Online Graduate Certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis

Home > School of Education > 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).

Program Highlights

  • First Christian university program worldwide verified by the BACB® that integrates extensive autism training.
  • Program can be started in any semester and completed in as few as four semesters, including one summer.
  • 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 three credentials:
Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) credential
  • Course sequence verified 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 (BSL)
  • Meet all coursework requirements for the BSL upon passing the BCBA exam and receiving the BCBA credential.
  • Meet experience requirements using the same experience hours accrued to satisfy BCBA requirements and an additional semester of 250 intensive practicum hours or supervised independent fieldwork. See BSL Application for details.
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.
BACB Verified Course Sequence
Portrait of a girl on a school bus.

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

Optional Online Intensive Practicum Courses

  • Cairn’s ABA Intensive Practicum courses have been verified 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.

Typical Program Curriculum

Semester 42 Credits: (24 Credits of Required Courses + 6 Bible and Theology Credits + 12 Elective Credits*)
Fall #1 SPE 681 Behavior Analysis and Autism Assessment
SPE 661 Foundations of Special Education
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 & Instructional Systems for Autism Support
Fall #2 SPE 782 Behavior Measurement and Experimental Design
SPE Elective*
Spring #2 SPE 793 Special Education Research Project
SPE Elective*
Summer #2 BIB 621 Biblical Integration for Educators
SPE Elective*
Fall #3 THE 601 Overview of Christian Theology
SPE Elective*
*For Intensive Practicum track, select ABA Intensive Practicum courses (SPE 795, SPE 796, SPE 797, & SPE 798) to fulfill 6–12 of the 12 SPE elective credits.


To enter the program, the candidate will:

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 MS in Special Education (ABA) degree, contact Luke Gibson, Admissions Counselor, at

We're here to help!

Chat with our Admissions Counselors

Our Admissions staff are available to answer any questions and assist you with each step of the enrollment process.

Contact Admissions

Start typing and press Enter to search