Frequently Asked Questions about UMass Lowell's Graduate Programs in Autism

Frequently Asked Questions About Certificates, Certification, and Degrees:

  1. What is the difference between the certificate and certification?

    The certificate is issued by UMass Lowell in recognition of a student successfully completing the required courses, and it is like a diploma. Certification as a behavior analyst is granted by the Behavior Analysis Certification Board to those who have completed all its educational and training requirements. The UML certificate helps you to meet some of those educational requirements, but for certification you still need an appropriate degree and a certain number of hours of supervised experience, and you must pass a certification exam.

  2. What certifications are available?

    For students who do have, or will soon earn, a bachelor’s degree but do not yet have a master's degree, BACB provides for certification as a Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA). Student seeking that credential should look into our 4-course Behavioral Management in Autism certificate program. For students with a bachelor’s and who already hold a master’s degree in Education, Psychology, or Behavioral Analysis, or who are working toward or soon plan to work toward, such a degree, BACB offers certification as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. Those students should look into our 6-course Applied Behavior Analysis Certificate Program.

  3. I want to be certified as a Behavior Analyst, but I do not have a master's degree; can you help?

    We do have an M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction/Autism Studies. Students who have completed our 6-course BCBA certificate with a GPA of 3.0 or better are eligible to apply, and if accepted, 5 of those 6 courses will be accepted toward the 30-credit master's. Students who have completed our 4-course BCaBA certificate with a GPA of 3.0 or better are also eligible to apply, and if accepted, 3 of those 4 courses will probably be accepted. Please be aware that this is not a teacher-licensure program. View for more information. If you have no immediate plans for a master’s degree, you should consider certification as an Assistant Behavior Analyst and seek admission to our 4-course Behavior Management in Autism certificate program, also available fully online.

  4. What do I do if I want to seek certification as an Assistant behavior Analyst?

    If you already have, or will soon earn, a bachelor’s degree, in any field, you may apply for our 4-course Behavioral Management in Autism certificate program, also available fully online. With those courses and your degree, along with the required hours of supervised field experience, you will then be eligible to take the BCaBA exam

  5. I have already taken a course in ABA; do I still need to take your Introduction course?

    If you have completed an appropriate course (work experience is not sufficient) in ABA and have knowledge of or experience with autism, we can waive the first course and allow you to begin with PSYC.5620. However, if you are seeking certification as a Behavior Analyst, please note that our waiver of a requirement does not mean that BACB will recognize your prior coursework; you must consult BACB to determine whether other courses you have taken are acceptable and which of their required hours you have satisfied and still need to satisfy.

  6. Can I substitute other courses for certification?

    For BACB Certification you must consult BACB to determine whether other courses taken are suitable and which of their requirements, if any, other courses might meet.

  7. How do I get supervised experience?

    We do not provide any form of supervised training or supervision. If you are looking to fulfill the training and experience requirements establish by BACB (which you must do before you are eligible to take the BCBA exam), you have to do this on your own. And note that the Board says that you cannot begin to accumulate experience until you have begun the coursework; prior experience will not count.

  8. Does UML offer any assistance in site placement or locating a supervisor?

    Not at this time. The BACB website does list very specific requirements for the type of supervised experience you must have, and it also contains a search-able database of BCBAs who may be available to provide supervision.

  9. How have your students done when taking the BACB exam?

    Our courses are rigorous and have been developed and are taught by BCBAs who are very familiar with the BACB exam, so we are confident that are students will do well. BACB publishes data on how students from programs at different schools have done, and for 2016, UML students achieved a 74% pass rate, which we believe might be the highest such rate in the country for large fully online programs.

  10. Can I transfer the credits I earn in this program toward any degree at UMass Lowell?

    We do have a Psychology master's program in Autism Studies, and you can transfer all your ABA courses toward that degree, which also includes a university-approved practicum that will fulfill all the required supervised experience hours. Our School of Education has an M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction/Autism Studies toward which up to 15 of these credits may be transferred.

  11. Can I transfer the credits I earn in this program toward a degree program at another school?

    UMass Lowell is a fully accredited institution, and as long as you earn a grade of B or better you can usually petition to transfer credits toward a relevant degree (i.e. Special Education, Applied Behavioral Analysis). However, the decision about accepting transfer credits is always up to the other college or university.

  12. How will this program help me with my career?

    The need for well-qualified people in this field is growing dramatically, and we believe that our courses will provide significant career enhancement for those already in the field, especially for those able to go on to become certified as Behavior Analysts or Assistant Behavior Analysts. However, entry-level requirements vary enormously from one state to another and from one employer to another, and these courses alone, in the absence of any other degree or license or experience, might not be enough to qualify you to begin working in this field.

  13. What about licensure and third-party reimbursement?

    That is a complicated question, because each states sets its own rules regarding licensure, and each third-party payer (government, insurance companies, etc.) has its own rules. The UML certificate by itself does not provide for any form of licensure or reimbursement, but if you use it to help you gain certification as BCBA or BCaBA, you might qualify for ,licensure in many states and for reimbursement by many third-party payers. You will need to explore those possibilities on your own.

Frequently Asked Questions About Application Requirements and Registration:

  1. What is the minimum education requirement to take these courses?

    These are all graduate level courses, so you must already possess a bachelor's degree (in any field), and it should include some background in the psychology of child development (but this can be waived if you have already had experience in the field, or if you already hold a master's degree). UML seniors may seek permission to take the courses in the 4-course BMA/BCaBA program, which may then be used toward their undergraduate degree but they would not also be able to count those courses toward the graduate certificate.

  2. I'm a parent; am I allowed to take these courses?

    We have had many parents take at least the first course in our sequence, and they tell us it has been helpful. However, all students must meet the minimum eligibility requirements listed above.

  3. How do I apply?

    For both the 6-course BIA/BCBA program and the 4-course BMA/BCaBA program, you do not need to apply initially for the graduate certificate; you merely need to register for courses. However, before you will be able to register for your 3rd course with us, our Graduate School rules require that you be matriculated in the certificate program.

  4. Can I still apply for the certificate right away anyway?

    Absolutely, to apply for the certificate program go to Scroll down to find the links to the HTML or PDF versions of the application form.

  5. How do I register for courses?

    Returning students can register using SIS self-service, while new students must use the Non Degree Registration Form.

    Note: If you previously completed an academic program through UMass Lowell but haven't already applied and been accepted into this program, please use the Non Degree Registration Form to register. That link will also describe for you a series of steps you have to complete after you submit the form; you must complete these steps to be able to access the course when the semester begins. After your first semester, you will use our SIS system on-line to register for courses.

  6. How many courses can I take at a time, and does it matter in what order?

    Yes, the order matters, because each course builds on the ones that come before. Thus, it is best to proceed in numerical order. For the 4-course BMA/BCaBA program, you may take one or two at a time; for the 6-course BIA/BCBA, you can may take up to three at a time, assuming you are proceeding in the proper sequence.

  7. Will I need to have a site to work at and a supervisor?

    No. These courses may allow you the opportunity to discuss work experiences or cases you are familiar with, but none of our courses has a field work requirement. However, you should know that assignments in some of these courses do sometimes require you to have access to a young person, though not necessarily someone on the autism spectrum and not necessarily through work; for these assignments, students who are working in the field do have an advantage.

  8. When can I start the program?

    You may start in any one of our three academic semesters: Fall begins in early September, Spring begins in late January, and Summer begins in late May.

  9. How long will these programs take to complete?

    The programs can be completed in anywhere from two to six semesters. Note that UMass Lowell's calendar consists of three semesters per year: Fall, Spring, and Summer.

  10. What is the cost of each course?

    Each course is a 3-credit, graduate-level course. As of October 2021, graduate online tuition is $575 per credit hour, which brings the total cost of a 3-credit online graduate course to $1725, plus a $30 registration fee each semester and a one-time New Student Fee of $200. Bills are generated soon after you register, and bills must usually be paid in full by about the 6th week of the semester; we are unable to make any arrangements for deferred payments or payment plans. Payments may be made by credit card. You should be aware that these costs are below the median for what similar programs in the U.S. are currently charging for their courses.

  11. What about books?

    All these courses have books that are required for purchase, either through the UML Bookstore or wherever else you might be able to find them, new or used (but be sure to purchase the correct edition). You can locate all required titles by going to the Bookstore website and entering the term and course and section number. We also ask students to purchase licenses for a set of learning modules created by Behavior Development Solutions (and you should know that once you purchase the license, BDS guarantees you continued access until you pass the BCBA exam). And you will also need to purchase a license to access a wonderful set of videos produced by Relias Learning. For the 6-course program, we estimate that all books and licenses combined for all the courses will add roughly $1,100 to your total cost; for the 4-course program, the cost will be closer to $800. These costs will vary according to where you purchase your books, new or used, and also the length of term for the BDS and Relias licenses.

  12. Is there financial assistance available?

    Financial assistance is only available in the form of student loans, and it is only available to students admitted into the certificate program who are taking at least two courses.

  13. Is the program completely online?

    All certification courses are fully online.

  14. Are these courses self-paced?

    No, our courses follow the academic calendar at UMass Lowell. Courses begin in early September, late January, and mid-May. Students begin the course with their classmates and continue together throughout the 12 to 14 week semester.

  15. How does the distance learning program work?

    In many respects an online course is like an on-campus course. As the semester progresses week by week, materials are released online and students log in during the week to review online "lectures," complete any assignments that may be coming due, and participate in an online discussion board, view video materials, take exams, communicate with the instructor and other students, etc.

  16. Do I ever have to log on at a particular time?

    Our online courses do have weekly live text-based chats at designated times, and these chats can help students to feel more connected to the instructor and each other. But we use them like office hours, and they are not required; if you cannot attend, you will be able to review chat logs, and there will be no effect on your course grade.

  17. What are the technical requirements for accessing your online courses?

    You must have access to a computer: PC users must have Windows XP or higher, and Mac users must be OS 10.6 or higher. Your computer must have a browser (Internet Explorer 8 or higher, most recent version of Safari or most recent version of Mozilla Firefox). You must have an e-mail address and a current e-mail account, and you need to be cautious about how your e-mail is configured to block spam, and whether it rejects messages if your mailbox is full. You must have a connection to the Internet - DSL or Cable. You must have the most recent version of Java installed and running, and you must disable any pop-up blockers. If you use a computer from work, you may need to check with IT staff there concerning potential firewall issues.

  18. Do I have to come to campus at all?

    Our programs can be completed entirely online, and there is no requirement to ever come to campus.

  19. How much time will each course require?

    Keeping up with a course and all its readings and assignments will typically require 10 to 12 hours per week.

  20. How are students from different time zones accommodated?

    Online courses are designed to be almost entirely asynchronous, which means that every aspect of the course is available over a span of time on a week-to-week basis, during which you can connect on your own schedule. For example, our online courses put a lot of emphasis on discussion boards. Questions are posted at the beginning of the week and students have the entire week to post their responses. Courses may sometimes have a live chat at a designated time, but live chats are usually optional.

  21. Are there required readings for these courses? How do I access these readings?

    Yes, all of these courses include fairly extensive readings- most required, some suggested. Readings will usually be in books available for purchase through UMass Lowell's online bookstore or elsewhere. Because these are graduate level courses, required readings will also consist of primary source materials from scientific and professional publications; we are usually able to make copies of these readings available to students as part of the online course or through internet links.

  22. Will I have an instructor?

    Yes, all these online courses are taught by BCBA-level instructors with doctorate degrees in Psychology. Each course is usually limited to no more than 25 students, and our instructors become very actively involved with their students to help ensure that everyone succeeds.

  23. How do I communicate with my professors and classmates?

    Communications are entirely through e-mail, text chat, and discussion board postings.

Please note that the tuition and fees are subject to change. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information in this website. However, Graduate, Online & Professional Studies reserves the right to make changes of any nature in its program, calendar, locations, tuition, and fees. Whenever possible, appropriate notice of such changes will be given before they become effective.

Apply Into the Program

Apply Online

For further details visit UMass Lowell's Graduate Admissions.

Register for Courses

Approximately 2 months prior to the start of each semester, Graduate, Online & Professional Studies posts the new course schedule to the website. Once you've decided which course(s) you would like to take, returning students can register using SIS self-service, while new students must use the Non Degree Registration Form.

Note: If you previously completed an academic program through UMass Lowell
but haven't already applied and been accepted into this program, please use the Non Degree Registration Form to register.

Questions? Contact Us!

Email our for assistance, or call for advising at (978) 934-2240 for advising. For general questions, please call (800) 480-3190 and press 1 to speak with an advisor. See links at the bottom of this page for technical assistance with your online course.

Completing a Graduate Certificate Program

Graduate certificate courses must be completed within a five-year period with a minimum 3.0 grade point average and no more than one course with a grade below B. Once all courses for a graduate certificate have been completed, students must complete and submit the Graduate Certificate Clearance Form. Students must submit their clearance form to their coordinator. The coordinator will apply them in SIS, Graduation Tracking.