Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is the ethical evaluation, design, and implementation of environmental changes to produce socially significant improvements in behavior. The M.S. Applied Behavior Analysis program incorporates the content areas and practicum requirements for eligibility to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst® (BCBA®) by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board® (BACB®) in addition to providing a solid foundation in the philosophy, science, and application of behavior analysis. Please see further information about professional licensure and certification below.
The aim of the program is to prepare students for a rewarding career in the rapidly growing field of Applied Behavior Analysis. Graduates serve many different populations including children, adults, and seniors and may work in residential, school, and community-based settings. Individuals served may have no diagnoses (e.g., school children in a regular education class or teachers seeking to be more effective) or may have diagnoses such as autism, behavioral difficulties, developmental disabilities, mental illness, and a variety of geriatric conditions.
The M.S. Applied Behavior Analysis program develops students into professionals who can support individuals and organizations as well as select, implement, and manage effective systems to improve outcomes across a variety of settings. The program provides students with a solid understanding of the science and philosophy of Behavior Analysis as the foundation that informs applied behavior analysis, the experimental analysis of behavior, and service delivery domains to produce graduates who rely on the science of behavior to contribute to the betterment of society.
The program requires 49 credit hours, which include 46 core credit hours and 3 credit hours in elective coursework. Within core coursework students are required to complete 4 credit hours of practicum. Practicum courses are designed to meet the requirements of the BACB®.
The program is designed to prepare students in a wide variety of specialization areas within ABA. Although it is common for lay people to assume that ABA is relevant only to individuals with autism or other developmental and/or intellectual disabilities, behavior analysis can be applied to any population or problem. Thus, students can focus not only on issues related to the assessment and treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorders, but also on the assessment and treatment of severe behavior problems, instructional design, organizational behavior management, and applications with non-traditional populations such as geriatric, individuals with traumatic brain injury, and regular and special education. Thus, while ABA techniques are typically associated with application to individuals with disabilities, they are also invaluable to individuals in the general population and in solving societal problems that require behavior change.
The program provides training to students related to all four domains of Behavior Analysis (i.e., Theory & Philosophy, Experimental Analysis of Behavior, Applied Behavior Analysis, and Service Delivery). Further, the programs and curricula are designed to infuse the scientist-practitioner model across these domains and teach students to be consumers of new research findings, evaluators of their own interventions and programs using empirical methods, and researchers, producing new data from their own settings and reporting these data to the applied and scientific community.
In summary, the program’s mission is to provide students with the scientific, analytical, and conceptual tools they need to provide effective, ethical, and practical behavior-analytic interventions to the diverse populations that they serve. The vision of the program is to provide the most comprehensive and effective graduate training in ABA, and to that end, the faculty provide the students with the most up-to-date information and research, and encourage critical analysis of the research with an emphasis on using it to drive practice. The program emphasizes not only knowledge of the research and assessment and intervention techniques, but sound understanding of the basic concepts and principles of behavior analysis, so that students will have the conceptual and scientific underpinnings necessary to understand why interventions work, how to measure their effects, and to make appropriate program modifications when they do not. Because ABA is based on a rapidly developing and evolving behavioral technology grounded in research, the knowledge base is constantly changing. It is the program’s mission to remain at the forefront of the development of this field.
Program Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this program students will be able to:
- Analyze behavior, design interventions, and evaluate interventions, by applying basic behavioral principles and assessment techniques to effect socially significant behavior change.
- Evaluate the impact of diversity issues on individuals and society (as a whole in domestic or international settings,) and demonstrate sensitivity and competence while working with diverse populations.
- Evaluate and resolve ethical dilemmas in accordance with behavior-analytic and psychological ethical guidelines.
- Establish rapport and communicate effectively with clients, stakeholders, and other professionals.
- Conduct behavior-analytic research and evaluate behavior-analytic and other psychological research effectively and ethically.
The M.S. Applied Behavior Analysis is aligned with degree, coursework, and supervised experience requirements for eligibility to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst® (BCBA®) by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board® (BACB). Applicants for BCBA® certification must meet additional requirements established by BACB® including application, examination, and background check.
There may be state professional licensure requirements to practice applied behavior analysis. A state’s licensure board determines the specific requirements for candidates seeking professional licensure and those requirements are subject to change. The following is professional licensure information as of the date of publication:
- Graduation from the M.S. Applied Behavior Analysis Program in conjunction with BCBA® certification aligns with degree and certification requirements for professional licensure in Alabama, Arizona, Alaska, Connecticut, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.
- Graduation from the M.S. Applied Behavior Analysis Program aligns with degree requirements for professional licensure in Arizona, Massachusetts, and New York. Note that candidates for licensure may be required to meet additional state requirements such as application, examination, and background check.
- A professional license is not required to practice behavior analysis in Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, West Virginia, Wyoming, and the District of Columbia. State laws on professional licensure are subject to change by their legislatures.
It is the student’s responsibility to determine the licensure requirements for any state not listed above. The M.S. Applied Behavior Analysis may meet some or all of the requirements of states not listed, but additional state-specific approvals or coursework and/or practicum hours may be required beyond the program’s graduation requirements. Some state licensing requirements include the following: completion of a master’s degree, post-graduate field work, certification as a board certified behavior analyst, examination, and application for license.
Due to recent and ongoing changes in state professional licensure of applied behavior analysis practitioners, students should contact the state board directly to verify information regarding professional licensure. To assist with this research, the Association of Professional Behavior Analysists (APBA) publishes information regarding state licensure.
Application to The Chicago School of Professional Psychology’s M.S. Applied Behavior Analysis program is open to any person who has earned a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution and who meets other entrance requirements. Applicants will be judged on their overall ability to do graduate work. Factors that are considered in admission are: GPA from undergraduate and any graduate schools, successful work history after completion of the baccalaureate degree, the admission essay, and letters of recommendation from academic professors or professional or volunteer experience supervisors. Generally, an undergraduate GPA of a 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale is required for admission. Applicants must submit official transcripts from all schools where a degree was earned. It is recommended that transcripts are submitted from all schools where credit was received to enhance their applications.
The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is not required for master’s level applicants. Scores should be sent directly to the school (GRE School Code: 1119) for consideration. Please see the application for detailed instructions and information regarding application requirements, application deadlines, and letters of recommendation.
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology reviews applications on a rolling basis. Once review begins, complete applications will be considered by the Admission Committee and applicants will be notified regarding the admission decision. The Chicago School of Professional Psychology does not share information or provide any feedback regarding admission decisions.
If a student is offered admission and in order to secure a place in the incoming class, a non-refundable tuition deposit of $250 will be required by the deposit deadline indicated in the offer of admission. The non-refundable deposit will be applied in full toward the student’s tuition upon enrollment.
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology has established agreements between the Graduate Certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis to allow qualified students to enter early into the M.S. Applied Behavior Analysis program. Click on this link for details.
Degree Completion Requirements:
- Successful completion of 49 credit hours of coursework
- Successful completion of Advanced Research Project or Advanced Applied Project
- Successful completion of training requirements meeting current BACB ® requirements
The following policies are located under Academic Policies and Procedures: Academic Calendar, Admissions Requirements, Attendance, Satisfactory Academic Progress, Service Learning, and Transfer Credit/Course Waiver. Click the link above for detailed information.
Students are expected to learn and to follow the ethical guidelines of the American Psychological Association and the Behavior Analyst Certification Board® during and after their work at The Chicago School. A class in ethics is required, and student adherence to ethical codes is evaluated both formally and informally.
Advanced Research Project OR Advanced Applied Project
Students are also required to complete a thesis (Advanced Research Project) or a non-thesis option (Advanced Applied Project). The thesis must be a data-based empirical evaluation, but does not necessarily need to mark an original contribution to the published literature (it may be a replication and extension). The primary function of the Master’s thesis is to demonstrate that students are actively learning to function as scientist-practitioners who are continually engaged in making data-based assessment and treatment decisions. The applied project is a demonstration that the student can assess and treat a client effectively and ethically from start to finish. The applied project process is as stringent as the thesis option and demonstrates similar skills but focuses on application rather than research. The course sequence facilitates student completion of theses and applied projects with a carefully designed course sequence that has the necessary steps toward thesis and project completion embedded into the required coursework. Any student considering going on to a Ph.D. program should choose the thesis option.
The program requires seven credits of field-based clinical training (practicum training, see BACB.com for supervision requirements) held at approved sites.