Online MA in ABA

Program FAQs

General Questions

What is Applied Behavior Analysis?

“Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is the use of the principles and procedures of behavior analysis to better understand and improve lives. Treatment approaches based on ABA have been empirically shown to be effective in a wide variety of areas. However, because ABA was first applied to the treatment of individuals with intellectual disabilities and autism, this practice area has the largest evidence base and has received the most recognition.” – Behavior Analysis Certification Board Website

What type of student is this program designed for?

This program is designed for current ABA professionals who are looking to advance their career or students with coursework in ABA such as courses designed toward completing BCaBA certification.

How does the program prepare you to become a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA)?

The program is designed around the “Option 1 Eligibility Requirements” as laid out by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board. You will earn a Master’s degree in Applied Behavior Analysis from an ABAI Verified Course Sequence (VCS) that covers all the required content from the BACB Fifth Edition Task List. Our program fulfills the BACB Experience requirement by overseeing your Concentrated Supervised Fieldwork of 1,500 experience hours. Students enroll in the Practicum Seminar each semester, which works hand-in-hand with your practicum site. Practicum Seminar includes reading and lecture material related to clinical issues as well as presenting a case study and submitting documentation of experience hours accrued. In their final semester, students participate in a BCBA Exam Preparation course.

What is the BCBA Exam Pass Rate for University of South Florida?

In 2018, 92% of USF students who took the BCBA exam passed on the first try.
In 2022, 80% of USF students who the BCBA exam passed on the first try.

The national average BCBA first-time pass rate is currently 55%.

What is the Online MA ABA program BCaBA pass rate.

In 2018, 100% of USF MA students who took the BCaBA exam passed on the first try.
In 2022,100% USF MA students who the BCaBA exam passed on the first try.
The national average BCaBA first-time pass rate is currently 49%.

How many Online MA ABA graduates are BCBAs?

As of 2021, 98% of graduates have attained BCBA certification since the programs inception.

If I don’t already have the Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA) certification, can I earn it during this Master’s degree?

Yes, the BCaBA credential could be earned after completing the first three semesters of coursework and 1,000 hours of Concentrated Supervised Fieldwork hours.

Can I transfer credits into this program?

Students can transfer up to six credit hours of graduate Applied Behavior Analysis coursework. However, when students transfer courses, they are no longer part of the Verified Course Sequence and would have to submit all syllabi and transcripts from all universities to the Board when applying to take the BCBA Exam. This includes a coursework evaluation application and a fee of $100. To determine if coursework aligns with the USF program and BACB content hours, the program coordinator and program director will evaluate the syllabi and transcript to determine if you will meet the required content hours to sit for the BCBA exam.

How long does the program take? Can I pursue it at a faster or slower rate?

This program uses a cohort model and course sequence so that students go through the program together. The course sequence is five semesters, including the summer, and can be completed in 1.5 years.

If I already have a master’s degree, can I pursue the course sequencing as a non-degree or graduate certificate student?

No, our master’s program is designed for individuals looking to take the BCBA certification exam by earning a master’s degree. It provides students ABAI verified course sequence (VCS) and the concentrated supervised fieldwork requirement needed to be eligible to take the exam.

What is the difference between the M.S. and the M.A. in ABA?

At USF we offer both the M.S. and the M.A. The M.S. or Masters of Science is our classroom-based program and although it has the same curriculum and requirements as the online program (M.A.), it includes a thesis.

The M.A. is our fully online program and incorporates a similar research aspect, but by conducting a literature review and research proposal in place of a thesis project. Both programs share the same courses content, admission requirements, and fieldwork requirements. Both will equally prepare you to meet the BCBA certification requirements and will set you up for success as an ABA service provider across a wide range of populations and settings.


What are the requirements to be considered for admission to this program?

Visit the USF 2023-2024 Academic Catalog to learn more about the program requirements.

Visit our admission page to learn more about specific admission requirements and application materials. 

What qualifies as “ABA Experience”?

Applicants to the program should have professional ABA work experience in a clinical setting in a position such as behavior therapist, Registered Behavior Technician, or Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst.

Experience can be attained in a variety of settings including schools, hospitals, clinics, in-home services, residential settings, and more. Experience may also vary across distinct populations.

Individuals who have completed an RBT Training program or undergraduate level coursework where the courses have “Applied Behavior Analysis” in the course title are likely to be good candidates for the program.

I have an undergraduate degree in Psychology, Education, or Special Education. Do I qualify for this program?

No specific degree is required for admission.

While having an undergraduate degree is a good start, the program is designed for people who also have entry-level experience in the ABA field. Applicants can increase their likelihood of admission by completing USF’s online 40 hour RBT Training course, earning their RBT credential, and starting an entry-level position in the field.

Does working alongside ABA professionals help me qualify?

It depends, our most competitive applicants will have direct ABA experience such as being directly supervised by a board certified behavior analyst.

I am a caregiver for someone who receives ABA services and I’m interested in learning more about ABA. Is this the program for me?

This masters-level program is intended for professionals in the ABA field. However, USF’s ABA Program offers Continuing Education Modules specifically for training caregivers on ABA techniques. These modules are a low-cost way to learn about ABA and determine whether you may want to pursue a career in ABA.

Many past graduates of the program are primary or secondary caregivers and their interest in our program is welcomed. 

Does working as a teacher or special education teacher qualify me?

It depends. You will need to be in a setting in which you can work in a behavior analytic capacity under the supervision of a board certified behavior analyst (BCBA). You will need to have earned RBT certification and secure a BCBA supervisor and site.

Some teachers experience difficulty securing a satisfactory BCBA supervisor and site because most schools generally do not have dedicated ABA professionals on staff.

Additionally, this master’s program requires students to complete 250 experience hours per semester at their fieldwork site. This presents challenges for full-time teachers due to the extra time commitment required outside of your job. Typical classroom teaching practices are unlikely to satisfy fieldwork requirements.

I only have an AA degree; how do I qualify?

In order to qualify for graduate admissions, you will need to go back to school for about two years to finish your bachelor’s degree. Visit the USF 2023-2024 Academic Catalog to learn more about the program requirements.

If I am not qualified, how do I become qualified?

One way is to complete USF’s Online 40 hour RBT Training course, follow the steps to earn your RBT credential, and start a job as a Registered Behavior Technician.

Is the GRE Required?

The GRE is not required. Many graduate programs across the country are ceasing to use GRE scores to make make admission decisions, and we agree with this practice. Your academic history, quality of writing, clinical experience, and letters of recommendation are better indicators of future performance.

bacb FIELDWORK questions

What is Concentrated Supervised Fieldwork?

The Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) requires students pursuing certification to complete practical fieldwork in applied behavior analysis under a qualified supervisor. The BACB offers two types of supervised fieldwork.

USF follows the Concentrated Supervised Fieldwork pathway wherein students must accrue 1,500 hours. These requirements also include:

  • 20-130 hours per month
  • 6 supervisor contacts per month
  • 1 in person observation with client and BCBA per month
  • 10% of hours supervised per month
  • At least 900 of the 1500 hours must be of the unrestricted type
  • No more than 600 of the 1500 hours may be of the restricted type

Applicants are encouraged to review the BCBA Handbook for complete information regarding fieldwork hour requirements.

It is a lot of information to unpack, but fear not, our practicum courses are designed to guide students to understand fieldwork requirements with little difficulty and ensure they're fieldwork logs are accurate.

Who can supervise me?

A Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) or Board Certified Behavior Analyst-Doctoral (BCBA-D) who has been certified for at least one year and has meet the supervision requirements outlined by the Behavior Analyst Certification
Board can provide you with supervision. If you are not currently supervised by a BCBA/BCBA-D and are looking to find a supervisor, check out some of the resources below:

BCBA Registry
Current USF Sites

Are there any currently approved supervisors/sites?

Yes, there are supervisors approved throughout Florida and across the United States. You can see some of the approved sites here.

We are very willing to work with any qualifying BCBA/BCBA-D to become an approved supervisor for USF students.

If your current supervisor is not currently USF approved, that’s ok! The Online MA in ABA Program Coordinator will reach out to the supervisor to begin the approval process once an applicant is admitted to the program.

I have a qualified BCBA who can supervise me. Now what?

Complete the Practicum Supervisor Form and then upload the document to your online application. You can begin an application here.

Can I apply before I have a fieldwork site/supervisor?

Absolutely! You can begin your application now, but keep in mind that you need to complete your application, including submission of the Practicum Supervisor Form, by the application deadline.

Do I have to stay with my supervisor or agency or may I switch during the program?

Applicants can switch agencies and/or supervisors during the application process and while they are current students in the program. Each time students switch to a new agency or supervisor they will need to speak with practicum coordinator ensure their new agency and supervisor are preapproved and complete the approval process.

What is Practicum Seminar?

Practicum Seminar courses guide student in accruing the needed experience hours to sit for the Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) exam. Seminar also includes professional training, practical experiences, current industry news, a forum to share your experience in the field, and a place to present data on behavior change. Practicum Seminar is taken every semester and students must accrue a minimum of 250 experience hours each semester to pass the course.

How many experience hours are required?

for BCBA certification students must accrue 1,500 Concentrated Supervised Fieldwork hours in order to graduate. This means students will also be immediately eligible to sit for the BCBA exam upon graduation. Given this, students should accrue about 20 hours every week in order to graduate in 5 semesters.

Students are required to accrue a minimum of 250 concentrated supervised fieldwork experience hours, but this is a minimum and students should be accruing 300 hours each semester in order to graduate in 5 semesters.

Students who do not accrue all 1,1500 fieldwork hours within 5 semesters simply take an additional semester of practicum to fulfill their hours.

I already work for an ABA service provider or already have a BCBA supervisor. Can I keep working where I am?

Absolutely! 99% of our students remain working at the agencies they reside in prior to admission.

We provide additional resources and support to guide students and their supervisors complete their clinical training. While we have high expectations for the supervisors of our students, If there is a BCBA with supervisor training who is willing to provide you with Concentrated Supervised Fieldwork, students may complete their experience hours where they currently work.

Your fieldwork may be paid, unpaid, or a combination of paid and unpaid hours. It is up to the site to work this out with the student.

Can I work as an independent contractor as a student?

We do not count fieldwork hours for graduation purposes that are completed while working as in independent contractor. We do not approve agencies or supervisors to work with our students who hire our students as independent contractors.

If you are currently working as an independent contractor while providing ABA services we recommend reviewing the following resources. 

Application Process & Supplemental Documents

What are the deadlines or priority deadlines?

The deadline for fall admission is June 15th of each year. The deadline for spring admission is October 15th of each year. 

We do not have a set in stone priority deadline. However, applicants should 
The priority deadline for this program is the date by which an applicant should apply for full consideration of admission and funding. Applicants who apply after the priority deadline, but before the university deadline, will be considered only on a space available basis.”

Who can I contact for help with my application? I have many questions and don't know where to start!

We have a dedicated admissions coordinator who is ready to help you along every step of the way. You can reach to Erin Nolan via email at or schedule a call here: Schedule a call with Erin! 

You can also contact the Dr. Anthony Concepción, program chair of the MA program at

Do I have to wait to submit my application until I have gathered all the supplemental documents?

No, you should submit your application as soon as possible because you can still upload documents after submission. Your application is not considered complete until we receive your application, fee, and all required supplemental documents. Incomplete applications will not be considered for admissions.

What are the required supplemental documents?

In addition to the requirements found in the USF 2023-2024 Graduate Catalog, please complete the Practicum Supervisor Form.

How do I know that USF received my official transcripts or official GRE Score Report?

It can take up to six weeks for these documents to arrive at the university, input into the system and linked to your application. If you are admitted and your official transcript or GRE Score Report are missing, you will receive a provisional admission letter outlining the missing documentation. You will have until the end of your first semester to turn in these documents.

Recommendation Letters

Do I have to use the recommendation letter request on the application? If I already have recommendation letters in my possession from previous employers, can I upload them? If so, how?

Using the recommendation letter request assures USF that an applicant’s recommendation letters are legitimate. However, if an applicant has letters in their possession, they can upload them to their application utilizing the
“My Documents/Recommendations” or “My Workspace” section of the application.

For the letters of recommendation, would there be a template available to fill out or would it have to be an actual letter?

This program does not use a template, so recommenders can simply draft their own letter and upload it to the application portal utilizing the link sent via email. It is recommended that you have your recommenders add AND to their “whitelist” to ensure that the emails do not get routed to a junk or spam folder.


What is the difference between official and unofficial transcripts?

Official transcripts are ones sent directly from another institution to University of South Florida. Unofficial transcripts are any transcripts that the student has access to (i.e., the student ordered their own official transcript and opened it or they can access their unofficial transcripts online and create a PDF or image file of the transcript). The program accepts unofficial transcripts to expedite the decision process as official transcripts can take up to six weeks in transit and scanning into USF’s system. Applicants should upload their unofficial transcripts to their application and order official transcripts to be sent to USF.

If I am a USF Alumni, do I need to upload my transcripts?

No, transcripts for USF alumni can be accessed internally by our admission coordinator. If an applicant has attended any institutions other than USF, those transcripts will need to be uploaded and sent to USF.

Financial Information

What is the cost per credit hour and the total program cost?

The cost per credit hour is $600. The program has a total of 41 credit hours. The total program cost is $24,600.

How much can I expect to pay besides the tuition cost?

You should set aside $1,000 for textbooks and the BCBA exam preparation software.

Can I use tuition waivers for this program?

No, this is a Self-Funded program and cannot accept tuition waivers such as the State of Florida Employee Education Assistance Program, USF Employee Tuition Program, or the Homeless Tuition Waiver cannot be accepted for this program. For additional waivers not accepted visit: USF Tuition Waivers. However, you may use traditional financial aid to cover the cost of the program.

Course Sequence Number

What is the Online MA BCaBA 5th edition Verified Course Sequence (VCS) number?

Current students interested in applying for the BCaBA exam using the coursework and practicum experience within the MA program use the following Verified Course Sequence number: 51419.

What is the Online MA BCBA 5th edition Verified Course Sequence (VCS) number?

USF's Online MA in Applied Behavior analysis's Verified Course Sequence number is 51420.