ABAI Accredited Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Online Master's Programs

Written by: Psych Degree Starter Editorial Team   •  Jun 11, 2024

Abai Accredited Aba Online Masters Programs

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a growing field that applies principles of behavior to improve socially significant behaviors. This discipline is particularly effective in helping individuals with autism spectrum disorder and other developmental conditions. For those looking to pursue a career in this impactful field, enrolling in an ABAI accredited program is crucial. The Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) accredits programs that meet high standards of quality and rigor, ensuring that graduates are well-prepared for professional practice.

ABAI accredited programs, especially those offered online, provide flexibility and accessibility for students balancing education with personal and professional responsibilities. These programs typically lead to degrees such as a Master of Science (MS) or Master of Arts (MA) in Applied Behavior Analysis, often housed within schools of education or psychology departments. This article will explore the essential aspects of ABAI accredited online master’s programs, including curriculum details, accreditation importance, career opportunities, job outlook, salary expectations, and tips for financing your education.

Understanding Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a scientific discipline that focuses on understanding and improving human behavior. ABA practitioners use principles of learning and behavior, such as reinforcement, to bring about meaningful changes in behavior. This approach is widely recognized for its effectiveness in helping individuals with autism spectrum disorder and other developmental disabilities, but it is also applied in various settings, including schools, workplaces, and healthcare facilities.

ABA involves the systematic application of interventions based on learning theory to improve socially significant behaviors. These interventions are designed to increase positive behaviors and decrease harmful or disruptive ones. ABA techniques are data-driven and involve continuous measurement and analysis to ensure the effectiveness of the interventions.

Types of Degrees and Schools Offering ABA Programs

ABAI accredited programs typically offer degrees such as a Master of Science (MS) or Master of Arts (MA) in Applied Behavior Analysis. The choice between an MS and an MA often depends on the program’s emphasis. An MS might focus more on the scientific and research aspects of ABA, while an MA might have a broader focus on the practical application of behavioral principles.

Common Types of Degrees:

  • Master of Science (MS) in Applied Behavior Analysis: Often focuses on the technical and scientific aspects of ABA, including research methodologies and data analysis.
  • Master of Arts (MA) in Applied Behavior Analysis: Generally emphasizes the practical application of ABA principles in various settings, such as schools, clinics, and community organizations.

Typical Schools Offering ABA Programs:

  • Schools of Education: These programs often focus on applying ABA principles in educational settings, such as special education classrooms.
  • Psychology Departments: These programs may emphasize the psychological theories underlying ABA and its applications in clinical and therapeutic settings.
  • Specialized Institutes: Some universities have dedicated departments or institutes that focus solely on behavior analysis and related disciplines.

By enrolling in an ABAI accredited online master’s program, students gain the knowledge and skills necessary to pursue certification as Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) and work in various settings to improve the lives of individuals through applied behavior analysis.

Overview of Typical Curriculum in Master’s-Level ABA Programs

Core Courses

ABAI accredited programs offer a comprehensive curriculum designed to equip students with both theoretical knowledge and practical skills in Applied Behavior Analysis. Here are some of the core courses commonly found in these programs:

Behavior Assessment

This course focuses on the principles and methods of behavior assessment. Students learn to identify and define target behaviors, conduct functional behavior assessments, and use data to develop intervention plans. Key topics include direct observation, data collection techniques, and the interpretation of behavioral data.

Intervention Strategies

Students are introduced to various intervention strategies used in ABA to modify behavior. This course covers reinforcement, punishment, extinction, and stimulus control procedures. Students learn to design, implement, and evaluate interventions tailored to individual needs and contexts.

Ethics in ABA

Ethical considerations are crucial in the practice of ABA. This course explores the ethical guidelines set forth by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB). Topics include professional conduct, client rights, confidentiality, and ethical decision-making processes.

Practical Training and Supervision

Hands-on experience is a critical component of ABA programs. Practical training ensures that students can apply theoretical knowledge in real-world settings under the guidance of experienced professionals.


A practicum involves supervised practical experience where students work directly with clients in various settings such as schools, clinics, and community organizations. During the practicum, students apply ABA techniques, conduct assessments, and implement interventions.

Supervised Fieldwork

In addition to the practicum, students must complete supervised fieldwork hours. These hours are typically part of the requirements for obtaining certification as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). Supervised fieldwork provides opportunities for students to receive feedback and refine their skills.

Research Component

Many ABA programs include a research component to develop students’ ability to contribute to the field through scientific inquiry.

Thesis or Capstone Project

Students may be required to complete a thesis or capstone project as part of their program. A thesis involves conducting original research under the supervision of a faculty advisor. This project typically includes designing a study, collecting and analyzing data, and presenting the findings. A capstone project, on the other hand, may involve a comprehensive review of the literature, a program evaluation, or the development of a new intervention or assessment tool.

By offering a robust curriculum that combines coursework, practical training, and research, ABAI accredited online master’s programs prepare students to become competent and ethical practitioners in the field of Applied Behavior Analysis.

Accreditation of ABA Programs

Accreditation by the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) is a crucial factor to consider when selecting an Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) master’s program. ABAI accreditation ensures that the program meets high standards of quality and rigor, which is essential for both educational and professional purposes. Here are some reasons why ABAI accreditation is important:

  • Quality Assurance: ABAI accredited programs are regularly reviewed to ensure they provide comprehensive and up-to-date education in ABA. This guarantees that students receive a rigorous and relevant education.
  • Professional Recognition: Graduating from an ABAI accredited program enhances your credentials and can improve job prospects. Employers and professional organizations recognize the value of ABAI accreditation.
  • Eligibility for Certification: Completing an ABAI accredited program is often a prerequisite for taking the Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) certification exam. This certification is essential for many professional roles in ABA.

How Programs Earn ABAI Accreditation

The process for earning ABAI accreditation involves several detailed steps to ensure that a program meets the association’s high standards:


Programs seeking ABAI accreditation must conduct a thorough self-study, evaluating their curriculum, faculty qualifications, training facilities, and student outcomes. This self-study report is submitted to the ABAI for review.

Site Visit

An ABAI-appointed site visit team, composed of experienced behavior analysts, visits the program to assess its facilities, meet with faculty and students, and verify the information provided in the self-study report. The team evaluates the program’s strengths and identifies areas for improvement.

Review and Decision

Following the site visit, the ABAI Accreditation Board reviews the self-study and site visit report to determine if the program meets the standards for accreditation. Programs that meet these standards are granted accreditation, which must be renewed periodically through continued self-assessment and site visits.

Benefits of Attending an ABAI Accredited Program

Choosing an ABAI accredited ABA master’s program offers several benefits:

  • Comprehensive Training: Accredited programs provide a balanced education that integrates theoretical knowledge, practical experience, and ethical considerations. This ensures you are well-prepared for various professional roles in ABA.
  • Enhanced Career Opportunities: Graduates of ABAI accredited programs are highly sought after by employers and are eligible for BCBA certification, broadening your career prospects.
  • Financial Aid Eligibility: Accredited programs are often eligible for federal financial aid, scholarships, and grants, making education more affordable.
  • Professional Development: ABAI accredited programs often offer opportunities for networking, professional development, and involvement in the broader ABA community.

By choosing an ABAI accredited ABA master’s program, you can be confident that you are receiving a high-quality education that meets the rigorous standards of the field. This accreditation is essential for ensuring that you are well-prepared for licensure and professional success.

Job Roles for Applied Behavior Analysis Program Graduates

Career Opportunities

Graduates of ABAI accredited online master’s programs in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) have a wide array of career opportunities available to them. These roles leverage the specialized training and skills acquired through their education, allowing graduates to work in various settings and capacities. Here are some potential career paths:

Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA)

BCBAs are highly trained professionals who design and implement behavior intervention plans. They work with individuals across different age groups and settings, including schools, healthcare facilities, private practice, and community organizations. BCBAs are responsible for conducting assessments, developing treatment plans, supervising other behavior technicians, and ensuring that interventions are effective.

Behavior Consultant

Behavior consultants provide expert advice and support to organizations, schools, and families in managing and improving behavioral issues. They assess behavioral needs, develop intervention strategies, and train staff or caregivers on implementing these strategies. This role often involves working with clients with autism spectrum disorder, developmental disabilities, or behavioral challenges.

Special Education Teacher

Special education teachers with a background in ABA can work in schools to support students with special needs. They use ABA principles to develop individualized education plans (IEPs), manage classroom behavior, and implement teaching strategies that promote positive behaviors and academic success.

Clinical Director

Clinical directors oversee the operations of clinics that provide ABA services. They ensure that services meet high standards of care, supervise clinical staff, and handle administrative tasks. This role requires strong leadership skills and an in-depth understanding of ABA principles and practices.


Some graduates may choose to pursue careers in research, contributing to the scientific understanding of behavior analysis. Researchers conduct studies to explore new techniques, improve existing interventions, and advance the field of ABA. They may work in academic institutions, research organizations, or healthcare facilities.

Work Settings

Graduates of ABAI accredited programs can find employment in a variety of settings, each offering unique opportunities and challenges:


In educational settings, ABA professionals work with students who have special needs, providing support and interventions to help them succeed academically and socially. They collaborate with teachers, administrators, and parents to create effective learning environments.

Clinics and Hospitals

In clinical settings, ABA practitioners provide therapeutic services to individuals with behavioral and developmental disorders. They work as part of multidisciplinary teams to deliver comprehensive care, including assessments, interventions, and ongoing support.

Private Practice

Many ABA professionals choose to establish their own private practices, offering services directly to clients. This setting allows for greater autonomy and the ability to specialize in areas of interest, such as autism therapy or early intervention.

Community Organizations

ABA practitioners may work for community organizations that provide services to individuals with developmental disabilities. These roles often involve outreach, training, and support for families and caregivers, as well as direct service delivery.

By completing an ABAI accredited online master’s program, graduates are well-prepared to enter these diverse and rewarding career paths, making a significant impact on the lives of individuals through the application of behavior analysis principles.

Tips for Paying for Degree Programs

Financial Aid, Scholarships, and Grants

There are several financial aid options available to help offset the cost of an ABAI accredited online master’s program in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA):

Federal Financial Aid

  • FAFSA: Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the first step in determining eligibility for federal grants, loans, and work-study programs. This application can help you access Pell Grants, Federal Direct Loans, and Federal Work-Study programs. Many institutions also use FAFSA information to award their financial aid.


  • Institutional Scholarships: Many universities offer scholarships specifically for students enrolled in ABA programs. These can be merit-based or need-based and may cover partial or full tuition.
  • Professional Organizations: Organizations such as the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) and the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) often provide scholarships for students pursuing degrees in ABA. Additionally, local and national psychology and education associations may offer scholarships for ABA students.
  • Private Scholarships: Numerous private foundations and organizations offer scholarships for students in psychology and ABA programs. Websites like Fastweb and Scholarships.com can help you find relevant opportunities.


  • Federal and State Grants: Programs like the Federal Pell Grant and state-specific grants provide funding based on financial need. Graduate students may also be eligible for grants that support research and educational projects.
  • Private Grants: Various private foundations offer grants to support students pursuing advanced degrees in psychology and ABA. These grants are often based on research proposals or specific project goals.

Employer Assistance and Tuition Reimbursement

Many employers offer tuition assistance or reimbursement programs for employees pursuing further education. If you are currently employed, check with your human resources department to see if your company provides financial support for continuing education.

Employer Tuition Assistance

  • Corporate Programs: Some employers have formal tuition assistance programs that cover part or all of the tuition costs for employees enrolled in relevant degree programs. These benefits can significantly reduce your out-of-pocket expenses.
  • Professional Development Funds: Some companies allocate professional development funds that employees can use for educational purposes, including ABA programs.

Tuition Reimbursement

  • Reimbursement Policies: Employers may reimburse employees for tuition costs after successful completion of courses. This often requires maintaining a certain grade point average (GPA) and submitting proof of course completion and grades.

Budgeting and Financial Planning

Effective budgeting and financial planning can help you manage the costs associated with your ABA degree. Here are some tips:

Create a Detailed Budget

  • Expense Tracking: List all anticipated expenses, including tuition, fees, books, supplies, and living expenses. Compare these costs against your income and any financial aid you receive.
  • Adjust Spending: Identify areas where you can cut costs, such as reducing discretionary spending or finding more affordable housing options.

Work Part-Time

  • Flexible Work: Consider part-time work that fits around your study schedule. Many ABA programs offer flexible scheduling options to accommodate working students.
  • On-Campus Jobs: If you live near your university, explore on-campus job opportunities, which may offer flexible hours and convenience.

By exploring these financial aid options and managing your expenses carefully, you can reduce the financial burden of obtaining an ABAI accredited online master’s degree in Applied Behavior Analysis and focus on achieving your educational and professional goals.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the difference between a BCBA and an ABA therapist?

A Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) is a professional who has met the specific requirements for certification by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB). These requirements include completing a graduate-level degree in behavior analysis or a related field, completing a set number of supervised experience hours, and passing the BCBA certification exam. BCBAs are qualified to conduct assessments, develop treatment plans, supervise behavior technicians, and provide direct therapy services.

An ABA therapist, on the other hand, is typically a paraprofessional who works under the supervision of a BCBA. ABA therapists implement treatment plans designed by BCBAs, conduct behavior interventions, and collect data on client progress. They do not have the same level of training or certification as BCBAs but are essential team members in delivering ABA services.

Can I get licensed with an online master’s degree in ABA?

Yes, you can get licensed with an online master’s degree in ABA, provided that the program is accredited by the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) and meets the requirements set forth by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB). Graduating from an ABAI accredited program ensures that you are eligible to sit for the BCBA certification exam. Additionally, you must complete a specified number of supervised experience hours and pass the BCBA exam to become licensed.

How long does it typically take to complete an online master’s in ABA?

The duration of an online master’s program in ABA varies by institution and individual pace, but it typically takes between two to three years to complete. Some programs offer accelerated options that allow students to finish in as little as 18 months. The program length can also depend on whether you are studying full-time or part-time.

What are the prerequisites for enrolling in an ABA master’s program?

Prerequisites for enrolling in an ABA master’s program generally include:

  • Bachelor’s Degree: A completed bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, often in psychology, education, or a related field.
  • GPA Requirements: Many programs require a minimum GPA, typically around 3.0 or higher.
  • Letters of Recommendation: Programs often request letters of recommendation from academic or professional references.
  • Statement of Purpose: A personal statement outlining your goals, experiences, and reasons for pursuing a degree in ABA.
  • Relevant Coursework: Some programs may require prior coursework in psychology, behavior analysis, or related subjects.

Are there any online ABA programs accredited by ABAI?

Yes, there are several online ABA programs accredited by the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI). These programs meet the rigorous standards set by the ABAI and ensure that graduates are well-prepared for the BCBA certification exam. When choosing an online ABA program, it’s essential to verify its accreditation status on the ABAI website or directly with the institution offering the program.

Next Steps for Prospective Students

Pursuing an ABAI accredited online master’s program in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a strategic move for those looking to advance their careers in the field of behavior analysis. These programs offer rigorous training, comprehensive curricula, and the flexibility of online learning.

If you’re ready to take the next step in your ABA career, start by exploring accredited programs that align with your interests and career aspirations. Here are some actions to consider:

  • Research Programs: Look for ABAI accredited online master’s programs that match your career goals. Consider factors such as program curriculum, faculty expertise, and available specializations.
  • Contact Admissions Offices: Reach out to admissions counselors to get detailed information about the programs, application requirements, and financial aid opportunities. Attend virtual open houses or information sessions to gain more insights.
  • Connect with Current Students and Alumni: Networking with current students and alumni can provide valuable insights into the program experience, faculty support, and career outcomes. They can share firsthand experiences and offer advice on navigating the program.
  • Prepare Your Application: Gather necessary documents, such as transcripts, letters of recommendation, and personal statements. Ensure you meet application deadlines and thoroughly review each program’s application requirements.
  • Plan for Financial Aid: Explore all available financial aid options, including federal aid, scholarships, grants, and employer tuition assistance programs. Submit your FAFSA early and apply for scholarships and grants specific to ABA students.

Choosing the right ABAI accredited online master’s program is a significant step toward a fulfilling career in behavior analysis. Prospective students should thoroughly research their options, considering factors such as program curriculum, accreditation, financial aid, and career goals. An accredited program ensures high-quality education and enhances professional opportunities.

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