Why This Matters

  • DEMAND FOR BCBA-CERTIFIED BEHAVIOR ANALYSTS HAS INCREASED SINCE 2010.

    According to a study conducted on behalf of the Behavior Analyst Certification Board, the demand for behavior analysts is increasing dramatically throughout the United States.

  • 31 STATES REQUIRE THAT BEHAVIOR ANALYSTS BE LICENSED

    A study published in the journal Behavior Analysis in Practice reported a 400% increase in the number of BACB certifications, and linked that growth to the growing number of states requiring licensure in order for behavior analyst services to be available.

  • BEHAVIOR ANALYSTS EARN AN AVERAGE YEARLY SALARY OF $69,000

    Though salary depends upon numerous variables, including geographic location, years of experience, and work environment, Zippia.com reports that the average annual salary for a behavior analyst in the United States is $69,000.

Our Research

Becoming a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) begins with a graduate-level degree in behavior analysis, psychology, or education, so the programs we’ve included on our list are either Master’s degree programs offered by colleges of education or graduate certificates in Applied Behavior Analysis offered as supplements to Master’s degree programs. All of them meet the criteria for Verified Course Sequence as prescribed by the Association for Behavior Analysis International and meet the coursework eligibility for the BCBA or BCaBA as part of the application for BACB examinations. Many of these programs are offered online, though some are available on campus. In most cases they are offered synchronously, meaning that students must attend classes following a schedule. Programs may allow classes to be taken either synchronously or asynchronously, offering greater flexibility.

Becoming a BCBA relies upon the curriculum you choose meeting the criteria, which at a minimum includes earning a graduate degree in ABA, psychology, or education and then pursuing any of three additional options. Though one of those options accommodates students whose Behavioral Analysis courses were not accredited, this route requires seeking a BACB review. The other two options are to earn a Master’s degree from an ABAI-accredited master’s degree program or to pursue an ABAI-accredited Verified Course Sequence as part of a Master’s degree or as a post-master’s certificate program. In both cases, choosing an ABAI-accredited program is essential.

We evaluated each program on the basis of flexibility, faculty, course strength, cost, and reputation. Then we calculated the Intelligent Score for each program on a scale from 0 to 100. For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.

  • 59 hours to write this article
  • 151 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 393 education programs we compared

The Top 24 Affordable BCBA Degree Programs

The Most Affordable BCBA Degree Programs
01
East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania

intelligent score 99.81

Award Intelligent Pick

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

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Urbanicity:

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No

Award Intelligent Pick

Delivery Format On-campus

Programs Master of Education in Special Education

Required Credits to Graduate 18 credits

Department College of Education

Estimated Cost per Credit In-state: $587 per credit; Out-of-state: $857 per credit

accreditation Middle States Commission on Higher Education

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 570-422-3416

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Delivery Format On-campus

Programs Master of Education in Special Education

Required Credits to Graduate 18 credits

01
St. Cloud State University

intelligent score 96.11

Award Best in the Midwest

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No

Award Best in the Midwest

Delivery Format On-campus

Programs MS in Applied Behavior Analysis

Required Credits to Graduate 45-46 credits

Department School of Health and Human Services

Estimated Cost per Credit $530 per credit

accreditation Association for Behavior Analysis International Accreditation Board

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 320-308-2160

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Delivery Format On-campus

Programs MS in Applied Behavior Analysis

Required Credits to Graduate 45-46 credits

01
Ball State University

intelligent score 94.86

Award Best Bachelor of Arts Degree

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No

Award Best Bachelor of Arts Degree

Delivery Format On-campus, Online, Blended

Programs Bachelor of Arts in Applied Behavior Analysis (Autism)

Required Credits to Graduate 120 credits

Department Department of Special Education

Estimated Cost per Credit In-state: $452.11 per credit; Out-of-state: $1,395.88 per credit

accreditation Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 765-285-5700

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Delivery Format On-campus, Online, Blended

Programs Bachelor of Arts in Applied Behavior Analysis (Autism)

Required Credits to Graduate 120 credits

01
Umass Global

intelligent score 94.19

Award Best for Multiple Locations

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No

Award Best for Multiple Locations

Delivery Format On-campus, Online

Programs MA in Special Education, Behavior Analysis

Required Credits to Graduate 30-36 credits

Department School of Education

Estimated Cost per Credit $660 per credit

accreditation WSCUC Senior College and University Commission

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 800-746-0082

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Delivery Format On-campus, Online

Programs MA in Special Education, Behavior Analysis

Required Credits to Graduate 30-36 credits

01
Drexel University

intelligent score 94.1

Award Best Private Research University

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No

Award Best Private Research University

Delivery Format On-campus, Online

Programs Graduate Certificate In Applied Behavior Analysis

Required Credits to Graduate 27 credits

Department School of Education

Estimated Cost per Credit $1,342 per credit

accreditation Association for Behavior Analysis International

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 215-895-6117

Learn More

Delivery Format On-campus, Online

Programs Graduate Certificate In Applied Behavior Analysis

Required Credits to Graduate 27 credits

01
Simmons University

intelligent score 93.56

Award Best Field Experiences

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Graduation Rate:

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No

Award Best Field Experiences

Delivery Format On-campus, Online

Programs Applied Behavior Analysis

Required Credits to Graduate 45 credits

Department

Estimated Cost per Credit $1,080 per credit

accreditation Association for Behavior Analysis International

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 844-622-2872

Learn More

Delivery Format On-campus, Online

Programs Applied Behavior Analysis

Required Credits to Graduate 45 credits

01
Educational Psychology at Texas A&M University

intelligent score 93.28

Award Best State University System

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No

Award Best State University System

Delivery Format Cohort-Model, Online

Programs Graduate Certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis

Required Credits to Graduate 21 credits

Department College of Education & Human Development

Estimated Cost per Credit In-state: $506.33 per credit; Out-of-state: $979.33 per credit

accreditation Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 979-845-1831

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Delivery Format Cohort-Model, Online

Programs Graduate Certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis

Required Credits to Graduate 21 credits

01
Endicott College

intelligent score 93.18

Award Best Small University

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Graduation Rate:

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Urbanicity:

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No

Award Best Small University

Delivery Format On-campus

Programs Certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis

Required Credits to Graduate 21 credits

Department School of Education

Estimated Cost per Credit $600 per credit

accreditation New England Commission of Higher Education

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 978-816-7642

Learn More

Delivery Format On-campus

Programs Certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis

Required Credits to Graduate 21 credits

01
George Mason University

intelligent score 93.07

Award Best in the Southeast

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Best in the Southeast

Delivery Format On-campus, Online

Programs Graduate Certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis

Required Credits to Graduate 21 credits

Department School of Education

Estimated Cost per Credit In-state: $506 per credit; Out-of-state: $852 per credit

accreditation Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 703-993-3670

Learn More

Delivery Format On-campus, Online

Programs Graduate Certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis

Required Credits to Graduate 21 credits

01
The University of Kansas

intelligent score 93.03

Award Best Bachelor of General Studies Degree

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

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No

Award Best Bachelor of General Studies Degree

Delivery Format On-campus

Programs Bachelor of Arts in Applied Behavioral Science

Required Credits to Graduate 33 credits

Department Department of Applied Behavioral Science

Estimated Cost per Credit In-state: $336.4 per credit; Out-of-state: $898.66 per credit

accreditation Association for Behavior Analysis International

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 785-864-4840

Learn More

Delivery Format On-campus

Programs Bachelor of Arts in Applied Behavioral Science

Required Credits to Graduate 33 credits

01
Most Military Friendly
National University
01
Best On-Site Research Facility
Florida Institute of Technology
01
Best in the Northwest
Oregon Institute of Technology
01
Most Affordable
University of Nevada, Reno
01
Best Psychology Focus
Central Washington University
01
Best PhD Degree
West Virginia University
01
Best Special Education Focus
The University of Oklahoma
01
Best Mid-Sized University
University of Arkansas
01
Best Non-Thesis Program
Auburn University
01
Best Christian University
Bethel University
01
Best in the West
California State University, Los Angeles
01
Best for Evening Classes
Daemen College
01
Best Assistantships
Florida State University
01
Best Advanced Certificate Program
Hunter College

What You Should Know About This Degree

There are many treatment models used to help those with special needs, and each has its own approach and application. The Applied Behavior Analysis that is used by those who have BCBA degrees focuses on improving social skills, communication, learning, and competencies in order to reduce challenging behaviors and improve social interactions. It does this through careful analysis of the cause of unwanted behaviors and development of an individualized treatment plan that teaches adaptive behaviors. By contrast, Cognitive Behavior Therapists use talk therapy counseling to teach techniques for managing emotions and resolving conflicts. Those with degrees in CBT help patients to recognize the thought processes that are causing the problem and teaches them coping skills.

Both Applied Behavior Analysis and Cognitive Behavior Therapy are extremely helpful, scientifically-based approaches, they meet different needs. There have also been some studies that point to success in combining the two types of therapy.

Over the last ten years there has been a remarkable increase in demand for behavior analysts who hold BCBA certification. This is due in part to the effectiveness of the approach and in part to reforms to insurance reimbursements for the treatment of autism spectrum disorder and other diagnoses well served by applied behavior analysis.

What’s Next?

Here are some questions to ask when researching BCBA degree programs:

  • Am I eligible for this program? Admission to a BCBA degree program requires having completed your undergraduate application, usually with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0. In most cases, you will need to have your transcript sent directly from the institution from which you graduated, letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and an application fee. Some programs will also require that you take and score well on the standardized Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Those choosing to pursue a certificate program as part of their graduate school curriculum or as a postgraduate supplement will need to provide similar supporting documentation.
  • Are courses offered synchronously or asynchronously? Most BCBA degree programs are offered online, with instructional delivery that combines both synchronous and asynchronous approaches. A typical curriculum will offer structured, paced courses combined with live review sessions and faculty and instructional support from researchers, teachers and other professionals in the field.

Because the criteria required for board certification is so high and the work that behavior analysts do is so important, BCBA degree programs maintain high standards and expectations of their students. Students applying to these programs are expected to apply themselves strenuously to their studies and must generally score a minimum of 70% or better in all classes.

By selecting an accredited program, students who are choosing a BCBA Master’s degree program make themselves eligible for federal, state, and local financial aid. Identifying these or other sources of tuition support should be pursued as early as possible in order to be sure that you will have the funding needed before entering a program. Post-graduate certificate programs may not be eligible for federal support.