If you’re fascinated by what drives human behavior and how to influence it, then an applied behavior analysis degree might be a fitting undergraduate program for you.
This evidence-based field has made an impact on many areas, including developmental disabilities, fitness training, organizational behavior management, and rehabilitation. Demand for specialists is rising, with more than ten times growth over the past several years.
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With a bachelors degree in applied behavior analysis, you can gain a deeper understanding of how to help people make positive changes, which could lead to rewarding career options.
Online Applied Behavior Analysis Degrees
Applied behavior analysis (ABA) focuses on finding the causes and triggers of specific behaviors and then using scientific techniques to improve them.
While it’s rooted in psychology, ABA mainly looks at how a person’s environment and surroundings affect them rather than exploring a person’s internal emotions and thoughts. Its techniques include positive and negative reinforcement, modeling, and giving cues or prompts.
Applied behavior analysis has many applications, including:
- Working with children with developmental disabilities
- Treating drug and alcohol substance abuse issues
- Teaching parents and couples better communication skills
- Increasing the productivity and effectiveness of employees
- Motivating people to follow through with their goals
- Training pets to be well-behaved
One of the most extensive applications would be ABA for autism. Since kids with autism can’t express themselves as much verbally, talk therapy is more difficult.
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So, behavior analysis can often be a better alternative. It’s more common to find masters degrees in applied behavioral analysis, but bachelors degrees are also available. Some schools may offer psychology degrees with a concentration in behavior analysis instead.
An applied behavior analysis bachelor degree can help prepare you to pursue certification as an assistant behavior analyst. These professionals work with behavior analysts to assess and create treatment plans for clients. Other career paths for graduates can include teaching, human resources, and business.
It’s a foundational undergraduate degree, too, for future graduate studies in:
- Social work
In an applied behavior analysis program, you’ll start with topics from general psychology, from how skill acquisition works to human development across the lifespan. From there, you can delve into the more hands-on part of behavior analysis. This includes data-gathering, client assessment and monitoring, and combining different techniques to make measurable changes for clients.
Most programs have a special emphasis on developmental disabilities, which include:
- ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder)
- Language disorders
Degrees from accredited schools commonly fulfill the educational requirements for licensure as a board certified assistant behavior analyst (BCaBA). So, many graduates go on to take the ABA certification exam after fulfilling their internship hours.
Applied Behavior Analysis Careers & Salaries
Applied behavioral analysis graduates can pursue many possible career paths. With a bachelor’s degree in applied behavioral analysis, you can work toward becoming a board certified assistant behavior analyst (BCaBA).
As an assistant behavior analyst, you could help applied behavior analysts develop treatments, conduct data analysis, and monitor patients. Alternatively, some graduates use their skills in working with people to become life coaches, substance abuse counselors, or fitness trainers, given additional training.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these ABA-related careers have the following median salaries:
|Careers||Annual Median Salaries|
|Social and Community Service Managers||$74,000|
|Market Research Analysts||$63,920|
|Human Resources Specialists||$62,290|
|Special Education Teachers||$61,820|
|Training and Development Specialists||$61,570|
|Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists||$60,250|
|Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors||$48,520|
|Preschool and Childcare Center Directors||$47,310|
|Social and Human Service Assistants||$37,610|
|Occupational Therapy Aides||$33,560|
Applied behavioral analysis graduates may work in clinics, schools, private and nonprofit companies, and rehabilitation centers, among other settings.
Many ABA graduates at the bachelor level take on more business-oriented roles, such as in human resources. There’s actually a behavior analysis specialization that focuses on organizational behavior. You might also consider working in market research, consumer behavior, or nonprofit development.
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Another track to consider is training and education. Some professionals use their applied behavior analysis degree to work as a special education teacher, childcare center director, or educational coordinator. Most teaching positions in public schools require state licensure.
ABA Bachelor’s Curriculum & Courses
Most accredited behavior analysis programs base their coursework on the educational requirements for the Board Certified Assistant Behavioral Analyst (BCBA) exam. Course examples include:
- Behavior Theory and Principles: This course studies the biological, psychological, and cultural causes of human behavior, along with practical techniques for making positive changes.
- Introduction to Applied Behavioral Analysis: You’ll learn about the basic principles for influencing behavior, including reinforcement and rule-following, as adapted to different contexts.
- Developmental Disabilities: This course gives an overview of developmental disabilities—such as autism, Down’s syndrome, and brain injury—from their main characteristics to current treatments.
- Behavior Assessment: You’ll dive deeper into analyzing data, observing behavior, and conducting functional assessments using methods like rating scales and interviews.
- Behavior Change Procedures and Interventions: This course tackles more in-depth, scientific interventions for improving behavior, including biofeedback and communication training.
- Applied Behavioral Analysis in Developmental Disabilities: You’ll study how to encourage positive behavior in children with developmental disabilities, especially autism.
- Research and Data Analysis Methods: This course teaches you how to gather, organize, and interpret behavioral analysis data, and it covers the general steps for behavioral analysis research.
- Professionalism and Ethics in Applied Behavioral Analysis: You’ll go over the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) guidelines and study real-life situations to determine the best ethical approaches.
- Organizational Behavior Management: This course focuses on human behavior in organizations, covering topics like organizational change and group dynamics.
- Applied Behavioral Analysis for Educators: You’ll practice using behavior analysis to help students of various ages learn more effectively, with the help of modern technology.
An applied behavior analysis program may require you to complete a thesis, internship, or both.
Applied Behavior Analyst Bachelor’s Degree Admissions Requirements
Here are the most common admission requirements for applied behavior analyst bachelors programs:
- High school transcripts. Most schools have a minimum GPA requirement.
- Recommendation letters. You’re usually asked to submit two or three references.
- Personal essay. You might be asked to write about your background, career plans, and achievements.
- Test scores. Only some schools require you to submit SAT or ACT scores.
Some schools have a test-optional admission, where they only ask for your test scores if your GPA falls below a certain amount.
Online ABA Programs Accreditation
When exploring applied behavior analysis programs, it’s essential to consider each school’s accreditation status. Schools with regional accreditation have gone through a rigorous review to ensure that they meet high educational standards.
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Earning your bachelors at an accredited school often makes it possible to get your classes credited for graduate school. You can also apply for federal financial aid if you attend an accredited institution. For more details about the accreditation process, you can visit the US Department of Education’s website.
Financial Aid and Scholarships
There are many financial aid resources for ABA students who qualify. Two of the most sought-after types of financial aid are grants and scholarships. You can apply for grants from the federal government by submitting your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
Scholarships are usually awarded based on merit or your area of study. You can pursue scholarship opportunities from your school as well as public or private organizations. One of the most common forms of aid is student loans from the federal government. Loans require repayment after you graduate, but student loans tend to have lower interest rates than private ones.
What Is an ABA Degree?
An applied behavior analysis (ABA) degree is a bachelor program that studies the psychology behind human behavior as well as scientific interventions for creating meaningful changes. As an ABA major, you can be trained to work with different individuals—from children with autism to adults recovering from substance abuse and employees who want to perform better at work.
Applied behavior analysis degrees are actually rarer at the undergraduate level. Still, most accredited undergraduate programs enable you to meet the educational requirements for the Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA) certification.
Is Applied Behavior Analysis a Good Career?
Yes, applied behavior analysis is a good career for many professionals. As awareness of mental health and psychology spreads, there is a growing demand for specialists in behavior analysis.
ABA graduates may go on to work in marketing, human resources, health and lifestyle coaching, special education, youth services, and rehabilitation. It’s a very versatile degree that you can apply to several fields. As a career, many find ABA to be rewarding because they can work directly with people and have a positive impact on their lives. There are also many opportunities for advancement with additional training.
What Degree Do You Need to Be a Behavior Analyst?
To become a behavior analyst, it’s necessary to hold a masters degree and to meet the educational and fieldwork requirements for the Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) certification.
This includes completing a graduate program that’s accredited by the ABAI (Association for Behavior Analysis International). Another option is to attend a graduate program that has a Verified Course Sequence (VCS) that’s verified by the ABAI.
Programs that qualify are usually master’s programs in areas like behavior analysis, psychology, education, and social work. Preferably, your undergraduate degree would be in a similar field, but more programs are accepting applicants with diverse backgrounds.
What Can You Do with an Applied Behavior Analysis Degree?
A degree in applied behavior analysis can teach you about psychology, behavioral interventions, and human learning and motivation—all of which are useful in a variety of careers. The most standard track for graduates is to take on roles that work one-on-one with clients, such as assistant behavior analysts, life coaches, and substance abuse counselors.
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Some professionals also pursue work in education as special education teachers, educational administrators, or training specialists. Many graduates take on roles in healthcare, nonprofits, social services, marketing, and human resources.
How Long Does It Take to Get an ABA Degree Online?
A standard online bachelor’s degree in applied behavior analysis consists of around 120 credits. If you’re studying full-time, you can usually finish a bachelors program in 4 years.
On the other hand, if you’re studying part-time, it will often take longer. Some programs allow you to fast-track their courses. For example, if an online program has 8 week semesters, you can often finish faster by enrolling full-time and taking classes all year round.
Also worth noting is that a number of universities offer accelerated online psychology degree programs, which often help students complete their psychology degrees quicker.
What Does a Behavior Analyst Do?
Behavior analysts conduct behavior therapy and create treatment plans for patients with different needs and conditions, most often for individuals who have autism. Behavior therapy uses evidence-based techniques for encouraging positive behavior, including reinforcement, modeling, or behavior chains.
Behavior analysts start by assessing clients and observing any environmental factors. Afterwards, they can move on to teaching behavioral interventions to clients. Throughout every session, a behavior analyst records the client’s progress and adapts the treatment plan accordingly.
Behavior analysts may work in various settings, including social service agencies, clinics, schools, and residential treatment centers.
Is a Bachelor’s in Applied Behavior Analysis Degree Worth It?
Yes, a bachelor’s in applied behavior analysis is worth it for many students. If you’re planning to become certified in behavior analysis, then a bachelor’s degree can be the first step to getting there. It can also lay the foundation for you to pursue counseling, psychology, and social work with additional training.
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Careers in applied behavioral analysis are also thriving. For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 23% job growth for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors over the next ten years. An applied behavior analysis degree can also help you launch a career in education, human resources, and training and development.
Universities Offering Online Bachelors in Applied Behavior Analysis Degree Program
Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.
The Applied Behavior Analysis program at Ball State University allows students to specialize in Autism Spectrum Disorder. The degree can be completed as a Bachelor of Arts or Science. This fully online program consists of 120 credit hours and covers topics like lifespan development, behavior analysis, and autism spectrum disorder treatment and interventions.
Ball State is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Bellevue University offers a Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Science. The curriculum covers how to communication professionally, conduct assessments, utilize and conduct research, analyze data, and develop plans for treatment. This 127 credit program is housed entirely online, helping to ensure even students with the busiest schedules can take their next educational and professional steps.
Bellevue University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Capella University offers an online program for a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. It is designed for students committed to understanding human behavior and the developmental, social, and physiological aspects that drive it. Graduates of the program often pursue careers in locations such as family services, insurance carriers, private and public education, and health services.
Capella University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Central Methodist University offers a Bachelor of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis. The program is designed to prepare students for working with individuals who have autism, developmental delays, behavioral issues, and other comorbid limitations. This online program can be taken as a full bachelor’s degree or as a certification-only track for students already holding a bachelor’s degree.
Central Methodist University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
The Bachelor of Arts in Applied Behavioral Sciences program at DePaul University is intended for adult learners. It employs a fully online curriculum to help ensure the flexibility required for students to schedule their education around their busy lives. Graduates of the program often pursue careers in fields like consulting, human services, communication services, non-profit management, and project management.
DePaul University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
At Florida International University, students in the Bachelor of Arts in Psychology can complete their degree requirements utilizing fully online or on-campus formats. Students in the program can select an emphasis from six subdisciplines of psychology. Options are Social, Applied, Developmental, Cognitive and Neuroscience, Clinical and Personality, and Industrial-Organizational Psychology.
Florida International University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Grand Canyon University offers a Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Health Science. The program leverages fundamentals in current trends, history, research, and psychological best practices alongside Christian principles in order to graduate competent, engaged students. Students attending fully online must complete the 120 required credits in 8 week terms, while students in the on-campus program attend 15 week terms.
Grand Canyon University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Mary Baldwin University offers a Bachelor’s in Applied Behavior Analysis and Autism Studies. It is designed for individuals who are passionate about supporting children with autism spectrum disorders, behavioral issues, and developmental delays. Students in the program may add a year of fieldwork and additional coursework to pursue a master’s degree.
Mary Baldwin University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
At Notre Dame College, the psychology bachelor’s degree program utilizes an interdisciplinary curriculum. Students may choose from a variety of concentrations, including Psychology as a Science, Clinical and Counseling Psychology, Developmental Psychology, or Applied Psychology. Courses are 8 weeks long, and up to 90 qualifying credit hours from other institutions can be transferred toward the 120 required credit hours.
Notre Dame College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Purdue University offers a Bachelor of Science in Psychology with an emphasis in Applied Behavior Analysis. The program is designed to empower students to address behavioral issues, social problems, and interpersonal relationships. Students typically need to allocate 15 to 18 hours weekly to their courses. Individual classes are each 10 weeks long, and the program itself can typically be completed in 4 years of full-time study.
Purdue University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology offers a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a minor in Applied Behavior Analysis. The program is designed for students interested in working with a diverse range of individuals across many fields. Courses cover fundamentals in the field of psychology and aim to prepare students for working in settings like hospitals, clinics, treatment centers, service organizations, or education.
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission.
Thomas Jefferson University offers a Bachelor of Science in Behavioral and Health Services. The program is designed for students who want to support individuals with mental health, developmental, educational, and health issues. The program can be completed entirely online, with each class lasting 8 weeks. The degree’s major-specific requirements can usually be finished in 2 to 3 years of full-time study.
Thomas Jefferson University is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.
Troy University offers a Bachelor’s in Psychology. The program boasts diverse faculty members who are practicing experts in their fields, small and intimate classes, and a rigorous curriculum. The curriculum is designed to impart essential skills in critical thinking, communication, and research. Typical classes include Sensation and Perception, Forensic Psychology, and Psychology of Learning, Sensation, and Perception.
Troy University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The University of Arizona offers a Bachelor of Arts in Applied Behavioral Science. The curriculum covers how to analyze major concepts and theories, conduct research, and communicate effectively. The program allows students to take one class at a time and offers accelerated courses that are 5 to 6 weeks long. Students may transfer up to 90 approved credits toward their degree.
The University of Arizona is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
The Bachelor’s in Applied Behavior Analysis program at the University of West Florida is designed to prepare students for several board-certified roles in the behavior analysis field. This entirely online program admits new students each semester, allowing students to start the next step of their educational journey at a time and place more convenient for them.
The University of West Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Getting Your Applied Behavior Analysis Bachelor’s Degree Online
If you’re passionate about human psychology and development and would love to make a difference in other people’s lives, then you might consider earning a behavior analyst degree online.
With this degree, you can learn proven interventions for improving behavior and picking up new skills. Some specialize in working with kids who have developmental disabilities, while others apply their skills to fields such as human resources, education, and social services.
Now it’s also possible to earn your ABA bachelor’s degree online. There are many accredited online programs with high-quality classes that can be credited for professional certification. You can start exploring accredited schools today to find the ABA degree option that’s right for you.