Online Certificate Programs in Applied Behavioral Analysis

For many people, higher education doesn’t end with a bachelor’s degree, but can actually be said to begin there. Certificate programs are a widespread form of post-undergraduate education that is not necessarily as involved as a full master’s degree. Additionally, certificate programs can be aimed at attaining specific professional certifications or adding a specialization for an individual’s ongoing career. 

For educators, counselors, and therapists, an online certificate program in applied behavioral analysis can abet one’s career journey. Along with many other fields, the availability of distance learning and online courses to satisfy the requirements of certification programs in counseling has broadly increased over the years. The Covid-19 pandemic has only served to accelerate the process, resulting in a fairly sizable number of options available. 

According to the Virginia Commonwealth University’s Autism Center, applied behavior analysis “refers to a set of principles that focus on how behaviors change, or are affected by the environment, as well as how learning takes place. The term ‘behavior’ refers to skills and actions needed to talk, play, and live.”

While applied behavior analysis has its roots in the sciences, it has many applications and finds practitioners across the spectrum of professions. An online certificate program like the ones discussed below can be a vital stepping stone for someone on their way to becoming an applied behavior analyst, as well as new tool for an educator, counselor, or academic.

Typical Admissions Requirements for Online Certificate Programs in Applied Behavioral Analysis

There are no hard and fast rules regarding the admission process for the online certificate programs listed below, as there is some variation between programs and universities. Typically, the more prestigious a program, its minimum GPA and other requirements will be higher. However, there are a few things that will apply across the board to all Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB)-approved programs:

  • Completed bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited university
  • University transcripts
  • Application documents

In addition to these requirements, many programs also require that applicants have graduated with a specific minimum GPA, or have held a minimum GPA for a set amount of time before graduation. International students will need to prove their English proficiency by submitting scores from a standardized language exam such as TOEFL. Several universities will also charge a standard application fee to all prospective students, though this is no longer true across the board.

Courses in Online Applied Behavioral Analysis Certificate Programs

Certificate programs are different from undergraduate or graduate programs because they work within much tighter time constraints than the former. How programs weigh their contents can be very important for prospective students to find the right program for themselves. 

The example below shows the sample courses currently offered by the applied behavioral analysis certificate program that is offered by Capella University, as an example of a course breakdown: 

  • Basic Foundations in Applied Behavior Analysis
  • Ethics in Applied Behavior Analysis
  • Measurement and Research in Applied Behavior Analysis
  • Behavior Analytic Interventions
  • Supervision and Management in Applied Behavior Analysis

Program Accreditation for Online Certificate Programs in Applied Behavioral Analysis

While some professions have lax or nonexistent certification or licensure processes, behavioral health and psychology are certainly not among them. Because practices that are ethically and scientifically sound are so important in any profession that works so closely with individuals in oftentimes intimate settings, the certification process is quite strict. Accordingly, students who are searching for an online certification program need to be careful in choosing an accredited program. 

Certification in applied behavior analysis takes place through the BACB, a nonprofit that has been operating as the licensure body in this field since 1998. The BACB will be best known to individuals in the mental health and behavior field and administers the certification for behavior analysts. 

Aspiring certified behavior analysts in the US are required to pass the exam administered by the BACB, as well as recertify with the organization every two years. In addition to testing an individual’s knowledge in the field of behavioral analysis, the BACB exam also heavily emphasizes professional ethics and best practices. 

Completing an online certificate program in applied behavior analysis will not be enough to make an individual a board-certified behavior analyst. Still, it is an acceptable prerequisite for the exam itself and should serve well to prepare students for this final part of their certification.

Featured Online Certificate Programs in Applied Behavioral Analysis

Texas A&M University

Texas A&M is a large university in College Station, Texas, but has recently expanded its offerings of online courses. Its program is called “certificate in applied behavior analysis,” and consists of 21 hours to be completed online. 

Texas A&M does not require students to participate in any in-person events, and its courses take synchronous and asynchronous formats. 

  • Location: College Station, Texas
  • Duration: 12 months
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Tuition: $77 per credit for residents, $459 for non-residents 

Arizona State University

Arizona State University is one of the best-known institutions in the US regarding distance education, and its selection of certification programs is large. The ASU program has the grand title of “online applied behavior analysis graduate certificate,” and takes 21 hours over seven classes to complete. 

Arizona State University’s certificate program may be a good fit for students interested in adjacent fields, as ASU also offers master’s programs in education and behavioral health that work in conjunction with this one. 

  • Location: Arizona State University
  • Duration: 12 months
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Tuition: $543 per credit 

University of North Texas

UNT is another prestigious Texas university that has built out its online courses over the last couple of years, including the “applied behavior analysis graduate certificate program online” offered through the College of Health and Public Service. 

At 24 credit-hours, UNT’s certificate program may take a little longer than most others on this list. This certificate program may appeal to students with a particular interest in autism, which is featured heavily in the curriculum. 

  • Location: College Station, Texas
  • Duration: 12 months
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) 
  • Tuition: $11,100 total for resident students 

Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine

The Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine got its start in this very particular field but has since expanded its focus to include many other areas of study. “PCOM,” as the school is generally branded, offers the “applied behavior analysis online aba certificate program.” 

PCOM’s program emphasizes preparation for the BCBA credential and might be a good choice for prospective students who are already certain they want to earn one. 

  • Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Duration: 12 months
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • Tuition: $20,722 total

University of California, Santa Barbara 

The University of California system is well-known for its academic excellence and large numbers of institutions and students, and UCSB is among its schools now offering online classes. The university offers multiple certification programs centered around behavior analysis through its extension learning program. Some of these are open to applicants from around the world with a qualifying bachelor’s degree. 

  • Location: Santa Barbara, California
  • Duration: 12 to 24 months
  • Accreditation: WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)
  • Tuition: $230 to $630 per class, plus fees

St. Joseph’s University, New York

St. Joseph’s University’s physical location is in the storied New York borough of Brooklyn, but its online programs are accessible across the US. With 29 credit-hours needed for fulfillment of its requirements, St. Joseph’s ABA certification is the one that requires the largest credit commitment. 

However, it is strongly oriented toward individuals seeking licensure, and specifically those seeking to practice in New York State. 

  • Location: Brooklyn, New York
  • Duration: 12 to 24 months
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • Tuition: $755 per credit, plus fees

University of Texas at San Antonio

UTSA is the sister institution to the larger University of Texas at Austin, but equally well-known for quality education. At 15 credit-hours, it is the least time-intensive of the programs on our list, and could feasibly be completed within the space of a single semester. 

  • Location: San Antonio, Texas
  • Duration: Six to 12 months
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Tuition: $550 per credit

In addition to becoming an applied behavioral analyst, a wide variety of employment opportunities are available to individuals that have completed an ABA certificate, or even just the coursework of one of the programs listed above. 

Become a Mental Health Counselor

Counselors may represent the biggest group of individuals participating in applied behavioral analysis programs like those listed above. Behavior analysis has a lot of applications in mental health treatment and is particularly successful in therapy settings geared toward changing habits. Substance abuse counselors report benefits from using the principles of behavioral analysis just as much as those working with kids or in school settings. 

Become an Early Interventionist 

Because of its emphasis on behavioral change, the techniques and tools that are taught in certification programs can often be very effective with children and adolescents. 

In contrast to talk therapy or other communication-based approaches to changing or altering problematic behavior or encouraging its opposite, applied behavioral analysis is action-oriented. This can be a great tool for individuals working with young children, or with people who are largely non-verbal. 

Become a Market Researcher

Far from being a strictly academic discipline, behavioral research and analysis have also found many applications in the commercial space. Researchers who study consumer behavior in various settings can benefit from the study of behavioral analysis just the same. 

Large tech companies employ scores of researchers to analyze user behavior and preferences, and certification in behavioral analysis can give applicants in this realm a significant edge.

Johannes Stitz

Johannes Stitz


Johannes Stitz is a freelance writer and researcher based in the Southwest. He’s written about various topics in engineering careers. Before turning to freelance writing, he spent nearly a decade in the arts as a booker and event manager.