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Studying human behavior is an important part of many social science fields. Sociologists, psychologists, and other professionals aim to understand the human psyche along with its desires, needs, and attitudes.
Those who want a scientific approach to understanding behavior will delve into the field of Applied Behavior Analysis. Within this discipline, one will find the importance of implementing established principles of learning, behavioral strategies, and environmental modifications for the improvement of behaviors through critical analysis.
Considered a terminal degree, a Ph.D. in Applied Behavioral Analysis will involve advanced coursework and opportunities to conduct research, as well as publish and present manuscripts.
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For anyone who has a passion for behavior analysis, a Ph.D. in the field will present amazing career opportunities in leadership positions, such as in ABA Therapy, Speech and Language Pathology, Occupational Therapy, and much more. One will be well-prepared to take on the roles of a faculty member or a clinical director in a behavioral analytic agency.
Fortunately, working professionals need not put their careers on standby in order to pursue this advanced degree. Some universities in the country actually offer the program in an online or a hybrid format, which makes it accessible wherever they may be.
Prospective Applied Behavioral Analysis professionals wishing to prepare for a rewarding career in academia, research, and clinical practice will find the most comprehensive education and training in doctorate programs.
The best online and hybrid programs on our list are considered excellent Doctorate in Applied Behavior Analysis options because of these features:
- Facilitated as an online or blended (hybrid) doctorate program for the convenient learning of adult learners or ABA professionals,
- Delivers rigorous online/hybrid coursework that rivals traditional on-campus programs, featuring up-to-date techniques, processes, concepts, and applications in the Applied Behavior Analysis field,
- Inculcates technical and methodical know-how and soft skills for efficiency in research-based practice in the academe and other medical settings,
- Features seasoned instructors who hold terminal degrees in Applied Behavior Analysis,
- Offers financial aid programs, as well as student support and career services,
- Meets all accreditation and high academic standard requirements, enabling graduates to practice the profession accordingly,
- Recognized by or affiliated with organizations that promote Applied Behavioral Analysis as a degree program and career t.
Read our Methodology page to discover more about our ranking process.
The 5 Best Online Ph.D. in Applied Behavior Analysis
Cambridge College offers a full-time Ph.D. in Applied Behavior Analysis that is available in a hybrid format. It specializes in Autism Intervention. Essentially, live classes are conducted online, which makes them easily accessible to students from any location. However, students need to attend a one-week residency in their first and second years as part of the program requirement.
With 48 credit hours in total, the ABA doctoral program can be completed within three years. It is taught by a faculty with real-world expertise, as most of them hold supervisory positions at partner organizations, including Beacon ABA Services and Evergreen Center.
The applied behavior analysis degree offers two emphasis options – the leadership training designed to prepare students for leadership roles and advanced research and dissemination of applied behavior analysis.
By the end of the applied behavior analysis doctoral degree program, one is expected to conduct an analysis of published research across a range of behavior analytic content. They will also have the option to apply for the BCBA-D designation from the Behavior Analyst Certification Board.
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology offers two paths to its Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) doctoral program. The Post-Master path takes three years of full-time education to complete, while the Post-Baccalaureate path takes five years full-time.
The applied behavior analysis program is delivered in an online format to work better with the students’ prior commitments and busy schedules. Students are introduced to a wide range of ABA applications and specialties, which include precision teaching, verbal behavior, and instructional design.
Students in the 5-year path have two possible paths that they can take to complete the program. They can either complete a thesis or opt for the non-thesis option, called the Advanced Applied Project. The latter is more application rather than research-based but is just as stringent as the thesis option.
ABA doctorate students also complete a dissertation as the final requirement, which must be a data-based empirical evaluation. To help students progress through these requirements, the applied behavior analysis program’s course design integrates the necessary steps toward thesis & project completion.
The Chicago School also offers Post-Bachelor’s and Post-Master’s Certificate programs in Applied Behavior Analysis, which are both delivered in an online format. For those wanting to enroll in their online Ph.D. in Applied Behavior Analysis at the post-masters entry point but do not have the required Master’s Degree or have a curriculum and/or eligibility issues, an online Ph.D. in ABA Credential Track is also offered.
In the spirit of keeping their degree programs accessible, the Chicago School offers scholarship & financial aid opportunities for its students.
Based in Beverly, Massachusetts, Endicott College offers its Ph.D. in Applied Behavior Analysis in an online and synchronous format.
The program takes as little as three years to finish for 60 credit hours, with 30 of these being core courses and coursework and the other 30 for research and clinical immersion. Being a synchronous program, class cohorts begin each September, and there is no residency requirement.
Endicott College’s Ph.D. in ABA degree program is a primarily research-based program in its design and will prepare an online student for university-level teaching roles or to work as scientist-practitioners focusing on public policy issues, education, as part of business/industry, or developmental disabilities, which includes autism.
Unlike other colleges that have a post-baccalaureate path, Endicott College’s Ph.D. ABA Program has a purely Post-Master’s entry point. Applicants to the applied behavior analysis program must have completed a Master’s Degree in Applied Behavior Analysis (or its equivalent) from an accredited college or university.
Likewise, it is preferable that applicants are licensed behavior analysts or hold an active BCBA certificate from the Behavior Analyst Certification Board.
Endicott College also offers a number of ABA Certificate Programs that focus on a particular population or set of challenges and includes a Certificate Program in Autism that is delivered either on-campus or online.
Simmons University, based in downtown Boston, Massachusetts, offers its Behavior Analysis doctoral program in an online format with live online classes, allowing for a nationwide interaction and collaboration between faculty and peers. The applied behavior analysis program has a total of 48 credit hours.
Simmons University’s Ph.D. curriculum design has a special focus on experimental research, particularly its design, conduct, and interpretation. Being well-regarded as a pioneer and an enduring presence in the field of behavior analysis, students in the program get to enjoy the readiness to collaborate given to the university by prominent clinical and research groups.
As with any good Ph.D. program, the dissertation process begins on a student’s first day. Upon entry, students are matched by research interest and are entered into particular faculty members’ ongoing Lab Meetings, which shape students’ research skills along with discussions on research design, progress, insights, research methods, and related behavior analytic literature.
Together with faculty members, students in the program are continually engaged in professional research, and they have the opportunity to implement, write, and publish their research work, as well as present it in professional conferences and in peer-reviewed journals.
Areas of faculty research include Stimulus Equivalence, Behavioral Medicine, Induced Behaviors, Conditioned Reinforcement, Analysis of Verbal Behavior, and BCBA Training, among others.
The Ph.D. in Behavioral Analysis offered at Capella University is an ideal choice for those who want to reach the highest levels of academic, research, and clinical leadership in the field.
Taught by experienced doctoral faculty, this degree has a good balance of research and practice. One can expect comprehensive and rigorous coursework around behavioral analysis with a total of 93 program credits. This includes 11 core courses, three elective courses, one comprehensive exam, one dissertation, and three doctoral development seminars.
The doctoral program requires doctorate aspirants to have a master’s degree from an accredited institution, a minimum GPA of 3.0 on a scale of 4.0, a current BCBA certification, and a resume. This degree does not need the GRE and GMAT for admission. Since the program is available in an online method of learning, working professionals can easily pursue this advanced education without putting their careers on compromise.
At the end of the program, students will be able to gain skills and knowledge that will help them become successful professional behavior analysts with leadership roles in various settings, including research, clinical, and academic. Even better, the program allows one to apply for the doctoral designation as a board-certified behavior analyst.
The Importance of Behavior Analysis
While it may sound like a vague job description to some, there are certain areas where the benefits of methods and treatments derived from behavioral analysis are greatly felt; indeed, the application and scope of Behavioral Analysis are deep and varied. Here are just a few examples:
Quality of Life
One of the primary application-side goals of Behavior Analysis/Applied Behavior Analysis is the improvement of the overall quality of life of individuals or a group. This is based on the fact that human behavior affects many aspects of life, as behavior determines how individuals interact with each other.
Being able to reinforce positive behaviors as well as mitigate and replace detrimental behavior with positive and socially important ones in an ethical manner thus has a positive knock-on effect down the line.
Behavior Analysis is sometimes more immediately associated with work surrounding Autism-related behaviors. Individuals who are on the spectrum may not readily pick up on positive and/or negative behaviors, or they may have certain behaviors that hinder them.
Through behavior analysis, methods can be formulated to help these individuals function more effectively and meaningfully in society.
Behavior Analysis can be used to put on a human behavior lens and look at the interaction between the public and the laws that govern society. This can eventually translate into public policy that more effectively facilitates the delivery of government services to the public.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is a Ph.D. in Behavioral Analysis worth it?
According to BLS, psychologists and other related professions in the field of human study can earn up to $81,040 per year. This makes a career in the behavioral analysis field a lucrative choice for many.
Earning a Ph.D. in Applied Behavior Analysis can boost one’s chances of expanding their earning potential. Often, this terminal degree qualifies you to apply for BCBA-D designation from the Behavior Analyst Certification Board.
Not only do ABA doctorate holders have the opportunity to earn more, but they are also given the chance to specialize in a relevant discipline, expanding their horizons and arming them with valuable knowledge and skills to improve their credentials as behavior analysts.
What career paths await graduates of Behavior Analysis/Applied Behavior Analysis Doctoral Degree Programs?
A graduate’s career options are partly shaped by the specialty/focus of the university they are enrolled in, but in general, a degree in Behavioral Analysis prepares graduates for a number of future career and specialization options.
Some universities can take on some of their Ph.D. graduates to become part of their teaching faculty, and a Ph.D. in Behavior Analysis can be readily translated to university-level teaching roles or for graduates to stay on in academia and expand the field of Behavior Analysis through the conduct of applied research.
The skills and insights gained from the degree can also be readily applied to more corporate/business settings or in settings that deal heavily with managing human behavior, as well as in the field of special education. As such, graduates are open to holding management and leadership roles in these areas if they so wish.
Lastly, graduates can apply their skills for roles within the field of healthcare or in government agencies and institutions.
What are the typical requirements for admission into a Behavior Analysis Ph.D. Program?
Some schools offer a longer post-baccalaureate entry point, but most schools offer a Post-Master’s program, which will require that students already have a Master’s Degree in Behavior Analysis (or an equivalent) from an accredited university.
Some universities may also find it preferable if applicants already hold a Board Certified Behavior Analyst® Certification (BCAB) conferred by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB). Many universities will list official transcripts, post-secondary academic work, and a personal statement as part of the admission requirements.
Furthermore, international applicants will have additional requirements that they need to meet before getting admitted into the applied behavioral analysis program.
Lastly, students can expect a stringent selection process. Behavior Analysis is a field that has a heavy ethical component—being a discipline that is concerned with human behavior—and as such, some universities may require applicants to undergo an interview to determine their suitability and their emotional and social maturity, aside from the required personal essays and professional recommendations.
What are the common courses offered under the Doctor of Applied Behavior Analysis programs?
Usually, there are core courses that one needs to complete as part of the requirements for a Ph.D. in behavioral analysis.
This often includes topics such as organizational behavior management, verbal behavior, critical analysis, behavior analytic theory, advanced principles of behavior, behavior disorders, experimental analysis, behavioral health, and more.
Some universities require the completion of basic and applied research projects, elective courses, dissertations, and comprehensive exams.
In some cases, doctoral students may be asked to attend doctoral development seminars and residencies to meet the ABA Ph.D. programs’ requirements. Conducting research is also often an integral part of the degree program’s curriculum.
How long does it take to earn a Ph.D. in the Behavior Analysis program?
Most universities offer the program in full-time or part-time formats. The time it takes to earn the degree varies depending on the student’s choice.
Most Ph.D. degree programs require more or less 60 credit hours, so enrolling full-time into the doctorate program might take one to complete the requirements in 3 to 4 years. It can take more if one is earning it on a part-time basis.
Online programs might take longer, too, as some schools allow online students to complete the courses and perform research at their own pace.
Is there available financial aid for a Ph.D. in Applied Behavior Analysis?
Often considered an investment, earning a Ph.D. can cost money. Fortunately, there are several ways to fund one’s terminal degree. Some universities, like the Chicago School of Professional Psychology, offer scholarships and other financial aid opportunities. The latter includes employer and association discounts and even grants.
Whether graduate students want to pursue a meaningful career or earn higher compensation, earning a Ph.D. in Applied Behavioral Analysis online is an ideal choice.
This behavioral health program often features advanced core courses on understanding human behavior through a more scientific method, with the inclusion of theoretical training, medical literacy, and professional development. It is integral to behavioral interventions, including autism treatment.
A behavior analyst can find that earning a doctoral program in behavior analysis from an accredited university is important in pursuing more advanced and rewarding roles in the field. It could be their ticket to becoming faculty members, working in clinical settings, or excelling in private practice.
Many such Ph.D. programs are available online.