Top North Carolina Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Master's Programs

Benefits of Earning a Masters in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)

Masters in Applied behavior analysis (ABA) programs are designed to teach students the application of the principles of learning theory in order to work with a range of populations in need of behaviorally based interventions. Applied behavioral analysis (ABA) programs are usually adapted to meet the requirements for certification as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). Continuing education at the doctorate level is also available beyond a Masters in Applied Behavior Analysis.

Common prerequisite for Masters in ABA is a Bachelor’s degree in psychology, behavioral science, counseling or a related field. Some institutions may require candidates to have professional work experience in psychology, education, or related fields. 2 years of coursework, internships and a final research project may be required as part of the curriculum.

Depending on the masters in behavior analysis program you enroll in, you might be able to earn an ABA degree in anywhere from 1 to 3 years. Upon completion of the program, you will earn a Master of Science (MS) or Master of Arts (MA) degree in applied behavior analysis. Both degrees should qualify the practitioner for licensure. However, you should verify whether the Behavior Analyst Certification Board has approved your Masters in Applied Behavior Analysis program of choice.

North Carolina Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Master's Programs infographic

How to Find a Masters in Applied Behavior Analysis Program: Online or On-campus? makes reviewing your options for masters programs in ABA easy. If you are looking for a traditional on-campus program, browse by location. Use the city, state or country tabs and listings of the graduate schools in that area will show up. Is distance-learning is more convenient to you? Search by online masters in applied behavior analysis. Some of the results of your search might include the following degrees:

  • MS Applied Behavior Analysis
  • MS in Psychology- Applied Behavior Analysis
  • Master of Education in Foundations in Behavior Analysis
  • M.Ed. in Autism with Applied Behavior Analysis

Make sure to request info from the school to obtain program details.

Why Earn a Masters in ABA?

Earning a Masters degree in Applied Behavior Analysis may prepare students to participate in and use research-based theories and findings. They may be also to use these finding  from the applied behavior analysis to impact intervention and treatment of children and adults who have behavioral disorders.  Students also learn to express concepts and principles of behavior analysis. These principles may include definitions and characteristics, and using the professional standards of applied behavior analysis.

What is ABA Therapy?

Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is the scientific approach to modifying human behavior as part of a learning or treatment process. ABA investigates the rules by which humans adapt their behavior and directs modifications in the relationship of a particular behavior to the environment. Applied Behavior Analysis is most often used to treat children with autism spectrum disorder. But, ABA has been notable for use in many other areas of human behavior.

What is a Behavior Analyst?

Behavior analysts are professionals who help people change or learn new behaviors in a diversity of settings. ABA therapy involves a certified behavior analyst working with a client on interventions geared toward achieving improved social skills.

The end goal being the client demonstrates more successful and socially acceptable behavior at home, school and in their communities. In addition, applied behavior analysis therapy includes collecting data that enables the behavior analyst to determine if a particular behavior is being modified in the appropriate manner. Also, the therapy focuses to ensure desired goals are being met.

A board certified behavior analyst is a mental health professional with an advanced behavioral analysis degree. This advanced degree may either a master’s degree or doctorate that has also met all of the qualifications of the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB). The BACB offers certification at two levels as a master’s prepared board certified behavior analyst or bachelor’s prepared board certified assistant behavior analyst.

Potential Coursework: Applied Behavior Analysis Masters

Master's degree students learn advanced theoretical and practical skills in behavior analysis.

Programs often feature classes that provide advanced education in principles of clinical psychology with the primary objectives of:

  • Preparing candidates for work with a range of clients in clinical and organizational settings
  • Understanding the root causes of behavioral problems in order to develop effective interventions and determine outcomes.

ABA coursework includes an overview of cognition and emotion, research methods and organizational theory. Students also learn about psychological and behavioral disorders, such as autism, depression and schizophrenia. General course requirements for a master's degree in applied behavioral analysis may include:

  • Behavior therapy
  • Behavioral research
  • Behavioral modification
  • Applied statistical analysis
  • Ethics and professionalism
  • Cognitive psychology
  • Behavioral pharmacology
  • Language and speech
  • Social skills
  • Organizational analysis

Potential Specializations in ABA Masters Programs

Students may pursue specializations such as:

  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Developmental disabilities/psychopathologies
  • Behavior therapy

Areas of emphasis may include the application of behavior analysis and behavioral support in a variety of settings, including the home, school, work and community, and institutional environments. A thesis or clinical practicum is generally required to satisfy the degree curriculum.

Potential Career Paths For Masters in ABA Graduates

Practitioners with masters-level education may work as mental health counselors, behavior analysts, behavior support specialists and organizational psychologists. Those who plan to become clinical, counseling, and research psychologists need a doctoral degree. School psychologists need an advanced degree, commonly the education specialist degree (Ed.S.), and certification or licensure to work.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, overall employment of psychologists is projected to grow 19% from 2014 to 2024. The median annual wages for psychologists in May 2014 ranged from $76,950 (industrial-organizational psychologists) to $68,900 (Clinical, counseling, and school psychologists), and $92,110(all other psychologists)[i] Mental Health counselors, a category that includes Behavior Analysts, will also continue to experience a high employment opportunity; BLS data projects 19% growth in employment during the same time period, with 2014 Median wage of $40,850.

Ready to Pursue a Masters Degree in ABA?

If you are interested in preparing yourself for a profession that applies the scientific knowledge of learning to helping people, why not use the search tools on to find a masters program in Applied Behavior Analysis that aligns with your goals!

Sources: [i] | [ii] | [iii]

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