Tags: ABA Schools


As the field of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy continues to expand and develop, there is becoming a much higher need for ABA professionals. Both Registered Behavior Technicians (RBTs) and Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) do important clinical work to help improve the lives of children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). 

Students aiming to become BCBAs must complete all required coursework by the BACB (Behavior Analyst Certification Board), 1500 hours of supervision, and pass an extremely challenging exam to become a master-level clinician with BCBA credentials. A high-quality ABA program is critical since BCBAs must be equipped with the knowledge and skills to individualize treatment programs to each child's specific needs with ASD.

Action Behavior Centers took into account several different factors to compile a list of the Top 30 University Programs for ABA in 2021 (in no particular order), including program quality, BACB requirements, student-to-faculty ratio, tuition, and percentage of first-time candidates who passed the BCBA exam:


  1. At Simmons University, students can choose from a Master of Science (MS) or Education Specialist (EdS) in Behavior Analysis (on-campus), an MS in Behavior Analysis (online), or a Doctorate of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Behavior Analysis (on-campus). Their ability to cater to a diverse student population is extremely beneficial as Simmons is the only master’s program in New England to be accredited by the Behavior Analysis Accreditation Board of the Association of Behavior Analysis International (ABAI). Simmons’ programs cater to working professionals offering both evening classes and online options. 


  1. Offering both a Master of Arts (MA) in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) (online) and an MS in ABA (in person), the University of South Florida is a fantastic school for students to consider. This 44 credit hour master’s degree encompasses coursework from the colleges of behavioral and community science, arts, and sciences, in addition to education. Impressive pass rates of 82% (2019) and 92% (2018) for the BCBA exam make this 1.5-year program stiff competition. 


  1. St. Cloud University's MS in ABA offers both conceptual and practical coursework, close faculty support throughout the program, and Ph.D. level instructors in every course. Not to mention they have the highest Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) pass rates compared to online ABA master’s programs. Walk, don't run to apply for St. Cloud’s on-campus cohort or their online master’s program, the only accredited online ABA program in the world!


  1. The University of Washington offers online and on-campus ABA programs (masters and doctoral), both with the option to complete a Master of Education (MEd) in Special Education. UW fosters a supportive community within its student population by starting and ending their cohorts together. At UW diversity and equity are prioritized by providing scholarship opportunities to students focused on these same values. In 2019, the pass rate for the BCBA exam was 91% and their online program was recently voted the #2 online ABA program in the country. 


  1. The University of North Texas caters to students who desire flexibility. All of their coursework can be completed online via tablets or smartphones to guarantee a unique mobile classroom. Further, there are no scheduled class meetings or exams which makes balancing a busy lifestyle a little easier. North Texas offers courses in the Fall, Spring, and Summer and provides instructor support when needed. This MA in ABA is also part of the 5th edition ABAI verified course sequence. 


  1. The University of Kansas's online MA in ABA tailors their program to busy working professionals and graduate students. This program is extremely thorough, requiring 30 credit hours in six content areas, three hours of research or practicum experience, and at least three thesis hours. In addition, students are required to conduct, write, and defend a thesis. The University of Kansas supports its students to meet licensure requirements in the state of Kansas and provides unique practicum opportunities through Behavioral Health Holdings. 


  1. The University of Cincinnati’s Master of ABA sets itself apart by offering 100% online coursework, available financial aid, and the option to complete the program in as few as five months! Not to mention, UC online is in the top 10 programs worldwide for the total number of students to pass the BCBA examination on their first attempt! Enroll in the fall, spring, or summer to complete the 10-course, 30-hour, ABAI verified program. 


  1. Offering a Masters in Behavior Analysis accredited by the ABAl, the University of Houston-Clear Lake is an excellent route for students seeking both solid coursework and hands-on practical experience. This program focuses on serving people with developmental disabilities and provides experience in clinical settings such as the Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities. In 2019, the BCBA pass rate was an impressive 100% and 91% in 2018. 


  1. Purdue University College of Education offers an MS in Educational Studies with a concentration in ABA. Students can choose between a fully online or a hybrid model. If students desire to continue their education, they can pursue the Special Education doctoral program and have all credits acquired from their Master’s program count towards their doctoral degree. This 30 credit master's complies with the Verified Course Sequence (VCS) and the 5th Edition Task List.


  1. The University of Arizona distinguishes itself by providing over 315 classroom hours and more than 2000 hours of practicum experience! No other program in the country provides this level of practicum hours alongside top-tier classroom instruction. This full-time and intensive MS in ABA is offered as both an on-ground program and a virtual format that is accepting students for remote practicums. 


  1. Queens College of CUNY offers both a MA and an Advanced Certificate in ABA. With a comprehensive curriculum, Queens's coursework incorporates applied, experiential, and practical application skills in behavior analysis. Queens is also now offering fellowship placements at their Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities Evidence-Based Services where students can gain exceptional hands-on and surprised experience. 


  1. Students who attend George Mason can benefit from either a fully online or campus blended program. George Mason offers an ABA graduate certificate as well as a Masters in Special Education that can be combined with the certificate. Some of the perks of these programs include traditional semesters that begin in the Spring, Summer, or Fall, face-to-face interactions with faculty, and opportunities for tuition discounts for Virginia Educators. 


  1. The University of Southern Maine’s beautiful coastal campus provides an MS in Educational Psychology with a concentration in ABA. Students can choose a fully online or hybrid option format, both of which students benefit from regular opportunities to work closely with program faculty and also participate in real-time learning opportunities with their fellow students. This MS in Education Psych involves coursework verified by the ABAI. 


  1. Ohio State’s Master of Special Education with an ABA specialization is a strong choice for students as it offers VCS as part of the requirements. This program is fully online and accredited through ABAI, as well as the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and the Council for Exceptional Children.


  1. Auburn University should catch your eye with an impressive 100 %  pass rate on the BCBA exam in 2019, 90 % in 2018, and 100 % in 2017! Auburn’s MS in ABA offers an on-campus, non-thesis, faculty-supervised competitive program. Students can benefit from financial assistance and become eligible for the BACB with supervised practical experience. 


  1. Teachers College Columbia University has been recognized for its excellence in preparing teachers to use scientific tools and effective instructional practices to accelerate all children’s educational progress. Students can choose from a MA, Ph.D., or certificate in ABA. Further, all students are placed in teaching assistant positions in model schools that incorporate ABA into their curriculum.


  1. Students at Southern Illinois will benefit from hands-on training on behavioral techniques in both the classroom and actual clinical settings, an opportunity not to be taken for granted. Their Masters in Behavioral Analysis and Therapy is both board-accredited by the ABAI and caters towards the working professional. Classes are offered in the evening in an online format and some asynchronous to promote the work/school-life balance. 


  1. Florida State’s credentials are exceptional, to say the least. FSU is ranked No. 1 in the world for BCBA exam pass rates, recognized as a leader in the generation of behavior analysis research, and has achieved “Top 50” status in the world in both authors published and educational institutions represented! Students in their Master of ABA program can receive a tuition waiver for working at paid assistantship placements with approved behavior analytic agencies, such as FSU Panama City’s on-campus Early Childhood Autism Program


  1. West Michigan University offers both a Master's and Doctorate of ABA that has been accredited by the ABAI. WMU both prioritizes training in core specialties such as autism and developmental disabilities and behavioral neuroscience as well as exposes students to a variety of applied and experimental areas through coursework, research, and applied experiences. Their BCBA exam pass rates are extremely competitive with 93% in 2019 and 97% in 2018. 


  1. Saint Louis University offers both an MS and post Masters certificate in ABA. Students who engage in these programs have the opportunity to participate in clinical settings that allow firsthand knowledge of behavioral principles. In addition, students have opportunities to present at national and international conferences. Saint Louis sets itself apart through unique applications in the field such as organizational behavior management, gerontology sports, and addressing social justice issues through ABA. To sweeten the pot even more, to date 100 % of graduates of the Master's program were offered a job before graduation!


  1. Arizona State’s MA in Special Education with an emphasis in ABA is recognized as the best online master’s in curriculum and instructions as well as the best online master's in instructional media and educational administration programs. These credentials make Arizona State a great choice for students seeking an ABAI accredited program that will both provide advanced coursework and optional practicums with BCBA supervised field experience.


  1. California State University in Northridge offers an MS in ABA. The program can be completed in 2 years and has a BCBA pass rate of 92%. Students who participate in this program can benefit from on-campus and off-site practicum options fulfilling supervised fieldwork hours. In addition, students are eligible for paid positions with partnering agencies, federal work-study, and student assistantships. Previously, more than 80 % of students held at least one paid position. 


  1. The University of Kentucky is directed toward students seeking programs that are on-campus and provide opportunities for graduate students to work. Some potential job opportunities include schools, homes, clinics, or related settings with individuals with or at-risk for disabilities (birth – 21 years of age). Both an MS and a graduate certificate in ABA are offered. The University of Kentucky VCS program had an 83% pass rate in 2019, with an overall pass rate of 92% for time test takers.


  1. Pepperdine University's MS in ABA sets their students up for success through online coursework and in-person field experiences where they learn skills necessary to improve behaviors such as autism, developmental disabilities, or traumatic brain injuries. This program is verified by the ABAI and seeks to teach students foundational knowledge of clinical interventions for children, adolescents, and adults. Students can also obtain clinical experience through over 50 practicum sites. 


  1. Ranked among the top ABA programs nationally, Texas State offers an MEd degree with a concentration in ABA. This program has been awarded the VCS status and provides supervised practicum hours that count towards the supervision requirements for BCBA’s. Texas State has its own clinic for autism research which provides students with the opportunity to refine skills and improve competencies as they work directly with children and adults diagnosed with a range of developmental disabilities. During their work here, students can also earn a portion of their clinical supervision required by the BACB. 


  1. The University of Colorado Denver offers an ABA certificate that is taught fully online and includes coursework that meets the BABC’s requirements towards becoming a BCBA. Cohorts for this program start both in January and July and consist of 21 credit hours. Students will be sure to enjoy this program while gazing out at the captivating Rocky Mountains. 


  1. Regis University's Master’s of Science in ABA benefits both those who prefer on-campus learning and those who desire online learning through their two format options. Regis diversifies itself by structuring the format to one course at a time in an eight-week hybridized format. They also structure their classes to be small and interactive to ensure students will gain a lifelong professional network. Methods such as active responding role-play, peer presentation, and comprehensive practicums are all used to deepen the learning experience at Regis.


  1. Texas A&M’s graduate certificate in ABA is delivered in a cohort model and fully online. This certificate consists of 21 credit hours and the coursework meets the requirements to sit for the BCBA exam. The coursework is composed of six online courses and students may use these courses towards an ABA certification regardless of whether they choose to pursue a BCBA. 


  1. Another exceptional certificate in ABA to consider is the University of San Antonio’s program offered through their Department of Educational Psychology. Their certificate is catered towards both prospective students in educational psychology and special education as it relates to ABA. This certificate is also valuable for Master’s or Doctoral students who desire to develop job-specific skills in ABA and want to gain certification as a BCBA. Most of the coursework is offered in the evenings which makes this a great option for the working professional. 


  1. The Chicago School of Professional Psychology’s commitment to diversity is evident through various degree formats and locations throughout the US. Their programs consist of doctorate, master's, and certificate levels in IL, TX, CA, and Washington D.C with the option to attend online or on campus. The Chicago School offers students access to modern technologies giving them a door to become experts in instructional design, precision teaching, and verbal behavior. 


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