By OPD Staff
Why earn a master’s in behavioral psychology online? First off, behavioral psychology is a subfield of psychology that focuses on how people’s thoughts and experiences affect their behavior. Many jobs in applied behavior analysis (ABA) then try to use that knowledge to help people change their behavior for the better. Examples of occupations include cognitive behavioral therapist, special education teacher, and social worker. If this type of work interests you and you already have a bachelor’s degree, then your next step should be to check out some online behavior analysis graduate programs.
In particular, online ABA programs offer students a convenient way to earn their degree without sacrificing their quality of education. You can take most – if not all – of your classes over the web and arrange to complete practicums (if required) in your local community. Of course, it’s important to research all your options before deciding where to earn your degree. That’s why we’ve created this ranking. Read below to find out about some of the top online master’s degrees in applied behavior analysis.
We created this ranking list to highlight the best online master’s degrees in behavioral psychology. These include programs* in applied behavior analysis, human behavior, special education, and even criminal justice. We also considered general psychology programs that offer a specialization in behavioral analysis. To determine the best schools for behavioral psychology, we rated graduate programs in five categories: affordability (average tuition rate), accreditation, accessibility, job training, and coursework.
For accreditations, we looked specifically for programs that are approved by the BACB (Behavior Analysis Certification Board), and/or are accredited by other subject-specific accrediting agencies – the ABAI (Association for Behavior Analysis International) or NCATE (National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education) for example.
In rating accessibility, we considered how many of the program’s classes are available online (not including practicums). Fortunately, most of the schools that made this ranking offer 100% online delivery.
Job training refers to any required practicums or internships that the program incorporates. Note that the BACB mandates that candidates complete a minimum number of hours in supervised field experience before they can become BCBA-certified.
Lastly, we assessed coursework by looking at what percentage of the program’s classes focus specifically on behavioral psychology. This category mostly serves to differentiate full ABA degrees from those that only offer the subject as a specialization within a more general program.
After collecting all the data, we assigned points to each program in each category, tallied the totals, and calculated the final scores. The highest possible score was 10 points. Scroll down to find out more about the top online master’s degrees in applied behavior analysis!
*Note that we did not consider private for-profit institutions in this ranking, although there are plenty of for-profit colleges that offer graduate programs in behavioral psychology.
Ranking Top 30 Master’s in Behavioral Analysis Online
#30. The Chicago School of Professional Psychology-Los Angeles – Los Angeles, CA
Online MA in Psychology: Applied Behavior Analysis Concentration
As you pursue an accredited online master’s degree in applied behavior analysis from The Chicago School, you’ll work on an applied research project that demonstrates your mastery of the subject matter. You’ll complete the project instead of writing a thesis or completing an internship, making The Chicago School a particularly good choice if you eventually want to pursue a Ph.D. If BCBA certification is your goal, note that you’ll have to enroll in the complementary graduate certificate program in applied behavior analysis. This program includes four courses that work together with your concentration in ABA to qualify you to sit for the BCBA exam.
Average Tuition & Fees: $22,688/yr
#29. Texas Tech University – Lubbock, TX
Online Master of Education in Special Education: Applied Behavior Analysis
The ABA program at Texas Tech is technically a concentration within its Master of Education in Special Education program. The school also offers a graduate certificate that qualifies you for the BCBA exam; you can earn this certificate as a stand-alone option or as part of an affordable online behavior analysis graduate program. The program is available 100% online, making it convenient for working adults, and it culminates in either a comprehensive exam or a written thesis. Whichever you choose, you’ll benefit from the low tuition rate (especially for in-state students) and an extremely comprehensive scholarship search tool that can help reduce the already affordable tuition.
Average Tuition & Fees: $15,382/yr
#28. Arcadia University – Glenside, PA
Online MEd in Applied Behavior Analysis
The broad curriculum at Arcadia University exposes graduate students to specific behavioral issues (such as autism) while maintaining a strong overarching focus on research and evidence-based practice. For example, you’ll take a required course in “Interpreting Educational Research” and complete a master’s project that incorporates a literature review. But this top online master’s degree in behavioral psychology also includes highly focused electives – such as “Positive Behavioral Approaches” and “Teaching Methods for Students with Autism” – that let you customize your studies. You’ll also complete a six-course ABA concentration that ends with “Ethics and Professionalism,” a case study-driven class that explores tricky topics you’ll encounter in your career.
Average Tuition & Fees: $26,422/yr
#27. University of Southern Maine – Portland, ME
Online MS in Educational Psychology with a Concentration in Applied Behavior Analysis
Like some other programs on this master’s in behavior analysis online ranking, the University of Southern Maine does not provide the supervised experiences necessary to sit for the BCBA exam. However, it does enable you to work efficiently by allowing you to arrange for and complete your hands-on training while you’re enrolled in classes. This – along with the program’s twice-annual start dates – are a boon for adults who want to earn their degree as quickly as possible. You can also transfer in up to six graduate credits, cutting down the time you need to earn this 36-credit degree by a sizeable amount.
Average Tuition & Fees: $13,372/yr
#26. Florida Institute of Technology – Melbourne, FL
Online Master of Arts in Professional Behavior Analysis
You don’t need to enroll in a separate certificate program at the Florida Institute of Technology to qualify for the BCBA exam: The school’s top master’s in behavioral psychology online program meets all instructional requirements for certification. As such, the curriculum was designed with BCBA certification in mind; even the comprehensive exam mimics the BCBA exam itself and helps prepare you for it. And although you might see some references to this as a “hybrid” program, that’s only because you must complete the second year – the practicum – in person at one of FIT’s partner sites around the U.S.
Average Tuition & Fees: $24,265/yr
#25. George Mason University – Fairfax, VA
Online MEd in Special Education: Applied Behavior Analysis
Similar to several other schools on this online master’s degree in behavioral psychology ranking, George Mason offers both a certificate and an M.Ed. in the field. But the school differentiates itself by giving you the choice between fully online and blended programs. The latter incorporates classes at the Fairfax, Virginia campus and is especially popular among teachers (it qualifies candidates for an educator discount that’s unavailable to online learners). A small downside? This program follows the traditional semester schedule, whereas the online option includes accelerated 8-week modules.
Average Tuition & Fees: $13,724/yr
#24. University of Cincinnati – Cincinnati, OH
Online Master of Education Degree in Behavior Analysis
The University of Cincinnati makes it relatively easy to apply for its top online master’s degree in applied behavior analysis. For starters, you won’t need to take the GRE. But you’ll also have help from an enrollment advisor who will guide you through the application process. Once you earn admission, you’ll transition to working with a program manager who will help you handle the logistics of your degree (course enrollment, acquiring books, etc.). You’ll also benefit from a BACB-verified course sequence and a comprehensive two-year program that will prepare you for the BCBA exam.
Average Tuition & Fees: $20,339/yr
#23. College of Saint Elizabeth – Morristown, NJ
Online Master’s in Applied Behavior Analysis
Although the College of Saint Elizabeth describes its M.A. in Applied Behavior Analysis as “retaining a practitioner focus,” the comprehensive curriculum covers a host of broader topics, too. These include motivational influences, conditioned reinforcement, interventions, and more. Instructors teach all courses through an evidence-based lens, from “Research Methods and Measurement” to “Writing for Publication and Presentation” and other eminently practical classes. Of course, you’ll also complete the coursework required for the BCBA exam while earning this accredited master’s in behavioral psychology online. You can even start working with a BCBA supervisor to accumulate field experience hours while still enrolled in classes.
Average Tuition & Fees: $19,337/yr
#22. Western Connecticut State University – Danbury, CT
Online Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis
Regardless of whether you enroll in Western Connecticut State University’s top online behavior analysis graduate program in the fall or spring, you’ll embark on a degree path that takes just four semesters to complete. Along the way, you’ll complete a series of required courses that WCSU separates into specific “content areas.” These include Ethical and Professional Conduct, Fundamental Elements of Behavior Change, Experimental Design, and more. Complete these core classes along with 11 required credits in applied behavior analysis and you’ll be more than ready to tackle the BCBA exam. However, you’ll just need to complete your fieldwork experience elsewhere.
Average Tuition & Fees: $17,698/yr
#21. Texas A & M University-College Station – College Station, TX
Online MS in Special Education: Applied Behavior Analysis
Even if you don’t have a teaching background, you can earn an M.Ed. or M.S. in Special Education through Texas A&M. Both degree programs are equally versatile and include both synchronous and asynchronous courses. They’ll also adaptable, preparing you for doctoral-level study or a career in the field. While earning an accredited master’s in behavior analysis online, you’ll take courses that cover timely issues such as bilingual education, diversity, autism, literacy, and more. Although the courses meet BCBA requirements, TAMU’s program is like many others on this list in that it requires students to arrange their own supervised fieldwork.
Average Tuition & Fees: $16,540/yr
#20. Saint Joseph’s University – Philadelphia, PA
Online Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice: Behavior Analysis Concentration
Saint Joseph’s top online behavior analysis graduate program comes in a unique form: as a concentration within an M.S. in Criminal Justice degree. But don’t let that deter you if you’re angling for a career in education, therapy, or the like. In fact, the expansive curriculum prepares grads for work in quite a few industries. While the core coursework does include criminal justice-focused classes, the Behavior Analysis concentration features more traditional BACB-approved courses, such as “Behavioral Development” and “Ethics in Behavioral Analysis.” Saint Joseph also stands out for its innovative “Test Flight” program, an interactive online tool through which you can evaluate case studies and receive feedback from program instructors.
Average Tuition & Fees: $18,609/yr
#19. National University – La Jolla, CA
Online Master of Arts in Human Behavior
National University boasts one of the best online master’s degrees in applied behavior analysis for students who prefer a full ABA-focused curriculum (as opposed to one with a concentration only). Thanks to required courses like “Organizational Behavior” and “Creative Leadership,” it’s also a top option for those who want to apply their skills at the organizational level. And if you happen to be a veteran or active-duty service member, you’ll benefit from National’s designation as a military-friendly institution. The university even provides a generous Tuition Assistance program that could drastically reduce the cost of your education.
Average Tuition & Fees: $11,232/yr
#18. Northeastern University – Boston, MA
Online Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis
For a school with proven success in preparing graduates for the BCBA exam, give Northeastern a look. Thanks to its long history in behavior analysis (the program is more than 40 years old), the university has developed unparalleled training expertise. In fact, in 2015 more than 80% of their first-time candidates passed the BCBA exam! What’s their secret? For one, this top master’s in behavioral psychology online serves up a competency-based program that emphasizes specific skill development. It also offers online networking opportunities with alumni and industry leaders and provides flexible scheduling through both online and hybrid classes. Plus, the optional Learning Partnership Program assists students in completing their BACB-required supervision hours.
Average Tuition & Fees: $22,913/yr
#17. University of Houston-Victoria – Victoria, TX
Online Master of Education in Special Education Applied Behavior Analysis
With an average tuition of just under $7,000, UHV offers one of the country’s most affordable online master’s degrees in behavioral psychology. The BACB-verified course sequence readies you to take the BCBA exam, although you’ll need to complete your hours independently. Also note that as an M.Ed. in Special Education with an ABA concentration, most of the program’s coursework focuses on teaching. Classes span from curriculum development to collaboration and other similar topics. However, you’ll likely be happy to hear that UHV offers all courses online. In fact, you’ll only travel to campus once – to take the final comprehensive exam before graduation.
Average Tuition & Fees: $6,990/yr
#16. West Virginia University – Morgantown, WV
Online Master’s Degree in Special Education: Emphasis in Applied Behavior Analysis
West Virginia University is a top choice for anyone who wants to earn an accredited master’s in behavior analysis online and places a premium on flexibility. And nowhere is its curriculum more flexible than in the culminating project course. Degree candidates can customize their project in just about any way they want. For example, you might develop a detailed curriculum while a classmate decides to conduct research and write a report. You’ll also notice WVU’s flexibility when it comes to starting dates. You can begin the program at any point during a “course cycle” and take classes whenever they’re available. Note: full-time students can earn their degree in a year, while part-timers will need about two years.
Average Tuition & Fees: $11,667/yr
#15. Ball State University – Muncie, IN
Online Master of Arts in Applied Behavior Analysis
Of the schools on this online behavior analysis graduate program ranking that offer education degrees, most provide separate ABA and autism concentrations. However, Ball State combines the two! Officially, you’ll earn an M.A. in Applied Behavior Analysis with an Emphasis on Autism. Although it’s not an M.Ed., this is nonetheless an education-focused program. Students complete field experiences in both autism and applied behavior analysis while exploring coursework on the theoretical underpinnings of ABA and research methodologies. Note that if BCBA certification is your goal, you’ll need to earn a certificate and take one additional course (both available at Ball State) and independently arrange your supervised experience.
Average Tuition & Fees: $14,173/yr
#14. Arizona State University – Tempe, AZ
Online Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction (Applied Behavior Analysis)
While earning an affordable master’s in behavioral psychology online through ASU, you’ll plan a course of study that’s tailored to your personal career goals. Indeed, the curriculum’s unique structure enables you to choose classes that will prepare you for work in a specific field. Thanks to the versatility of the coursework, this could include education, healthcare, consulting, or even business. The program also throws in a few autism-focused courses before finally culminating in a capstone experience. In this final class, you’ll bring together theory and practice to both synthesize and consolidate your knowledge.
Average Tuition & Fees: $11,506/yr
#13. McNeese State University – Lake Charles, LA
Online Master of Arts in Psychology: Applied Behavior Analysis
If you’re looking for a top online master’s degree in behavioral psychology that offers a one-stop shop for BACB requirements (including an internship component), check out McNeese State. Residents of southwest Louisiana won’t even have to search for a site, as MSU conveniently provides field experiences through its McNeese Autism Program in Lake Charles. This program employs evidence-based treatments for autistic individuals with autism and hosts a “Super School” where children can practice appropriate behaviors and interactions. If you live outside the area, don’t worry; faculty members will help you find an approved placement location closer to home.
Average Tuition & Fees: $13,113/yr
#12. Drexel University – Philadelphia, PA
Online MS in Applied Behavior Analysis
The M.S. in Applied Behavior Analysis at Drexel has it all: a strong focus on theory and analysis plus practical opportunities to apply your knowledge. For the latter, Drexel offers an optional in-person practicum experience. You can work with the school’s own Autism Institute or at another location of your choice as you earn this accredited master’s in behavior analysis online. If you’re particularly interested in autism, you can even pair the degree with a concentration in Autism Spectrum Disorders. Either way, you’ll benefit from Drexel’s BACB-approved curriculum, four-quarter class schedule, and full-time study options that provide a quick path to graduation.
Average Tuition & Fees: $33,024/yr
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#10. University of West Florida – Pensacola, FL
Online M.A. in Exceptional Student Education: Applied Behavior Analysis
The University of West Florida is home to an M.A. in Exceptional Student Education with an ABA specialization. One of the biggest perks of this program is its impressively low average tuition rate – just under $10,000 – making it one of the most affordable online master’s degree in behavioral psychology in the country. Its five annual start dates make it one of the country’s most flexible programs, too. That being said, you will need to attend some live/synchronous sessions (where you log on at a specific time with other students and your instructor) for some of the BCBA-approved courses. While perhaps not the most convenient feature, this requirement helps build a sense of community and supports interactive learning among students.
Average Tuition & Fees: $9,062/yr
#9. University of Washington-Seattle – Seattle, WA
Online MEd in Special Education: Applied Behavior Analysis
UW – Seattle’s accredited online behavior analysis graduate program features a strategically designed curriculum that helps you develop specific skills over time. This habit of thoughtful preparation also manifests in the program’s practicum component. Not only does the degree plan seamlessly integrate aspects of the practicum into its broader curriculum, but it also offers a pre-approved selection of internship sites for local students. Of course, if you live outside of Seattle you are still free to choose a location closer to home – you can even apply to use your current site of employment! After completing the BACB-approved coursework and intensive practicum requirements, you’ll officially qualify to sit for the certification exam.
Average Tuition & Fees: $14,567/yr
#8. Bay Path University – Longmeadow, MA
Online MS in Applied Behavior Analysis
As you pursue your top master’s in behavior analysis online at Bay Path, you can choose between two options: a fully online or blended program. The latter incorporates a few on-campus classes, which you can complete at any of the school’s campuses (located in Concord, East Longmeadow, and Sturbridge, Massachusetts). This could be a great option if you have flexibility, live locally, and enjoy meeting classmates in person. You’ll also appreciate the twice-yearly start dates and the ability to apply without completing the GRE or GMAT. Plus, the curriculum is BACB-verified and even includes optional instructor-led study sessions to prepare you for the certification exam.
Average Tuition & Fees: $22,420/yr
#7. Simmons College – Boston, MA
Online Master of Science in Behavior Analysis
On average, an impressive 81% of Simmons grads pass the BCBA exam. That’s a far cry from the national average of 66%! How does Simmons do it? Perhaps most significant is the college’s intensive ABA curriculum, which meets all BACB requirements – including supervision and mentoring hours – while incorporating all the latest research in the field. One of the best online master’s degrees in applied behavior analysis in the country, this program emphasizes comprehensive skill development (e.g. communication and writing) and even provides group and individual mentoring opportunities. To help the curriculum stand out even further, Simmons also hosts classes in unique topics like animal training.
Average Tuition & Fees: $20,718/yr
#6. The Sage Colleges – Troy, NY
Online M.S. in Applied Behavior Analysis & Autism
Students who earn an accredited master’s in behavioral psychology online through The Sage Colleges benefit from the school’s “scientist-practitioner” model, which centers around empirical evidence, experimentation, and research. But this autism-focused degree isn’t purely theoretical; Sage also incorporates a practicum track that satisfies the BACB’s experiential requirements. While you will need to identify your practicum location before the school will accept you into this track, Sage provides advisors who can help you find and secure a suitable placement. Combined with the program’s approved course sequence, the practicum leaves you well-prepared to sit for the BCBA exam.
Average Tuition & Fees: $18,215/yr
#5. University of South Florida – Tampa, FL
Online Master of Arts in Applied Behavior Analysis
USF packs quite a lot into the eight-week courses that comprise its affordable online master’s degree in applied behavior analysis. Not only does the program meet all BCBA requirements (including the supervised experience), but it also includes an independent research project. The latter gives you a unique opportunity to showcase your skills; you’ll need to delve into literature review, write a proposal, perform an intervention, and write about the results. What’s more, the comprehensive curriculum doesn’t shy away from complicated issues. For example, a required “ABA in Complex Community Environments” class helps you navigate how a patient’s community and setting might guide the care they receive.
Average Tuition & Fees: $12,649/yr
#4. Oregon Institute of Technology – Wilsonville, OR
Online Master Degree in Education Program with Emphasis in ABA and ASD
After designing an on-campus ABA program that caters to working adults, Oregon Tech went even further, creating an online version that is a paragon of accessibility and flexibility. For example, students who earn this accredited master’s in behavior analysis online participate in live video conferences that mimic face-to-face interactions and foster connections between classmates and instructors. You also have the option to attend classes on the school’s various campuses. But no matter how you complete your coursework, you can rest assured that your training is BACB-approved.
Average Tuition & Fees: $12,526/yr
#3. Southeast Missouri State University – Cape Girardeau, MO
Online Masters of Arts in Applied Behavior Analysis
With an average tuition of around $7,500, Southeast Missouri State University stands out as one of the most affordable online behavior analysis graduate programs in the country. But a great price isn’t all it has to offer: The M.A. in ABA is fully BACB-approved, with the second year almost entirely devoted to completing the required practicum. Like some other top schools, SMSU even allows local students to accrue supervision hours through its autism research center (located in Cape Girardeau). And although the program doesn’t require candidates to perform original research, if a PhD-level study is in your future, you can work with an advisor to incorporate a research opportunity instead of another advanced course.
Average Tuition & Fees: $7,408/yr
#2. University of Kansas – Overland Park, KS
Online Master of Arts in Applied Behavioral Science
If you’re looking for flexibility, make sure you check out the University of Kansas’s top online master’s degree in behavioral psychology. Not only does the program incorporate both synchronous and asynchronous courses, but it offers adjustable pacing that you can set to match your personal scheduling needs. What’s more, the strong curriculum is both BACB-approved and accredited by the ABAI (Association for Behavior Analysis International). Coursework emphasizes the use of science-based interventions and incorporates both in-class and hands-on training opportunities. However, you will need to arrange your own supervised practicum experience if you plan to sit for the BCBA exam after graduation.
Average Tuition & Fees: $19,376/yr
#1. Saint Cloud State University – Saint Cloud, MN
Online Master’s Program in Applied Behavior Analysis
Saint Cloud State University boasts an extremely robust ABA program, and its graduates have high BCBA exam pass rates to show for it. The availability of both research and internship opportunities help it stand out on this master’s in behavioral psychology online ranking, as do the school’s three psychology-focused study abroad programs (in South Africa, Italy, and England) and its Student Organization of Behavior Analysis. The BCBA-approved curriculum also incorporates the required supervision hours, and you can choose between a thesis or a comprehensive exam when it’s time to wrap up your studies.
Average Tuition & Fees: $10,170/yr
You’ve reached the end of our list of top master’s in behavioral psychology online.