applied behavior student

Graduate Certificate in
Applied Behavior Analysis

Program Summary

Learn to create a purposeful environment that helps children with special needs succeed. This online Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) certificate program is designed to help you prepare for the Behavior Analyst Certification Board®, Inc. (BACB®) exam.
How To Apply
Apply by April 15 to start May 15

How To Apply 

Costs and Financial Aid

21 Credits $1,007 per credit

Costs and Financial Aid 

Demand Is High for Special Education Professionals with Advanced Certification in the Field of Applied Behavior Analysis

Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is an effective and evidence-based approach for changing behavior of all people, including those with intellectual disabilities, autism, and emotional and behavioral disorders. Teachers and therapists using ABA interventions seek to create lasting, positive change in an individual’s life. ABA practices include rearranging an individual’s environment, managing consequences, and teaching communication skills so problem behavior is minimized and appropriate behavior is maximized. In short, ABA improves lives.

Penn State shares your mission to help make life better for children with special needs. To help meet your goals, Penn State World Campus has partnered with the College of Education to offer graduate courses in applied behavior analysis.

Penn State Offers Applied Behavior Analysis Graduate Study


Certification as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) through the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) is the most prominently recognized credential in the field and allows professionals to demonstrate that they have met standards for the profession through board examination.

Our 21-credit, 315-hour, seven-course sequence is designed for people who seek advanced knowledge in the field of applied behavior analysis. The Association for Behavior Analysis International has verified our course sequence toward the course work requirements for eligibility to take the Board Certified Behavior Analyst® examination. Applicants will need to meet additional requirements before they can be deemed eligible to take the examination. The curriculum is based on the BACB’s 5th Edition Task List and course work requirements, which go into effect in January 2022, and is intended to prepare you to sit for the 5th Edition BCBA certification examination. 

The program consists of six online courses plus one on-campus course, which is a week-long seminar held every August at Penn State University Park in conjunction with the National Autism Conference. This on-campus course is mandatory to complete the program, and travel is required.

BCBA exam pass rate data for our program (and all other verified course sequences) can be found on the BACB’s Verified Course Sequences web page.

Your Stepping-Stone to a Penn State Master's Degree

You may pursue the applied behavior analysis graduate certificate as a stand-alone credential or use it to step up into a Penn State master's degree. Many of the certificate courses are embedded into the more comprehensive Master of Education in Special Education. Certificate students who apply and are accepted into this master's program will be able to apply up to 15 credits toward the M.Ed. degree requirements.

Act 48–Approved

Penn State is an Act 48–approved provider for Pennsylvania educators, so the courses for the program in applied behavior analysis may count toward professional development hours.

Who Should Apply?

This program is specifically designed for individuals with a background in education or human services who are interested in becoming Board Certified Behavior Analysts. However, anyone with an interest in learning about interventions to produce lasting change in behavior will find this program to be extremely useful.

Please note that this graduate certificate program is not designed to lead to initial teacher certification in any state; however, it may help you renew or maintain your existing certification if you are already a certified teacher. Please check with your state's Department of Education for initial licensure requirements and renewal and maintenance requirements.

Professionals who can benefit from this program include:

  • teachers
  • behavioral specialists
  • mobile therapists
  • educational consultants
  • speech-language pathologists
  • school counselors
  • social workers
  • psychologists
  • medical professionals
  • occupational and physical therapists
  • mental health counselors

Career Opportunities

Board Certified Behavior Analysts develop, implement, and monitor behavioral interventions. Typically, behavior analysts work in the helping professions (e.g., teachers, speech/language pathologists, therapists, counselors). Training in behavior analysis can help add to your current professional knowledge base, thus making you better prepared to address a variety of behavioral issues in classroom, early intervention, home, and community settings. Review the Burning Glass Report on the U.S. Employment Demand for Behavior Analysts for additional information. 

Online Education at Penn State

Penn State has a history of 100+ years of distance education and more than two decades of experience in online learning. We create an online learning environment that offers you the same quality education our residential students experience in a face-to-face setting. Learn more about Penn State World Campus.

Penn State World Campus Student

Ready to Learn More?

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