In 2020, most online BCBA programs are offered as part of a master’s degree program and have been accredited by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board. These programs provide coursework in special education, psychology, or applied behavior analysis, and they include the required behavior-analytic coursework necessary to sit for the BCBA exam.
The majority of online programs offer flexible class schedules, with part-time or full-time study options available. Many students continue working while pursuing their degree online and are able to complete all coursework in about two years.
If you have looked into becoming a board certified behavior analyst (BCBA), you are probably aware of the coursework requirements established by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB). These requirements are in place to ensure that behavior therapists are competent and skilled practitioners in the field of applied behavior analysis (ABA).
The three primary requirements for becoming a BCBA are:
- A graduate degree with relevant behavior-analytic coursework.
- Practical experience or supervised fieldwork.
- Passing the national BCBA certification exam.
All BCBA certification programs must be at the master’s or doctoral level in the fields of behavior analysis, education, or psychology. It is also essential that your degree program covers behavior-analytic coursework that meets BACB standards as verified course sequences. A preliminary degree evaluation is available for students who are unsure if their degree meets all BACB requirements.
Online BCBA Certification Programs
Online certification programs that have been verified by the BACB to meet all coursework requirements qualify and prepare students to sit for the national BCBA exam. Selecting a program from an accredited college or university is the best way to make sure you are enrolling in a reputable educational program.
ABA programs are offered by universities and educational institutions across the country. A selection of top online BCBA graduate programs in 2020 includes the following:
- University of Dayton: Designated as a verified course sequence by the Association for Behavior Analysis International, completion of this Master of Applied Behavior Analysis degree qualifies students to sit for the BCBA exam.
- Simmons University: A Master in Behavior Analysis can be completed in as little as 23 months. Live classes are held weekly via webcam, mentoring and supervision hours are included in the course, and no GRE is required to apply.
- Pepperdine University: An online Master of Science in Behavioral Psychology is offered through the School of Education and Psychology. Included in the coursework is the curriculum needed to qualify for the BCBA exam. The curriculum is delivered through a combination of online coursework, in-person classes, and local clinical experience.
- Regis College: With three possible start dates per year, a Master in Applied Behavior Analysis can be completed in 20 months. This program meets all BCBA requirements, and certificate options are available.
- Drexel University: An online Master’s in Applied Behavior Analysis is offered through this top-ranking university. With coursework accredited by the BACB, this program can be completed on a part-time or full-time schedule. Online or on-campus options are also available.
- Monmouth University: An online Master of Education in Special Education with an autism or ABA track is offered. The ABA track must be selected in order to complete the required coursework to sit for the BCBA exam. The online ABA certificate can also be earned independently of the master’s degree.
- The Chicago School of Professional Psychology: A part-time, online Master’s in Applied Behavior Analysis is offered that can be completed in 28 months. This program meets the educational requirements for students to qualify to take the BCBA exam and prepares students to work with many different populations in their careers.
- Pennsylvania State University: This BACB-accredited Master of Education in Special Education with an emphasis in ABA program is offered via an online platform. Students learn evidence-based practices for working with individuals with special needs. Most students complete the program in 1.5 to 2 years, though you have the ability to personalize your program plan, completing it at your own pace.
- Oregon Institute of Technology: This online Master’s in Applied Behavior Analysis program follows the BACB course sequence for anyone who wishes to take the BCBA exam. Students must take nine BCBA courses plus additional electives. Second-year students who live locally can complete their practicum placement through Oregon Tech’s ABA program.
- University of Cincinnati: This fully online Master of Education: Foundations in Behavior Analysis program delivers BCBA curriculum via 10 courses that typically take about five semesters to complete. Certificate-only programs are also offered online.
- Cairn University: Ranked and accredited, this online program allows students to complete a Master of Arts in Applied Behavior Analysis. The program can be started at any semester and be completed in as few as five semesters. A verified course sequence program, this degree prepares students to take the BCBA exam.
- Western Connecticut State University: Recognized as one of the most affordable online ABA programs available, this Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis degree fully complies with BCBA education requirements. A certificate in ABA is also offered to students who have already completed an acceptable graduate degree from an accredited university.
- Texas A&M University: This MEd/MS in Special Education is designed to be completed in two years and is entirely online. Through this program, students complete behavior-analytical coursework that qualifies them to take the national BCBA exam. To be admitted to the master’s program, students must apply to both the department of Educational Psychology and Texas A&M University.
- Ball State University: An accredited and relatively affordable degree program, this online Master’s in Applied Behavior Analysis is entirely online and can be completed in less than two years. Students complete BCBA-required courses and have the option to add an emphasis in autism.
- University of Southern Maine: An online Master of Science in Educational Psychology with an emphasis in ABA is offered. Courses are offered online with weekly online meetings with your professors and classmates. Students typically take one or two courses per semester and complete the entire BACB-certified program within two years.
Online vs. In-Person Programs
The decision to complete an online ABA program instead of an in-person program should be based on your personal needs and without fear of compromising any educational quality of the program. Online education has come a long way in recent years, and in 2020, an online education is on par with the quality of an in-person one. As long as you select a BACB-certified program, you can be sure that the coursework you receive meets all eligibility and certification requirements.
Online and on-campus graduates of ABA programs exhibit similar pass rates on the BCBA exam. According to Simmons University, 85% of their graduates in 2018, whether from their online or on-campus program, passed the BCBA exam on their first try.
An online program puts more responsibility on the student to study independently and progress through the coursework in a timely manner, but there is just as much potential for educational success as there is through a traditional on-campus program. If you know you struggle with personal time management, an in-person program may be better for you.
Working Toward Your BCBA Certification Online
Completion of an online BCBA certification program is an excellent route for people who can not otherwise attend a traditional on-campus program. Online programs provide flexibility and cost savings that not many in-person programs can offer.
As long as you are diligent about verifying the credentials of your program, an online BCBA program may be your way to achieving the behavior analyst certification that you want. It’s the first step on your journey to becoming a BCBA.
- Board Certified Behavior Analyst. Behavior Analyst Certification Board.
- BCBA Eligibility Requirements. Behavior Analyst Certification Board.
- Why a Career in Behavior Analysis May Be Right for You. (May 2020). The School of Health Sciences at Touro College.
- Earn Your Master of ABA Online in as Little as 21 Months. University of Dayton.
- Earn Your Master’s in Behavior Analysis Online. Simmons University.
- Prepare to Become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. Pepperdine Graduate School of Education & Psychology.
- Master’s of Science Degree in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). Drexel University School of Education.
- Applied Behavior Analysis Programs. Monmouth University.
- Online M.S. in Applied Behavior Analysis. The Chicago School of Professional Psychology.
- Master of Education in Special Education. Penn State World Campus.
- M.S. Applied Behavior Analysis. Oregon Tech.
- Behavior Analysis Programs of Study. University of Cincinnati Online.
- Online Master of Arts (ABA). Cairn University.
- WCSU Graduate Catalog 2019–2020: Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis. Western Connecticut State University.
- M.Ed./M.S. in Special Education (Online). Texas A&M’s College of Education.
- Master’s Degree in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). Ball State Online.
- Educational Psychology. University of Southern Maine.