There’s a growing need for qualified professionals in the field of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). ABA therapy is a leading treatment option for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), which affects 1 in 68 children.
For those interested in pursuing a career as a Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) or a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), below are some of the best undergraduate and graduate ABA or autism-related programs in the United States (in no particular order).
Trinity Christian College’s Behavior Intervention Specialist Master’s program includes a BACB pre-approved Verified Course Sequence that prepares students for the BCBA exam. In fact, it’s the only master’s program in Illinois that offers this BACB-approved course sequence as well as the Behavior Intervention Specialist endorsement.
Wayne State University solidified a place on the list with its BCBA and BCaBA (Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst) training programs. The school offers course sequences with seminar and practicum experience to train students in ABA with a focus on treating autism.
The graduate certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis, offered by Mercyhurst’s Special Education and Applied Disability Studies graduate program, helps students develop the skills needed to be successful in the world of ABA. The program provides students with opportunities for graduate assistantships through service contracts with organizations like the Erie School District Autism Program.
Fresno State University’s M.A. in Psychology gives students the opportunity for an emphasis in Applied Behavior Analysis. The program trains students to provide high-quality therapeutic intervention with ABA for both kid and adults on the autism spectrum. Further, students learn about behavioral management consultancy in business.
The University of North Alabama offers a BACB-approved 12-credit Certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis. The university also offers support to help students in the program find potential locations to earn the required supervision hours to be eligible to sit for the BCaBA exam.
Central Michigan University’s College of Humanities and Social and Behavior Sciences offers an 18-credit BACB-approved course sequence for students pursuing a career as either a BCaBA or a BCBA. The school also requires 2 of the following 3 categories for practical experience: 1500 hours of Supervised Independent Fieldwork, 1000 hours of Practicum, or 750 hours of Intensive Practicum.
The Psychology Department at Rowan University has its very own Center for Behavior Analysis, Research & Services. Students are able to choose from a variety of coursework options: the Concentration Program in ABA for Psychology Majors, the Post-Baccalaureate Certificate Program in Applied Behavior Analysis, Master of Art in ABA, or the Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies in ABA.
McNeese State University offers a graduate training program – approved by the BACB and accredited by the ABAI – in Applied Behavior Analysis. The Department of Psychology also has the McNeese Autism Program, which provides early intervention services for children with autism. The Autism Program’s team of BCBAs also conduct social skills groups, language training, feeding interventions, and family training.
Williams College’s undergraduate psychology program comprehensively covers Developmental Psychology, which is a major part of ABA. The college specifies that its psychology degree will prepare students with the skills need for many mental health professions, including a behavior analyst.
Bay Path University has 3 program options for students interested in practicing ABA: a 39-credit MS in Applied Behavior Analysis, a 45-credit MS in ABA/Autism Spectrum Disorders, or a 39-credit EdS in ABA/Applied Research Focus. Bay Path faculty members oversee 1,500 hours of supervised fieldwork for students, and the course sequence is verified by the BACB.
Texas State University offers a top-notch Master’s of Special Education with a Concentration in Autism and Applied Behavior Analysis. The Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) approved the concentration as meeting the eligibility requirements for taking the BCBA exam. The university landed a high BCBA exam pass rate in 2016 at 83 percent.
The University of West Florida offers quality online ABA course sequences for undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate students. The program allows for a more flexible schedule, with start dates in January, March, May, August and October. The course keeps students engaged with weekly virtual class meetings with instructors and peers.
Baylor University’s ABA program offers hands-on learning experience in its own Clinic for Assessment, Research, and Education (CARE) – part of the Baylor Center for Developmental Disabilities. With excellent funding opportunities that award students with free tuition, Baylor is an ideal choice for a 15-month ABA Master’s program.
Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), Kaplan University offers a postgraduate certificate in ABA that meets the BACB requirements to sit for the BCBA exam. Both on-campus and online students are eligible for the program.
The University of Nevada-Reno provides options for undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students to receive specializations in ABA. Their programs are accredited by the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI), and in 2016, 100 percent of University of Nevada-Reno students passed the BCBA exam on their first attempt.
Accredited by the ABAI, Saint Cloud State University’s MS program in ABA is the only accredited online ABA program in the world. The university also offers an on-campus cohort. The university boasts a 96 percent first-time BCBA exam pass rate.
The Florida State University (FSU) Applied Behavior Analysis program is accredited by the Association for Behavior Analysis International, making it one of just 24 universities with this distinction. FSU boasts a high BCBA examination pass rate of 88 percent.
There are a number of ABA program options for both undergraduate and graduate students at Nova Southeastern University. Undergrads pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in education or psychology can complete ABA minor programs. Graduate students pursuing a Master’s degree in Counseling have the option to specialize in ABA or Advanced ABA.
Winthrop University’s College of Education has a well-rounded program with special education classes specializing in ABA and how to effectively deliver one-on-one instruction to children on the autism spectrum. In fact, Winthrop University’s Education professors have published books on how to bring ABA into inclusive classrooms and working with students with behavior problems and learning disabilities.
With an 82 percent first-time BCBA exam pass rate, the University of Texas Austin offers M.Ed and M.A. programs with concentrations in Autism and Developmental Disabilities. The program is approved by the BACB and many students who complete the program go on to become BCBAs or BCBA-Ds.
University of Texas San Antonio
Not too far from UT Austin, the University of San Antonio also has educational opportunities for those hoping to become RBTs or BCBAs. In addition to strong undergraduate and graduate programs for students interested in working with special needs children, the University of Texas San Antonio also has the option of a Graduate Certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis.
Remarkably, the University of Nebraska has locked down a 100 percent BCBA exam pass rate for two years in a row. The Department of Psychology’s MA program typically takes about two years to complete and equips students with the necessary skills to become a BCBA.
California State University Northridge
California State University Northridge surpasses the national average with a 94 percent first-time pass rate for the BCBA exam. The rigorous program teaches students how to conduct behavioral assessments and how to implement outcome-based behavioral interventions.
The University of the Pacific was the only other university on this list to secure a 100 percent BCBA exam pass rate two years in a row. The Department of Psychology places ABA track students in internship sites to learn how to design treatment plans and implement behavioral interventions. The majority of ABA track students work 20 hours per week in one of the community settings.
Stephen F. Austin State University
Stephen F. Austin University has a number of programs – both campus-based and online – to help undergraduate and graduate students build a solid foundation for working with children with autism, including programs that focus on special education, speech-language pathology, school psychology, and visual and hearing impairments.
University of Maryland Baltimore County
In 2016, 100 percent of the students from the University of Maryland Baltimore County who took the BCBA exam passed on their first attempt. The UMBC Department of Psychology has an ABAI-accredited M.A. in Applied Behavior Analysis program which thoroughly prepares students for success as professionals in the industry.
University of California Santa Barbara
UC Santa Barbara has a great Developmental and Evolutionary Psychology program for undergraduates interested in the ABA field, as well as a Professional Certificate in ABA for those already enrolled in master’s or doctorate programs.
The University of North Texas’ Department of Behavior Analysis was the first to earn the highly-esteemed ABAI accreditation, and has since attracted talented ABA professionals from around the world. UNT students are given a wealth of research opportunities, including the Behavior Analysis Resource Center, the Easter Seals North Texas Autism Treatment Program Research Group, the Behavior Analysis Online Research Group, and more.
For undergraduate students with an interest in later pursuing an MS in ABA or a career as an RBT, Whitter College’s Department of Psychological Sciences offers a solid foundation on the social, developmental, emotional, and biological bases of behavior.
Texas Tech University offers a variety of undergraduate majors in its Psychological Sciences department for those interested in becoming an ABA professional. Texas Tech graduates then have the option to pursue a Master of Education in Special Education with an emphasis in Applied Behavior Analysis or an online Applied Behavior Analysis Certificate.
With an impressive 100% BCBA exam pass rate, James Madison University easily solidified its spot on this list. The program involves a mix of coursework, research, and practicum experience for those students interested in becoming a BCBA or doctorate level behavior analyst.
For undergraduate students looking for a college experience at a smaller school, St. Edward’s University has a comprehensive psychology degree with a capstone project that completes a two-semester research/experiential course sequence. This gives students the opportunity to work with current professionals and develop the skills to become professionals themselves.
Abilene Christian University, conveniently located by the West Texas Autism Center, is a prime location for undergraduates interested in getting involved with the autism community while earning their degree. ACU’s Psychology Clinic acts as a training facility for Master’s-seeking students and professionals administer tests to test for autism.
Arizona State University offers an online Master’s of Education in Curriculum and Instruction (Applied Behavior Analysis) through its Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. The graduate education program was ranked 11th in the nation in U.S. News & World Report’s 2018 rankings.
Texas A&M’s Department of Educational Psychology offers both the coursework and the fieldwork supervision needed to be eligible to take the BCBA exam. The course allows students to hit the required 1500 hours of field experience in 4-6 semesters, which is 50-67% faster than hiring an independent supervisor, A&M reports.
For students pursuing a degree in ABA or autism-related studies, Action Behavior Centers awards a bi-annual scholarship. Details can be seen here.
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