Why This Matters

  • CHOOSE FROM ONE OF 8 COMMON CAREER PATHS

    ABA is most often used with individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder, but it is also helpful in the context of traumatic brain injuries, organization behavioral management, and special education.

  • DEMAND FOR MENTAL HEALTH COUNSELORS UP 23%

    Many mental health counselors are also using ABA to treat individuals with substance abuse disorders, or who are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

  • EARN $4,000 MORE ANNUALLY WITH A MASTER’S

    The average annual salary for someone with a master’s in Applied Behavior Analysis is $61,000. Comparatively, those with a bachelor’s in Psychology earn $57,000 per year.

Our Research

There are different paths to becoming a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). Individuals with a master’s degree in a related field can earn a certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). Otherwise, students complete BCBA coursework while earning a master’s degree in Applied Behavior Analysis, or a related area with a concentration in ABA.

All programs are offered by regionally accredited schools. Many also have programmatic accreditation through organizations like the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB), or the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).

While the coursework for the listed programs can be completed online, students will have to complete an intensive practicum, per BACB certification standards.

We focused on the cost of the program, while also evaluating reputation, faculty, and flexibility. We gave each program an Intelligent Score on a scale of 0 to 100. Our top picks for the cheapest online BCBA programs are affordable, well-regarded, and flexible. (For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.)

  • 83 hours to write this article
  • 82 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 414 education programs we compared

The 48 Cheapest BCBA Online Programs

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What You Should Know About This Degree

For individuals with a master’s degree in a field like psychology, earning an ABA certificate is sufficient for becoming a BCBA. However, under federal guidelines, certificate programs are not eligible for financial aid. This is something to consider when looking at the cost of certificate programs versus master’s programs.

Because ABA is a human services profession, learning how to work with clients is a key component of BCBA education. The BACB requires a supervised practicum as part of their experience requirements for certification. Even if all coursework can be completed online, students should be prepared to attend an in-person practicum. Talk to a program advisor to confirm that these requirements will fit into your schedule.

After obtaining your degree, you will have to pass an exam before you are considered a BCBA. Thereafter, you must complete continuing education credits on an ongoing basis to maintain your certification.

Many states are beginning to require a license as well as certification to practice as a BCBA. Licensure is an ever-evolving process. It’s important that students and practitioners pay attention to the current status of regulations 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.

What’s Next?

Here are some questions to ask when researching BCBA programs:

  • Do I need financial aid? If you are planning on enrolling in an ABA certificate program, be aware that students in these types of programs typically are not eligible to receive federal financial aid. Make sure you are able to cover costs out-of-pocket, or secure other sources of funding to cover the cost of the program. If you are currently employed, as your employer if they provide tuition assistance benefits.
  • How are online courses delivered? Online courses are typically delivered in synchronous or asynchronous format. In synchronous courses, students attend classes remotely, but at the same time. The coursework for asynchronous courses can be completed at any time, according to the student’s own schedule. Consider what type of program will work best for you when researching online programs.

As you research programs, review their application requirements and deadlines on the school’s website, or by contacting the school’s admissions office. Gathering your application materials well ahead of deadlines can help your admissions process go as smoothly as possible.