The Best Online ABA Graduate Certificate Programs

Discover quality programs with approved coursework for certification and take the next step in your behavior analysis education and career.

Last Updated: 08/07/2020
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If you want to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) or pursue similar careers helping those with autism and other behavioral challenges, you’ll first need the proper education. Earning an online applied behavior analysis (ABA) graduate certificate is a popular way to get it, especially for those who are already have their graduate degree in fields like psychology, education or social work. With so many programs now available online, it’s important to find a school that is properly accredited, aligns with your learning preferences, and prepares you for career success. In order to help you weigh your options, we’ve identified the best online ABA graduate certificate programs in the country. Continue reading to learn what makes these schools stand out from the rest.

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About the ranking

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Methodology for EduMed’s 2020 Rankings

To be considered for this ranking, each school must have the following:

  • Institutional accreditation from an organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
  • Program(s) offered at least partially online.

School Metrics Explained

EduMed.org data scientists analyzed government higher education data and created a proprietary algorithm to rank each U.S. postsecondary institution and its online programs using 5 primary factors:

  • Cost: Relative cost of attendance compared to peer schools on the list. Based on tuition and fees per academic year.
  • Online Program Availability: Number of online programs in subject area reported by school to Department of Education.
  • Academic Counseling: Existence of this service on campus or online.
  • Career Placement: Existence of this service on campus or online.
  • Students w/ Institutional Aid: Percentage of students who receive financial aid from the school itself.

About Our Data

EduMed’s rankings use the latest official data available from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

Most recent data pull: February 2020

#School NameTypeCostOnline ProgramsMore DetailsSchool InformationOnline StudentsAcademic CounselingCareer PlacementStudents w/Institutional AidMedian Earnings 10yrs After EntryAccreditation
1Arizona State University-SkysongScottsdale, AZPublic$$1

ASU offers 25 online graduate certificates in psychology, education, data analytics, corrections, global development, healthcare, engineering, and sustainability. The university also allows students to complete certificates en-route to their graduate or undergraduate degree in the same field. Start dates for the online certificate programs are spread throughout the year. Each certificate program has similar completion requirements. For example, the online Graduate Certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorders is a 15-credit program consisting of five courses. The fifteen credit Online Law Enforcement Administration Graduate Certificate requires four classes plus a law enforcement elective. Both can be completed with or without an accompanying degree in two-years.

Program Overview

Online Certificate:

  • Total programs: 25
  • Mode: Online
  • Cost: $595/credit
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
53%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
2Purdue University GlobalDavenport, IAPrivate, For-Profit$$$2

Purdue University Global offers nine post-graduate certificate programs online. The programs are in business, criminal justice, education, health sciences, information technology, legal studies, nursing, psychology, and social and behavioral sciences. All graduate certificate programs are online and are focused on professional development. Many professionals seek advanced certifications for promotions or skills enhancement. Most certificates at Purdue can be completed in a year or less. Within each graduate certificate program, there are sub-specialties to consider. For example, the Business Programs area offers options in accounting, human resources, and project management. Their catalogue breaks down the majors and options. Terms are ten weeks in length.

Program Overview

Online Certificate:

  • Total programs: 25
  • Mode: Online
  • Cost: $420/credit
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission and Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
0%
AccreditationBehavior Analyst Certification Board
3Capella UniversityMinneapolis, MNPrivate, For-Profit$$$1

At Capella University, certification programs are designed to aid professionals seeking to build skills for promotions or marketable assets for new employers looking for individuals with advanced credentials. Online certificate fields at Capella include business, information technology, counseling, psychology, and nursing. There are five online graduate certificate programs, each with detailed specialties. In business, for example, there are graduate certificates with options in accounting or human resource management. Information technology certificates are in project management, networking cybersecurity, and analytics. Nursing school offers certificates in care coordination, nursing informatics, and nursing leadership. Students may also take individual graduate courses online that increase their knowledge base.

Program Overview

Online Certificate:

  • Total programs: 5
  • Mode: Online
  • Cost: $495/credit
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission and Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
50%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission and Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB)
4University of ArizonaTucson, AZPublic$$$1

The University of Arizona is a powerhouse of online graduate certificate programs with a total of 38. Graduate certificates are offered in the fields of accounting, nursing, psychology, nutrition, business intelligence, engineering, information technology, security, education, legal studies, minerology/mining, real estate, and TESL. Requirements vary by program. The Accounting Certificate requires 9 to 18 units, delivered wholly online. The Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP) certificate is a four-semester, 26 credit program offered partially online. Students must complete 540 on-site clinical hours.  The online Graduate Certificate in Applied Nutrition (GCAN) is a 14-unit program leading to advanced placements or graduate degree programs.  Certificate courses start throughout the year.

Program Overview

Online Certificate:

  • Total programs: 38
  • Mode: Online, Partially Online in Nursing
  • Cost: 653/credit
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
83%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
5Western Connecticut State UniversityDanbury, CTPublic$$$1

Western Connecticut State University currently offers two online graduate certificate programs through the School of Professional Studies. The Certification-Only Program in Education Assessment leads to a graduate certificate credential. Students seeking a Secondary Education Certification in Biology, Mathematics or Spanish can pursue credentials via the Masters of Arts in Teaching Program (MAT), currently under development. WCSU’s post-master’s certificate for Adult Nurse Practitioners is offered in Adult-Gerontology. Applicants for this program must have completed a master’s degree on nursing, and studies in advanced pathophysiology, advanced pharmacology and advanced health assessment. Graduates are prepared to take the adult nurse practitioner certificate exam.

Program Overview

Online Certificate:

  • Total programs: 1 graduate certificate, 1 post-graduate certificate
  • Mode: Partially Online (nurses must complete 500 hours in a clinical practicum)
  • Cost: $616/credit
  • Accreditation: Behavior Analyst Certification Board
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
57%
AccreditationBehavior Analyst Certification Board
6Saint Joseph’s UniversityPhiladelphia, PAPrivate, Not-for-Profit$$$$1

Students who are not ready to complete a master’s degree can enroll in one of 9 graduate certificates in their field to build their expertise. Wholly online certificates are offered in Behavioral Health; Business; Clinical Research/Drug Discovery & Development; Computer Science; Criminal Justice.

Program Overview

Online Certificate:

  • Total programs: 9 graduate certificates
  • Mode: Online
  • Cost: $780-$887/credit
  • Accreditation: Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
97%
AccreditationAssociation for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI)
7National UniversityLa Jolla, CAPrivate, Not-for-Profit$$$1

Founded in 1971 National University is a veteran-founded, San Diego-based nonprofit institution. National is home to the online Graduate Certificate in Autism. The Graduate Certificate is comprised of a four-course, 18-credit sequence. The program is reserved  for credentialed teachers. Students develop assessment and strategies for behavior management interventions. One component builds communication skills for collaborating with families and parents. Other training is in understanding federal and state laws, the use of differing evidence-based program strategies, data collection, and developing a structured classroom. Classes are offered in four-week sessions. Applicants must hold a Visual Impairment, or valid Education Specialist Mild/Moderate, Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing, Physical and Health Impairment  credential. Students can opt for wholly online or campus-based certificate programs.

Program Overview

Online Certificate:

  • Total programs: 1
  • Mode: Fully Online or On-Campus
  • Cost: $760/credit
  • Accreditation: WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC); National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education; and sponsored by Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
4%
AccreditationWASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC); National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education; and sponsored by Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB)
8Drexel UniversityPhiladelphia, PAPrivate, Not-for-Profit$$$$$1

Drexel University offers more than 70 specialization programs leading to graduate certificates. The specializations are part of all 16 online graduate certificate programs: Behavioral Health, Business, Clinical Research, Computer Science, Criminal Justice, Education, Engineering, Information Systems, Legal Studies, Medicine, Nursing, Psychology, Public Health, Technology, and College Athletics. The programs average 3 to 8 courses for a total of 9 to 24 quarter credits. For example, in the Business Program you can choose from 7 specialties. In Education there are 20 distinct certificates. The Nursing and Health Professions program offers 14 graduate and post-masters certificates. Online programs are accredited by the APA, CEPH, and CCNE.

Program Overview

Online Certificate:

  • Total programs: 16
  • Mode: Fully Online, Hybrid @ Drexel University Washington DC Center
  • Cost: $978/credit
  • Accreditation: American Psychological Association (APA), the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH), and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
98%
AccreditationBehavior Analyst Certification Board approved
9Brandman UniversityIrvine, CAPrivate, Not-for-Profit$$$1

Brandman University’s eight online graduate certificate programs can be completed in as little as two semesters.  The online certificate programs at Brandman are considered Extended Education. Online certificates are offered in Applied Behavior Analysis, Brain Based Teaching Strategies, Business Communications, Digital Marketing, Human Resource Fundamentals, Instructional Design, Non-Profit Management, and Project Management. Each program focuses on broadening professional skill sets and knowledge.  The Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)  certificate, for example, prepares graduates to sit for the Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) examination. The Digital Marketing program meets Online Marketing Certified Professional (OMCP) standards required in the workplace.  Brandman online certificate courses take 8 weeks to complete.

Program Overview

Online Certificate:

  • Total programs: 8
  • Mode: Online
  • Cost: $660/credit
  • Accreditation: Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CCTC), WSCUC, and National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
0%
AccreditationCouncil on Social Work Education (CSWE), Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CCTC), WSCUC, and National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).
10Monmouth UniversityWest Long Branch, NJPrivate, Not-for-Profit$$$$$1

Online certificate programs at Monmouth are offered in the fields of education, psychology, and geographic information systems. Education graduate certificates conferred by The School of Education, The Wayne D. McMurray School of Humanities and Social Sciences, and The Marjorie K. Unterberg School of Nursing and Health Studies. There are 11 certificates/endorsements in Education. There are 8 graduate/post-graduate certificates in Nursing. Most of the programs are offered entirely online. There are on-site practicums required in Nursing. Online students can also pursue a geographic information systems (GIS) certificate. Each program may set its own requirements for admission in addition to the ones by the Graduate School.

Program Overview

Online Certificate:

  • Total programs: 20
  • Mode: Online/Partially Online (on-site Nursing practicum)
  • Cost: $1,233/credit
  • Accreditation: Behavior Analyst Certification Board
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
97%
AccreditationBehavior Analyst Certification Board, Inc.® Approved
11St. Joseph’s College-New YorkBrooklyn, NYPrivate, Not-for-Profit$$$$1

There are graduate/post-graduate certificate programs at St. Joseph’s College that can be completed entirely online. Some certificate programs blend on-line work with on-site experience. For example, the Nursing certificate programs hold online classes but require a practicum at a related health organization. St. Joseph’s offers the following advanced certificate programs: Applied Behavioral Analysis (supervised practicum), Management of Health Information Systems, Business Administration, Mathematics Education, PK-12 Teacher of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Special Education, Human Resources Management, Accelerated Teacher Certification (field experience), Wilson Reading System® Certification, Human Services Leadership, and Nursing Education Advanced Certificate (supervised practicum). Graduate credit requirements vary by program but range from 12 to 29 hours.  Admission requirements also vary by program. Check with the school.

Program Overview

Online Certificate:

  • Total programs: 11
  • Mode: Online/Partially Online (on-site practicums in Applied Behavioral Analysis and Nursing
  • Cost: $680/credit
  • Accreditation: MSCHE 
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
No
Students w/
Institutional Aid
99%
AccreditationMSCHE
12The Chicago School of Professional Psychology at Los AngelesLos Angeles, CAPrivate, Not-for-Profit$$$$$1

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology is known for its specialization in the field, including programs in General and Clinical Psychology, Industrial & Organizational Psychology, Educational Psychology, and Forensic Psychology.  CSPP offers three online psychology certificates, geared toward students seeking additional credentials or for those planning to go on to master’s degree work. The certificates include the Graduate Certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis; Child and Adolescent Psychology Certificate; and Industrial and Organizational Psychology Generalist Certificate. The school holds the Quality Matters Online Learner Success and the Quality Matters Online Learner Support certifications. Students apply online via a CSPP web-based application.

Program Overview

Online Certificate:

  • Total programs: 3
  • Mode: Online/or at 7 campuses
  • Cost: $1,198/credit
  • Accreditation: WSCUC
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
No
Students w/
Institutional Aid
0%
AccreditationWSCUC

Grad School Spotlight: BCBA Exam Approved Online Program

Want an even closer look at what you’ll learn from top schools offering ABA certificate programs? We’ve spotlighted a standout online ABA certificate program below that fulfills coursework eligibility requirements to take the Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) exam.

Penn State – World Campus

Penn-State-World-Campus

Penn State’s online graduate applied behavior analysis certificate, which is made up of 21 credit hours that can be completed in one year, is designed for teachers, psychologists, school counselors, healthcare providers, and educational consultants who aspire to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). In order to provide this training, the program teaches students evidence-based strategies for working with people who have a range of intellectual, emotional, and behavioral challenges. Specific coursework covers behavior change interventions and management, applied behavior analysis principles and concepts, single-subject research, and behavior assessments. In addition, the program includes a 5-day course addressing special education ethics that is held on campus during Penn State’s National Autism Conference.

As of December 2019, the cost for Penn State’s ABA certificate program is $924 per credit. Students can apply different types of financial aid to their costs, including governmental aid provided to active military and veteran students, and benefits offered to unemployed students through the Trade Adjustment Assistance Program.

FAQs About Online ABA Grad Certificate Programs

When you’re looking for the right online ABA grad certificate program, you’re most likely going to have several questions. How long does it take to complete these programs? How much will I have to pay to get this credential? What will I learn when I enroll? In order to help you better understand what an online ABA certificate entails, we have compiled answers to some common questions below.

What will I learn in an online ABA graduate certificate program?

Through this program, students gain an understanding of how to assess and create intervention plans to help clients with behavioral disabilities, apply legal and ethical standards when doing behavioral analyses, utilize negative and positive reinforcement when working to modify clients’ problem behaviors, and collect and analyze data to track changes in behavior. The section below lists specific courses that students typically take in online ABA certificate programs as well as the skills they can expect to leave with when they graduate.

Common Courses

Behavior Analytic Assessment

This course helps students identify the types of problematic behaviors certified behavior analysts will assess among their clients and create achievable goals on how these behaviors can be modified. In addition, students will learn how to analyze the environmental factors that may be causing certain behaviors and determine ways they can be changed.

Behavior Analyst Ethics

Students in this class learn about the ethical standards behavior analysts are expected to uphold and the ethical challenges they may face during the course of their work. This class may provide examples of the ethical decision-making process and give students the opportunity to dissect how these choices are made.

Behavior Analysis Concepts and Principles

Students in this class receive an introduction to the concepts and principles of behavior analysis, including strategies for assessing clients’ strengths and weaknesses, types of problem behavior, and conducting a functional analysis and interpreting the results.

Behavior Change Procedures and Supports

This class teaches the strategies that certified behavior analysts use to change the behavior of their clients in addition to how behavior change programs are created, evaluated, and improved as needed. Students will also learn how to monitor people to ensure behavior changes are taking hold in their daily lives.

Research Methods for Behavior Analysis

The focus of this course is on how different research methodologies are used in the special education field. Students may learn how to conduct single-case research and how it is used to perform behavioral interventions.

Can I complete an ABA grad certificate entirely online?

It depends on the program. In some cases, students can complete all of their coursework entirely online, but in other cases, ABA graduate certificates are offered on a hybrid basis, which means some classes are conducted on campus and some are offered online. In addition, some programs may provide hands-on training that is completed under the supervision of trained professionals.

How long does it take to complete an online ABA certificate program?

Generally, students enrolled full-time in an online ABA certificate program can expect to complete their program in one year, though some programs may take two. However, if students enroll on a part-time basis, it may take them two to three years to complete their program.

How much do online ABA graduate certificate programs cost?

The amount students pay for an online ABA graduate certificate program is largely dependent on what school they attend as well as what kind of scholarships, loans, and grants they qualify for. In addition, other factors that may influence costs include if students are enrolled on a part-time or full-time basis and whether or not they qualify for in-state tuition. To give you an idea of how much you can expect to pay when you enroll, however, we sampled the cost of a few schools below.

Arizona-State-University-col

Applied Behavior Analysis Graduate Certificate

Total Credits: 21

$522/credit

Purdue-university

Postgraduate Certificate in Applied Behavioral Analysis

Total Credits: 30

$420/credit

University-of-Arkansas

Graduate Certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis

Total Credits: 18

$430.69/credit

What are the admissions requirements to get into a grad certificate ABA program?

In order to be admitted to an online ABA graduate certificate program, applicants are generally expected to have at least a 3.0 grade point average in an accredited bachelor’s degree program. However, some programs require a master’s degree. Also, students may be required to do the following:

  • Submit a resume.
  • Earn a high score on the GRE, GMAT, CSET, or MAT exams.
  • Write a personal statement outlining why they want to be admitted to the program and how it will help them reach their career goals.
  • Submit letters of reference.
  • Provide proof of proficiency in English.

ABA Grad Certificate vs. Master’s Degree: Which Is Right for You?

Although ABA certificates and master’s degrees cover a lot of the same course material, these programs are somewhat different. While certificate programs allow students to get a glimpse of applied behavior analysis in order to familiarize themselves with topics like assessments, behavioral modification plans, and appropriate consequences for behaviors, master’s degree programs go more in depth on the topics covered in the curriculum. In addition, people who earn ABA master’s degrees may have the opportunity to choose a concentration to focus on. Another key idea for prospective ABA students to keep in mind is that if they want to take the BCBA exam, a certificate program may not be enough to qualify them for the test unless the curriculum includes supervised clinical experiences.

Reasons to Choose an ABA Graduate Certificate

  • You want to complete your studies quickly.
  • You want to complete the required coursework for BCBA certification.
  • You want to expand your knowledge of special education.
  • You already have an advanced degree in psychology, special education, or a related subject.

Reasons to Choose an ABA Master’s Degree

  • You want the opportunity to choose a concentration—such as autism spectrum disorders, substance abuse, or emotional and behavioral wellness—in order to become an expert in a specific topic related to applied behavior analysis.
  • You want to ensure hands-on training during your program that satisfies BCBA fieldwork requirements
  • You want to gain expertise in applied behavior analysis research.
  • You’re coming straight from a bachelor’s degree.

Does a master’s sound like the better fit? If so, read our complete guide to online ABA master’s programs.

Accreditation & Verified Course Sequences (VCS) for ABA Online Grad Certificates

ABA Online Grad Certificates

In order for prospective ABA students to ensure they are getting the quality education they need to achieve their career goals, they should enroll in a school that has been accredited. A college or university itself can receive accreditation through organizations like the Accrediting Commission for Schools, the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, the Higher Learning Commission, or the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. For ABA programs specifically, however, accreditation is granted by the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI). This organization reviews ABA programs on the quality of their curriculum, administration, faculty, amenities, and student outcomes.

ABA Online Grad Certificates

However, those who want to earn an ABA certificate should keep in mind that the ABAI does not accredit graduate certificate programs directly. Instead, they approve certificate programs through their Verified Course Sequence (VCS) designation—a process that is designed to certify that the curriculum of a program meets the eligibility requirements to sit for the BCBA exam. Currently, in order to receive a VCS, the content of programs must cover ABA professional and ethical conduct, behavior analysis principles, data analysis, experimental design, assessment, specific behavior change procedures, interventions, and management and supervision. These standards are set to change in 2022, however. Under the new Fifth Edition requirements, ABA programs will be required to cover professionalism, concepts and principles, measurement, behavior assessment, behavior change procedures, and personnel supervision in order to receive a VCS.

Information on programs that have received a VCS from the ABAI can be found here, and accredited schools can be found on the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Education’s website.