ABA Therapy Degrees: Start Your Behavior Analysis Degree

Earning an ABA degree can help achieve a strong, lucrative career. See the best options for a new career. Classes offered online from accredited programs. Earn your degree or certificate faster with these programs offered.

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a unique extension of psychology studies. The main purpose of ABA educational programs is to concentrate on and comprehend the behavior of individual people. There is a procedurally scientific emphasis on increasing healthy behaviors and reducing unhealthy ones, while simultaneously tracking and analyzing applicable data and behavioral patterns. 

There are numerous satisfying career opportunities available to those with an ABA degree. What is the required path to graduating and obtaining your desired job placement? Many qualified programs exist both on physical campuses and online. Read ahead for more information on ABA degrees, accredited ABA schools, degree requirements and financial assistance today.


Difference Between ABA & Psychology Studies   

While Applied Behavior Analysis is an extension of psychology, it also has distinct differences from its parent field of education. Psychology focuses on internal catalysts for behavioral patterns. ABA focuses on environmental and learned behavior patterns from external sources. For example, psychology attributes a person drinking a glass of water to him or her being thirsty. It presumes the person is thirsty, and their drive to quench said thirst is what causes them to drink the water. Psychology sees an internal cause leading to an external behavioral reaction.

Applied Behavior Analysis sees the act of drinking a glass of water as a learned behavior. The thirsty person is trained to drink the water because not drinking the water results in remaining thirsty. In ABA, filling the glass, drinking the water and quenching the thirst are the effects of the learned behavior. Choosing any behavior other than drinking the water (or another alternate beverage) does not achieve the desired results. Therefore ways in which to not behave are also learned. This concept and scientific approach helps guide, teach and train individuals unable to make those types of decisions adequately for themselves. This guidance can be applied to individuals with autism, addictions, social disorders and more.

Requirements for Earning an ABA Degree

Obtaining an ABA degree first requires earning a bachelor’s degree in a related field of study. Students pursuing a career in Applied Behavior Analysis most often start with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. This is because psychology focuses on the variety of behavioral, mental, developmental and emotional disorders eventually addressed in ABA careers. Students interested in specific careers as a social worker or within an organization specifically designed to help underprivileged or at-risk social demographics can earn a bachelor’s degree in social work or sociology instead of psychology. 

How Long Does it Take to Get an ABA Degree?

Once a bachelor’s degree in a related field is earned, various options exist to obtain an ABA degree or board certificate. Master’s degree programs take approximately two years to complete. The second year of a master’s degree program focuses on specifically ABA topic-related research and the writing of an applicable thesis. A practicum is required for students choosing to live and work in states requiring an ABA therapy license. Obtaining this license via practicum can take another full year. 

There is also board certification through the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB). Obtaining board certification is an intense, comprehensive process designed for prospective analysts intent on acquiring independent practices and individualized customization of client interventions and treatment programs. A master’s degree is required in order for a student to be board certified. Students must also open a BACB account and complete/provide the following to receive board certification:

  • ABA coursework via any applicable, accredited school.

  • Completion of the BACB Task List w/a grade C or above.

  • 1,500 hours independent, supervised work in the field or 750 practicum hours.

  • Verification of ABA training.

  • Official transcript or electronic copies of transcript papers.

  • Registration for a Pearson VUE center examination seat.

  • Passing grade from a 160 multiple-choice test within four hours time. 

Once all requirements are fulfilled students are granted board certification. Recertification occurs every two years after, however. It is further required for board certified analysts to obtain biennial, continuing education units and self-report to the Ethics Department as a way of ensuring compliance with up-to-date practices and methods.

Accredited ABA Degree Schools

Accredited schools provide degrees recognized by educational organizations. Accredited school degrees are also recognized and accepted as valid by prospective employers. Searching for accredited ABA degree programs on the Council for Higher Education Accreditation website is a valid way to learn if your school of choice is accredited. Some of the top accredited ABA schools in 2020 include:

Online ABA & Psychology Degree Programs

In 2020 COVID-19 caused many school campuses to close. Online degree programs existed before the pandemic as well, but there has been a marked increase in online degree program enrollments since the novel coronavirus struck America. It is important to verify the online program of your choice is BACB certified before enrolling. The Accredited Online Schools website provides search options to find accredited online ABA and psychology degree programs. If uncertain, call the online school or university of your choice and ask for proof of accreditation.

Financial Aid for ABA Degree Programs

Financial aid is sometimes available for ABA degree programs. Household income is a factor for eligibility. Scholarships are available on a limited basis for qualified, exceptional students. There are also scholarships and grants available for students experiencing financial hardship. Pell Grants are provided to some schools and universities, which are subsidized monies funded by the government to help students afford tuition. Contact the financial aid office at your school of choice to get more information on financial aid options available to you. There can also be additional financial aid made available through state assistance programs when applicable requirements are met.