Top 20 Best Schools Offering Applied Behavior Analyst Master’s Programs

A master’s degree and the BACB’s Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) designation are the standard credentials for working as a full-authority independent ABA in the field of behavior analysis.

A qualifying master’s and certification in ABA is …

  • An absolute requirement for licensure in many states…
  • Acceptable in other states as a pathway to becoming licensed…
  • Something many employers expect to see on a resume…
  • Often a required credential for insurance reimbursement under autism insurance mandate laws…

To qualify for BCBA certification, you’ll need to earn a master’s degree in behavior analysis, education, or psychology, but if your program doesn’t include BACB’s required course content, you’ll find yourself scrambling to complete the course sequence in a separate program after earning your degree.

So the question then becomes: How do I find a qualifying master’s degree that has the required courses already built in?

Choosing a graduate program that has been accredited by the Behavior Analysis Accreditation Board of ABAI is undoubtedly the most streamlined path to BCBA certification– and to starting your career as an ABA. Why? Because all of these programs consist of the coursework you’re required to complete before being eligible to take the certification exam. Choose any program on this list and there’s no worrying about meeting additional coursework and instructional hour requirements.

Still, we know there’s a lot more to consider when selecting a program, so we’ve done some digging to find the information you need. We pored over university disclosure pages and sifted through data published in the National Center for Education Statistics database to find answers to the questions you’re most likely to have:

How much will the program cost? … What degree majors do these schools offer – ABA, psychology, education? … What’s required to get into the program? … How likely is it that I’ll have some direct interactions with my professor? …

Top Master’s Programs in ABA, Psychology and Education for Behavior Analysts

There are different ABA programs for people with different career paths. We know the best program for a student of psychology interested in practicing ABA isn’t going to be the same for someone who wants to apply ABA principles in the classroom as a teacher.

To help you make an informed decision about which program is best for you, we identified the key features most important to prospective students, organized it, and presented it in a way that allows you to more easily compare your options.

We don’t attempt to rank programs, so the schools shown here appear in no particular order.

Selection Criteria

We looked at the more than 200 graduate schools that offer a BACB-approved Verified Course Sequence (VCS) as part of a master’s degree in ABA, Psychology or Education. We identified the 20 schools we believe deserve special recognition for meeting the following criteria:

  • Offer at least one program accredited through the Behavior Analysis Accreditation Board of ABAI
  • Have a student to faculty ratio of no more than 30:1
  • Annual graduate school tuition rates in-line with the national average for public ($11,303) and private ($23,919) institutions adjusted for location


ALABAMA

 

TOP 20

Jacksonville State University
School of Human Services and Social Sciences
Jacksonville, AL
Website

  • Degrees offered: MS in Psychology with an emphasis in ABA, on-campus
  • Estimated cost per academic year (tuition + fees): $9,204 (in-state), $18,118 (out-of-state)
  • Student to faculty ratio: 18:1
  • Entrance exam(s) required: GRE
  • Number of ABA master’s degrees awarded each year: 7

The MS in Psychology with an emphasis in ABA prepares students through instruction, training, and research. Students in this program complete courses in both the experimental analysis of behavior, as well as applied behavior analysis. We love the fact that JSU gives students diverse and immersive experience opportunities right on campus at the university’s animal and human research facilities.

 

CALIFORNIA

 

TOP 20

California State University
Los Angeles, CA
Website

  • Degrees offered: MS in Counseling (Applied Behavior Analysis), on-campus
  • Estimated cost per academic year (tuition + fees): $7,649 (in state), $16,557 (out of state)
  • Student to faculty ratio: 25:1
  • Entrance exam(s) required: none
  • Number of ABA master’s degrees awarded each year: no info available

The MS in Counseling with a focus on ABA is designed for students who want to work in case management, behavioral consultancy, or in a more conventional role providing ABA therapy. This degree also prepares students who may want to go on to pursue a doctoral degree in behavior analysis.

 

FLORIDA

 

TOP 20

Florida Institute of Technology
School of Behavior Analysis
Melbourne, FL
Website

  • Degrees offered:
  • MA in Professional Behavior Analysis (PBA), online/hybrid
  • MS in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), on-campus
  • MS in Organizational Behavior Management (OBM), on-campus
  • MS in ABA plus OBM (ABA + OBM) focuses on both, on-campus
  • Estimated cost per academic year (tuition + fees): $22,588
  • Student to faculty ratio: 13:1
  • Entrance exam(s) required: GRE may be required
  • Number of ABA master’s degrees awarded each year: 109

The mission of the behavior analysis graduate programs through Florida Tech is to produce competent ABA practitioners and consultants who are prepared to contribute to behavioral research, enter the workforce or go on to earn doctorates. FIT’s OBM and combined OBM/ABA are among the few programs of their kind in the world, fully dedicated to producing graduates ready for jobs in business and industry. Graduates of FIT’s ABA programs had a BCBA certification exam pass rate of 92 percent in 2016, while the national average was just 65 percent. Florida Tech also makes major contributions to the growing body of ABA literature, ranking second in the world for its number of publications in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis.

 

TOP 20

Florida State University
Panama City Campus
Panama City, FL
Website

  • Degrees offered: MS in Applied Behavior Analysis, on-campus
  • Estimated cost per academic year (tuition + fees): $11,543 (in-state), $25,975 (out-of-state)
  • Student to faculty ratio: 24:1
  • Entrance exam(s) required: GRE
  • Number of ABA master’s degrees awarded each year: 35

The MS in Behavior Analysis is a five-semester, non-thesis program that culminates in a comprehensive exam and a professional portfolio. According to FSU, the Florida Panhandle has become the center of ABA activity in the past 15 years, with more than a dozen ABA-trained PhDs on faculty or in ABA practice in the community. All students of the MS in ABA program receive assistantships and tuition waivers through placement with behavior analytic agencies.

 

TOP 20

University of South Florida
Department of Child and Family Studies
Tampa, FL
Website

  • Degrees offered:
  • MA in Applied Behavior Analysis, on-campus and online
  • MS in Applied Behavior Analysis, on-campus only
  • Estimated cost per academic year (tuition + fees): $10,428 (in-state), $21,126 (out-of-state)
  • Student to faculty ratio: 22:1
  • Entrance exam(s) required: GRE scores on the general test
  • Number of ABA master’s degrees awarded each year: N/A

Doctoral-level applied behavior analysts with one year of ABA teaching experience developed both the online and on-campus master’s degree programs in behavior analysis through the University of South Florida. The fully online MA program is delivered in 8-week semesters, and practicum seminars help students attain their 1,000 hours of supervised experiences. On-campus students in the MS program can choose from a variety of nearby practicum sites located throughout the greater Tampa Bay Area.

 

ILLINOIS

 

TOP 20

Southern Illinois University
Rehabilitation Institute
Carbondale, IL
Website

  • Degrees offered: MS in Behavior Analysis and Therapy, on-campus program and a blended/weekend program for residing near Chicago and Joliet
  • Estimated cost per academic year (tuition + fees): $14,583 (in-state), $30,369 (out-of-state)
  • Student to faculty ratio: 15:1
  • Entrance exam(s) required: none
  • Number of ABA master’s degrees awarded each year: 51 (part of therapeutic and rehabilitation professions)

The MS in Behavioral Analysis and Therapy prepares graduates that are capable of treating patients with developmental disabilities, chronic medical conditions, and traumatic head injuries, among others. The program culminates in an internship or a research paper/thesis. One of our favorite things about studying ABA at SIU is that it in addition to the campus-based option, this program is also offered in a blended weekend/online format for those students residing in Chicagoland. Talk about convenience and flexibility.

 

KANSAS

 

TOP 20

University of Kansas
Department of Applied behavioral Science
Lawrence, KS
Website

  • Degrees offered: MA in Applied Behavioral Science, on-campus
  • Estimated cost per academic year (tuition + fees): $10,438 (in-state), $23,134 (out-of-state)
  • Student to faculty ratio: 17:1
  • Entrance exam(s) required: GRE not required, but encouraged
  • Number of ABA master’s degrees awarded each year: 4

The MA in Applied Behavioral Science through KU offers courses that focus on the empirical and conceptual foundations of behavioral science and the research methods that accompany it. Supervised experiences are also emphasized here. Students must conduct, write, and orally defend an empirically based thesis as part of the program.

 

LOUISIANA

 

TOP 20

McNeese State University
Department of Psychology
Lake Charles, LA
Website

  • Degrees offered: MA in Psychology with a concentration in ABA, on-campus and online
  • Estimated cost per academic year (tuition + fees): $7,575 (in-state), $18,650 (out-of-state)
  • Student to faculty ratio: 21:1
  • Entrance exam(s) required: GRE
  • Number of ABA master’s degrees awarded each year: 14 (psychology general)

The MA in Psychology with a concentration in ABA is offered as both an online and on-campus program. This program prepares students for BCBA national certification, and training emphasizes the application of both assessment and intervention skills. The on-campus option includes an internship at the McNeese Autism Program, giving students an unparalleled opportunity to accumulate the experience necessary for board certification. More than 80 percent of the students in the on-campus program receive a graduate assistantship.

 

MARYLAND

 

TOP 20

University of Maryland
Baltimore County, Human Services Psychology Program
Baltimore, MD
Website

  • Degrees offered: MA in Applied Behavior Analysis, on-campus
  • Estimated cost per academic year (tuition + fees): $13,194 (in-state), $20,286 (out-of-state)
  • Student to faculty ratio: 19:1
  • Entrance exam(s) required: GRE
  • Number of ABA master’s degrees awarded each year: 23 (psychology general)

The MA in Applied Behavior Analysis through the UMBC Department of Psychology was created to fill the gap in the availability of such programs in the mid-Atlantic region, partnering with the Kennedy Krieger Institute’s Department of Behavioral Psychology to deliver a rigorous program in behavior analysis. UMBC looks out for students working toward gaining the experience they need for BCBA certification. Advisors work with all students to try to secure internships while enrolled in the program. Many students work in inpatient and outpatient treatment centers for children with developmental disabilities. We love the fact that in lieu of a master’s thesis, all students are required to complete a full behavioral intervention session using the skills they acquired in the program.

 

MASSACHUSETTS

 

Endicott College
The Institute for Behavioral Studies
Beverly, MA
Website

  • Degrees Offered:
  • Certificate in Autism
  • Certificate in ABA (post-graduate)
  • MEd in Non-Licensure Special Education
  • MEd in Special Education and ABA
  • MEd in Autism and ABA
  • MEd in ABA
  • Estimated cost per academic year (tuition + fees): $11,489
  • Student to faculty ratio: 14:1
  • Entrance exam(s) required: none

As of late 2017 Endicott is still going through the formal approval process for ABAI-BAAB accreditation, but boy are they close. We felt our readers deserved to know all the best options out there, so we knew we had to include Endicott a little early. In spring 2017 Endicott’s Institute for Behavioral Studies saw its first graduating class step out into the world. Those graduates are the first in what will surely be a long legacy of Endicott making strong contributions to the field of ABA.

 

TOP 20

Simmons College
Department of Behavior Analysis
Boston, MA
Website

  • Degrees offered:
  • MS in Behavior Analysis, on-campus, online
  • EdS in Behavior Analysis, on-campus, online
  • Estimated cost per academic year (tuition + fees): $20,718
  • Student to faculty ratio: 7:1
  • Entrance exam(s) required: none
  • Number of ABA master’s degrees awarded each year: 61

The MS and EdS in Behavior Analysis through Simmons are designed to prepare graduates to be leaders, whether in the clinical setting or in the classroom. Whether you’re looking to earn an MS as a way to prepare to work with clients in the clinical environment or out in the world, or you want to make a difference in the lives of students with special needs by earning the EdS, you can be sure you’ll be well prepared to assess behavioral disorders including ASD and implement an effective course of treatment or individualized education plan based on time-tested ABA principles and methods. Simmons graduates have demonstrated a first time pass rate of 80% on the BCBA exam, a full 15 percentage points higher than the national average.

 

MICHIGAN

 

TOP 20

Eastern Michigan University
Department of Psychology
Ypsilanti, MI
Website

  • Degrees offered: Clinical Behavioral MS in Psychology
  • Estimated cost per academic year (tuition + fees): $16,355 (in-state), $29,075
  • Student to faculty ratio: 17:1
  • Entrance exam(s) required: GRE
  • Number of ABA master’s degrees awarded each year: 7

The Clinical Behavioral MS program through Eastern Michigan University teaches students the foundational knowledge of behavioral psychology, including behavior analysis, psychotherapy, and psychological assessment. Psychology students at EMU complete supervised experiences in the field, gaining the kind of real world experience they need to prepare for a successful career.

 

MINNESOTA

 

TOP 20

St. Cloud University
Department of Community Psychology, Counseling and Family Therapy
St. Cloud, MN
Website

  • Degrees offered: MS in Applied Behavior Analysis, on-campus and online
  • Estimated cost per academic year (tuition + fees): $8,256 (in-state), $12,084 (out-of-state)
  • Student to faculty ratio: 22:1
  • Entrance exam(s) required: GRE
  • Number of ABA master’s degrees awarded each year: 38

St. Cloud University boasts the highest BCBA pass rates of any online ABA master’s program, as well as a faculty made up of all PhD-level instructors. Through conceptual and practical coursework, this program prepares students for careers working with children and adults with autism or other developmental disabilities, giving students the skills they need to perform functional analysis, program evaluation, organizational development, and community integration strategies, among others.

 

NEVADA

 

TOP 20

University of Nevada
Department of Psychology
Reno, NV
Website

  • Degrees offered: MA in Psychology, Behavior Analysis specialization, on-campus and via satellite programs
  • Estimated cost per academic year (tuition + fees): $5,287 (in-state), $19,197 (out-of-state)
  • Student to faculty ratio: 21:1
  • Entrance exam(s) required: GRE (general scores only)
  • Number of ABA master’s degrees awarded each year: 32 (psychology general)

The MA in Psychology with Behavior Analysis specialization through the University of Nevada helps prepare students for doctoral studies or for direct entry into careers in education, mental health, and business and industry. We love the fact that the program is conducted using a junior-colleague model and includes supervised experience and instruction focused on the philosophies of behaviorism, basic and applied research in human behavior, basic research in animal behavior, instructional design and technology, and more.

 

NEW JERSEY

 

TOP 20

Caldwell University
Applied Behavior Analysis
Caldwell, NJ
Website

  • Degrees offered:
    • MA in Applied Behavior Analysis, on-campus
    • Combined BA in Psychology/MA in Applied Behavior Analysis, on-campus
  • Estimated cost per academic year (tuition + fees):
    • MA in Applied Behavior Analysis: $17,120
    • Combined BA in Psychology/MA in Applied Behavior Analysis: $34,750/$17,120
  • Student to faculty ratio: 12:1
  • Entrance exam(s) required: GRE or MAT (students who already hold a master’s degree are exempt from this requirement)
  • Number of ABA master’s degrees awarded each year: 21

The MA in ABA through Caldwell was designed to prepare students for employment in mental health, developmental services, and special education. This program gives students an opportunity to complete a research thesis and additional thesis courses, if required. This capstone requirement involves completing a comprehensive survey in the chosen area of ABA and then designing and conducting an original research thesis using the principles of ABA. How’s that for immersive learning. Following the thesis, students would then provide an oral defense/presentation to a committee of faculty members.

 

NEW YORK

 

TOP 20

Teachers College, Columbia University
Department of Health & Behavior Studies
New York, NY
Website

  • Degrees offered: MA in Teaching as Applied Behavior Analysis, on-campus
  • Estimated cost per academic year (tuition + fees): $37,164
  • Student to faculty ratio: N/A
  • Entrance exam(s) required: GRE
  • Number of ABA master’s degrees awarded each year: unknown; just 15-25 students are accepted into the program each year

The MA in Teaching as ABA through Columbia is designed to prepare teachers who are skilled in using instructional practices to accelerate the educational progress of children. This unique program gives graduates the opportunity to become dually certified in New York state in both early childhood and elementary education from birth to grade 6. Columbia knows many students need to earn as they learn. All classroom training is done through the CABAS Accelerated Independent Learner Model (AIL), which involves students training in paid internship positions and attending classes in the evening.

 

OHIO

 

TOP 20

University of Cincinnati
School of Psychology
Cincinnati, OH
Website

  • Degrees offered: EdS in School Psychology, on-campus
  • Estimated cost per academic year (tuition + fees): $14,468 (in-state), $26,210 (out-of-state)
  • Student to faculty ratio: 17:1
  • Entrance exam(s) required: GRE
  • Number of ABA master’s degrees awarded each year: 258 (general school psychology)

The EdS in School Psychology through the University of Cincinnati is a specialist-level master’s program with a decided focus on gaining experience. It includes two-years of full-time study, followed by a 10-month, full-time internship in a school setting. You’d be hard pressed to find a program that offers this level of real-world experience. No thesis is required for this program; instead, students complete an internship professional practice portfolio.

 

TOP 20

Ohio State University
Department of Educational Studies
Columbus, OH
Website

  • Degrees offered: MA in Educational Studies, Special Education, with an ABA emphasis, on-campus
  • Estimated cost per academic year (tuition + fees): $12,425 (in-state), $32,873 (out-of-state)
  • Student to faculty ratio: 19:1
  • Entrance exam(s) required: current GRE scores if GPA is less than 3.0
  • Number of ABA master’s degrees awarded each year: not available

The MA in Educational Studies, Special Education with an ABA emphasis is a research-based program that prepares students to analyze and develop learning and behavior programs for students with disabilities. OSU’s special education program in ABA holds the unique distinction of not only being accredited through the Behavior Analysis Accreditation Board of ABAI, it also holds accreditation through the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and the Council for Exceptional Children.

 

TEXAS

 

TOP 20

University of North Texas
Department of Behavior Analysis
Denton, TX
Website

  • Degrees offered: MS in Behavior Analysis, on-campus
  • Estimated cost per academic year (tuition + fees): $7,183 (in-state), $14,527
  • Student to faculty ratio: 26:1
  • Entrance exam(s) required: GRE
  • Number of ABA master’s degrees awarded each year: 17

The MS Program through the University of North Texas’ Department of Behavior Analysis is a trailblazer and was the first to earn the esteemed BAAB-ABAI accreditation. Since then, students from as far away as Brazil, China, Iceland, and Japan have come to study in the behavior analysis program offered here. Just some of the research opportunities afforded to ABA students here include the Behavior Analysis Online Research Group, the Behavior Analysis Resource Center, the Behavior Research Laboratory, the Easter Seals North Texas Autism Treatment Program Research Group, and many more.

 

TOP 20

University of Houston at Clear Lake
School of Human Sciences and Humanities
Houston, TX
Website

  • Degrees offered: MA in Behavior Analysis, on-campus
  • Estimated cost per academic year (tuition + fees): $8,434 (in-state), $17,056 (out-of-state)
  • Student to faculty ratio: 15:1
  • Entrance exam(s) required: GRE
  • Number of ABA master’s degrees awarded each year: 3

The MA in Behavior Analysis through U of H at Clear Lake prepares students through a foundation in coursework, practical experience, and research, with a focus on working with children and adults with developmental disabilities. We love this program for giving students access to hands-on experience in a number of clinical settings, including the Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities.

 

OSLO, NORWAY

 

TOP 20

Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences
Department of Behavioral Science
Oslo, Norway
Website

  • Degrees offered: Master’s in Learning and Complex Systems
  • Estimated cost per academic year (tuition + fees): No tuition fees; however, students need money for study materials
  • Student to faculty ratio: not available
  • Entrance exam(s) required: none
  • Number of ABA master’s degrees awarded each year: not available

If you’ve been thinking about a study abroad opportunity, Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences could be exactly what you’re looking for. It is the largest state college in Norway, accepting many international students. Many courses are taught in English to accommodate international students. The Master’s in Learning and Complex Systems program teaches students about the effective tools and techniques used to start and lead change processes in the educational setting.

Note: Student-to-faculty ratios shown are institution-wide and not specific to the featured program. Tuition and related fees do not take into account any type of financial aid assistance you may qualify for, and books and related expenses are not included in the total. In instances where ABA was offered as a specialized track within another major, the institution provided the total number of graduates within that major.