Will a master’s in applied behavior analysis certify me to become an ABA therapist?

February 04, 2021 · 4 min read · By ASU Online

Applied behavior analysis is a systematic and data-informed approach to understanding and improving behavior.


Applied behavior analysis

Applied behavior analysis, or ABA, is usually associated with therapy for people with autism spectrum disorders. However, ABA is effective at teaching new skills, enhancing performance and reducing challenging behaviors in people of all ages, with or without disabilities. It’s used in a variety of settings including health clinics, schools and the workplace as well as at home and in the community.

If you want a career where you can make a difference, then Arizona State University’s master’s in applied behavior analysis online might be a good fit for you. Keep reading and watch the video below to learn about our online ABA programs and how to start your career in applied behavior analysis.

Does an ABA master’s degree help me become BCBA certified?

A master’s in applied behavior analysis will help you earn the Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA)® designation offered through the Behavior Analyst Certification Board. BCBA is a graduate-level certification verifying your advanced knowledge of applied behavior analysis.

ASU’s applied behavior analysis master’s degree and graduate certificate can help you prepare for certification. Both programs are verified by the Association of Behavior Analysis International (ABAI)® and meet the coursework requirements for the Board Certified Behavior Analyst exam.

Applicants will need to meet additional requirements before they are eligible to take the exam. To become a BCBA you need to complete a graduate degree and supervised fieldwork in addition to passing the exam.

Our online ABA programs offer an optional practicum if you would like to complete your fieldwork under the direction of an ASU BCBA supervisor. Or, you can arrange and complete your fieldwork separately from ASU coursework.

You’re not required to become a BCBA as a part of the degree or graduate certificate. There are many jobs such as teaching or social work where ABA expertise is valuable but you’ll need a different certification. The online ABA programs do not lead to teacher certification.

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What is applied behavior analysis? And what can you do with a master’s in applied behavior analysis? This video answers these common questions and provides an overview of what you can expect in ASU Online’s ABA master’s degree.

Why earn an online applied behavior analysis degree?

In an applied behavior analysis degree, you’ll learn how to use ABA to improve the lives of individuals, families and communities.

ASU Online’s ABA master’s program teaches the process of applied behavior analysis while concentrating on ethical principles and evidence-based best practices. All courses emphasize emphatic and scientifically proven strategies for how to change behavior.

The degree includes coursework covering how to assess behavior, develop therapy plans, analyze data and more. It also explores how people learn and the theories of behavior change.

Our online ABA programs were created by faculty who are Board Certified Behavior Analysts and many of the instructors are also certified. This gives you the opportunity to gain feedback from experts with professional experience in the field.

The master’s in applied behavior analysis takes five semesters to complete. This equates to about a year and a half if you follow the prescribed course schedule.

You can start the ABA program in the fall, spring or summer semesters. Applicants who do not meet the 3.00 GPA requirement may still be considered for provisional admission.

Definition of applied behavior analysis

Applied behavior analysis is a scientific and systematic approach to understanding behavior. In general, the goal of ABA therapy is to increase socially-significant behaviors. These are behaviors that have long-term benefits for the person engaging in them and contribute to the person’s quality of life. However, the desired outcomes of ABA vary and are specific to each person. Goal behaviors can include changes in the way an individual communicates, socializes, learns and more.

Applied behavior analysis jobs

A master’s in applied behavior analysis will equip you with the skills you need to be successful in a variety of careers related to ABA. The use of applied behavior analysis is widespread, which means it’s likely that you’ll be able to find an ABA related job in a field that aligns with your interests. The Behavior Analyst Certification Board lists 12 subspecialty areas in which ABA expertise is beneficial:

  • Autism and intellectual disabilities.
  • Behavioral gerontology.
  • Behavioral pediatrics.
  • Brain injury rehabilitation.
  • Clinical behavior analysis. 
  • Education. 
  • Health and fitness.
  • Organizational behavior management. 
  • Prevention of child maltreatment.
  • Sports.
  • Sustainability.
  • Treatment of substance abuse disorders.

Earning a degree in applied behavior analysis will prepare you to meet this demand and enter a career with ample opportunities. Take the next step toward a rewarding career in ABA with a master’s in applied behavior analysis.

Pursuing a career in the field

But, if you wish to pursue a career in therapy, counseling or related areas, then certification can give you a competitive advantage. It’s also often required for licensure.


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