Earn Your Master’s in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Online from Pepperdine University
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Pepperdine University’s online Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis program provides you with a thorough understanding of how to leverage applied behavior analysis (ABA) techniques to enrich lives.
BCBA Exam Pass Rate
Our rigorous curriculum delivers impressive results. Online and on-campus students in the program had an 84% BCBA exam pass rate in 2020 – 18% higher than the national pass rate. 1,2
Featuring online course work and in-person field experiences, students learn the skills necessary to improve behaviors of individuals diagnosed with impairments such as autism, developmental disabilities, or traumatic brain injury. They also learn how ABA can be used for organizational behavior management.
Pepperdine is proud to offer its students a verified course sequence. The Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) has verified our courses toward the coursework 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.
Online Master of Applied Behavior Analysis Program Highlights
As a student in the online applied behavior analysis master’s program, you will develop a deep understanding of analytical behavioral health and the modern techniques used to recognize, assess, and treat human behaviors. You will study concepts and principles of ABA, assessment procedures, and applications of ABA for behavior change, and organizational behavior management.
Pepperdine’s verified course sequence is designed to teach you foundational knowledge of a wide range of clinical interventions for children, adolescents, and adults. You will help patients develop adaptive skills for optimal functioning in educational, family, social, and occupational roles.
Upon completion of the program and all necessary experience hours, you will be eligible to sit for the BCBA exam. Throughout the ABA program, you will have mentors that facilitate learning, positioning you to qualify for BCBA certification. The curriculum includes the following requirements:
34 – 37
Units of supervised field placement
On-Campus MS in ABA Program
Pepperdine’s MS in Applied Behavior Analysis prepares you to sit for the BCBA exam and become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. The program can be completed in as few as 18 months and the course sequence is verified by ABAI. Gain clinical experience with over 50 practicum sites.
OnlinePsychology@Pepperdine seeks students who are committed to cultivating a deep understanding of human behavior while advancing their capability to serve those in need. We accept applications on a rolling basis and offer you the option to start earning your applied behavior analysis degree at various times throughout the year.
A bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution is required to apply.
GRE scores are not required.
Application fee waivers are available to those who meet the priority deadline.
Financial aid opportunities are available for Pepperdine University GSEP students. Students may utilize military education benefits, employer tuition assistance, federal student loans, private loans, or scholarships to assist with program expenses.
The applied behavior analysis masters program curriculum gives you the opportunity to understand behavioral psychology from an evidence-based, data-driven perspective. Students learn to observe and assess behavior patterns, determine target behaviors, and select strategies to promote positive change.
As a student, you will learn the principles and techniques of applied behavior analysis while exploring deeper topics such as ABA experimental design, ethical and professional conduct, and multiculturalism and diversity.
The online program can be completed in 18–21 months.
ABA Online Program Courses
The following list is a sample of ABA course topics you will study in the online master’s in applied behavior analysis program:
concepts and principles of applied behavior analysis.
autism spectrum disorders.
selecting and implementing interventions in ABA.
organizational behavior management.
Course Spotlight: Multiculturalism and Diversity in Applied Behavior Analysis
Prepare to work with diverse populations by learning how gender, trauma, ethnicity and race, belief systems, and socioeconomic backgrounds factor into your practice.
Course Spotlight: Assessment Procedures for ABA
Learn to identify client problems, communicate concepts in nontechnical language, collaborate with other client providers, design assessment procedures, and interpret data.
In addition to the verified courses, you will have the opportunity to take one out of six offered elective courses. The following list is a sample of ABA electives:
Individual, Couple, and Family Development: A Life Cycle Approach
If you completed the at the undergraduate level from a regionally accredited institution within the last seven years, you may be eligible to have up to three semester units, or one elective course, waived. You must have earned a grade of B or better in the course. We will evaluate the transcripts you submit as part of your application to determine if you qualify for waivers.
Pepperdine’s clinical practica are focused on helping you develop your skills through mentorship from a BCBA at your fieldwork site. Clinical training focuses on the practitioner-client relationship, diversity, and multicultural considerations, enabling you to gain real-world experience at a Pepperdine-approved agency in your community.
We highly recommend you begin looking for employment at an ABA site as soon as you apply to the program. Our placement team can advise you as you search for a Pepperdine-approved ABA agency in your community; however, it is ultimately up to each student to secure employment at a behavioral health site.
While enrolled in PSY 620 Practicum in ABA, you must complete a minimum of 20 hours of BCBA-supervised clinical training per month (i.e., a minimum of approximately 165 hours over three terms) in order to graduate from the program. You must continue your fieldwork experience independently until you accrue the hour requirement listed in the BACB’s fieldwork standards to qualify to take the BCBA exam.
The MS in Applied Behavior Analysis program and GSEP psychology division stand in solidarity against racial inequities and injustice and other forms of discrimination and oppression. We are committed to fostering an inclusive learning environment that is enriched and strengthened by diversity, including but not limited to race, ethnicity and national origin, gender and gender identity, sexuality, class, age, ability status, and religion. GSEP also encourages all community members to engage in critical learning and reflection to strengthen our capacity for being effective, active, and outspoken against all forms of racism and intersectional oppression.
Passionate and Purpose-Driven Faculty
GSEP faculty are active practitioners and experts who are dedicated to helping you grow. The practitioners and professors who you will collaborate with have a deep passion for inspiring future leaders. During your study, you’ll be exposed to a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences from professionals who work in all segments of the ABA landscape.
Mentorship is a key component of the ABA master’s online program. Pepperdine faculty will teach you how to design programs, conduct data analysis, and discern multicultural considerations as an ABA practitioner.
By applying scientifically validated principles and techniques of learning, BCBAs help children and adults with disabilities develop the adaptive skills needed to function in educational, social, family, and occupational settings. In addition to this population, BCBAs may also provide support across a variety of different areas, including to individuals with traumatic brain injury; to the geriatric population; to neurotypical individuals in personal (e.g., sports, nutrition, fitness), educational (e.g., academics), or organizational (e.g., performance improvement, systems development) settings; and with animals. While some of these areas require additional niche-specific training, the science of human behavior is universal and can have novel and wide-ranging applications beyond those listed here.
When you become a certified behavior analyst, you can work in a range of professional settings, including ABA-based agencies, government entities, education settings, hospitals, and mental health facilities.
After completing all courses and necessary experience hours and passing the BCBA exam, you can pursue certification and employment in a variety of roles, such as:
People diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder or other developmental disabilities benefit from the individualized, compassionate, and culturally responsive application of evidence-based interventions. ABA-based supports offer client-centered opportunities for developing skills needed to foster independence and to improve one’s potential for a better future. BCBAs work in a variety of settings; however, most fall into three categories: health care, education, and social assistance.
After you graduate from Pepperdine’s online ABA program, you’ll be equipped to enter numerous career settings, including:
Applied behavior analysts are renowned for advances in autism intervention and support. They use evidence-based treatments in response to human behavioral and societal needs. Other applications of ABA include behavioral parent education, organizational behavior management, and behavioral gerontology.
When you become a BCBA, you will conduct a number of processes used to:
Earn a master’s or doctoral degree in an acceptable field of study.
Complete course work that covers the required content from the BACB.
Complete the required fieldwork hours that comply with the BACB’s fieldwork standards following graduation.
Complete the BACB’s monthly minimum fieldwork requirements (i.e., 20 hours of supervised clinical training per month with an appropriate supervision frequency and intensity) while enrolled in PSY 620 Practicum in ABA.
Take and pass the BCBA examination.
Earning your Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis degree is the first step to becoming a BCBA.Pepperdine’s verified course sequence will provide you with the course work required to sit for the BCBA exam, once all necessary experience hours are completed.
What can you do with a master’s degree in applied behavior analysis?
After completing all courses and necessary experience hours and passing the BCBA exam, you can pursue work in a variety of settings as a behavior analyst or behavior coach, helping children and adults with disabilities to develop adaptive skills. Graduates might also pursue work as educational or organizational consultants, sharing their expertise to promote and help advance evidence-based behavioral treatments.
How much does a BCBA make?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors in the United States in May 2020 was $47,660, with the top 10 percent earning more than $78,700.3 This salary information does not specifically reflect BCBAs’ earning potential.
Median annual salary for substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors in the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim Metro Area in California in 2020 was $48,060 with the top 10 percent earning $95,810.4
Is there a high demand for board-certified behavior analysts?
According to Burning Glass Technologies, the demand for behavior analysts with BCBA certification has increased 17 percent from 2019 to 2020. The demand was highest in California — the state alone accounted for 23 percent of the demand in 2020.5
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) focuses on improving targeted behaviors. By identifying goal behaviors, using positive reinforcement, and measuring outcomes, it may help people develop skills that are needed in everyday life, such as communication, fine motor dexterity, increasing attention, social skills, and memory.
What does a behavior analyst do?
A behavior analyst helps people reach desired outcomes through behavior change. They use observation, behavior analysis, positive reinforcement, and other skills, to help individuals strengthen what they deem to be important.
How long does it take to earn the online master’s degree in ABA from Pepperdine University?
The program can be completed in as few as 18 months on a full-time schedule, or in 21 months on a part-time schedule.
Does this online master’s in ABA help you become a BCBA?
Yes. Earning your Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis is the first step to becoming a BCBA. Pepperdine’s course sequence is ABAI-verified; our clinical practicums will help you develop your skills through mentorship from a BCBA in a real-world setting. Once you complete our program and complete all necessary experience hours, you will be ready to sit for the BCBA exam.
What is the BCBA pass rate at Pepperdine?
Online and on-campus Pepperdine students in the program had an 84-percent BCBA exam pass rate in 2020 — that’s 18 percent higher than the national pass rate.4,5
Is a standardized test needed for admission?
No. We take a holistic approach when reviewing applications, and GRE scores are not required to apply.
Who is this ABA program designed for?
It’s for professionals who want to pursue work in the behavioral field to help people improve behaviors and lead meaningful lives. Our students come from all backgrounds — some have a background in psychology or behavioral health, while others are new to the field.
Is a bachelor’s degree in psychology required to apply to the master’s in ABA?
No, it is not required.
Does this program offer a part-time option?
Yes. To accommodate busy working professionals, our program can be completed in 21 months on a part-time schedule or 18 months on a full-time schedule.
Can you work while completing this program?
Yes. A lot of our students work while completing the program. We offer a full-time and a part-time option. Courses feature asynchronous course work between live classes that can be completed on your own schedule.
When are the classes held and are they live or recorded?
Live online classes are held on a weekly basis through Zoom. During class, you will engage in discussion, break out into small groups, and learn from your professor in a small class setting.