Online Master’s in Applied Behavior Analysis Accredited Degree Programs


ABAI-Accredited Online Master’s in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Programs

The Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) offers accreditation for high-quality programs that prepare professionals for rewarding careers in the field of mental health. If you’re ready to take the next step to become an applied behavior analysis (ABA) professional, then it’s time to learn about this career pathway and learn more about ABAI-accredited programs.

What Is Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)?

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is an evidence-based type of therapy that uses a rigorous understanding of how learning takes place and how behavior is affected by the environment to promote positive growth in both learning and behavior. ABA can be used to assist individuals in developing emotional and social skills. One of the most common settings for its use is with children who have been diagnosed with autism or other spectrum disorder. Here are a few goals of ABA:

  • Reduce negative behaviors
  • Increase social abilities
  • Improve self-control and self-regulation

By identifying ways to improve communication skills and reduce problematic behaviors in learning and social environments, ABA supports individuals through positive reinforcement strategies.

Principles of ABA

In ABA therapy, therapists explore how behavior and learning are affected by the environment and learning style. It’s based on a foundation of positive reinforcement and uses the following three principles to help individuals understand and learn from their behaviors:

  • Review the antecedent: This is the request, command, physical change, internal thought, or feeling that occurs immediately before the target behavior.
  • Explore the behavior: The response to the antecedent is the focus of ABA therapy.
  • Identify the consequences: ABA therapy also explores and can provide consequences for behavior. A consequence can be negative, such as removing a toy, but a provided consequence is typically either positive reinforcement or no reaction to inappropriate behaviors.

Applications of ABA

While individuals with autism spectrum disorder are the most common candidates for ABA therapy, there are many applications for this type of therapy. ABA can be used to address the following mental health challenges:

  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Fears and phobias
  • Anger management
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

Why Earn a Master’s in Applied Behavior Analysis?

A master’s degree in applied behavior analysis or psychology is required before taking the national certification exam to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). In many cases, ABA therapists also go on to earn a Ph.D. in ABA or psychology. This makes a master’s degree an essential step before practicing this form of therapy.


A master’s degree is not only required but also provides many benefits for individuals who wish to make a difference as therapists or registered behavior technicians. Review the following benefits of earning a master’s degree from one of the top-rated ABAI-accredited programs:

  • Specialized therapy: Enhance your opportunities with evidence-based best practice treatment.
  • More career opportunities: Becoming a BCBA can be a rewarding opportunity for anyone interested in learning more about behavior and dedicated to providing assistance to children and adults.
  • Leadership opportunities: A master’s degree is not only required to become a BCBA but is the first step in leadership opportunities in a variety of clinical settings.

Reasons to Study Online

Once you decide to pursue a master’s degree program in ABA, you should consider whether you wish to study on campus or online. There are pros and cons to both options, but here are some benefits of enrolling in an online course:

  • Flexible learning: Online programs don’t require you to commute to class. In many cases, you can complete coursework and attend lectures at your own pace, making it a competitive option for anyone who wants a more flexible schedule.
  • Accessible coursework: Audio recordings, captions, and other aids in an online format can make it easier to follow along during lectures and classroom discussions. While on-campus programs provide some assistance for students who need accessibility accommodations, online programs have more room to accommodate a variety of accessibility concerns.
  • More program options: You don’t need to relocate to earn a master’s degree online. This can expand your opportunities, allowing you to prepare for your career as an ABA therapist without the extra time and money related to relocation.

How Much Does a Master’s in ABA Cost?

The cost of ABAI-accredited online programs depends on many factors. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average master’s degree tuition cost per year was $20,513 in the 2021-22 academic year. Here are some factors that can affect the cost of your specific ABA master’s program:

  • Public vs. private institution
  • Number of credits needed
  • Location of institution
  • In-state vs. out-of-state tuition difference
  • Scholarships and grants

Master’s in ABA Curriculum

All ABAI-accredited programs must provide the mandatory content outlined by the Behavioral Analyst Certification Board. Here are some core areas of focus required by the board:

  • Fundamental elements of behavior change
  • Research methodologies
  • Principles of behavioral analysis
  • Professional and ethical conduct

In addition to taking courses in these core areas, master’s students must complete practical experiences with certified therapists. The practicum requirements vary with the institution but are a requirement to become qualified to take the BCBA examination.

What Are the Admission Requirements for Master’s in ABA Programs?

Before preparing for your BCBA examination, it’s essential to understand the admission requirements for a master’s in ABA program. There are general academic and professional requirements, but applicants should also review any institution-specific requirements before applying.

Academic Requirements

Enrolling in a master’s degree program requires a bachelor’s degree. In most cases, the degree must be in psychology, behavior analysis, counseling, or a related field. Be sure to reach out to admissions representatives if you have any questions about your degree in a related field. You may also be required to have a certain GPA for your bachelor’s degree or specific psychology courses.

Professional Prerequisites

Professional requirements also vary depending on the institution. Some master’s programs may require a specific number of hours volunteering in related roles or practical experiences before enrolling. You’ll likely need to provide the following documents as part of your application:

  • Personal statement
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Resume
  • Official transcripts

Accreditation for Master’s in ABA Programs

Consider choosing an accredited school for peace of mind. Accreditation means that a respected third-party organization has conducted an in-depth review and is confident that the program follows best practices in the field and uses up-to-date learning strategies and resources. The primary accreditation for master’s in ABA programs is through the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI). ABAI-accredited programs are verified as being credible and meeting the requirements for the BCBA examination.

Career Options for People With a Master’s in ABA

Graduates of ABAI-accredited online programs have many exciting career opportunities available to them. Review the following career options to see which pathway best fits your passions and skills.

Board Certified Behavior Analyst

After receiving a master’s degree in ABA and completing the required practical experience, you can schedule the BCBA examination. Earning BCBA certification allows you to practice as an independent practitioner in an educational setting or in a medical facility.

Individuals in this rewarding profession frequently work closely with people who have developmental delays or autism spectrum disorder. They practice ABA techniques and offer recommendations to improve behavior and learning.


As a more general career field, counseling allows graduates to work with a variety of individuals with mental health or behavioral challenges. Counselors can work in residential programs, educational facilities, hospitals, and private practices to provide mental health care.

Special Education Assistant

Learning more about ABA in a master’s degree program can also be helpful for special education assistants. You can use your new knowledge and skills to make a difference for children with autism spectrum disorder and other children in special education settings in schools and residential facilities.

Psychological Assistant

Whether you’re preparing to take your BCBA examination or pursuing a career as a psychological assistant, these roles are also popular for master’s degree graduates. Psychological assistants help maintain patient files, analyze and present data, and participate in research projects alongside psychologists.

Master’s in ABA Salary and Job Outlook

While salary and job outlook information can vary considerably based on location, previous experience, and program of choice, it’s important to consider average salary information for graduates of ABAI-accredited programs.

How Much Can You Earn With a Master’s in ABA?

Many factors affect the salary range for a graduate with a master’s in ABA. Here are some common factors to consider as you review your expected salary upon graduation:

  • Years of experience in the field
  • Location
  • Degree held
  • Position held
  • Work setting

Average Salary

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn’t track the specific salary range of an ABA therapist. For behavioral disorder and mental health counselors, the average annual salary in May 2022 was $49,710. This average ranges from the lowest 10%, which was under $34,580, to the highest 10%, which was over $82,710.

Job Outlook

The number of mental health and behavioral disorder counselors in the United States is expected to increase by 18% between 2022 and 2032, according to BLS data. This is significantly higher than the average anticipated job growth of 3% in the same decade.

Scholarships and Financial Aid Information for Master’s in ABA

Enrolling in your choice of ABAI-accredited programs can be a significant financial investment. Thankfully, there are many funding opportunities available for graduate students. Be sure to carefully research opportunities for grants, scholarships, and other financial aid options. Here are some options to consider:

  • Federal financial aid: Graduate students can apply for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which can help you explore federal aid options.
  • State grants and scholarships: Research state-, county-, and city-specific scholarships and grants to help you cover the cost of your program.
  • University scholarships: Many universities offer merit- and need-based scholarships for incoming students, so be sure to apply early and ask about any funding for your degree program.
  • Company scholarships and grants: If you’re already employed, your company may offer tuition reimbursement or grant opportunities to continue your education.
  • Non-profit organization funding: Explore non-profit organizations dedicated to your future career or your personal history, as many organizations offer funding for students.

Master’s in ABA FAQs

Review the following frequently asked questions to learn more about the process of selecting a degree program, applying, and preparing for your new career in ABA.

How Long Does it Take to Earn a Master’s in ABA?

While most master’s programs in ABA can be completed in two or three years, the specific time frame depends on your previous coursework and your schedule. Some programs allow part-time students to take longer to complete it while balancing other obligations.

Is Getting a Master’s in ABA Worth it?

Prospective counselors and professionals who wish to make a difference in the lives of children and adults with behavioral issues find a master’s degree in ABA worth it. It’s a required step to become an ABA therapist, so an interest in this career pathway makes a master’s in ABA particularly worth it.

Can I Earn a Master’s in ABA Entirely Online?

Yes. Many ABAI-accredited programs allow you to earn your master’s in ABA entirely online. Be sure to look for a program that offers a fully online course rather than hybrid or on-campus study options. If in doubt, reach out to an admissions representative to discuss your specific situation and your online degree requirement. You can prepare to make a difference and get ready for your BCBA career without attending an on-campus master’s degree program.

What Careers Can an Individual With a Master’s in ABA Get?

While a board-certified behavioral analyst may be one of the more common career pathways with this degree, there are many exciting counseling and therapy careers available for an individual with a master’s degree in ABA. For example, you can pursue a career as a counselor, special education assistant, or psychological assistant.

Explore ABAI-Accredited Programs Today

ABAI-accredited programs offer the education and experience you need to make a difference. Learn more about master’s degree in ABA program options as you prepare to apply for a fully online graduate degree. Whether working in schools, medical facilities, or private practices, graduates of master’s degree in ABA programs can enjoy a variety of rewarding career opportunities.

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