With the field expanding and Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) career opportunities on the rise, individuals holding a bachelor’s degree in psychology are realizing the benefits of pursuing an ABA master’s degree. With seamless integrations between psychology and behavior, professionals with a psychology background oftentimes have a leg up when pursuing an ABA degree.
If you’re interested in advancing your education with a master’s degree in ABA, you’ll also need to determine whether an in-person or online program works best for you. Prospective students should consider factors such as flexibility, cost, faculty, and even BCBA exam preparation when researching institutions. While evaluating your choices to pursue an advanced degree in Applied Behavior Analysis, here’s the reasoning behind pursuing this degree, as well as the various benefits of earning it online.
Why Is an Applied Behavior Analysis Master’s Degree Important?
An ABA master’s degree offers students significant opportunities for professional growth. Job openings for people with a bachelor’s degree in psychology are limited, but individuals with a master’s degree in behavior analysis are offered expanded leadership opportunities, higher salaries, and the ability to pivot into leadership roles.
In addition, the more education and practical experience BCBAs acquire, the better they can positively impact their clients’ lives. Leveraging principles of human behavior to improve the quality of life for individuals from vulnerable communities can be professionally and personally rewarding. However, this educational path can be very demanding, particularly if the program is in-person. Therefore, if you’re looking to enter this exciting field, but worried about having enough time and flexibility, obtaining an ABA master’s degree online might be the perfect option for you.
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Benefits of an Online Master’s Degree in Applied Behavior Analysis
Recently, learning online has become common practice. Many attribute this shift to the rapid response to working and learning conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, there are many benefits to earning an advanced degree online that have only been amplified in today’s evolving business environment.
1. Schedule Flexibility
One of the main reasons individuals choose an online program is because it fits into their already busy life. No matter where they are located or what time of day they are studying, the content is easily accessible. This can be particularly appealing to students who want to continue working while earning a degree.
While some may think online learning is isolating, graduate programs, like the ones offered at Northeastern University’s Bouvé College of Health Sciences, still provide optional synchronous meetings for those who want more group interaction and instruction. They also encourage virtual collaboration which is an industry skill that is growing in demand. Ultimately, an online ABA graduate program helps students build the educational experience that works for them.
2. Demonstrable Skills
Online learning teaches several skills needed to succeed in today’s evolving business world, including accountability, self-motivation, and time management. All three are key to successfully obtaining an online graduate degree. This is largely due to the fact that online coursework is more self-paced than in-person instruction. Therefore, it’s up to the individual to organize and delegate work in a way that works best with their learning style.
Online learning gives students the opportunity to learn a plethora of technical skills as well. While most jobs in the ABA field work with clients on an in-person basis, the pandemic proved the importance of being able to quickly shift to working online. Online degree programs allow learners to try new softwares, develop more technical skills, and even endure troubleshooting independently. This adaptability to learn and practice ABA online, if necessary, can come in handy in the future.
3. Ability to Work From Home
Not too long ago, students were worried about commuting times when juggling coursework and additional jobs. Today, those anxieties are quelled by a new focus on remote coursework.
Program accessibility also limited students who didn’t want to travel far from home to obtain a graduate degree. Now that online degree programs are open to a national—and sometimes global—population, the field of opportunity has widened. For example, the physical campus of Northeastern’s Bouvé College of Health Sciences wasn’t traditionally accessible to all prospective students, but their online ABA master’s program is open to anyone, regardless of geographic proximity. Students are no longer restricted by where they live and can graduate from a program that best suits their personal and professional needs and values.
Obtaining a graduate degree online doesn’t just offer more flexibility with time. The financial savings are also appealing. Students don’t have to pay for additional expenses, such as room and board, food, and parking. Online education is, on average, over $10,000 cheaper than traditional, in-person programs. The only investment required is equipment you likely already have (e.g., computer, internet connection, monitor), as well as textbooks.
Students going to school online don’t just save money, but also typically earn income while in school. The benefit of earning a living while also advancing your education makes obtaining a degree online a no brainer for many aspiring behavior analysts.
5. More Options
When prospective graduate students start researching online programs, they quickly learn they are in the driver’s seat. Students can determine desired cost, coursework, and even the length of their education. Since some online programs don’t run in tandem with a traditional academic schedule, start and finish dates may be an important factor to consider if they conflict with students’ current schedules or goals.
Class size is an important factor as well. Do you want a large program with hundreds of students where you can get lost in the mix with limited accountability? Or, will you be more successful in a smaller program, where you’ll be engaged with your education? All of these options give students a chance to build an advanced education with less stress and more personalization.
Is an Applied Behavior Analysis Degree Worth It?
Obtaining an ABA master’s degree can open up a world of career possibilities. For those passionate about improving individuals’ quality of life and making an impact on society, this degree is a great option. Moreover, if you hope to be a leader in the ABA field, a graduate degree is required. Without it, you can’t become a BCBA.
Increased salaries, leadership opportunities, and expanded career options are all possible results of advancing your education in applied behavior analysis. Professionals looking for advancement opportunities in the workplace must first have the foundational skills learned during the completion of a master’s degree in applied behavior analysis.
Grow Your Career With A Master’s Degree
As ABA degree-seekers narrow down the online programs that interest them, they should research how long the program has been operating online. For example, Bouvé College of Health Sciences’s graduate programs have been online since 2013. As an established online faculty, administration, and staff, Bouvé offers a curriculum proven to prepare students for BCBA field requirements. So, while it may seem like there are endless programs to choose from, only a small handful have an established reputation in online learning like Northeastern.
Want to learn more about how ABA is changing the world of behavior analysis? Check out Northeastern’s Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis program page.