Master's in Applied Behavior Analysis


What is a Behavior Analyst?

Behavior analysts work with a variety of clients and develop clinically appropriate treatment plans according to individual client needs and abilities. Behavior analysts use applied behavior analysis to assess, counsel, and intervene to decrease unwanted behaviors and improve desirable behaviors. They often work alongside family members, medical professionals, and educators to provide effective, wraparound treatment for their clients.

What is BCBA certification?

BCBA schools prepare students for the BCBA certification, which refers to graduate-level certification in behavior analysis. To obtain certification, professionals must receive an acceptable graduate degree, finish required coursework, complete a designated number of clinical hours, and pass the board exam. Many students are already working in the field as ABA therapists when they decide to continue their education and become a BCBA.

BCABA vs BCBA

BCBAs are clinicians with master’s degrees who can independently render and provide assessment and counseling services to their clients without clinical supervision. BCABA refers to Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst. These professionals must hold a bachelor’s degree, but graduate-level degrees are not required for work. BCABAs can also provide assessment and counseling services, but they must be supervised by either a BCBA or BCBA-D (doctoral-level BCBA).

What Does a Behavior Analyst Do?

Behavior analysts study behavior, and they typically assess and review individuals with various behavioral problems. They will examine how the environment impacts behavior, and they will identify reasonable solutions and plans to improve desirable behaviors (and decrease undesirable ones).

The majority of behavior analysts use applied behavior analysis (ABA) to work with clients with Autism Spectrum Disorder. However, they may also function as special education assistants, psychological assistants, occupational therapy assistants, personal trainers, and drug and alcohol counselors.

Masters in Applied Behavior Analysis Online

All applicants intending to become a BCBA must possess a graduate degree from a qualifying institution. Many students pursue their masters in applied behavior analysis online. Online programs may allow for valuable flexibility and convenience for professionals who want to attend school while also working or taking care of their family.

The coursework must include the mandatory content specified in the BACB’s Fourth Edition Task List and Course Content Allocation documents. The course curriculum includes essential areas of focus such as:

  • Ethical and professional conduct.
  • Measurement.
  • Experimental design.
  • Behavior change systems.
  • Identification of the problem & assessment.
  • Fundamental Elements of Behavior Change & Specific Behavior Change Procedures.

Individuals who already have a masters degree must take additional coursework to demonstrate BACB compliance and mastery.

The average school length varies on the institution, but students can expect the process to take two to three years. Furthermore, each school has individual GPA requirements. Most online programs do not consider GRE scores during the admissions process.

Application Requirements

Each program has its own admission requirements. Students will typically need to provide the following:

  • Resume: The resume should showcase relevant clinical (both paid and unpaid) experience related to behavior analysis, psychology, or counseling. It should also indicate past schooling experience.
  • Letters of recommendation: Letters of recommendation can highlight your strengths, work ethic, and professional experience to the school admissions teams. Students should request these letters from previous or former employers or professors.
  • Personal statement: Many schools require a personal statement related to past work experience, interest in the field, or why the potential candidate wants to attend this school. Admissions personnel use the personal statement to assess writing and critical thinking skills and one’s devotion to the field.

Learning Outcomes

The Masters in Applied Behavior Analysis prepares students to become qualified behavior analysts in a variety of settings. School learning outcomes typically include:

  • Laws, ethics, and compliance for behavior analysts.
  • Assessing and applying the techniques of applied behavior analysis.
  • Presenting relevant data and research.
  • Comprehend the multidisciplinary data needed to evaluate behavioral goals.
  • Conceptualizing and explaining connections between behaviors.
  • Preparing for passing the BCBA exam.

Upon completing the necessary requirements and passing the BCBA exam, these professionals can work as independent practitioners providing behavior-analytic services.

Students will achieve these learning outcomes through a combined approach of classroom coursework and practical fieldwork experience.

Online students require appropriate and unique accommodations to feel supported and succeed in their programs. On traditional campuses, students typically receive services at school directly. However, student support for online students may entail a hybrid of electronic communication that includes phone calls, email, video conferencing, text messaging, and live chats.

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Clinical Placement Requirements

To become a BCBA, students must complete a designated amount of supervised experience via education and training. They must be supervised under working BCBA/BCBA-Ds, licensed or registered psychologists, or Verified Course Sequence Instructors in good standing. The hours depend on the type of clinical track applicants pursue. Most schools provide clinical placement support for their students.

  • Supervised Independent Fieldwork: Requiring at least 1500 hours, trainees receive clinical placement under appropriate supervision.
  • Practicum: Requiring at least 1000 hours, practicum requires more supervision than supervised independent fieldwork, and the experience is only offered within a VCS with verified experience.
  • Intensive Practicum: Requiring at least 750 hours, intensive practicum mandates the most supervision, and the experience is only available within a VCS with verified experience.

It should be noted that professionals can obtain hours in a single category. However, they can also combine different categories to meet the requirements.

Student Support for Online Students

Traditional school campuses provide one, convenient location for student services and resources. However, many online programs offer excellent student support- despite the lack of a physical location. Support options may include:

  • Admission and financial aid advising
  • Academic tutoring and advising
  • Ongoing technical support
  • Library services
  • Current networking programs and communities
  • Personal support services (i.e., health and counseling services)
  • Military support for both service and family members
  • Career, internship or clinical placement services
  • Post-graduate alumni support

Live Class Discussions

Many ABA programs require synchronous as part of their curriculum. Synchronous classes require virtual attendance, as students meet with their professors for a designated period of time. In these classes, professors may provide live seminars, offer Q&A sessions, and engage in class discussions.

Nonsynchronous classes refer to classes that are not inherently live. Students will often need to login to their online portals to upload assignments, respond to message boards, and study different course materials. However, they can do these activities on their own time and at their own pace.

Small Class Size

Many ABA programs pride themselves on providing small class sizes for their students. Small class sizes offer numerous, invaluable benefits including:

  • Increased individualized attention
  • Overall student participation
  • Effective communication between instructors and students
  • A traditional cohort-like community
  • Genuine peer connections (which can lead to future networking and career opportunities)

Each program has its own limits for class sizes. However, prospective students should inquire with the institution directly. 

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All Online Master’s in Applied Behavior Analysis Programs

Online Master's in Applied Behavior Analysis Programs
University Name GRE Requirement Program Length Total Credits

Arcadia University

No GRE Required N/A 37 Credits

Arizona State University

No GRE Required N/A 30 Credits

Ball State University

No GRE Required 2 Years 30 Credits

Bay Path University

No GRE Required 5-6 Semesters 36-45 Credits

Brandman University

No GRE Required N/A 30-36 Credits

Cairn University

No GRE Required 2.5 Years 39 Credits

California University of Pennsylvania

No GRE Required N/A 33 or 39 Credits

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology

No GRE Required 1-2 Years 36-48 Credits

Drexel University

No GRE Required Four, 10 Week Terms 45 Credits

Endicott College

No GRE Required 15 Months 39 Credits

McNeese State University

GRE Required N/A 58 Credit Hours

Northeastern University

No GRE Required 18-24 Months 30-34 Credits

Nova Southeastern University

No GRE Required N/A 51 Credits

Pennsylvania State University

No GRE Required 2 Years 32 Credits

Pepperdine University

No GRE Required 18 Months 32-38 Units

The Sage Colleges

No GRE Required 2 Years 34-42 Credits

Simmons University

No GRE Required 19 Months 40-43 Credits

St. Cloud State University

GRE Required N/A 45-46 Credits

University of Cincinnati

No GRE Required 20 Months 30 Credits

The University of Dayton

No GRE Required As few as 24 Months 42 Credits

University of Kansas

No GRE Required 2-3 Years 30 Credits

University of Nevada, Reno

GRE Required N/A 36 Credits

University of South Florida

GRE Required 2 Years 44 Credits

University of Southern Maine

GRE Required 2 Years 36 Credits

University of West Florida

GRE Required N/A 36 Semester Hours

Western Connecticut State University

No GRE Required N/A 30 Credits

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Arcadia University

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • Credits Needed: 37 Credits
  • Fieldwork Hours: Optional

Admission Information

  • Undergraduate Degree: Bachelor's from an accredited university
  • GPA Requirement: Minimum 3.0
  • GRE Requirement: No GRE Required
  • Essay/Recommendation: Two letters of recommendation and a personal statement.

Arizona State University

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • Credits Needed: 30 Credits
  • Fieldwork Hours: Not Required

Admission Information

  • Undergraduate Degree: Bachelor or master's degree from an accredited institution
  • GPA Requirement: Minimum 3.0
  • GRE Requirements: No GRE Required
  • Essay/Recommendations: Three letters of recommendation and a personal statement

Ball State University

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • Credits Needed: 30 Credits
  • Fieldwork Hours: Not Required

Admission Information

  • Undergraduate Degree: Bachelor's from an accredited university
  • GPA Requirement: Minimum 3.0
  • GRE Requirement: No GRE Required
  • Essay/Recommendations: Not Available

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Bay Path University

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • Credits Needed: 36-45 Credits
  • Fieldwork Hours: Fieldwork Required

Admission Information

  • Undergraduate Degree: Bachelor's from an accredited university
  • GPA Requirement: Minimum 3.0
  • GRE Requirement: No GRE Required
  • Essay/Recommendations: Personal essay and two letters of recommendation

Brandman University

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • Credits Needed: 30-36 Credits
  • Fieldwork Hours: Students must be employed part-time in a related field

Admission Information

  • Undergraduate Degree: Bachelor's from an accredited university
  • GPA Requirement: Minimum 3.0
  • GRE Requirement: No GRE Required
  • Essay/Recommendations: Two letters of recommendation

Cairn University

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • Credits Needed: 39 Credits
  • Fieldwork Hours: Practicum required if on the Intensive Fieldwork Track

Admission Information

  • Undergraduate Degree: Bachelor's Degree from an accredited institution
  • GPA Requirement: Minimum 3.0
  • GRE Requirement: No GRE Required
  • Essay/Recommendations: Two essays and two references

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California University of Pennsylvania

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • Credits Needed: 33 or 39 Credits
  • Fieldwork Hours: Practical Supervised Training Required

Admission Information

  • Undergraduate Degree: Bachelor's Degree from an accredited institution
  • GPA Requirement: Minimum 3.0
  • GRE Requirement: No GRE Required
  • Essay/Recommendations: Not Available

The Chicago School of Professional Psycholog

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • Credits Needed:
    • MA Psychology Track - 36 Credits
    • MS Applied Behavior Analysis Track - 48 Credits
  • Fieldwork Hours: Not Required

Admission Information

  • Undergraduate Degree: Bachelor's degree from an accredited institution
  • GPA Requirement: Submit official transcript for review
  • GRE Requirement: No GRE Required
  • Essay/Recommendations: Essay and three letters of recommendation

Drexel University

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • Credits Needed: 45 Credits
  • Fieldwork Hours: Fieldwork required

Admission Information

  • Undergraduate Degree: Bachelor's from an accredited university
  • GPA Requirement: Minimum 3.0
  • GRE Requirement: No GRE Required
  • Essay/Recommendations: Essay and two letters of recommendation

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Endicott College

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • Credits Needed: 39 Credits
  • Fieldwork hours: Fieldwork Required

Admission Information

  • Undergraduate Degree: Bachelor's from an accredited institution
  • GPA Requirement: Submit official transcript
  • GRE Requirement: No GRE Required
  • Essay/Recommendations: Essay and two letters of recommendation

McNeese State University

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • Credits Needed: 58 Credit Hours
  • Fieldwork Hours: Fieldwork Required

Admission Information

  • Undergraduate Degree: Not Available
  • GPA Requirement: Minimum 2.5
  • GRE Requirement: GRE Required
  • Essay/Recommendations: Not Available

Northeastern University

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • Credits Needed: 30-34 Credits
  • Fieldwork Hours: Fieldwork Optional

Admission Information

  • Undergraduate Degree: Bachelor's degree from an accredited institution or TOEFL/IELTS for international students
  • GPA Requirement: Submit official transcript for review
  • GRE Requirement: No GRE Required
  • Essay/Recommendations: Personal statement and three letters of recommendation

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Nova Southeastern University

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • Credits Needed: 51 Credits
  • Fieldwork Hours: Fieldwork Optional

Admission Information

  • Undergraduate Degree: Bachelor's degree from an accredited institution
  • GPA Requirement: Minimum 2.5
  • GRE Requirement: No GRE Required
  • Essay/Recommendations: A personal statement and two letters of recommendation

Pennsylvania State University

Program Overview

Program Requirements:

  • Credits Needed: 33 Credits
  • Fieldwork Hours: Fieldwork Not Required

Admission Information:

  • Undergraduate Degree: A Bachelor's degree from an accredited institution or a postsecondary degree that is deemed comparable to a Bachelor's Degree from an accredited US institution
  • GPA Requirement: Minimum 3.0
  • GRE Requirement: No GRE Required
  • Essay/Recommendations: Personal statement and three references

Pepperdine University

Program Overview

  • Program Name: Masters in Applied Behavior Analysis
  • Program Length: 18 Months

Program Requirements

  • Credits Needed: 32-38 Units
  • Fieldwork Hours: Fieldwork Required

Admission Information

  • Undergraduate Degree: Bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution
  • GPA Requirement: Submit transcripts for review
  • GRE Requirement: No GRE Required
  • Essay/Recommendations: Personal statement and two letters of recommendation
Learn more about Pepperdine University's MS in Behavioral Psychology, request information directly from Pepperdine University.

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The Sage Colleges

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • Credits Needed: 34 to 42 Credits
  • Fieldwork Hours: Fieldwork Optional

Admission Information

  • Undergraduate Degree: Bachelor's degree from an accredited institution
  • GPA Requirement: Submit official transcript for review
  • GRE Requirement: No GRE Required
  • Essay/Recommendations: Career goals statement and two letters of reference

Simmons University

Program Overview

  • Program Name: Masters of Science in Behavior Analysis
  • Program Length: 19 months

Program Requirements

  • Credits Needed: 40 - 43 Credits
  • Fieldwork Hours: Fieldwork Required

Admissions Information

  • Undergraduate Degree: Bachelor's degree from regionally accredited college or university
  • GPA Requirement: Not Available
  • GRE Requirement: No GRE Required
  • Essay/Recommendations: Statement of purpose and two letters of recommendation
Learn more about Simmons University's Master of Science in Behavior Analysis, request information directly from Simmons University.

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St. Cloud State University

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • Credits Needed: 45-46 credits
  • Fieldwork Hours: Fieldwork Required

Admission Information

  • Undergraduate Degree: Bachelor's degree from an accredited institution
  • GPA Requirement: Minimum 2.75
  • GRE Requirement: GRE Required
  • Essay/Recommendations: Writing sample and recommendations

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University of Cincinnati

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • Credits Needed: 30 Credits
  • Fieldwork Hours: Fieldwork Not Required

Admissions Information

  • Undergraduate Degree: Bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution in areas related to Applied Behavior Analysis, Education, Psychology, or other related degrees
  • GPA Requirement: Minimum 3.0
  • GRE Requirement: No GRE Required
  • Essay/Recommendations: Goal statement and two letters of recommendation

The University of Dayton

Program Overview

  • Program Name: Master of Applied Behavior Analysis
  • Program Length: As few as 24 months

Program Requirements

  • Credits Needed: 42 Credits
  • Fieldwork Hours: Fieldwork required
  • On Campus Requirement: On Campus Required

Admissions Information

  • Undergraduate Degree: Bachelor's degree from an accredited institution
  • GPA Requirement: Submit transcript for review
  • GRE Requirement: No GRE Required
  • Essay/Recommendations: Personal statement and two letters of recommendation
Learn more about The University of Dayton's Master's in Applied Behavior Analysis, request information directly from The University of Dayton.

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University of Kansas

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • Credits Needed: 30 Credits
  • Fieldwork Hours: Fieldwork Required

Admission Information

  • Undergraduate Degree: Bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university
  • GPA Requirement: Submit official transcript for review
  • GRE Requirement: No GRE Required
  • Essay/Recommendations: Not Available

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University of Nevada, Reno

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • Credits Needed: 36 Credits
  • Fieldwork Hours: Fieldwork required

Admissions Information

  • Undergraduate Degree: Bachelor's degree from an accredited institution
  • GPA Requirement: Minimum 2.75
  • GRE Requirement: GRE Required
  • Essay/Recommendations: Statement of purpose and three letters of recommendation

University of South Florida

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • Credits Needed: 44 Credits
  • Fieldwork Hours: Fieldwork Required

Admission Information

  • Undergraduate Degree: Bachelor's degree from an accredited institution
  • GPA Requirement: Minimum 3.0
  • GRE Requirement: GRE Required
  • Essay/Recommendations: Personal narrative and three letters of recommendation

University of Southern Maine

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • Credits Needed: 36 Credits
  • Fieldwork Hours: Fieldwork Not Required

Admission Information

  • Undergraduate Degree: Bachelor's degree from an accredited institution
  • GPA Requirement: Minimum 2.5 with undergraduate degree of 3.0 with graduate degree
  • GRE Requirement: GRE Required
  • Essay/Recommendations: An essay and three letters of recommendation

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University of West Florida

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • Credits Needed: 36 Semester Hours
  • Fieldwork Hours: Fieldwork Required

Admission Information

  • Undergraduate Degree: Bachelor's degree from an accredited institution
  • GPA Requirement: Minimum 3.0
  • GRE Requirement: GRE Required
  • Essay/Recommendations: A letter of intent and two professional references

Western Connecticut State University

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • Credits Needed: 30 Credits
  • Fieldwork Hours: Fieldwork Not Required

Admission Information

  • Undergraduate Degree: Bachelor's degree from an accredited institution
  • GPA Requirement: Minimum 2.8
  • GRE Requirement: No GRE Required
  • Essay/Recommendations: Not Available

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