Best Master’s in Applied Behavior Analysis Programs

If you're interested in a growing, helping profession, a master's in applied behavior analysis is a solid option. BestColleges ranks the best master's in applied behavior analysis.
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For empathetic critical thinkers with strong communication skills, a master's in applied behavior analysis offers an academic and professional path leading to a meaningful helping career. And while a master's in applied behavior analysis often tackles a broad spectrum of mental health conditions and developmental disorders, the application of skills learned throughout this degree is often found in organizational behavior management and sports.

Leaning on academic areas like behavioral science and psychology, an applied behavior analysis master's introduces various topics essential to behavioral change, as well as hands-on learning opportunities in clinical settings. Whether enrolling online or in-person, accredited applied behavior analysis (ABA) programs all offer an approved sequence of courses that culminates with practicum experiences.

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.

Ready to Start Your Journey?

Enrolling in graduate school typically requires a significant investment, and the true cost can exceed tuition rates. But those passionate about entering the applied behavior analysis field can anticipate a growing field with an earning potential similar to other education-based professionals.

Keep reading to see which schools top the list of our best master's in applied behavior analysis for 2022.

Our Top Pick

University of Southern California - Los Angeles, California

Why It's #1: University of Southern California is an elite, Los Angeles-based private institution that is home to the number one program on our Best Master's in Applied Behavior Analysis list. Owing to its standout academics and reputation, USC has a competitive 11% admission rate with small cohorts and a 9-to-1 student-teacher ratio. Additionally, this program has a 92% graduation rate. While this program has a relatively high price tag, 69% of enrolled online students receive financial aid.

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Best Accredited Master's in Applied Behavior Analysis Programs

Rankings compiled by the BestColleges Ranking Team

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#1 Best Master’s in Applied Behavior Analysis Programs

University of Southern California

  • Los Angeles, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In-State | $2,137
Out-of-State | $2,137

Credits to Graduate
34

Program Information
Program Accreditation | N/A

The University of Southern California is an elite private research institution that offers a 100% online master's in applied psychology. Taking a project-based approach, students work closely with other students to address real-world issues.

Students can complete this 34-credit curriculum in as few as 16 months. In addition to core classes like consumer psychology and organizational psychology, students complete an applied psychology internship.

Prospective students must hold a bachelor's degree and submit an online application with transcripts, three letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose.

Average Tuition
In-state
$57,256
Out-of-state
$57,256
Retention Rate
96%
Admission Rate
11%
Students Enrolled
48,321
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
17% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
#2 Best Master’s in Applied Behavior Analysis Programs

Northeastern University

  • Boston, MA
  • 4 years
  • Campus

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In-State | $1,287
Out-of-State | $1,287

Credits to Graduate
30

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Association for Behavior Analysis International

Boston's Northeastern University plays home to a master's in applied behavior analysis that students can complete in 18 to 24 months. Throughout this 100% online program, degree-seekers complete a 30-credit curriculum that includes core classes such as behavior assessment, service administration, and behavioral concepts and principles.

Prospective students can apply online and must include three letters of recommendation, official academic transcripts, a personal statement, and a professional resume.

Average Tuition
In-state
$52,420
Out-of-state
$52,420
Retention Rate
99%
Admission Rate
18%
Students Enrolled
22,207
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
10% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes New England Commission on Higher Education
#3 Best Master’s in Applied Behavior Analysis Programs

Pepperdine University

  • Malibu, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In-State | $1,700
Out-of-State | $1,700

Credits to Graduate
37

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Association for Behavior Analysis International

Pepperdine University's Graduate School of Education and Psychology is home to an online master's in behavior analysis. Online learners can complete this program in as few as 15 months and supplement online coursework with in-person clinical training.

This 37-credit program covers essential coursework, including applications of ABA for behavior change, multiculturalism and diversity in ABA, and autism spectrum disorders. Before graduation, degree-seekers complete an in-person practicum. 

Pepperdine applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university. Prospective students must submit an application with official transcripts, two letters of recommendation, and a personal statement outlining academic and career goals.

Average Tuition
In-state
$55,640
Out-of-state
$55,640
Retention Rate
91%
Admission Rate
32%
Students Enrolled
8,824
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
18% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
#4 Best Master’s in Applied Behavior Analysis Programs

CUNY Queens College

  • Queens, NY
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

On-Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In-State | $470
Out-of-State | $855

Credits to Graduate
42

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Association for Behavior Analysis International

CUNY Queens College offers an in-person master's in applied behavior analysis. In addition to core requirements, students have the opportunity to work alongside experts in topics such as autism, staff training, and developmental disabilities.

Throughout this 42-credit program, students complete core classes such as ethical issues in psychology, statistical methods in psychology, and applied behavior analysis. As a degree-culminating experience, students complete either a comprehensive exam or a thesis project.

Prospective students must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA and submit a personal essay and three letters of recommendation.

Average Tuition
In-state
$6,930
Out-of-state
$14,880
Retention Rate
82%
Admission Rate
49%
Students Enrolled
19,923
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
3% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
#5 Best Master’s in Applied Behavior Analysis Programs

Saint Louis University

  • Saint Louis, MO
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Hybrid | Self-Paced Classes and Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In-State | $1,070
Out-of-State | $1,070

Credits to Graduate
39

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Association for Behavior Analysis International

Saint Louis University is home to a master's in applied behavior analysis that offers students extensive classroom-based and clinical learning opportunities. In addition to core academic requirements, students can tailor their clinical work to areas such as autism spectrum disorders, organizational behavior, and sports.

Available for both part-time and full-time students, this 39-credit program covers classes such as behavioral assessment, philosophy of behavioral science, and principles and concepts in behavior analysis. 

SLU applicants can apply online and must include academic transcripts, two letters of recommendation, a resume, and a professional statement. Some applicants may need to complete an admission interview upon request.

Average Tuition
In-state
$44,700
Out-of-state
$44,700
Retention Rate
91%
Admission Rate
58%
Students Enrolled
12,799
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
12% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

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.

#6 Best Master’s in Applied Behavior Analysis Programs

University of Missouri-Columbia

  • Columbia, MO
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

On-Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In-State | $415
Out-of-State | $1135

Credits to Graduate
39

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Behavior Analyst Certification Board

The University of Missouri-Columbia is the state's flagship public institution and offers a master's in applied behavior analysis. During this 39-credit master's, students complete core requirements such as advanced behavior management, individualized assessment and intervention, and systems level behavior analysis. In addition to classroom-based requirements, students also complete extensive hands-on fieldwork.

Applicants should hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Prospective students must submit an online application, a statement of purpose, two letters of recommendation, and a professional resume.

Average Tuition
In-state
$9,120
Out-of-state
$26,991
Retention Rate
88%
Admission Rate
81%
Students Enrolled
30,014
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
32% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission
#7 Best Master’s in Applied Behavior Analysis Programs

Simmons University

  • Boston, MA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In-State | $1,100
Out-of-State | $1,100

Credits to Graduate
42

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Boston-based Simmons University is home to a master's in behavior analysis that students can complete in as few as 23 months. Students complete online coursework and attend weekly virtual classes.

In online classes, degree-seekers complete core requirements such as introduction to applied behavior analysis, introduction to single-subject research designs, and behavioral assessment. In addition, students complete ten credits worth of mentoring and supervised clinical work.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university. Alongside an online application, prospective students include a current resume, official transcripts, and two letters of recommendation. Simmons does not require GRE scores.

Average Tuition
In-state
$40,850
Out-of-state
$40,850
Retention Rate
83%
Admission Rate
73%
Students Enrolled
6,535
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
55% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes New England Commission on Higher Education
#8 Best Master’s in Applied Behavior Analysis Programs

Upstate Medical University

  • Syracuse, NY
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

On-Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Year
In-State | $16,965
Out-of-State | $34,650

Credits to Graduate
53

Program Information
Program Accreditation | N/A

Based in Syracuse, New York, the Upstate Medical University offers a master's in behavior analysis studies. Over two years, students tackle a mix of classroom-based and hands-on learning. 

This six-semester sequence covers core classes such as basic principles of learning, record-keeping in behavior analysis, evidence-based treatments for autism, and school-based consultation for autism. Before graduation, degree-seekers also propose, write, and defend a thesis project.

Prospective students must complete an online application and include three letters of recommendation, transcripts, and a personal statement. If requested, applicants must complete an admission interview.

Average Tuition
In-state
$7,070
Out-of-state
$16,980
Retention Rate
Not provided
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
1,588
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
23% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
#9 Best Master’s in Applied Behavior Analysis Programs

Rollins College

  • Winter Park, FL
  • 4 years
  • Campus

On-Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In-State | $652-$701
Out-of-State | $652-$701

Credits to Graduate
57

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Association for Behavior Analysis International

Rollins College is a private liberal arts school based in Winter Park, Florida. Rollins is home to a master's in applied behavior analysis, where students complete a blend of classroom-based and hands-on experiential learning in clinical settings.

Rollins students take a sequential curriculum that builds upon foundational courses such as behavioral assessment, single-subject experimental design, and a seminar in radical behaviorism. Before graduation, students complete either a thesis or capstone project.

Prospective students should submit an application with transcripts, a resume, and two recommendation letters. Applicants also complete an admission interview with the program director.

Average Tuition
In-state
$51,700
Out-of-state
$51,700
Retention Rate
87%
Admission Rate
58%
Students Enrolled
3,127
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
Not provided
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
#10 Best Master’s in Applied Behavior Analysis Programs

Shenandoah University

  • Winchester, VA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes and Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In-State | $565
Out-of-State | $565

Credits to Graduate
33

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Association for Behavior Analysis International

Located in Winchester, Virginia, Shenandoah University offers a 16-month master's in applied behavior analysis. Whether preparing graduates for work in classrooms or boardrooms, this online program utilizes synchronous and asynchronous deliveries and is a flexible option for working students.

Academic requirements for this 33-credit curriculum include topics such as research methods in applied behavior analysis, foundations of ABA, and classroom management. As a degree-culminating experience, students also complete a capstone research project.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution. Successful candidates often have academic experience in areas such as psychology, special education, and social work.

Average Tuition
In-state
$31,890
Out-of-state
$31,890
Retention Rate
84%
Admission Rate
74%
Students Enrolled
3,791
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
27% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Popular Online 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 Master'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 77 schools that qualify for our ranking list based on the following criteria.

  • Each school must be an accredited public or private, nonprofit institution.
  • Must offer a master's degree program in the given subject.
  • Must submit an annual report to the National Center for Education Statistics.

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 master's in applied behavior analysis worth it?

For individuals interested in jumpstarting a career as an applied behavior analyst, completing an online master's is definitely worth it. Those pursuing this career must complete an accredited applied behavior analysis program and all the requirements necessary for certification. Standout online programs prepare students for certification and the career challenges they will inevitably face.

An online ABA degree offers a blend of theoretical classroom learning and hands-on clinical experiences. Depending on the program, some students can earn their ABA certification in fewer than two years.

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

Applied behavior analysts utilize their training to address various behavioral disorders by initiating changes in areas like behavior and speech. These professionals often work in educational environments alongside other special education professionals. Additionally, applied behavior analysts can work in medical environments like hospitals and clinics.

Most individuals completing a master's in applied behavior analysis strive to complete the requirements necessary for board certification. In addition to academic requirements, graduates complete over 1,000 hours of supervised work in clinical settings.

Are applied behavior analysis graduates in demand?

While the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not report data on applied behavior analysts or board-certified behavior analysts, reviewing adjacent careers can offer helpful metrics. The BLS projects that special education teachers can anticipate their field to grow by 8% between 2020 and 2030. Additionally, BLS projects marriage and family therapy roles to grow by as much as 16% over that same ten-year span.

Those wanting to expand their career options can complete additional coursework through graduate programs and graduate certificate opportunities.

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

Earning potential can vary based on experience, job market, location, and the specific job. That said, earning a master's in applied behavior analysis offers practical skills that can lead to professional certification.

According to Payscale, the average base salary for behavior analysts is just over $66,710 per year. The BLS shows a median pay of about $50,000 for marriage and family therapists and $62,000 for special education teachers.

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

Top earners in this field typically have years of experience and often take on managerial or leadership roles. According to the BLS, the top 10% of earners for both therapists and special education teachers hit $100,000 or more.

While applied behavioral analysts can work in public education settings, applying their skills to various fields in the private sector can often lead to better earnings.

Feature Image: Arturo Peña Romano Medina / E+ / 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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