Online Graduate Certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis

Earn the Graduate Certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and concurrently fulfill course requirements for the highly demanded Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) credential, Pennsylvania Behavior Specialist License (LBS), and Pennsylvania Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) endorsement.

This 21-credit fully online program prepares graduates to be successful practitioners trained to enhance the educational outcomes and lives of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and other related disabilities using applied behavior analysis (ABA).


Distinctives of the Graduate Certificate in ABA Program

  • First Christian university program worldwide approved by the BACB® that integrates extensive autism training.
  • Program can be started in any semester and completed in as few as 12-16 months.
  • 50% tuition discount for educators working in Christian schools.
  • Can be completed as non-degree program or part of MS in Special Education (ABA) program or MSEd program.
  • Integrated field experience component in some courses.
  • Advance standing may be granted for Bible or theology credits.
  • Eligibility to meet coursework requirements of four credentials:
Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) credential
  • Course sequence approved by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB®) as meeting coursework requirements for BCBA Exam® eligibility.
  • Other requirements must be met for BCBA Exam® eligibility
    • Experience requirements: Can be met through optional ABA Intensive Practicum courses
    • Master’s degree in Education, Psychology, or ABA requirement: Can be met through MS in Special Education (ABA)
  • Students holding a master’s degree from another institution are responsible to verify if their degree and the institution meet BACB’s current standards. Follow this link for details.
  • Students are responsible to verify if this program meets the ABA licensing or certification requirements of the state and/or country where they intend to practice.
  • Students who successfully complete only the first four courses (i.e., SPE 681, SPE 682, SPE 683, and SPE 684) meet the coursework requirements of the Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA) credential but will need to submit an Application for Coursework Evaluation to the BACB to verify eligibility. These courses may also be taken as part of the MSEd program.
Pennsylvania Behavior Specialist License (LBS)
  • Additional experience requirements can be met through optional ABA Intensive Practicum courses.
  • Students may also opt to do independent fieldwork. See the LBS Application for details.
Pennsylvania ASD Endorsement
  • Available only for certified/licensed educators, school psychologists, principals, guidance counselors, speech and language clinicians, occupational and physical therapists, and home and school visitors.
  • Eligibility limited to US citizens or individuals intending to become US citizens.
Graduate Certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)
  • Awarded to matriculated students completing all 7 courses with a 3.0 or better cumulative GPA (non-matriculated students receive document of completion upon completing the 6 SPE-coded courses with 3.0 or better cumulative GPA).
  • Indicates completion of the ABA program but not certification in behavior analysis.

Career and Ministry Enhancements

  • Become a behavior analyst and enter a profession in high demand globally.
  • Apply ABA in diverse fields such as education, autism, and developmental disabilities.
  • Work in schools, residential and home programs, clinics, hospitals, and other settings.
  • Develop Christian services and ministries for individuals with autism and their families.

Why Applied Behavior Analysis?

  • Best research-supported scientific treatment for autism
  • Effective for individuals with other disabilities as well
  • Demonstrated to be effective in many areas including:
    • Communication, social, self-help, play, and work skills
    • Reading and other academic skills
    • Positive and safe behaviors
    • Family life
Portrait of a girl on a school bus.

Applying for the ABA Program

This program can be completed as a certificate program or en route to an MS in Special Education.


To complete the program, the candidate will:

  • Successfully complete all required coursework with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0

For more information about the online ABA program, contact Abigail Simon, Admissions Counselor, at

Typical Curriculum

Semester Courses
Fall #1 SPE 681 Behavior Analysis and Autism Assessment
THE 601 Overview of Christian Theology
Spring #1 SPE 682 Behavioral Intervention in Autism
SPE 683 Behavioral and Instructional Models for Autism Intervention
Summer #1 SPE 781 Advanced Ethics and Supervision
SPE 684 Behavioral and Instructional Systems for Autism Support
Fall #2 SPE 782 Behavior Measurement and Experimental Design

Optional Online Intensive Practicum Courses

  • Cairn’s ABA Intensive Practicum courses have been approved by the BACB® as meeting the experience requirements for BCBA Exam® and BCaBA Exam® eligibility.
  • Students interested in applying for the BCBA Exam® may meet experience requirements via any of the following avenues:
    • Complete 1,500 hours of supervised independent fieldwork.
    • Complete 750 hours of intensive practicum hours as follows:
      • Enroll in three semesters of online ABA Intensive Practicum-Group courses (i.e., SPE 795, SPE 796, and SPE 797) to receive group supervision.
      • Concurrently complete about 250 intensive practicum hours each semester at a University approved site.
      • Concurrently receive individual supervision each semester by enrolling in SPE 798 or arranging for an onsite or independent BCBA supervisor approved by the University.
    • Complete a combination of supervised independent fieldwork and optional ABA Intensive Practicum courses. Visit bacb.comfor details.
  • Students interested in applying for the BCaBA Exam® may meet experience requirements by completing 1,000 hours of supervised independent or 500 intensive practicum hours through taking SPE 795 and SPE 796 as described above.
  • Students interested in obtaining the LBS may meet experience requirements by completing the ABA Intensive Practicum – Group courses described above to fulfill 750 intensive practicum hours and then taking SPE 797 a second time for an additional 250 hours. See the LBS Application for details. Students may also opt to do independent fieldwork.

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