Applied Behavior Analysis Certificate

Schools across the country have a growing need for compassionate, motivated educators with a deep understanding of how to identify and address individual children’s behavioral needs.

Behavior Analysts work with students who need extra support in the classroom, at home, or in the community. The online Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) certificate program prepares practitioners to work with students with disabilities using the science of applied behavior analysis.

This fully online, 18-credit certificate is designed for candidates holding a bachelor's or master’s degree who wish to gain specific skills and knowledge to address the behavioral needs of students. This certificate includes a verified course sequence, approved by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB). Completing the certificate fulfills the coursework requirement needed to sit for either the BCBA (master's degree required) or BCaBA examination.

Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is a​ systematic approach for influencing socially important behavior through the identification of reliably related environmental variables and the production of behavior change techniques that make use of those findings.

Common services provided through ABA may include, but are not limited to:

  • Conducting behavioral assessments
  • Analyzing data
  • Writing and revising behavior-analytic treatment plans
  • Training others to implement components of treatment plans
  • Overseeing the implementation of treatment plans

Behavior analysts provide services to clients with a variety of needs including, but not limited to:

  • Organizational functioning (e.g., staff performance, management and pay structure interventions)
  • Skill deficits (e.g., communication, adaptive behavior), and
  • Problem behavior (e.g., aggression, self-injurious behavior).

The Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) sets the requirements for board certification. These requirements include completion of a verified course series, such as this one, as well as the additional requirements found here.

*Note: Students interested in obtaining a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction can take these courses as an area of focus. Please visit the Online Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction webpage for more information.

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Certificate Details

  • Prerequisites and Admission Requirements

    Prerequisite: Undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution (or international equivalent) with an overall GPA of at least 3.00

    Any student who wishes to apply for the ABAA certificate must submit an online application, TOEFL scores (for international students), two letters of recommendation, a statement of professional goals (1-2 pages), resume, and transcripts from prior post-secondary degree(s). Applicants may submit unofficial transcripts with their application; however, official transcripts are required prior to matriculation. The GRE is not required for admission.

    Application Due Date:

    Applications to begin fall 2019 are due July 1st, 2019.

    Applications for future terms are due by the dates below:

    • Spring - November 1st
    • Summer - March 15th - applications will be accepted on a space-available basis until May 1st
    • Fall - April 15th - applications will be accepted on a space-available basis until June 1st

    Applicants who wish to take courses for professional development must fill out the Non-Degree Student form at least a week before the start of the desired term (spring, summer, or fall). Early submission is recommended to secure spots in desired classes.

    Completion of all courses is necessary if a student is interested in sitting for the BCBA or BCaBC examination. Additional requirements (including a practicum) are set forth by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board.

    It is possible to apply up to three (3) graduate credits toward a certificate, with advisor approval and provided the coursework is no older than five years at completion of the course of study. All other University of Virginia course work must be earned after 
    admission to the certificate program.

  • Funding Opportunities

    Discounted tuition is available for K-12 educators. See more information here.

    Tuition and Fees information.

  • Typical Length of Study

    Part-time students can finish this certificate in 18 months.

  • Course Overview

    18-credit hour course series:

    1. EDIS:5133 Principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (3 credits)
    2. EDLF:7330 Single Case Research Design (3 credits)*
    3. EDIS:5134 Behavior Observations and Analysis (3 credits)
    4. EDIS:5136 Ethics of Behavior Analysts (3 credits)
    5. EDIS:5135 Behavioral Intervention (3 credits)
    6. EDIS:5137 Explicit Instruction (3 credits)*

    *All courses must be taken in order, except for EDLF 7330 and EDIS 5137.

    Our current course offerings can be found in the Student Information System (SIS) or the Curry course database.

  • Course Descriptions

    EDLF 7330: Single Subject Research (3 credits):

    Detailed examination of the design and interpretation of single-subject research. Foci for the course include rationale for single-subject research; methods for planning, implementing, and evaluating studies; and issues in the use of these methods.

    EDIS 5134: Behavioral Observation, Measurement and Analysis (3 credits):

    This course is designed to provide skills, practice, and knowledge in advanced theory and methods of ABA. Emphasis will be placed on the theory, principles, procedures, and science of ABA. Participants will examine best and promising practices for developing and providing positive behavior support (PBS) for individuals who display serious behavioral challenges in a variety of contexts (e.g., schools, hospitals, treatment centers, work, and homes). Analysis and design of advanced research models will be a major focus of this course; therefore, students must have knowledge and experience with research design, especially single subject research design.

    EDIS 5136: Ethics and Professional Conduct of Behavior Analysts (3 credits):

    This course will familiarize the student with ethical issues and responsibilities of special educators and behavior analysts by leading organizations in the fields of education and mental health. Informed consent, due process, protection of confidentiality, and selection of least intrusive, least restrictive behavior change procedures will be presented and discussed within the context of case method. Ethical decision making processes will be emphasized, and the relationship between ethics and law will be explored.

    EDIS 5135: Behavioral Intervention (3 credits):

    The purpose of this course is to provide students with opportunities to build fluency with the basic principles of applied behavior analysis and the application of these principles to develop, implement, and evaluate programs of behavior change as they apply to children and youth with exceptional learning and behavior characteristics in classroom and community settings. This course is designed for students who are (a) preparing to teach or support individuals with challenging behavior, (b) dedicated to maximizing the effectiveness and efficiency of their teaching and support, and (c) interested in redesigning environments to prevent the development and occurrence of challenging behaviors. A foundation in the theory and practices of ABA is required. Students must have regular access to school or community environments in which students may conduct a functional behavior assessment and develop and implement a behavior change project. If you are not in a practicum or field placement, or do not otherwise have access to an environment in which you may complete course assignments, please contact the instructor immediately.

    EDIS 5137: Explicit Instruction (3 credits):

    The purpose of the course is to introduce appropriate methodology for teaching academic skills to students with significant learning difficulties. The majority of the course deals with effective practices for designing and delivering academic instruction and independent work to students who do not learn optimally under current conditions within their general education classes. The teaching model presented in this course is best described as direct or explicit instruction, a highly structured and systematic approach to teaching.

  • Sample Jobs after Completion

    Board Certified Behavior Analyst, behavior coach, behavior support specialist

The information contained on this website is for informational purposes only. The Undergraduate Record and Graduate Record represent the official repository for academic program requirements. These publications may be found at