Applied behavior analysts focus on observing behavior and how it affects the interaction between individuals and their environments. They look to help individuals by discovering small changes that will make big improvements in these people’s lives. This field is often applied to help people with autism, though other patients can benefit as well.

The type of treatment provided by these professionals is known as ABA therapy. Its intent is to get patients to act more “normal” through the use of cues and rewards. Currently, it is the most common type of therapy used with autistic children, though it is very likely that the present methods will be further refined as time goes on.

Choosing the Right Online Applied Behavior Analysis Degree Program

As with most psychological specialties, education typically is set up in the traditional style. A bachelor’s degree starts you off, and upgrades include master’s and doctorate degrees. Typically, a bachelor’s opens the door to assistant positions, while higher degrees make it possible to get positions with more responsibilities. While many students will choose the traditional on-campus program route, an online program can prove to be more flexible for those students with busier lives and schedules.

No matter what degree level you’re going for, it’s essential that the program be accredited. This ensures that the degree will be honored by employers, future degree programs, and your state’s licensing board. At the master’s level, which is the one required for certification, look for accreditation by the Association for Behavior Analysis International. This organization also administers one of the major certification tests for this profession.

Bachelor’s Degree

There are online options abound for the Bachelor of Science in applied behavior analysis. The curriculum is heavy on psychology and developmental courses, though it is typical for schools to also insist that you take subjects like math, history, and English along with them.

Master’s Degree

Unlike in most psychological professions, you can become an independent practitioner with a master’s degree in applied behavior analysis. Coursework is focused on psychology, child development, and related topics. There is also a requirement for in-person experience hours, during which you interact directly with patients as well as certified practitioners, so it’s important to consider this when searching for online programs.

Graduate Certificate

A graduate certificate in applied behavior analysis can be a good option for a student who already holds a related psychology degree and wants to enter this niche specialty. A graduate certificate is a shorter program (usually taking around a year to complete) that does not result in a degree, but the credits can generally be applied to a higher degree if the student wishes to continue their education. This is an excellent choice for those who don’t want the time commitment or expense of a full degree program but still want to explore the specialty. You can find many applied behavior analysis graduate programs available through a search online.

Doctorate Degree

A doctorate in applied behavior analysis is not required to become certified, but you may want to get one in order to further expand your eligibility for high-salary positions (or your ability to get higher rates as an independent practitioner). It requires even more psychology courses, but much of your grade will come from your dissertation. Some schools may require even more practice hours as well, so it’s important to make sure you’re able to complete these hours locally as an online student.

Board Certification

This profession requires certification rather than licensure. You’ll need to pass the Board Certified Behavior Analyst exam or an equivalent in order to get the required credential. More information on this, and several lower certifications, can be found here.

Which Applied Behavior Analysis Degree is Right for You?

Bachelor’s DegreeMaster’s DegreeGraduate CertificatePh.D. or PsyD
I am interested in gaining entry-level experience in applied behavior analysisx
I want to get started in my applied behavior analysis career before I pursue more educationx
I want to pursue a non-patient-facing role in the fieldxx
I want to switch to an applied behavior analysis specialtyxx
I already have an applied behavior analysis degree and want to gain specialized knowledgexx
I want to conduct research in applied behavior analysisxx
I want to become a licensed psychologist and treat patientsx
I want to work in academiax

Applied Behavior Analysis Degree Program Curriculum

Since most behavior analysts work with children, subjects studied for these degrees are heavy in child development as well as psychology. The latest methods and research in applied behavior analysis should be included. For the bachelor’s, you’ll also have to take a number of courses in basic subjects like math, English, and history. A full list of online classes can usually be found in the program’s curriculum section on the school’s website.

  • Bachelor’s Degree – A standard bachelor’s degree program is 120 hours, and is set up with the expectation that you’ll take 30 credits worth of classes every year. This makes it fit the “four-year degree” paradigm. However, you can take more or fewer credit hours each year, with the timeframe adjusted accordingly.
  • Master’s Degree – It can take as few as 30 credit hours to get a master’s, but the requirements of the degree don’t stop there. You’ll also need to get a minimum number of practicum hours. The specific number varies by school.
  • Doctorate Degree – Eighty-five to 95 credit hours are involved, but as with the master’s, you’ll also need to do a dissertation. You may also have to complete more practicum hours.

Applied Behavior Analysis Degree Program Clinical Requirements

In this field, the practicum hour requirement kicks in early – at the master’s level – so that you can apply for board certification upon receiving the degree. Practicum hours vary depending on the school, with some providing 1,500 or more, others giving half that, and some not including any at all.

Make sure to check your state’s current legal requirements prior to enrolling so that you can be sure that your prospective master’s degree program offers enough. Otherwise, you may have to enroll in another school or program in order to get the practice time that certification requires. Those enrolled in online programs will still need to complete any clinical requirements in-person.

List of Online Applied Behavior Analysis Degree Programs

Looking for an online applied behavior analysis degree program near you? Browse our state-by-state school listings below.

Jump to Your State Listings


Carter Hall - Rm 4000
Greeley, CO 80639
(970) 351-1890


800 Country Club Rd
Waterbury, CT 06723
(800) 345-2562

Master's Programs
181 White Street
Danbury, CT 06810-6826
(203) 837-8200


150 West University Blvd
Melbourne, FL 32901-6975
(321) 674-8000

Certificate Programs
11000 University Parkway
Pensacola, FL 32514-5750
(850) 474-2000




521 Lancaster Ave
Richmond, KY 40475-3102
(859) 622-1000

South Limestone
Lexington, KY 40506-0032
(859) 257-9000

2301 S 3rd St
Louisville, KY 40292-0001
(502) 852-5555


96 Falmouth St
Portland, ME 04103
(207) 780-4141


588 Longmeadow Street
Longmeadow, MA 01106
(413) 565-1000

285 Old Westport Rd
North Dartmouth, MA 02747-2300
(508) 999-8000

1 University Ave
Lowell, MA 01854-5104
(978) 934-4000


100 Washington Avenue South, Suite 900
Minneapolis, MN 55401
(866) 492-5336


Master's Programs
One University Plaza, MS2025
Cape Girardeau, MO 63701
(573) 651-2000

100 E Normal Avenue
Kirksville, MO 63501-4221
(660) 785-4000

Master's Programs
108 W South Street
Warrensburg, MO 64093
(660) 543-4111


1000 Galvin Rd S
Bellevue, NE 68005-3098
(402) 291-8100


North Virginia Street
Reno, NV 89557
(775) 784-1110

New York

50 West 47th Street
New York, NY 10036
(646) 565-6000

12 Capen Hall
Buffalo, NY 14260-1660
(716) 645-2000

North Dakota

608 6th St NE
Jamestown, ND 58405
(701) 252-3467


Graduate Certificate Programs
220 McFall Ctr
Bowling Green, OH 43403
(418) 372-5526


3500 SW 119th St
Oklahoma City, OK 73170-9797
(405) 691-3800


250 University Ave
California, PA 15419-1394
(724) 938-4400


5115 Hampton Blvd
Norfolk, VA 23529
(757) 683-3000


526 5th Street
Cheney, WA 99004-2496
(509) 359-6200

Are we missing your school's program or need to update information listed? Please contact us so we can make the necessary changes.

Other Psychology Degree Program Profiles

Share This: