Best Applied Behavior Analysis Programs

Gain insight into human behavior and help individuals with behavioral disorders with a bachelor's in applied behavior analysis. Find the best school for you.

portrait of Heather Mullinix
by Heather Mullinix

Published July 13, 2022

Edited by Colin Weickmann
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that about 1 in 44 eight-year-olds in the United States has been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, which can lead to challenges in everyday life and the classroom. Applied behavior analysis strategies can help people with autism and their families improve communication and social skills.

Earning a bachelor's in applied behavior analysis prepares graduates for careers as assistant behavior analysts, who are increasingly in demand. A 2021 Behavior Analyst Certification Board study found that demand for this behavioral health specialty grew 7% between 2020 and 2021. Payscale reports assistant behavior analysts earned an average of $47,360 in April 2022.

www.bestcolleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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A bachelor's degree in applied behavior analysis requires at least four years of study. During the 2020-2021 academic year, college students paid an average of $35,551 in tuition, fees, and other expenses. Online bachelor's in applied behavior analysis programs at top schools often cost the same as in-person programs, though students may find some savings. Consider how financial aid can reduce out-of-pocket costs.

The programs highlighted below offer high-quality on-campus and online bachelor's in applied behavior analysis programs. The schools offer accredited and affordable degree programs that prepare students for their careers and further education in psychology or counseling.

Our Top Pick

Ball State University - Muncie, Indiana

Why It's #1: Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, reports that 67% of bachelor's in applied behavior analysis students graduate from the program. Its rigorous online and in-person program offers students personalized attention with a student-to-teacher ratio of 14-to-1. University admissions can be competitive, with an average acceptance rate of 77%. While the school's undergraduate tuition of $9,358 is not the lowest on this list, 91% of students at Ball State receive financial assistance. With 43% of students enrolled in distance education at the university, the school provides flexible class scheduling and comprehensive student support.

Read Our Rankings Methodology

Best Accredited Bachelor's in Applied Behavior Analysis Programs

Rankings compiled by the BestColleges Ranking Team

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#1

Ball State University

School Information
Location Muncie, Indiana
Admission Rate 77%
Graduation Rate 67%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 44% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes

Avg. Cost per Academic Year
In State | $8,284
Out of State | $25,518

Credits to Graduate
120

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | No
Program Accreditation | N/A

Ball State offers a bachelor's in applied behavior analysis online and in person. The school also offers a certificate track that meets curriculum requirements for board certification as an assistant behavior analyst for individuals with a bachelor's degree. 

The program places an emphasis on autism spectrum disorder. Learners have access to the school's Center for Autism Spectrum Disorder that works to address gaps in service and research.

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#2

Central Methodist University

School Information
Location Fayette, Missouri
Admission Rate 100%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 57% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes

Avg. Cost per Academic Year
In State | $26,360
Out of State | $26,360

Credits to Graduate
120

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | Yes
Program Accreditation | N/A

Central Methodist University's online bachelor's in applied behavior analysis follows the educational requirements for certification as an assistant behavior analyst. Faculty members actively work in the field and prepare students to work with children with developmental conditions or who have autism. 

Enrollees can choose between the program's 8-week and 16-week term format. Students must apply directly to the program. Requirements include a 2.75 GPA and at least 60 credit hours that includes general education requirements and general psychology coursework.

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#3

Western Michigan University

School Information
Location Kalamazoo, Michigan
Admission Rate 80%
Graduation Rate 57%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 28% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes

Avg. Cost per Academic Year
In State | $13,868
Out of State | $13,868

Credits to Graduate
120

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | No
Program Accreditation | N/A

Western Michigan University (WMU) offers an undergraduate degree in psychology with an emphasis in applied behavior analysis. The curriculum focuses on psychology and natural and social sciences with opportunities for field and lab work. 

The university's Kalamazoo Autism Center offers services to children ages 2-21. Here, students can see applied behavior analysis principles put to work. WMU offers master's and doctoral programs in applied behavior analysis, as well.

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Popular Online Bachelor's in Applied Behavior Analysis Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

How We Rank Schools

Each year, the BestColleges Ranking Team evaluates hundreds of programs to produce our annual Best Bachelor's in Applied Behavior Analysis ranking. In 2022, the team sourced the most recent data available from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System and College Navigator, both of which are hosted by the National Center for Education Statistics. We identified 17 schools that qualify for our ranking list based on the following criteria.

To ensure the accuracy and quality of our final ranked list, the ranking team reviewed each qualifying school to ensure it met the criteria for our ranking and then applied our proprietary ranking methodology to identify the best schools offering this program in the nation. Each school is ranked based on a formula measuring academic factors (60%) and affordability (40%).

The BestColleges Ranking Team is made up of contributors from our data science and product management teams. These contributors operate independently from the editorial team. All BestColleges school rankings are produced by the ranking team and are free of editorial influence. Read our Editorial Policy and Standards to learn more.

BestColleges' Ranking Factors

Frequently Asked Questions About Applied Behavior Analysis Programs

Is a bachelor's in applied behavior analysis worth it?

Earning an online degree requires discipline, effort, time, and money. But a bachelor's in applied behavior analysis program can prepare you for a rewarding and meaningful career helping patients achieve their goals for behavioral changes, improved communication skills, and better social interactions. The Behavior Analyst Certification Board found that demand has continued to grow for assistant behavioral analysts, with a 7% increase from 2020-2021.

These specialized behavioral health assistants bring compassion and empathy to their work. An online bachelor's in applied behavior analysis program can help students build skills in observation and documentation and an understanding of human development. Students learn how to deliver specialized treatment rooted in behavior analysis principles and intervention strategies.

What can I do with a bachelor's in applied behavior analysis?

Many individuals with an online bachelor's in applied behavior analysis become certified assistant behavioral analysts, working under the direction of a graduate-level psychologist or behavior analyst to conduct assessments or implement treatment plans. But the degree can lead to a variety of career opportunities where understanding why people act in a certain way can inform business decisions. Examples include market research analysts and human resources positions.

The skills gained from studying applied behavior analysis can also prepare students for careers as mental health professionals, clinical social workers, or school counselors. Many of these careers require state-specific licensing, graduate-level education, and/or supervised counseling experience.

What continuing education is available for applied behavior analysis graduates?

Maintaining your assistant behavior analyst certification and state license requires ongoing continuing education. You can also continue your education with a graduate degree in applied behavior analysis, psychology, or counseling. Master's and doctoral degrees increase career opportunities and allow you to specialize in a specific type of counseling or behavioral science.

Earning a graduate degree in applied behavior analysis or counseling often requires 2-3 years of additional coursework. Becoming a clinical psychologist or mental health counselor also includes rigorous licensing requirements and practical experience working with patients through an internship or residency. The BLS projects 8% growth in the employment of psychologists from 2020-2030. Psychologists earned a median annual salary of $81,040 in May 2021, according to the BLS.

How much money can I make with a bachelor's in applied behavior analysis?

Salaries vary depending on a person's education, experience, and location. Other factors impacting pay include a professional's certification and industry. According to Payscale, assistants earn between $36,000 and $82,000. Behavioral analysis assistants work with healthcare providers, in schools, and with social assistance organizations. Skills that can increase earning potential include case management and clinical supervision experience.

The BLS does not provide occupation-specific data for assistant applied behavior analysts, which is a new field within behavioral health. However, data for substance misuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors suggests that Utah offers the highest average pay for these professionals, followed by Alaska.

What are the highest-paying jobs with a bachelor's in applied behavior analysis?

A bachelor's in applied behavior analysis builds skills in human behavior that can increase a professional's earning potential and lead to a wide variety of career paths. Graduates can work as human resources specialists, for instance. These professionals recruit job applicants, conduct interviews, and review compensation and benefits programs to retain employees. Human resources specialists reported a median salary of $62,290 per year in May 2021, and the BLS projects 10% growth in employment from 2020-2030.

Graduates with this degree also have skills that can help companies make important business decisions or identify marketing opportunities. The BLS reports market research analysts earned a median salary of $63,920 in May 2021, with a projected 22% increase in employment from 2020-2030.

Feature Image: KatarzynaBialasiewicz / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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