Contents

    The best ABA programs in 2024 – by value for money

    Jeremy Coppock
    Jeremy Coppock

    Jeremy is an education researcher, journalist, and editor for Degreechoices. He majored in Slavic languages and has a master’s degree in Eastern European studies.

    He has previous experience as a fraud analyst, in-house translator, teacher, and truck driver.

    The best ABA programs in 2024 – by value for money
    Contents

      Behavior analysts help people with autism, developmental disorders, learning disabilities, and many other groups.

      The best applied behavior analysis (ABA) programs are at Florida Institute of Technology, Western New England University, and Saint Cloud State University.

      To become a board-certified behavior analyst, you need a master’s degree, supervised field experience, and a passing score on the BCBA exam.

      Have you ever tried to break a bad habit? Studies suggest that relying on willpower is not an effective strategy. Instead, using strategies to alter the environment within which we make decisions has a far more powerful effect on what we do.

      This insight is at the heart of applied behavior analysis (ABA), a psychological approach that has found considerable success in helping people with autism spectrum disorder, anxiety, eating disorders, and many other groups.

      In this article, we reveal the best-value accredited ABA programs in the country, so that you can become a board-certified behavior analyst (BCBA) without compromising on financial security.

      Discover the surest path to a rewarding career with these top 20 ABA master’s programs.

      What is applied behavior analysis?

      Applied behavior analysis (ABA), sometimes called behavioral engineering, is a therapeutic technique for modifying human behavior. It is carried out using psychological principles related to learning.

      The most important task of an applied behavior analyst is to increase desirable and helpful behavior and decrease harmful or undesirable behavior using positive reinforcement.

      ABA is mainly known as a treatment for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). It is also used for treating:

      • Dementia
      • Eating disorders
      • Anger management issues
      • Anxiety
      • Substance abuse
      • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
      • Borderline personality disorder
      • Consequences of brain injury
      • Misbehaving pets

      What do applied behavior analysts do?

      Typically, a behavior analyst’s treatment plan looks something like this:

      • Perform an assessment to determine which behaviors need intervention
      • Evaluate environmental, medical, and biological factors
      • Apply ABA techniques
      • Measure the effects of intervention
      • Adjust treatment based on progress

      Best ABA master’s programs

      Two key conditions for becoming a board-certified behavior analyst are 1) getting a master’s degree and 2) passing the BCBA exam. Read more about how to become a BCBA underneath this list.

      Below, we list the best ABA programs by value for money at the master’s level. These ABA programs feature the optimal combination of affordable tuition and high earnings after graduation.

      A master’s in ABA may be structured as either a Master of Arts or a Master of Science, but there usually aren’t significant curriculum differences between the two.

      #1 in Best ABA master’s programs
      Economic score 0.22

      The Economic Score is the combination of debt-to-earnings ratio and earningsplus. We use the economic score to determine a graduate program’s rank. The lower the economic score the better. For an analysis of how we arrive at the economic score, and a description of our data sources, please visit our methodology page.

      Earnings $70,325

      Median earnings of all students 4 years after graduating.

      Debt to earnings 0.3

      The debt-to-earnings ratio is calculated by dividing student debt upon graduation by the annual salary. A debt to earnings ratio of 1 means that annual educational debt is the same as annual earnings.

      Debt $20,500

      The total debt accrued by the median student at the time of graduation.

      Florida Institute of Technology, or FIT, offers the best-value applied behavior analysis master’s program in the country. This college features the optimal combination of high salaries and affordability. 

      FIT is a private research university in Melbourne, Florida, on the state’s Atlantic coast. It offers an M.S. in Applied Behavior Analysis that combines on-campus learning with convenient flexibility: students can complete the program at the main campus or the Orlando Graduate Center – over the day, in the evenings, or on weekends.  

      Florida Tech is home to the School of Psychology, which includes human research areas and observation and treatment rooms. The university also houses the Scott Center for Autism Treatment 

      Because the program includes the ABAI-Verified Course Sequence, graduates will be eligible to take the BCBA test after they meet practicum requirements. 

      Graduates find jobs in education, healthcare, business management, sports, animal training, and other areas.  

      See more
      #2 in Best ABA master’s programs

      Western New England University

      Springfield, Massachusetts

      Economic score 0.32

      The Economic Score is the combination of debt-to-earnings ratio and earningsplus. We use the economic score to determine a graduate program’s rank. The lower the economic score the better. For an analysis of how we arrive at the economic score, and a description of our data sources, please visit our methodology page.

      Earnings $57,074

      Median earnings of all students 4 years after graduating.

      Debt to earnings 0.3

      The debt-to-earnings ratio is calculated by dividing student debt upon graduation by the annual salary. A debt to earnings ratio of 1 means that annual educational debt is the same as annual earnings.

      Debt $18,142

      The total debt accrued by the median student at the time of graduation.

      Western New England University is a private university in Springfield, Massachusetts, and offers the second-best ABA program in the country by value for money. 

      Western New England University’s Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis is highly respected. A testament to the program’s rigor, its average BCBA examination pass rate was 97% in 2022. The program meets the BACB’s requirements for coursework.  

      One plus of this program is its partnership with the New England Center for Children and its school for children with autism. 

      Most students complete this program in 3 years.  

      See more
      #3 in Best ABA master’s programs

      Saint Cloud State University

      Saint Cloud, Minnesota

      Economic score 0.36

      The Economic Score is the combination of debt-to-earnings ratio and earningsplus. We use the economic score to determine a graduate program’s rank. The lower the economic score the better. For an analysis of how we arrive at the economic score, and a description of our data sources, please visit our methodology page.

      Earnings $64,211

      Median earnings of all students 4 years after graduating.

      Debt to earnings 0.4

      The debt-to-earnings ratio is calculated by dividing student debt upon graduation by the annual salary. A debt to earnings ratio of 1 means that annual educational debt is the same as annual earnings.

      Debt $28,500

      The total debt accrued by the median student at the time of graduation.

      St. Cloud State University (SCSU) is a public institution in Central Minnesota and offers many highly respected psychology programs.  

      One of these is the Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis, which is the third-best ABA program in the country by value. This program, which includes a practicum and internships, is offered both online and on campus. Coursework includes classes approved by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board, and graduates have a high pass rate for the BCBA exam.  

      In fact, it has the highest BCBA exam pass rate of any online program in the country. 

      Graduates go on to have careers in areas like autism, functional analysis, developmental disabilities, community integration, and much more. 

      See more
      #4 in Best ABA master’s programs

      Cambridge College

      Boston, Massachusetts

      Economic score 0.37

      The Economic Score is the combination of debt-to-earnings ratio and earningsplus. We use the economic score to determine a graduate program’s rank. The lower the economic score the better. For an analysis of how we arrive at the economic score, and a description of our data sources, please visit our methodology page.

      Earnings $61,488

      Median earnings of all students 4 years after graduating.

      Debt to earnings 0.4

      The debt-to-earnings ratio is calculated by dividing student debt upon graduation by the annual salary. A debt to earnings ratio of 1 means that annual educational debt is the same as annual earnings.

      Debt $24,747

      The total debt accrued by the median student at the time of graduation.

      Cambridge College is a private college is in Boston, Massachusetts. It boasts a small, supportive student body in a bustling urban environment.  

      Cambridge’s high-value Master of Education in Autism/Applied Behavior Analysis prepares students to sit for the industry standard BCBA exam. Students take the Verified Course Sequence required for accredited ABA programs.  

      The program is divided into 2 parts: autism/special education courses and ABA courses.  

      Students can take online and on-campus courses (including evening and weekend classes), and they do not need to submit GRE scores to apply.  

      See more
      #5 in Best ABA master’s programs

      CUNY Queens College

      Queens, New York

      Economic score 0.38

      The Economic Score is the combination of debt-to-earnings ratio and earningsplus. We use the economic score to determine a graduate program’s rank. The lower the economic score the better. For an analysis of how we arrive at the economic score, and a description of our data sources, please visit our methodology page.

      Earnings $80,721

      Median earnings of all students 4 years after graduating.

      Debt to earnings 0.4

      The debt-to-earnings ratio is calculated by dividing student debt upon graduation by the annual salary. A debt to earnings ratio of 1 means that annual educational debt is the same as annual earnings.

      Debt $35,755

      The total debt accrued by the median student at the time of graduation.

      CUNY Queens is a public university in New York City. It is part of the CUNY system, which is well known for its affordable tuition rates and impressive economic outcomes post-graduation.  

      Its Master’s in ABA is registered as a licensure-qualifying program with New York State. As such, it follows the verified ABA course sequence.  

      Examples of courses offered at CUNY Queens include Psychology of Learning, Autism Treatment, Developmental Disabilities, Behavioral Neuroscience, Psychopathology, Record Keeping, and more. 

      See more
      #6 in Best ABA master’s programs

      University of Southern California

      Los Angeles, California

      Economic score 0.40

      The Economic Score is the combination of debt-to-earnings ratio and earningsplus. We use the economic score to determine a graduate program’s rank. The lower the economic score the better. For an analysis of how we arrive at the economic score, and a description of our data sources, please visit our methodology page.

      Earnings $92,969

      Median earnings of all students 4 years after graduating.

      Debt to earnings 0.7

      The debt-to-earnings ratio is calculated by dividing student debt upon graduation by the annual salary. A debt to earnings ratio of 1 means that annual educational debt is the same as annual earnings.

      Debt $60,845

      The total debt accrued by the median student at the time of graduation.

      University of Southern California (USC) is a private research university in Los Angeles. Founded in 1880, it is the oldest private research university in the state.  

      USC’s Dornsife College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences is home to the on-campus Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis. The program will set you up to take the BCBA exam and become a certified ABA. 

      Students can take 2 courses in developmental psychology that will give them a fresh overview of the state of current research. 

      Other courses focus on ADS, child language acquisition, and psychopathology. The program is 2 years and includes many engaging practicum options. 

      See more
      #7 in Best ABA master’s programs
      Economic score 0.40

      The Economic Score is the combination of debt-to-earnings ratio and earningsplus. We use the economic score to determine a graduate program’s rank. The lower the economic score the better. For an analysis of how we arrive at the economic score, and a description of our data sources, please visit our methodology page.

      Earnings $79,258

      Median earnings of all students 4 years after graduating.

      Debt to earnings 0.5

      The debt-to-earnings ratio is calculated by dividing student debt upon graduation by the annual salary. A debt to earnings ratio of 1 means that annual educational debt is the same as annual earnings.

      Debt $41,000

      The total debt accrued by the median student at the time of graduation.

      California State University, Northridge, often referred to as Cal State Northridge, is a public university in Los Angeles. It is one of the largest universities in the California State University system. 

      Through the Tseng College of Graduate, International, and Midcareer Education, Cal State Northridge offers an affordable Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis

      The 2-year program is based on ABAI-approved content, and its grads had a 92% BCBA Exam pass rate in 2022. Practicum options are arranged for students. 

      No GRE is required to apply. 

      See more
      #8 in Best ABA master’s programs

      Wayne State University

      Detroit, Michigan

      Economic score 0.43

      The Economic Score is the combination of debt-to-earnings ratio and earningsplus. We use the economic score to determine a graduate program’s rank. The lower the economic score the better. For an analysis of how we arrive at the economic score, and a description of our data sources, please visit our methodology page.

      Earnings $69,599

      Median earnings of all students 4 years after graduating.

      Debt to earnings 0.6

      The debt-to-earnings ratio is calculated by dividing student debt upon graduation by the annual salary. A debt to earnings ratio of 1 means that annual educational debt is the same as annual earnings.

      Debt $38,298

      The total debt accrued by the median student at the time of graduation.

      #9 in Best ABA master’s programs
      Economic score 0.44

      The Economic Score is the combination of debt-to-earnings ratio and earningsplus. We use the economic score to determine a graduate program’s rank. The lower the economic score the better. For an analysis of how we arrive at the economic score, and a description of our data sources, please visit our methodology page.

      Earnings $56,174

      Median earnings of all students 4 years after graduating.

      Debt to earnings 0.4

      The debt-to-earnings ratio is calculated by dividing student debt upon graduation by the annual salary. A debt to earnings ratio of 1 means that annual educational debt is the same as annual earnings.

      Debt $25,100

      The total debt accrued by the median student at the time of graduation.

      Western Connecticut State University, otherwise known as WestConn, is a public university in Danbury, Connecticut. It offers in-state tuition to students from New York and New Jersey.  

      Its Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis features courses that prepare students to pass the BCBA certified exam. Conveniently, the coursework for this degree program is 100% online. 

      This program features cutting-edge use of assistive technology, teaching students to help individuals with developmental disabilities.

      See more
      #10 in Best ABA master’s programs

      Shenandoah University

      Winchester, Virginia

      Economic score 0.46

      The Economic Score is the combination of debt-to-earnings ratio and earningsplus. We use the economic score to determine a graduate program’s rank. The lower the economic score the better. For an analysis of how we arrive at the economic score, and a description of our data sources, please visit our methodology page.

      Earnings $54,109

      Median earnings of all students 4 years after graduating.

      Debt to earnings 0.5

      The debt-to-earnings ratio is calculated by dividing student debt upon graduation by the annual salary. A debt to earnings ratio of 1 means that annual educational debt is the same as annual earnings.

      Debt $27,430

      The total debt accrued by the median student at the time of graduation.

      Shenandoah University is a private university in Winchester, Virginia in the scenic Shenandoah Valley. While it is officially affiliated with the Methodist Church, people of all faiths are welcome. 

      Its Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis program prepares graduates to work in various settings, including homes, classrooms, mental health centers, and corporations. Students typically pass the Board-Certified Behavior Analysis (BCBA) exam upon graduation. The curriculum follows the ABAI Verified Course Sequence. 

      This 16-month degree is available 100% online. 

      See more
      #11 in Best ABA master’s programs

      Simmons University

      Boston, Massachusetts

      Economic score 0.47

      The Economic Score is the combination of debt-to-earnings ratio and earningsplus. We use the economic score to determine a graduate program’s rank. The lower the economic score the better. For an analysis of how we arrive at the economic score, and a description of our data sources, please visit our methodology page.

      Earnings $72,166

      Median earnings of all students 4 years after graduating.

      Debt to earnings 0.6

      The debt-to-earnings ratio is calculated by dividing student debt upon graduation by the annual salary. A debt to earnings ratio of 1 means that annual educational debt is the same as annual earnings.

      Debt $42,152

      The total debt accrued by the median student at the time of graduation.

      Simmons University, known as Simmons College until 2018, is a private university in Boston, Massachusetts. It was founded in 1899. 

      The Simmons Master of Science in Behavior Analysis is a campus-based program that prepares students to pass the BCBA exam and become board-certified behavior analysts. Its BCBA exam pass rate is 72%, considerably higher than the national average of 55%. 

      While most graduates end up helping neurodivergent individuals, some practice in areas like animal training, organizational behavior management, higher education, and behavioral medicine. 

      See more
      #12 in Best ABA master’s programs

      Salve Regina University

      Newport, Rhode Island

      Economic score 0.49

      The Economic Score is the combination of debt-to-earnings ratio and earningsplus. We use the economic score to determine a graduate program’s rank. The lower the economic score the better. For an analysis of how we arrive at the economic score, and a description of our data sources, please visit our methodology page.

      Earnings $56,692

      Median earnings of all students 4 years after graduating.

      Debt to earnings 0.5

      The debt-to-earnings ratio is calculated by dividing student debt upon graduation by the annual salary. A debt to earnings ratio of 1 means that annual educational debt is the same as annual earnings.

      Debt $28,604

      The total debt accrued by the median student at the time of graduation.

      This private Roman-Catholic university is located in Newport, Rhode Island. It was founded in 1934 by the Sisters of Mercy, a religious institute for women.  

      The Salve Regina Master’s Degree in Behavior Analysis gives students all the tools they need to succeed on the BCBA exam. Anyone with an accredited bachelor’s degree can apply for the program – majoring in psychology isn’t required. 

      The program takes 2 years to complete, and classes are offered in the evenings. Its scientist-practitioner approach to learning ensures students get plenty of opportunities to practice clinical skills and have unique, hands-on experiences. 

      See more
      #13 in Best ABA master’s programs
      Economic score 0.51

      The Economic Score is the combination of debt-to-earnings ratio and earningsplus. We use the economic score to determine a graduate program’s rank. The lower the economic score the better. For an analysis of how we arrive at the economic score, and a description of our data sources, please visit our methodology page.

      Earnings $66,402

      Median earnings of all students 4 years after graduating.

      Debt to earnings 0.6

      The debt-to-earnings ratio is calculated by dividing student debt upon graduation by the annual salary. A debt to earnings ratio of 1 means that annual educational debt is the same as annual earnings.

      Debt $41,000

      The total debt accrued by the median student at the time of graduation.

      University of Houston, Clear Lake, usually referred to as UHCL, is a public university in Houston, Texas. The university’s roots are in the NASA space program, starting out by offering math, physics, and engineering classes to NASA employees. 

      UHCL’s Behavioral Analysis M.A. is the best in Texas economically, and its graduates are highly sought after by employers.  

      People who complete this program are well prepared to pass the BCBA exam to become practitioners or go on to pursue doctoral studies in psychology.  

      See more
      #14 in Best ABA master’s programs

      University of Georgia

      Athens, Georgia

      Economic score 0.53

      The Economic Score is the combination of debt-to-earnings ratio and earningsplus. We use the economic score to determine a graduate program’s rank. The lower the economic score the better. For an analysis of how we arrive at the economic score, and a description of our data sources, please visit our methodology page.

      Earnings $74,748

      Median earnings of all students 4 years after graduating.

      Debt to earnings 0.5

      The debt-to-earnings ratio is calculated by dividing student debt upon graduation by the annual salary. A debt to earnings ratio of 1 means that annual educational debt is the same as annual earnings.

      Debt $41,000

      The total debt accrued by the median student at the time of graduation.

      The University of Georgia is a large public university with a main campus in the town of Athens. UGA is one of the oldest public universities in the country and the flagship school of the University System of Georgia.  

      UGA’s Mary Frances Early College of Education offers an M.S. in Applied Behavior Analysis that is one of the best in the South. The 2-year program combines classroom instruction with hands-on experience, preparing students to pass the BCBA exam and work in school consultative and clinical settings.  

      Coursework typically includes classes like individual academic interventions, behavioral methods of instruction, autism spectrum disorders and other developmental disabilities, and professional ethics. 

      See more
      #15 in Best ABA master’s programs
      Economic score 0.53

      The Economic Score is the combination of debt-to-earnings ratio and earningsplus. We use the economic score to determine a graduate program’s rank. The lower the economic score the better. For an analysis of how we arrive at the economic score, and a description of our data sources, please visit our methodology page.

      Earnings $57,714

      Median earnings of all students 4 years after graduating.

      Debt to earnings 0.5

      The debt-to-earnings ratio is calculated by dividing student debt upon graduation by the annual salary. A debt to earnings ratio of 1 means that annual educational debt is the same as annual earnings.

      Debt $31,700

      The total debt accrued by the median student at the time of graduation.

      The University of Cincinnati, referred to as UC, Cincy, or simply Cincinnati, is a large public research university in Ohio. It is the second-largest university in the state. 

      It offers a Master of Education in Foundations in Behavior Analysis that follows the ABAI-verified course sequence and prepares students to take the BCBA. 

      Students learn how to best help people with autism spectrum disorder, learning disabilities, and more. 

      This 100% online program takes an asynchronous approach, allowing students to learn at their own pace.  

      See more
      #16 in Best ABA master’s programs

      Georgian Court University

      Lakewood, New Jersey

      Economic score 0.66

      The Economic Score is the combination of debt-to-earnings ratio and earningsplus. We use the economic score to determine a graduate program’s rank. The lower the economic score the better. For an analysis of how we arrive at the economic score, and a description of our data sources, please visit our methodology page.

      Earnings $60,340

      Median earnings of all students 4 years after graduating.

      Debt to earnings 0.7

      The debt-to-earnings ratio is calculated by dividing student debt upon graduation by the annual salary. A debt to earnings ratio of 1 means that annual educational debt is the same as annual earnings.

      Debt $41,000

      The total debt accrued by the median student at the time of graduation.

      Georgian Court University’s a private Roman Catholic university in Lakewood Township, New Jersey was founded in 1908 by the Sisters of Mercy. Although it started as a women’s college, it has been co-educational since 1994. It welcomes people of all faiths. 

      Georgian Court’s Master’s Degree in Applied Behavior Analysis is verified by the ABAI, so graduates will be qualified to sit the BCBA exam and become certified ABA practitioners.  

      The program takes most students 2 years to complete and uses hybrid instruction, with classes taking place online and on-campus. 

      ABA master’s students can choose between 3 tracks: generalist, autism specialist, and school specialist. 

      See more
      #17 in Best ABA master’s programs
      Economic score 0.69

      The Economic Score is the combination of debt-to-earnings ratio and earningsplus. We use the economic score to determine a graduate program’s rank. The lower the economic score the better. For an analysis of how we arrive at the economic score, and a description of our data sources, please visit our methodology page.

      Earnings $54,781

      Median earnings of all students 4 years after graduating.

      Debt to earnings 0.7

      The debt-to-earnings ratio is calculated by dividing student debt upon graduation by the annual salary. A debt to earnings ratio of 1 means that annual educational debt is the same as annual earnings.

      Debt $39,808

      The total debt accrued by the median student at the time of graduation.

      Georgia State University is a large public research university in Atlanta. It is one of the largest universities in the country.  

      Georgia State’s M.S. in Applied Behavior Analysis is offered through its College of Education & Human Development. It features opportunities to collaborate on research with faculty members, complete internships and practicums, and build a professional network.  

      The program takes at least 36 semester hours to complete, and graduates are eligible to sit the BCBA exam.  

      See more
      #18 in Best ABA master’s programs
      Economic score 0.70

      The Economic Score is the combination of debt-to-earnings ratio and earningsplus. We use the economic score to determine a graduate program’s rank. The lower the economic score the better. For an analysis of how we arrive at the economic score, and a description of our data sources, please visit our methodology page.

      Earnings $51,515

      Median earnings of all students 4 years after graduating.

      Debt to earnings 0.6

      The debt-to-earnings ratio is calculated by dividing student debt upon graduation by the annual salary. A debt to earnings ratio of 1 means that annual educational debt is the same as annual earnings.

      Debt $33,423

      The total debt accrued by the median student at the time of graduation.

      The University of North Texas is a public research university is located in Denton, Texas in the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area. UNT is one of the largest universities in the U.S. 

      It offers an Applied Behavior Analysis Master of Arts Online that comprises 10 total classes and 30 credit hours. It is offered by the UNT College of Health and Public Service. 

      Its curriculum design is flexible: students can take 1 to 4 classes per semester. Coursework meets the requirement for graduates to take the BCBA exam. 

      Typically, program graduates work with populations such as hospital patients, children with autism, or people with developmental disabilities, in environments like large corporations or schools. 

      See more
      #19 in Best ABA master’s programs

      Assumption University

      Worcester, Massachusetts

      Economic score 0.72

      The Economic Score is the combination of debt-to-earnings ratio and earningsplus. We use the economic score to determine a graduate program’s rank. The lower the economic score the better. For an analysis of how we arrive at the economic score, and a description of our data sources, please visit our methodology page.

      Earnings $57,108

      Median earnings of all students 4 years after graduating.

      Debt to earnings 0.7

      The debt-to-earnings ratio is calculated by dividing student debt upon graduation by the annual salary. A debt to earnings ratio of 1 means that annual educational debt is the same as annual earnings.

      Debt $40,984

      The total debt accrued by the median student at the time of graduation.

      Assumption University is a private Catholic university in Worcester, Massachusetts. It was founded in 1904 by the Augustinians of the Assumption.  

      Its 46-credit Master of Arts in ABA meets the educational and fieldwork requirements for sitting the BCBA exam and applying for licensure.  

      The program features a multi-disciplinary perspective and small class sizes. Students can also choose to write an optional thesis.  

      See more
      #20 in Best ABA master’s programs

      Arcadia University

      Glenside, Pennsylvania

      Economic score 0.74

      The Economic Score is the combination of debt-to-earnings ratio and earningsplus. We use the economic score to determine a graduate program’s rank. The lower the economic score the better. For an analysis of how we arrive at the economic score, and a description of our data sources, please visit our methodology page.

      Earnings $50,051

      Median earnings of all students 4 years after graduating.

      Debt to earnings 0.7

      The debt-to-earnings ratio is calculated by dividing student debt upon graduation by the annual salary. A debt to earnings ratio of 1 means that annual educational debt is the same as annual earnings.

      Debt $35,820

      The total debt accrued by the median student at the time of graduation.

      Arcadia University is a private university in Pennsylvania on the outskirts of Philadelphia. Its campus features several notable historic buildings.  

      Arcadia offers a well-regarded Online Master’s in Education in Applied Behavior Analysis that typically takes 18 months to complete. Besides the ABA degree, students can also obtain an online Graduate Certificate in Autism.  

      In addition to aligning with the requirements to sit the BCBA exam, Arcadia’s ABA Master’s program features small class sizes and flexible coursework.  

      Students can study full-time or part-time. 

      See more

      www.degreechoices.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

      Browse hundreds of online psychology programs

      Fill out a short survey and we’ll help you find an affordable ABA program that’s perfect for YOU.

      We rank degrees by value for money, i.e., return on investment (ROI). This rewards colleges that are the “best deal,” offering higher salaries after graduating school for relatively low costs up front. You can read more on our methodology page.

      How we made this list

      All our data comes from College Scorecard and IPEDS.

      To make this list, we looked at 48 accredited applied behavior analysis master’s programs at 4-year universities in the U.S. We only included schools that disclose sufficient earnings and/or cost data to the National Center for Education Statistics.

      Community colleges, fully online schools, and non-accredited institutions were excluded.

      To be included on this list, programs must be registered as applied behavior analysis (42.2814) in the Department of Education’s CIP code classification system.

      Accreditation

      It is important to choose an ABA program that is accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA) and the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI).

      If you want to pursue a career in ABA, you should also look out for courses that meet the Verified Course Sequence (VCS) requirement. ABAI considers courses as VCS if they meet the criteria for specific coursework requirements, content hours, and faculty standards.

      Programs receive approval in 3 ways:

      1. As part of the curriculum included in a master’s degree program in education, psychology, or behavior analysis
      2. As a graduate certificate earned concurrent with a master’s degree in education, psychology, or behavior analysis
      3. As a standalone post-graduate certificate program available to those who already hold a master’s or doctorate in education, psychology or behavior analysis

      How to become a behavior analyst

      Behavior analysts usually need a master’s degree. In addition, most states require you to become a BCBA, or board-certified behavior analyst.

      To become a full-fledged board-certified behavior analyst, you need to:

      1. Get a bachelor’s degree – Majoring in psychology or counseling is the best route.
      2. Get a master’s degree – Look for Applied Behavior Analysis programs accredited by the APA and ABAI.
      3. Complete a practicum – You’ll need to complete a certain number of hours of fieldwork under the supervision of a licensed BCBA. Fieldwork may take up almost half of the credits in an ABA master’s program.
      4. Pass the BCBA exam – The BCBA exam takes 4 hours and costs $245, plus a $125 exam appointment fee.

      What degree do you need to be a behavioral analyst?

      You need a master’s degree in applied behavior analysis. If you have some other type of master’s degree, you can complete additional ABA coursework from an ABAI accredited institution.

      Some applied psychology master’s programs may qualify you to sit the BCBA exam as well.

      Can you be a BCBA with a bachelor’s degree?

      Although you need a master’s degree to become a full-fledged board-certified behavior analyst (BCBA), you can become a BCaBA, or Board-Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA), with just a bachelor’s.

      BCaBA-level certified behavior analysts work under the supervision of a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst.

      Universities with bachelor’s programs that lead to BCaBA certification are not numerous, but they do exist.

      Make sure any program you’re considering is accredited by the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI).

      • As the title suggests, an assistant applied behavior analyst’s role is to assist the applied behavior analysts in gathering data and maintaining records. The assistant is also responsible for the administration of specific assessments. The work consists of counseling patients with a focus on helping them prevent and modify certain actions to maintain positive behaviors, learn new abilities, and improve social interactions.

        See more

      Do applied behavior analysts need a PhD?

      No, you don’t need a PhD or a doctorate to become an ABA.

      However, doctoral training could make you eligible for Board Certified Behavior Analyst-Doctoral (BCBA-D) certification. The BCBA-D designation does not grant any privileges beyond master’s-level BCBA certification.

      This program is primarily research oriented. Students who pursue this path are likely seeking roles as professors, researchers, or clinical directors rather than advancing their clinical expertise in ABA.

      Average salary with a master’s in applied behavioral analysis

      The average yearly paycheck of someone with a master’s in clinical, counseling, or applied psychology (including ABA), 4 years after graduating college, is $55,263. Data comes from NCES.

      Meanwhile, according to PayScale data, BCBAs earn a median salary of $71,464. This makes ABA one of the most lucrative branches of clinical/counseling/applied psychology at the master’s level.

      People with a PsyD, however, earn even more: clinical and counseling psychologists (who need a doctorate) earn an average of $102,740 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

      • BCBAs are healthcare professionals providing behavior-analytical services. BCBAs make treatment plans based on the patients’ reactions and behavior and supervise, monitor, and oversee patient care. They often work with people who have developmental disabilities, brain injuries, or emotional, social or behavioral issues. Some BCBAs specialize in children, people with autism, or the elderly.

        See more

      Also read: The best online master’s in psychology programs with no GRE

      Cheapest BCBA online programs

      Because they are convenient and affordable, online degrees are getting more and more popular.  Many ABA programs allow students to complete coursework online.

      The cheapest ABA online programs, by average total debt at graduation, are:

      1. Southeast Missouri State University – average debt $20,701
      2. Western Connecticut State University – average debt $25,100
      3. Shenandoah University – average debt $27,430
      4. Saint Cloud State University – average debt $28,500
      5. National University – average debt $30,756

      Final thoughts

      A degree in ABA, and a career as a board-certified behavior analyst, can be a great way of helping vulnerable populations. You’ll teach people to cope with stressful environments and get the most out of life.

      Choosing a fulfilling, meaningful career doesn’t mean you have to resign yourself to unmanageable student debt.

      Opt for a top-performing ABA master’s program that will allow you to succeed in a vitally important helping profession – without compromising on economic security.

      If you’re interested in psychology, but you’re not sure ABA is the right choice for you, check out our master’s-level rankings of the best clinical psychology programs, counseling psychology programs, applied psychology programs, or marriage and family therapy programs.

      Did you enjoy this post?