Master's degrees in applied behavioral analysis give students cutting-edge tools and methods to help clients overcome behavioral challenges. These programs typically integrate courses from cultural anthropology, sociology, and biology in addition to practical training scenarios. The degree prepares students to work one-on-one with clients and in group settings.

This guide offers prospective students essential educational and career information

A master's degree in applied behavioral analysis prepares graduates for diverse professional roles, such as special education teacher or applied behavioral therapist. Graduates enjoy strong job prospects. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects positions for therapists and counselors who work on behavioral disorders to increase 22% between 2018 and 2028.

This guide offers prospective students essential educational and career information to consider when researching online master's in applied behavioral science programs.

Best Online Master's in Applied Behavioral Analysis Programs

University of South Florida

USF is a public research institution located in Tampa, Florida. Established in 1956, the school now serves approximately 51,000 students. USF offers an online master of arts in applied behavior analysis that prepares learners to become skilled behavior analysts. USF's behavioral science degree best serves recent college graduates and working professionals who wish to earn the board-certified behavior analyst certification (BCBA). USF's applied behavioral science program includes BCBA coaching and a preparation exam.

USF's Master of Arts in Applied Behavior Analysis


  • Credits and courses: Distance students need at least 41 credits to graduate. Required classes include observational methods and functional assessment, behavior theory, single-case experimental design, and behavior analysis and developmental disabilities.
  • How long does it take?: Full-time students can finish the online master's degree in roughly five semesters.
  • Transfer credits: Incoming students at USF may transfer in credits toward their master's degree. The registrar considers transcripts on a case-by-case basis.
  • Online student support: USF students engage with coursework using the Canvas learning platform. Remote learners take advantage of its online proctoring features for quizzes and exams. Additionally, learners can access online academic advising, tutorials, free software, and IT support.
  • Cost: $600/credit.
  • Admissions requirements: Prospective students need a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university with a 3.0 GPA or higher. USF expects applicants to possess a history of coursework in applied behavior analysis or related work experience. Applications must also include a statement of purpose, resume, GRE scores, unofficial transcripts, and three letters of recommendation.
  • Accreditation: USF holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SASCOC).

Ball State University

BSU is a public research institution located in Muncie, Indiana. The school also includes satellite campuses in Fishers and Indianapolis, Indiana. Established in 1918, the school now serves approximately 23,000 students. Graduate degree-seekers can choose from over 100 academic programs. Remote learners can earn their master of arts in applied behavior with an emphasis in autism entirely online.

BSU's MA in applied behavior degree best serves incoming students with backgrounds in psychology, criminal justice, education, and social work. Alums typically move on to careers as teachers, therapists, psychologists, and other human service professions. Remote learners typically take one or two asynchronous classes per semester and finish the applied behavioral science program in two years or less.

BSU's Master of Arts in Applied Behavior Analysis


  • Concentrations: BSU's master's program features an emphasis in autism studies.
  • Credits and courses: Distance students need 30 credits to finish this degree. Required courses include research methods for behavior analysis, introduction to persons with autism spectrum disorders, interventions and treatments for persons with autism, and behavioral consultation.
  • How long does it take?: Full-time learners typically complete this degree in two years or less.
  • Field education: Students choose between three-credit field-based experiences in applied behavioral analysis or autism.
  • Transfer credits: Incoming students holding previous college credits with a "C" grade or better may receive up to nine credits toward the behavioral science degree. The school considers transfer credits on a case-by-case basis when students apply for admission.
  • Cost: $442/credit for residents; $651/credit for nonresidents.
  • Admissions requirements: Prospective students need a 2.75 GPA or higher for consideration. This program does not require applicants to submit their GRE scores.
  • Accreditation: BSU holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). The applied behavior analysis master's program is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) and the Indiana Teacher Training and Licensing Commission in the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE).

George Mason University

Established in 1949, Mason is a public research university in Fairfax, Virginia. The college serves as one of the largest universities in the state and boasts approximately 36,000 students. Mason's onlinemaster of education in special educationhelps remote studentsprepare for careers serving individuals with a variety of disabilities. Distance students at Mason choose from certificate tracks in autism spectrum disorders or applied behavior analysis.

The autism certificate requires 15 credits of coursework and additional field experience. The applied behavior analysis certificate includes 18 credits of classes and features a supervised field experience. In most cases, full-time learners finish their master's in approximately two years.

Mason's Master of Education in Special Education


  • Concentrations: Special education master's students choose between graduate certificate tracks in autism spectrum disorders or applied behavior analysis.
  • Credits and courses: Degree-seekers need at least 30 credits to graduate. Students complete a diverse curriculum of synchronous and asynchronous classes, including introduction for special education, special education research, universal design for learning, and computer applications for special populations. Additionally, distance students must complete a capstone project that integrates key concepts from their training.
  • How long does it take?: Full-time students can finish the online applied behavioral science program in as little as 24 months.
  • Field education: Online students participate in simulated field experiences throughout their studies.
  • Transfer credits: The registrar considers courses for transfer from accredited colleges and universities on a case-by-case basis.
  • Cost: $790/credit.
  • Admissions requirements: Prospective students need a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution with a 3.0 GPA or higher. Mason does not require standardized test scores with an application, although students may send their ACT or SAT scores to supplement their application.
  • Accreditation: Mason is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

University of Cincinnati

UC is a public research institution established in 1819. Located in Cincinnati, Ohio, the school boasts approximately 46,000 students and is the second largest university in the state. UC offers an online master of education in foundations in behavior analysis for distance students.

This entirely online program helps master's degree-seekers prepare to become registered behavior technicians or board-certified behavior analysts. UC prides itself on offering distance learners a variety of marketable skills and an accredited credential to increase their earning potential and advance their careers. UC applied behavioral science alums move on to careers in areas like special education, mental health, social work, research, speech pathology, school counseling, criminal justice, and human resources.

UC's Master of Education in Foundations in Behavior Analysis


  • Credits and courses: Remote learners need at least 30 credits for graduation. UC features asynchronous classes and allows students to complete coursework 24/7. Required classes for the major include child development, family intervention and early intervention, frameworks for disabilities and disorders in childhood, and applied behavior analysis.
  • How long does it take?: Full-timestudents can complete a total of 10 courses in as little as 20 months.
  • Online student support: Distance students use the blackboard learning platform to access online resources. The school provides learners with full-text library access, IT support, academic success coaching, and blackboard tutorials.
  • Cost: $724/credit for residents; $739/credit for nonresidents.
  • Admissions requirements: Incoming students need a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university. Applicants must submit two letters of recommendation, a resume, a personal goal statement, and official transcripts reflecting a 3.0 GPA or higher from all previous undergraduate courses.
  • Accreditation: UC is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Drexel University

Located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Drexel is a private research institution founded in 1891. The school boasts approximately 25,000 students and offers more than 100 graduate academic programs. Online learners pursue its master of science in applied behavior analysis with no on-campus obligations.

This applied behavioral science program uses evidence-based principles to provide its master's students with cutting-edge instruction and hands-on training opportunities. Drexel's program also integrates proven behavioral strategies with scientific theories and prepares students to sit for the board-certified behavior analyst examination. Drexel alums typically pursue careers as social workers, program coordinators, public and private interventionists, and senior clinical directors.

Drexel's Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis


  • Concentrations: Remote scholars complete core coursework and classes from one of three concentration areas: autism spectrum disorders; social, emotional, and behavioral wellness; or the practicum track.
  • Credits and courses: Students take classes during four 10-week quarters per year. In total, master's students need 45-46.5 semester credits to finish the program. Core applied behavior science classes include measurement and experimental design, behavioral assessment and functional analysis, ethical considerations and professional conduct, and behavioral interventions.
  • How long does it take?: Remote students can finish the program in two years or less.
  • Field education: Online students in the practicum track must complete 750 practicum hours in person at approved locations.
  • Transfer credits: Transfer credits must be approved by the program's graduate advisor. Students may transfer in 15 credits toward their degree.
  • Online student support: Online students benefit from comprehensive support services like tutoring and success coaches.
  • Cost: $978/credit.
  • Admissions requirements: Prospective students must submit an online application containing their official transcripts, two letters of recommendation, a personal essay, and a resume. Distance learners also need to participate in an admissions interview.
  • Accreditation: Drexel is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

The Sage Colleges

Founded in 1916, Sage is a private institution comprising three schools in New York, including Russell Sage College, Sage College of Albany, and Sage Graduate School. The school offers an online master of science in applied behavior analysis and autism. Sage follows a scientist-practitioner model that helps students follow scientific approaches to studying human behavior. As a result, Sage master's scholars learn the essentials of research design and experimentation used by professionals in the field today.

Sage prepares learners to sit for the behavior analyst certification board exam and features optional practicum experiences and independent fieldwork hours so students meet board requirements. Distance students complete all required courses entirely online with no on-campus obligations. Sage accepts applications on a rolling basis and admits students on a first-come, first-served basis during the spring and fall semesters.

Sage's Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis and Autism


  • Concentrations: Students choose between a practicum and non-practicum track option.
  • Credits and courses: Remote learners in the non-practicum track need 34 credits for graduation. Practicum-track students complete 42 credits to finish the degree. Required courses include behavioral assessment, professional practice, research in behavioral analysis, ethical and professional conduct for behavior analysts, and advanced topics in applied behavior analysis. Learners in the non-practicum track complete additional courses like interventions and autism, core skills in autism, and test strategies.
  • How long does it take?: Depending on the track, many master's students finish this degree in as little as 24 months.
  • Field education: Learners in the practicum track complete four 12-15-week, two-credit practicum courses.
  • Online student support: Remote students gain access to learning tools like audio-visual presentations created by faculty, online active learning experiences, fluency drills, and data collection practice sessions.
  • Cost: $685/credit.
  • Admissions requirements: Prospective students must submit their official transcripts, two letters of recommendation, a career goals statement, and a resume. Applicants should possess an undergraduate course history in relevant areas, including statistics and psychology.
  • Accreditation: Sage is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

Bay Path University

Bay Path is a private institution located in Longmeadow, Massachusetts. Established in 1897, the school now serves 3,300 students. Remote learners can take advantage of its online behavioral science degree options.

Distance students can pursue a 48-credit master of science in applied behavior analysis. Alternatively, the school offers an online 57-credit applied behavior analysis and autism spectrum disorders and a 51-credit education specialist in applied behavior analysis master's degree. Remote learners can complete required coursework entirely online or in a hybrid format. The optional in-person classes take place on-campus in Concord, East Longmeadow, or Sturbridge, Massachusetts. Regardless of the degree path, the applied behavior analysis curricula at Bay Path prepares students to sit for the behavior analyst certification board exam

Bay Path's Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis


  • Concentrations: Students pursue a degree focused in general applied behavior studies, autism spectrum disorders, or education specialist in applied behavior analysis.
  • Credits and courses: Master's students need 48-57 credits for graduation, depending on the area of study. Core courses include interventions and behavior change procedures, ethical practice in applied behavior analysis, and the science of applied behavior analysis.
  • How long does it take?: Degree-seekers typically complete the program in two years.
  • Field education: Master's students need 2,000 hours of supervised independent fieldwork. Learners spend 15-22 hours per week conducting fieldwork over a minimum of five semesters.
  • Online student support: Learners use the Canvas learning platform to access class materials and online learning resources. Remote students gain access to career development services, writing coaches, and online tutoring.
  • Cost: $715/credit.
  • Admissions requirements: Applicants should possess a bachelor's degree with a 3.0 GPA or higher. Additionally, applications need to include an original essay, a current resume, two letters of recommendation, and a signed program requirement form. Incoming students do not need to submit their GMAT or GRE scores for consideration.
  • Accreditation: Bay Path is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).

Southeast Missouri State University

SEMO is a public institution established in 1873. Located in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, the school serves approximately 11,500 students. Distance students can take advantage of SEMO's 42-credit online applied behavior analysis master's degree.

This behavioral science degree prepares distance students for careers working with individuals with autism and other neurodevelopmental disabilities. The behavior analyst program features hands-on training, fieldwork opportunities, dedicated faculty advisors, and affordable tuition. Remote learners at SEMO follow a synchronous course schedule and typically enter the program in the fall semester. Degree-seekers complete most of their required courses during the first year and practicum hours during their second year. Full-time students can complete the degree in two years.

SEMO's Master of Arts in Applied Behavior Analysis


  • Credits and courses: The master's degree requires 42 credits for graduation along with field education hours. At least 24 credits come from core coursework and 18 hours from intensive practicums. Required classes include special topics in applied behavior analysis, methods for studying the behavior of individuals, and an introduction to ethics and professional conduct.
  • How long does it take?: Most remote learners finish the program in two years, provided they take six or seven credits per semester for six semesters.
  • Field education: Master's students participate in three semesters of six-credit intensive practicums. In total, students must acquire at least 750 fieldwork hours.
  • Online student support: Remote students gain access to academic tutoring, online advising, financial services, Moodle tutorials, and library materials. Veterans can receive specialized assistance through the military and veteran services office.
  • Cost: $292/credit for residents; $544/credit for nonresidents.
  • Admissions requirements: Prospective students must possess an undergraduate degree with a 3.0 GPA or higher. Applications must include two letters of recommendation and a personal statement.
  • Accreditation: SEMO is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

University of Houston-Victoria

UHV is a four-year state university located in Victoria, Texas. Founded in 1973, UHV is part of the University of Houston System and serves approximately 4,500 students. The school offers an online behavioral science degree for remote master's students.

Remote learners can pursue UHV's online master's degree in special education with a concentration in applied behavior analysis entirely online. UHV also offers special education degrees in general studies, autism spectrum disorders, and diagnostician certification. With the help of a faculty advisor, students follow an approved course sequence of synchronous classes.

UHV alums typically pursue careers working with people with disabilities in community service agencies, clinics, residential settings, schools, and related facilities. UHV's master's degree in special education also allows students to meet the coursework requirements to sit for the board-certified behavior analyst examination.

UHV's Master of Education in Special Education Applied Behavior Analysis


  • Credits and courses: The master's degree requires 39 semester hours for graduation. At least nine hours come from core courses, 18 hours from the major concentration, and 12 hours from applied behavior analysis listings. Required courses include principles of behavior for the educator, ethical and professional conduct for the applied behavior analyst, programming collaboration, and human growth and development. Applied behavior analysis students also must pass a master's comprehensive examination to graduate.
  • How long does it take?: Students typically need two years to complete the program.
  • Online student support: Distance learners gain access to online career preparation workshops, writing assistance, tutoring services, and writing services through the student success center.
  • Cost: $352/credit for residents; $774/credit for nonresidents.
  • Admissions requirements: Applicants need a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution with a 2.5 GPA or higher.
  • Accreditation: UHV holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SASCOC)

California University of Pennsylvania

Established in 1852, Cal U is a public institution located in California, Pennsylvania. The school offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate degrees and boasts approximately 7,400 students. Remote students take advantage of Cal U's online special education master's programs in applied behavioral science. The education department offers degrees with concentrations in autism spectrum disorders, autism studies, and general behavior analysis studies.

Distance learners can complete their program entirely online with no on-campus obligations. This curriculum teaches graduate students widely used positive reinforcement approaches to behavior analysis. The training prepares them for careers in a variety of research-focused and instructional settings. Master's students pursuing degrees in general studies or autism studies must complete hands-on practicums for graduation. These learners also prepare to take the board certification exam. The special education program that focuses on autism spectrum disorders does not require field hours.

Cal U's Master's Programs in Applied Behavioral Science


  • Concentrations: Learners choose from special education master's programs in autism studies, general behavioral analysis, and autism spectrum disorders.
  • Credits and courses: Depending on the track, learners need 33-39 credits for graduation. Required courses include special education foundations and collaboration; introduction to behavior analysis; special education history, theory, and exceptionality; professional ethical practice; and assessment and prescriptive teaching.
  • How long does it take?: Learners can complete this program in two years or less.
  • Field education: Students in the general studies or autism studies program who wish to pursue board certification must complete six credits of intensive practicum experience.
  • Transfer credits: The registrar considers credits for transfer on a case-by-case basis.
  • Cost: $516/credit for residents; $774/credit for nonresidents.
  • Admissions requirements: Incoming students need a bachelor's degree with a 2.8 GPA or higher in their last 48 credits. Applications must include official transcripts and an application fee.
  • Accreditation: Cal U is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

What to Expect From an Online Master's in Applied Behavioral Analysis Program

Accreditation

Students should ensure that their degrees are from accredited schools. Accreditation expands employment, financial aid, and academic opportunities and indicates that the school meets high quality standards. Institutions may receive regional or national accreditation. Regional accreditation typically applies to nonprofit, liberal arts schools, while national accreditation applies to for-profit, vocational schools. Regional accreditation is typically considered the more prestigious of the two.

Behavior analysts must hold an accredited master's degree and pass the behavior analyst certification board (BACB) exam to earn certification. Accredited online master's programs in applied behavioral analysis use a combination of coursework and supervised practicum or field experiences to prepare graduate students to sit for the exam.

Curriculum in an Online Master's in Applied Behavioral Analysis

Curricula vary by program, but accredited online master's programs in applied behavioral analysis typically cover similar concepts and skills. Some programs offer a variety of concentrations, like autism spectrum disorders or special education.

These master's programs comprise required coursework, electives, and practical or simulated intensive training. Some programs require students to complete a master's thesis based on original research. Other programs require degree-seekers to complete a capstone course during the final semester. Capstone classes typically require an extensive final project or professional research portfolio and presentation.

Online master's in applied behavioral analysis programs typically cover topics like behavior change systems, management and supervision, problem identification and assessment, and intervention and behavior change methods. Graduates possess the skills and knowledge needed to conduct behavioral assessments, develop client support plans, design pertinent education programs, and conduct original research in the field.

Some online master's programs in applied behavioral analysis prepare students to take the behavior analyst certification board's exam through in-person training requirements. In these programs, students usually complete 750-1,000 supervised practicum hours. Students who attend schools that do not require intensive practicums must complete at least 1,500 hours of independent fieldwork to sit for the exam. Colleges and universities typically allow online students to complete practicum hours at approved sites near their homes.

Online Master's in Applied Behavioral Analysis Careers

An online master's degree in applied behavioral analysis qualifies graduates for jobs in diverse settings, such as schools, private practices, and healthcare facilities. Graduates typically work in collaborative environments and assist clients in both one-on-one and group settings. The following list outlines common careers for graduates, including average behavior analyst salary information.

Applied Behavior Analysis Therapist

These professionals typically work directly with individuals with autism. They develop treatment plans tailored to client needs. These therapists use positive reinforcement techniques to improve client behavior and skills.

Median Annual Salary: $35,000

Board-Certified Behavior Analyst

These licensed mental health professionals help clients overcome social, behavioral, and emotional challenges. They follow evidence-based practices to help clients with behavioral and mental disorders, often collaborating with other mental health professionals to improve quality of care.

Median Annual Salary: $59,500

Behavior Specialist

Behavior specialists work in hospitals, public schools, colleges, clinics, and residential care facilities. They often work as counselors with a variety of clients, including adults, children, families, and disadvantaged populations.

Median Annual Salary: $41,000

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