Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Certificate [Online]

Earn the Graduate Certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and concurrently fulfill all course requirements for the highly sought-after Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) credential.

MS ED Online

Credit Hours


Years (Avg.)

Next Start Date

July 4, 2022

Class Type
100% Online,  7-Week Terms, Asynchronous




Applied Behavior Analysis is one of the most effective and frequently utilized treatment approaches for individuals with special needs, including those with developmental disabilities and autism. This program equips you with teaching and intervention skills based on ABA principles for treating autism and other disabilities in a number of different settings such as schools, including traditional and special education classrooms, business and industry specific employers, healthcare, and other community based environments.

This 24-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/or other related disabilities using applied behavior analysis (ABA).

Program Highlights

  • First Christian university worldwide to offer a program, with extensive autism training, verified to meet BCBA exam coursework requirements.
  • May be started in the summer or spring semester and completed in as few as four semesters.
  • 20% tuition discount for educators working in Christian schools.
  • Advance standing for Bible/theology credits available.
  • Can be completed as non-degree program or part of the Master of Arts (ABA) degree.
  • The Association for Behavior Analysis International has verified the courses listed below 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.
  • Additional criteria for BCBA exam eligibility include a master’s degree or higher in any field of study and meeting fieldwork requirements. Visit for details and other requirements.

Career Outlook

  • Become a behavior analyst and enter a profession in high demand in the U.S. and 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 the ABA Certificate from Cairn University?

Faith and Truth Do Matter

Cairn University is committed to the centrality of Christ and the Word of God and is reflected in the curriculum and instruction. At Cairn, faith and truth do matter. We teach our students accordingly, challenge you to think deeply on these things, and strive to make you ready to serve Christ in the church, society, and the world as biblically minded men and women who not only give assent to truth but think and live in light of it.

Proven Excellence

Flexibility to Learn Anytime

Complete coursework from anywhere through our asynchronous course design, reinforced by substantive faculty engagement and weekly course requirements.

Committed Faculty Mentors

Our online courses are taught by faculty who are committed to your professional and spiritual growth. In addition to the carefully crafted learning activities, our faculty are substantively engaged throughout the course delivery. Students don’t just have professors, they have mentors who invest in them throughout the program and often remain connected long after graduation.


Program Curriculum

Upon completion of this program, a student receives a Graduate Certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). This course sequence has been verified by the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) to meet the coursework requirements for eligibility to take the Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) Exam®. This program also meets most of the PA Behavior Specialist License (BSL) course requirements. Additional criteria, including fieldwork requirements, must be met to qualify for the BCBA Exam or BSL.

The program requires 21 credits from the core curriculum courses and 3 credits in Bible/theology courses. View a sample curriculum sheet for a snapshot of the courses you will complete.

SPE 721 – ABA for Autism and Other Disabilities I
A course designed to introduce the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and their application in improving learning and behavior among individuals with autism or other disabilities. Areas of emphasis include philosophical assumptions, core concepts and principles of behavior, functional behavior assessment, and positive behavior support plans. 3 credits.

SPE 722 – ABA for Autism and Other Disabilities II
A course focused on the behavioral and social communication skills assessment and instruction among individuals with autism or other disabilities. Areas of focus include types of behavioral assessment, assessment of relevant skill strengths and deficits, verbal behavior concepts and instruction, VB-MAPP administration and interpretation, and assistive technology and social skills assessment and intervention. 3 credits.

SPE 723 – Interventions for Autism and Other Disabilities
A course to develop competencies in designing and implementing Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) interventions among individuals with autism or other disabilities. Areas of focus include shaping, chaining, stimulus and response prompts, modeling, discrete trials, token economy, and group contingencies. 3 credits.

SPE 724 – Single Subject Research
A course designed to develop competencies in behavioral measurement and single subject research. Areas of focus include types of behavioral measurement, data graphing and interpretation, validity and reliability, and single subject experimental designs. 3 credits.

SPE 725 – Principles of Behavior
A course designed to further extend understanding of behavioral principles including respondent and operant conditioning, reinforcement and punishment contingencies, automatic and socially mediated contingencies, complex stimulus control, special motivating operations, and rule-governed behavior.  3 credits.

SPE 726 – Secondary Transition Assessment and Intervention
A course designed to address secondary transition issues using an Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) approach. Areas of focus include transition assessments, transition IEPs, function-based intervention, task analysis, self-management, behavioral data collection, and student-centered planning. 1 credit.

SPE 727 – Supervision and Management
A course designed to enhance supervision and management of personnel based on a behavior analytic approach. Areas of focus include staff competence training; performance monitoring, feedback, and reinforcement systems; and function-based assessment and strategies for strengthening performance. 2 credits.

SPE 728 – Ethics for Behavior Analysts
A course designed to examine the Professional and Ethical Compliance Code for Behavior Analysts. Emphasis is placed on applying the ethical principles and professional standards in professional practice. 3 credits.

Bible/Theology Course – 3 Credits

Advanced standing may be granted for Bible/Theology credits earned at an accredited Bible college, Christian liberal arts college or university, or seminary. Credits will be granted on a course-by-course basis.

Frequently Asked Questions

The tuition for post-secondary education has become expensive in general. However, Cairn Online programs rank amongst the most affordable online bachelor’s and master’s programs. While the tuition costs vary by program level, the rate is typically $425 per credit or 12K per year for A.A. and B.S. programs and $300-$725 per credit for graduate programs. 

The current tuition rates are available from this page. Scholarships and financial aid are also available. 

Currently there are over 6 million online learners in the United States, and those numbers are growing every day. Online degrees that have regional accreditation are held to the same standards as traditional universities, ensuring that students earn a valuable degree that will prepare them with the skills and credentials for their career. Do research to find an online degree that is accredited and reputable, such as those offered at Cairn University.

Cairn Online courses based on Cairn’s 100+ years tradition of excellence in biblical education. Our on faculty has carefully designed them taking into consideration what works best for the online learner. The modular design and asynchronous delivery enable you to complete your studies while you pursue your career, ministry and spend time with your family.

Courses typically contain seven units and are delivered in 7-week terms*. Each unit contains 5-7 modular activities. Each learning activity includes instructional videos accompanied by reflections, quizzes, discussion forums and other assessments. Courses also utilize adaptive learning technologies such as Cerego for long-term retention of concepts and VoiceThread for enhanced collaboration.

The asynchronous delivery provides flexibility around your daily busy schedule. In most courses, interactive activities are typically due by Wednesday while the rest of the unit’s work is due by Sunday night. The MBA, M.A. in Music and Criminal Justice programs use the 7RD2 process and require the completion of certain activities daily to optimize learning.

Our own Cairn faculty intentionally participate in the course throughout the week to provide you with an incarnational experience.

*Few capstone courses are intentionally offered in 14 weeks to optimize student learning.

A.A. programs usually take 2 years and B.S. and B.A. programs typically take 3-4 years to complete.

Graduate programs vary in length by program. As an example, Cairn’s traditional MBA typically takes 20 months to complete but then there is also the accelerated One-Year MBA that you can complete in 12 months.

If you are looking to complete your program sooner, you can consider taking more 7-week courses at a time. 

All courses are developed by one or more course developers and taught by our own faculty. The instructors are also intentionally involved in the course throughout the week by providing direction in the course activities, participating in the forum discussions, grading the student work and providing substantive feedback. Most courses also offer optional office hours weekly via Zoom or similar video conferencing tools.

Our instructional design team works very closely with the course developers and carefully plans the courses to balance the technology requirements. Most courses use the eLearning platform for hosting the course materials, Panopto for video capture and storage, VoiceThread for enhanced discussion forums, and Cerego for adaptive learning. Zoom is used at times for virtual office hours. These sessions are optional.

Except for the Hebrew and Greek language courses for the B.S. in Biblical Studies program, typically there are no required meeting times for the completing the course activities.  

The course transfer depends on where you are transferring from, and what program you are transferring to. If you are coming to Cairn Online from another institution, it is very likely you will have some credits that will transfer. Because there are so many options, we encourage you to talk to an enrollment counselor. If you are transferring out, Cairn is a regionally accredited school and some credits should transfer with relative ease. Each college sets their own transfer criteria, so be sure to check their policies for specifics.

Cairn Online offers a variety of options for prior learning and experience. You can receive up to 6 credits for prior learning for graduate programs. At the discretion of the program advisor, three to six credits for prior learning (CPL) can be awarded for students with extensive background in areas addressed by specific courses. Additionally, advance standing may be granted for Bible or theology credits earned at an accredited Bible college, Christian liberal arts college or university, or seminary. Credits will be granted on a course by course basis.

Cairn is approved to offer financial aid because of its regional accreditation. There are many options available and typically students qualify for at least one type of federal aid. Many students receive scholarships and grants that make earning their degree even more affordable. Cairn offers a variety of scholarships and discounts in addition to options for loans and grants. Please refer to this page for details. 

The requirements depend on the program you are considering. Please refer to this page for details. 

Program Details

Additional Information

NC-SARA Approved InstitutionCairn Online has been approved to participate in the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA), which regionally oversees postsecondary online education.

Additional Accreditation Information

Students holding a master’s degree from another institution are responsible for verifying if their degree and the institution meet BACB’s current standards. Click here for details.

Students are responsible for verifying if the program meets the ABA licensing or certification requirements of the state and/or country where they intend to practice. Please see ABA Licensure and Certification.