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.

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Last Updated: 09/21/2021
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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 2021 Best Online Programs

1. Create List of Eligible Schools and Programs

To be eligible for this ranking, schools were required to meet the following criteria based on government data provided by The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

  • Institutional accreditation from an organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
  • At least one program in subject area offered partially or fully online.

2. Assign Weightings

After creating the list of eligible schools, EduMed data scientists assigned weights and ranked schools based on a mix of affordability, support services, and online program availability metrics. Online program availability and overall affordability metrics received the heaviest weightings.

Online Program Availability

  • Number of online programs in subject area reported by school to the U.S. Department of Education.

Affordability

  • Cost – Relative cost of attendance compared to peer schools on the list. Based on tuition and fees per academic year.
  • Students w/ Institutional Aid – Percentage of students who receive financial aid from the school itself.

Support Services

  • Academic Counseling – Existence of this service on campus or online.
  • Career Placement – Existence of this service on campus or online.

About Our Data

EduMed’s rankings use the latest official data available from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). Most recent data pull: July 2021

# School Name Type Cost Online Programs More Details School Information Online Students Academic Counseling Career Placement Students w/Institutional Aid Median Earnings 10yrs After Entry Accreditation
1 Arizona State University-OnlineScottsdale, AZ Public $$ 1

The ABA Graduate Certificate program from ASU provides students with foundational knowledge and skills in applied behavior analysis to help adults, children, families, and communities modify their behaviors and improve their lives.The curriculum includes the coursework needed to sit for the Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) exam. The certificate program does not include the substantial fieldwork hours required for BCBA certification. Students complete seven courses of asynchronous online coursework and occasional synchronous online discussion sessions. Some courses also require access to a classroom, after-school program, or group of individuals to apply what they learn. Admission into ASU’s ABA Graduate Certificate program requires a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university minimum 3.0 GPA on the last 60 hours of coursework or minimum 3.0 GPA on the last 60 hours of coursework in an applicable master’s degree program. Other application requirements include submittal of a current CV or resume and a personal statement.

Program Highlights:

ABA Graduate Certificate

  • Credits: 21
  • Length: As little as five semesters (1.5 years)
  • Cost: $555/credit
  • Mode: Mostly online
  • Accreditation: HLC (school)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
53%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
2 Purdue University-GlobalS Portland, ME Private, For-Profit $$ 2

Purdue University Global offers two graduate-level applied behavior analysis online certificate options, both of which provide the coursework, but not the fieldwork requirements, for eligibility to sit for the BCBA exam. The six-course ABA Postbaccalaureate Certificate provides training focused on the improvement of skills and achievement of children, particularly those who are autistic, developmentally disabled, or suffering from traumatic brain injury, in school settings. Admission requires a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited, post-secondary institution. Purdue Global’s Postgraduate Certificate in ABA is open to those with a master’s or doctoral degree and consists of six courses designed to prepare graduates for advanced practice and leadership roles in the ABA field. Didactic coursework is accessed and completed asynchronously online. Some courses may require access to a practice setting to apply knowledge learned in online coursework.

Program Highlights:

ABA Postbaccalaureate Certificate; Postgraduate Certificate in ABA

  • Credits: 35 quarter credits (ABA Postbaccalaureate Certificate); 30 quarter credits (Postgraduate Certificate in ABA)
  • Length: Varies by individual study pace
  • Cost: $371/credit (ABA Postbaccalaureate Certificate); $420 (Postgraduate Certificate in ABA)
  • Mode: Mostly online
  • Accreditation: HLC (school)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
0%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
3 Western Connecticut State UniversityDanbury, CT Public $$$ 1

WCSU’s online Certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis is for students who have an acceptable graduate degree program and seek the coursework needed for BCBA eligibility to become certified applied behavior analysts. The program does not include the 1,500 fieldwork hours required for BCBA eligibility, which students must complete independent of the certificate program. The six-course, 22-credit curriculum follows a cohort format in which students begin their programs at the same time as other students in either the fall or spring semester. Students complete one course at a time following a specific course sequence through five semesters, including a summer semester. All coursework is completed 100% online.

Program Highlights:

Certificate in ABA

  • Credits: 22
  • Length: Five semesters (slightly more than one year)
  • Cost: $640/credit
  • Mode: Mostly online
  • Accreditation: NECHE (school)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
57%
AccreditationNew England Commission of Higher Education
4 Capella UniversityMinneapolis, MN Private, For-Profit $$$ 1

The Graduate Certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis from Capella University teaches students to employ relevant assessment models to identify, treat, and encourage positive change in the behaviors of clients with diverse backgrounds and in a wide range of practice settings. The certificate program features Capella’s GuidedPath learning format in which students follow a structured course of study with faculty and peer guidance that includes asynchronous coursework, weekly assignments with specific deadlines, and synchronous online discussion groups. The program culminates in completion of an ABA capstone project in which students synthesize research and draft an experimental outline around a behavior-analytic topic of their choice.

Along with meeting additional eligibility requirements, including 1,500 fieldwork hours, graduates are eligible to sit for the BCBA certification exam. Credits earned in the certificate program can be applied to Capella’s MS in Psychology, Applied Behavior Analysis degree program.

Program Highlights:

Graduate Certificate in ABA

  • Credits: 40 quarter credits
  • Length: As little as one year
  • Cost: $495/credit
  • Mode: Fully online
  • Accreditation: HLC (school)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
50%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
5 University of ArizonaTucson, AZ Public $$$ 1

The University of Arizona’s Applied Behavior Analysis Graduate Certificate program follows the Verified Course Sequence approved by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) leading to BCBA exam eligibility. It consists of seven courses completed in a designated sequence over three consecutive semesters and one summer session. All coursework is completed entirely online. Students seeking BCBA certification complete the 1,500 fieldwork hours required for exam eligibility separately from the certificate program. Admission requires a master’s degree with a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA from an accredited college or university. Other admission requirements include a personal statement, three letters of recommendation, and experience in the field under the supervision of someone holding BCBA certification. GRE/GMAT test scores are not required. International students must provide evidence of English proficiency.

Program Highlights:

Applied Behavior Analysis Graduate Certificate

  • Credits: 21
  • Length: 15 to 16 months
  • Cost: $653/credit
  • Mode: Fully online
  • Accreditation: HLC (school)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
83%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
6 Brandman UniversityIrvine, CA Private, Not-for-Profit $$$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
0%
Accreditation#N/A
7 Saint Joseph’s UniversityPhiladelphia, PA Private, Not-for-Profit $$$$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
97%
AccreditationMiddle States Commission on Higher Education
8 Monmouth UniversityWest Long Branch, NJ Private, Not-for-Profit $$$$$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
97%
AccreditationMiddle States Commission on Higher Education
9 Drexel UniversityPhiladelphia, PA Private, Not-for-Profit $$$$$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
98%
AccreditationMiddle States Commission on Higher Education
10 St. Joseph’s College-New YorkBrooklyn, NY Private, Not-for-Profit $$$$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
No
Students w/
Institutional Aid
99%
AccreditationMiddle States Commission on Higher Education
11 The Chicago School of Professional Psychology at Los AngelesLos Angeles, CA Private, Not-for-Profit $$$$$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
No
Students w/
Institutional Aid
0%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission

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.