)

  • 56 hours to write this article
  • 34 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 292 education programs we compared

The Top 26 Online BCBA Programs

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What You Should Know About This Degree

Although all of the coursework for the programs on our list can be completed online, all students must complete a supervised intensive practicum as part of the BACB’s experience requirements. The BACB sets the guidelines for how many hours you must complete, and in which type of setting; be sure to confirm that this aspect of the program will fit into your schedule and lifestyle.

Once you obtain your degree, you will need to pass an exam before you become a BCBA, and you will need to complete continuing education credits on an ongoing basis to maintain your certification.

Additionally, many states are now requiring a license to practice as an Applied Behavior Analyst. Licensure is an ever-evolving process, so practitioners must pay attention to what the regulations are in the state in which they plan to practice. This is also something to take into consideration when choosing where you will earn your degree.

In some cases, if you already have a master’s degree in a related field like special education or psychology, you can complete a graduate certificate to acquire the necessary ABA coursework for certification. This can save you time, but be aware that certificate programs are typically not eligible for financial aid.

What’s Next?

Here are some questions to ask when researching BCBA programs:

  • What are the standardized test requirements for this program? If you do not already have a master’s degree, most programs require standardized tests, such as the GRE or MAT, as part of the admissions process. For Master’s in Education programs, you may also need to submit Praxis scores. Find out what the requirements are, and make arrangements to take any necessary tests prior to applying.
  • Do I need financial aid? Many schools offer ABA certificate programs to students who already have a master’s degree in a related area. However, under federal guidelines, certificate programs are not eligible for federal financial aid. Make sure you have alternate sources of funding if you are pursuing a certificate program.

Make sure you research the program’s application requirements and admissions deadlines as part of your search process. You can get this information from the school’s website, or by contacting the admissions department.

Funding your graduate education is another important consideration. Ask about scholarships and financial aid opportunities. If you are currently employed, find out if your job offers any type of tuition assistance benefits.