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Best Online Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Graduate Healthcare Certificate Programs for 2024

If you’re a teacher, psychologist, or other human services professional interested in improving your clients’ behavior and learning outcomes, an ABA certification might be right for you. This guide explains everything you need to know about earning an online applied behavior analysis graduate certificate.

Author: Rebecca Newman

Editor: Staff Editor


Search hundreds of schools for the master’s YOU want……

A teacher interacting with two young children, a boy and a girl, at a table in a classroom, using educational materials to facilitate learning.

Whether you’re working with children who have autism spectrum disorder or aging adults, you want what’s best for your clients. By earning an Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)certificate online, you can learn to better understand and meet your client’s needs while furthering your career. If you enjoy working one on one and providing structured interventions that are tailored to every client, an online ABA certification might be right for you.

As you consider this decision, you may be concerned about finding the time to become ABA-certified while working. Fortunately, there are many flexible online applied behavior analysis graduate certificate programs that allow you to balance your responsibilities with your studies.

You’re probably also weighing which schools provide the best training, the cost of an online ABA program, and the curriculum. Before moving forward, it’s important to have all the information you need to make a confident decision. This guide answers many of these questions, so you can choose a program and begin working toward earning an online ABA certification.

College Spotlights: Best Online Applied Behavior Analysis Graduate Certificate Programs (ABA)

We’ve combed through the offerings to find the best-in-class programs for an ABA certificate online based on affordability, flexibility, and accreditation. Our picks include programs for students who hold either bachelor’s or master’s degrees. The featured programs below stand out as all-star choices for pursuing online ABA certification. Check back later for our full rankings with even more excellent options to consider.

Arizona State University (ASU)

Arizona State University’s online Graduate Certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis prides itself on being accessible and flexible, with online courses that can be completed in as little as 18 months. With core classes on data, analytics, and ethics, this program is designed to prepare students to sit for the Board Certified Behavior Analyst® (BCBA)

This 21-credit program is open to individuals with both a bachelor’s and master’s degree; it costs $643/credit, with a total program cost of $13,503. Financial aid options are available, and students should also investigate employer-based tuition aid.

While graduates of ASU’s graduate certificate in applied behavior analysis program will need to meet additional requirements before they are eligible to take the BCBA exam, the school also offers an optional practicum for students seeking to accrue BCBA-supervised field experience.

Arcadia University

With completion in as little as one year and a price tag of $720/credit, Arcadia University’s ABA Online Graduate Certificate is an excellent choice for working professionals who want to increase the scope of their practice. Courses are fully online and asynchronous, and class sizes are deliberately kept small to foster meaningful engagement with peers and faculty. The total cost of this applied behavior analysis certificate program is $15,120.

The program is open to individuals with a bachelor’s degree. After earning the ABA graduate certificate, you can transfer credits toward Arcadia’s ABA Online Master of Education (MEd) degree, which offers an optional Online Graduate Certificate in Autism. With skilled faculty who are BCBA-certified and carry decades of experience, Arcadia’s online applied behavior analysis graduate certificate program will help advance your career.

Top Reasons to Earn an ABA Graduate Certificate Online

While on-campus graduate certificates in ABA exist, more programs are moving to online learning, particularly in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Online programs increase accessibility, deliver student outcomes that are similar to in-person learning, and provide a flexible delivery method to help you become an applied behavior analyst. ABA providers are in high demand, so online applied behavior analysis graduate certificate programs are streamlined to help you move toward licensure efficiently.

Benefit #1: Applied behavior analysts are in high demand.

Families receiving an autism spectrum diagnosis or who have a loved one struggling with relevant life skills usually want to start ABA services immediately to improve their loved one’s outcomes. However, it can be challenging to identify providers in their area. If you are already engaged in education, psychology, or a related field, online ABA certification allows you to add these services or move into a different, higher-paying role in your existing organization.

Benefit #2: An online ABA graduate certificate is efficient.

With no frills or filler, the typical 21-credit programs at many institutions provide the content you need to move toward your BCBA certification and to practice ABA in the community. With straightforward requirements, an online applied behavior analysis graduate certificate can put you on a new career trajectory in the next 12 to 24 months.

Benefit #3: Asynchronous learning is ideal for the working professional.

If you thought your school days were behind you and you’re currently balancing work, family responsibilities, and attempts at leisure or hobbies, the idea of adding another commitment might seem unappealing. Most ABA graduate certificate courses are fully online and asynchronous, making it easier to fit your coursework into your life and propel your career forward.

What You’ll Learn in Online Applied Behavior Analysis Graduate Certificate Programs

Courses in an ABA certificate online are focused and specific to developing the skills you will need in the field, so you can expect concentrated content delivery without filler. Most programs require 21 credits (seven three-credit courses) and cover core concepts, principles, research and data, behavior change procedures, and ethics to prepare you for a career in applied behavior analysis. Look for programs that offer a verified course sequence by the ABAI or the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) to ensure you receive a top-notch, accredited curriculum.

Popular Courses

Concepts and Principles of Applied Behavior Analysis

Learn the basic concepts of ABA, including the behavior analysis process, relevant terminology, and how to apply ABA concepts to a range of situations, whether clinical, professional, or personal.

Measurement, Data Display, Interpretation, and Experimental Design

One of the benefits of utilizing an evidence-based practice as an intervention is the body of research behind the techniques. This course focuses on examining the effectiveness of interventions in clinical and applied settings through behavior-analytic technology.

Behavior Change Procedures: Implementing Interventions in Behavior Analysis

By examining scientifically validated behavior change procedures, students gain experience selecting and analyzing appropriate interventions by conducting a behavior change project and practicing the skills of analyzing, interpreting, and presenting the results. Consider this course a start-to-finish guide on applying ABA to a real-world situation.

Ethics of Applied Behavior Analysis

As with any field that applies to care of humans, practitioners must be well-informed of the ethical considerations within their practice. In addition to reviewing the BACB Guidelines for Responsible Conduct for Behavior Analysis, students also review ethical dilemmas that may arise in their careers.

Verbal Behavior

This advanced course focuses on using ABA principles with an emphasis on verbal behavior (within the ABA field) and an overview of its practical application in offering language instruction to children with diagnosed language delays.

What is the Difference Between an ABA Certificate and BCBA Certification?

An online applied behavior analysis graduate certificate is like taking a driver’s ed course: It provides the knowledge you need to operate effectively. Meanwhile, Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) certification is like earning your driver’s license; it puts your knowledge to the test. BCBA certification also offers you the credential to practice with confidence in your community.

To meet eligibility requirements to become a BCBA, you must hold an ABAI-accredited degree, have specific behavior-analytic coursework (an ABA graduate certificate applies here) in addition to a master’s degree, or have faculty teaching, research, or other post-doctoral experience. If you meet any of those criteria, you may apply for BCBA certification and take the BCBA exam.

Content from online ABA certificate programs provide the information necessary for the BCBA exam, such as research, methodology, implementation, and ethics. In tandem with a master’s degree, you would be eligible to sit for the exam and begin practice once you pass. Learn more in the BCBA Handbook.

What Can You Do with an Online Applied Behavior Analysis Certificate?

An ABA certificate, in conjunction with BCBA or other professional certifications, prepares you for a career as a behavior analyst, early interventionist, researcher, special education teacher, school psychologist, sociologist, mental health counselor, or practitioner applying behavior analysis principles.

Because of the versatility of an ABA certificate, it can apply to a variety of careers, including counseling, education, and more, which all have a projected growth rate of 10% or more by 2030. With a nationwide median salary of $48,500, adding an ABA certificate to your training will likely increase your earnings, particularly based on the in-home nature of many ABA services.

Accreditation for Graduate ABA Certificate Online Programs

Without accreditation, you cannot be confident that your ABA certificate coursework meets appropriate standards. Furthermore, only accredited certificates are applicable to BACB certification, the gold standard in behavior analysis credentialing.

For your program, look for information that it follows the Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) verified course sequence. The ABAI undertakes a rigorous quality review process to meet the standards, and the BACB only accepts degrees or certificates from an ABAI-accredited program to fulfill educational requirements for BCBA examination.

Your prospective online applied behavior analysis graduate certificate program’s website should boast its credentials. If it doesn’t, dig in further to verify accreditation or consider removing it from your list.

Costs and Financial Aid for Online Graduate Certificate – Applied Behavior Analysis

Certificate programs are often a shrewd investment because they distill the information down to its essentials, rather than necessitating a larger number of credits for a bachelor’s or master’s degree. ABA certificate online programs function similarly, with cost-per-credit varying by institution. While some programs may promise better professional connections or placement, if you’re simply looking to enrich your existing practice a more affordable program may fit the bill.

After you’ve decided on a program, look at your financial aid options, such as private and institutional scholarships, fellowships, and employer tuition assistance. Especially if you already hold a master’s degree and are working in the field, consider exploring your employer’s benefits for career advancement support.

What Your Applied Behavior Analysis Graduate Certificate Online Program Could Cost

School Name No. of Credits Cost/
Total Tuition Cost
Arizona State University (100% online) 21 $643 $13,503
Penn State University World Campus (100% online) 21 $1,007 $21,147
Fitchburg State University (100% online) 21 $405 $8,505

Frequently Asked Questions About Online Applied Behavior Analysis Graduate Certificates

What is the Difference Between a Graduate Certificate and a Master’s Degree in Applied Behavior Analysis?

A graduate certificate is a nondegree program that provides you with a certificate of completion of an accredited series of courses, consistent across various institutions of higher learning. A master’s degree in applied behavior analysis requires more coursework and is more expensive to attain.

Many of the same courses in an ABA graduate certificate are also required in an applied behavior analysis master’s degree. If you already hold a master’s degree in a related discipline and are interested in incorporating ABA into your practice, a certificate program gives you the tools you need. If you don’t hold a master’s degree, pursuing an applied behavioral analysis master’s degree may be your best course of action.

What Are the Admissions Requirements for Graduate ABA Certificate Online?

As with most university programs, an online graduate ABA certificate requires transcripts for all prior institutions, a personal statement, and recommendations. However, admissions requirements vary from school to school; the following list is an overview of some of the most common requirements.

  • Bachelor’s Degree: All programs require that you have completed a bachelor’s degree, and some require a master’s degree. Programs may also allow you to apply credits earned during this certificate toward a related master’s degree.
  • Cumulative GPA of 3.0 in previous studies: Programs want to ensure that you’re prepared for the rigors of the curriculum and asynchronous study. At most programs, GRE scores are not required.
  • Personal statement: Many programs want to know about your interest in pursuing an ABA certificate and how it applies to your career.

How Long Will It Take to Finish My Applied Behavior Analysis Graduate Certificate Online?

Most online applied behavior analysis graduate certificate programs require 21 credits, or usually seven three-credit courses, to complete the certificate. You could complete the program in as little as a year, or extend your timeline to two years if you take one or two courses at a time. Most programs have a deadline for completion, which is usually five or six years from matriculation. Online course delivery may accelerate your studies; because courses are asynchronous, you don’t have to worry about course times conflicting with one another.

Can I Earn My Graduate Certificate in ABA 100% Online, or Do I Need to Take Classes on Campus?

Yes, you can earn your online applied behavior analysis graduate certificate 100% online. Some programs joke in their FAQs that the only time you need to come to campus is to participate in your graduation ceremony. While some programs do offer an optional intensive practicum, content can be delivered completely remotely and asynchronously to make integrating your studies into your existing routines as seamless as possible.