Guide to 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.

2020’s Top Online Graduate Certificates in Applied Behavior Analysis

If you want to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) or pursue similar careers helping those with behavioral issues, 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 wh. 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 to successfully take the BCBA exam. 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.

Colleges with online graduate ABA certificate programs on this list meet the following standards:

  • Holds programmatic accreditation or Verified Course Sequence (VCS) approval (Fifth Edition) from the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI), and fulfills coursework eligibility requirements to take the Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) exam.
  • Holds institutional accreditation from an accrediting body recognized by the U.S. Department of Education

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.

Drexel University

Arizona State University

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

Behavior Analysis Concepts and Principles

Behavior Change Procedures and Supports

Research Methods for Behavior Analysis

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.


Applied Behavior Analysis Graduate Certificate

Total Credits: 21



Postgraduate Certificate in Applied Behavioral Analysis

Total Credits: 30



Graduate Certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis

Total Credits: 18


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.