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    The Chicago School of Professional Psychology
  Jan 16, 2018
2011-2012 Academic Catalog and Student Handbook with Revised Addendum [Archived Catalog]

Ph.D. Applied Behavior Analysis

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Doctorof Philosophy, Applied Behavior Analysis

Program Overview

Applied Behavior Analysis is the ethical design, implementation and evaluation of environmental changes to produce socially significant improvements in behavior. At the M.A. level, the Applied Behavior Analysis program incorporates the content areas and practicum requirements to make graduates eligible for national board certification by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board® in addition to providing a solid foundation in clinical psychology skills. The aim is to prepare students for a rewarding career in the rapidly growing field of Applied Behavior Analysis. M.A. graduates work in residential, school, and community-based settings with a wide variety of clients including children, adults, and seniors. Clients 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. Doctoral graduates are lead practitioners and researchers in educational, clinical, and business settings who can successfully respond to the diverse needs of consumers of behavioral interventions and therapies. 

The Chicago School offers the prospective student two ABA Departments: one in Chicago, and one in Los Angeles. The following information is intended to help the student to make an informed choice. First and most important, the core curriculum, policies, and procedures of these two Departments are identical. Core Courses have the same goals and competencies, required courses are the same, and the elective offerings are quite similar and in some cases identical. Both offer course sequences approved by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board® and both seek to develop highly competent behavioral scientist-practitioners who will be agents of change in our communities and contributors to the scientific literature.   The differences between Departments reflect the diversity in faculty interests and of applications of behavior analysis, the ABA opportunities in the Departments’ respective communities, and the delivery mode and scheduling of classes. We advise prospective students to carefully consider these factors, interview the faculty, review their publications and presentations, and make a very strong commitment to ABA at the Chicago School campus of their choice.

The TCS Los Angeles ABA Department delivery model has been created to serve full-time working people. The program operates on a Fall, Spring, and Summer semester schedule (with standard school breaks). The ABA classes are held on campus on Saturdays and Sundays on alternating weekends of each semester. During the Fall and Spring semesters which are comprised of 15 to 16 weeks, ABA students attend classes on 7 weekends and 4 weekends during the Summer semester which is comprised of 8 weeks. Additionally, the TCS LA ABA Department follows a blended-course model for some 2 and all 3-credit courses.  Blended courses combine on-ground classroom instruction with additional on-line content.  The purpose of the on-line content is to support material covered during the on-ground classes, and to assist students in incorporating that material in more complex domains such as issues relevant to applied practice, theoretical and philosophical considerations, and scientist-practitioner related research activities.

In Los Angeles, students are provided with opportunities to pursue for full or part-time employment throughout the Southern California region. Current TCS LA ABA students work in a range of settings with various populations covering more than 60 different organizations and agencies. In addition, the TCS LA ABA T.E.A.C.H. (Training + Education = Achievement) center is located on the Los Angeles campus. The mission of T.E.A.C.H. is to provide training and support to individuals and organizations seeking to improve evidenced-based practices. LA ABA students have the opportunity to support T.E.A.C.H. activities across several domains including; direct service provision, research associate positions, and the development of novel approaches to training and the dissemination of behavior analysis, to name a few. In addition to providing mentorship and supervision for T.E.A.C.H. related activities, several LA ABA faculty support student involvement in their own community-based behavior analytic clinical and research services. These services are diverse and multi-faceted, and opportunities for student involvement range from direct service support (i.e., assessment, training, client service provision) to systems design and development (e.g., organizational behavior management).

The TCS Chicago ABA Department is oriented toward the full-time day student, although there are many part-time students in Chicago as well. Many students work (some full-time) but we always advise students to consider carefully the balance between school, family, and work and make reasoned choices about time and resource allocation. Because of the ABA field placement requirements, students are generally on campus two to three days a week and at practicum or working on other days. The Chicago Campus also offers the ABA student other opportunities that are as a whole quite unusual in academia. At this time one opportunity is with the application of ABA technologies to public schools, and the second is with clinical and counseling skills and licensure, and other opportunities are under development.

One major opportunity is a function of the Chicago ABA Department’s close relationship with several public schools in the area, and significant work with the schools both in Special Education and in Regular Education.   This opportunity to work with behavioral applications to general admission public schools is perhaps most striking at Garfield Park Preparatory Academy, an urban public school in Chicago started by ABA faculty members in 2009 using an ABA design—the Accelerated Independent Learner model developed by Greer and associates at Columbia. ABA faculty and graduates also consult and work with other local public schools, including a wide range of Special Education diagnoses and school configurations. Some of these sites (serving the range of ABA clients from people with autism and other disabilities to neuro-typical populations) also use Precision Teaching, and as such provide opportunities for advanced research in instructional design as well as other applied experimental analyses.  

A second major opportunity arises from the relationship between the ABA Department in Chicago and the Counseling Department.   While the ABA-MA curriculum at both Chicago and LA incorporates the development of basic clinical skills (the aim is that Chicago School graduates from either campus are among the best behavior analysts in such skills) the ABA student in Chicago may apply for the additional courses and supervised practice leading to a State license: the LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor) credential (see below for more details about the requirements for the LPC). The intent is to give these students a very strong foundation of theory and practice in radical behaviorism (and the BCBA credential), while giving them the knowledge, skills, and license of the professional counselor. It should be noted that the courses in this joint sequence are taught by the faculties of the respective Departments and are not “watered down” in any way, so students pursuing this path may form a uniquely valuable synthesis and enrich both fields.

Admission Requirements

Application to The Chicago School’s Doctor of Philosophy in Applied Behavior Analysis programs is open to any person who has earned a bachelors 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. Students 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

There are two entry points into the Ph.D. Applied Behavior Analysis Program: 1) post-baccalaureate 112 credit, and 2) post-MA with BCBA 58 credit*; NOTE that only* applicants with a Masters degree and the required BCBA coursework will be considered for post-master entry.  Additional coursework may be required for Post-MA entry students with a non TCSPP Applied Behavior Analysis Masters degree and when appropriate, the standard TCSPP course transfer and waiver guidelines apply (information available on the TCSPP website).

Standardized Testing

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is required for ABA doctoral work but not for MA 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.

Application Fees

Degree applications must be submitted with a $50.00(USD) application fee to be considered. Respecialization applications must be submitted with a $25.00(USD) application fee to be considered.

TOEFL or IELTS, International Credentials, and International Students

TOEFL or IELTS: If English is not your primary language, you must submit official TOEFL or IELTS scores with your application (TOEFL School Code: 7161). International students who received a bachelor’s degree from an accredited United States institution are exempt from this requirement. The minimum scores are: TOEFL – 550 paper based, 213 computer based, 79 internet based; IELTS – 6.5.

ELS Educational Services, Inc.: The Chicago School is a cooperative member of ELS Educational Services, Inc. which provides intensive English language programs. Students who have successfully completed ELS course 112 may be considered for admission in lieu of the TOEFL or IELTS.

International credentials: Applicants with international credentials must obtain and submit an official “course-by-course” evaluation through an evaluation agency such as World Education Services ( or Educational Credential Evaluators Inc ( In addition to the agency evaluation, all official graduate and undergraduate transcripts must be submitted.

International students: International students must submit a completed application by the general consideration deadline. This will allow sufficient time to obtain the additional documentation required to study in the United States. In addition, once accepted, international students must submit the International Student Information form, a copy of their passport, and financial documentation showing sufficient funding for at least one year of study and all living expenses. This documentation must be submitted at least two months prior to the start of the semester in order to allow sufficient time for the school to issue an I-20 for the student to obtain an F-1 visa, if needed.. An I-20 visa will not be issued without this documentation.

Applicant Notification

The Chicago School 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 does not share information or provide any feedback regarding admission decisions.

If a student is offered admission, in order to secure a place in the incoming class, a non-refundable tuition deposit of $500 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 following policies are located under Academic Policies and Procedures  : Transfer of Credit, Waiver of Courses, Satisfactory Academic Progress, Grading Scale, Grade Change Requests, Degree Completion, Degree Conferral, Minimum and Maximum Timeframe requirements, and Credit Hours per semester for Financial Aid.

Earning a Master of Arts in Applied Behavior Analysis

An M.A. in Applied Behavior Analysis is awarded following the successful completion of required coursework and thesis requirements. At the beginning of the semester in which a student expects to be eligible for the master’s degree, he or she is required to submit online a Petition for Program Completion to the Office of Academic Records. The petition is a request to conduct an audit to determine eligibility for the degree. Students who meet the requirements are eligible to participate in the next scheduled commencement. All students who file a Petition for Program Completion will be charged a fee.

Click here to view the M.A. Applied Behavior Analysis catalog page.

The coursework requirements for earning a M.A. in Applied Behavior Analysis are below:

Required Core Courses: 49 Credits

Elective Courses: 5 Credits

Total M.A. Applied Behavior Analysis program credits: 54

Required Core Courses

·         AB 510 - Psychopathology (3 credits)

·         AB 512 - Psychology of the Lifespan (3 credits)

·         AB 515 - Clinical and Diagnostic Skills I (2 credits)

·         AB 516 - Clinical and Diagnostic Skills II (2 credits)

·         AB 520 - Concepts and Principles in Behavior Analysis (3 credits)

·         AB 521 - ABA I: Applied Behavior Analysis (3 credits)

·         AB 522 - ABA II: Clinical and Educational Applications of Behavior Analysis (3 credits)

·         AB 523 - Verbal Behavior (2 credits)

·         AB 531 - Assessment and Intervention (2 credits)

·         AB 533 - Advanced Intervention: Behavioral (2 credits)

·         AB 546 - Diversity in Clinical Practice (3 credits)

·         AB 547 - Professional Ethics and Issues (3 credits)

·         AB 550 - Observation and Measurement (3 credits)

·         AB 551 - Research Methods (3 credits)

·         AB 560 - Advanced Research Project I (1 credit)

·         AB 561 - Advanced Research Project II (1 credit)

·         AB 562 - Advanced Research Project III (1 credit)

·         AB 590 - Professional Development Group (1 credit)

·         AB 591 - Practicum I (2 credits)

·         AB 592 - Practicum II (2 credits)

·         AB 593 - Practicum III (2 credits)

·         AB 594 - Practicum IV (2 credits)

Elective Courses

·         AB 525 - Precision Teaching (2 credits)

·         AB 526 - Relational Frame Theory (2 credits)

·         AB 527 - Instructional Consultation I (2 credits)

·         AB 528 - Instructional Consultation II (2 credits)

·         AB 529 - Seminal Writings in Behavior Analysis (2 credits)

·         AB 532 - Behavioral Pharmacology (3 credits)

·         AB 534 - Radical Behaviorism (2 credits)

·         AB 535 - Introduction to Instructional Design (2 credits)

·         AB 570 - Science and Human Behavior (2 credits)

·         AB 572 - Organizational Behavior Management (2 credits)

·         AB 581 - Special Topics I (1 credit)

·         AB 582 - Special Topics II (2 credits)


Academic Development Plans

An Academic Development Plan (ADP) is initiated and created by the Department in which the student is enrolled when a student demonstrates deficiencies in competencies that interfere with academic performance, training competence, and/or professional behavior. Academic Development Plans (ADPs) do not constitute disciplinary action, but failure to complete the plan may lead to disciplinary action.

Student Learning Assessment

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology (TSCPP) is committed to offering the highest quality graduate and undergraduate completion programs in applied professional disciplines. In order to meet the TCSPP standard for academic quality, all programs will develop overall program competencies, learning objectives, assessment instruments, course descriptions, and course learning objectives. Each of these curriculum components must align in order for students to understand how their program will prepare them for the profession and how they will learn what TCSPP intends. 

All academic programs at TCSPP are required to develop, conduct, and report annual assessments of student learning and program effectiveness in compliance with the processes and procedures established by TCSPP.  These assessments provide reliable and valid information to monitor, maintain, and advance the quality of academic programs.

Foundations for Scholarship and Practice

To ensure academic preparedness, a key to success in graduate school, The Chicago School of Professional Psychology requires new students to complete the program Foundations for Scholarship and Practice (Foundations). This program reinforces the skills new students need to achieve their academic goals. Foundations is an integral part of the first term’s curriculum (first and second terms’ curriculum for the Online-Blended Programs) and all students are required to complete the program successfully and in a timely manner.  Failure to complete any element of the program can lead to academic consequences, including dismissal.

Foundations for Scholarship and Practice consists of three elements: 

1.  Academic Focus Program – Academic Focus is an online, self-paced orientation to graduate academics. Completion of these tutorials is required by Friday of the fourth week of the first term. A final  grade of “pass” is considered successful completion of this element of Foundations.

2.  Writing Assessment Process – In this component of Foundations, each student writes an essay in response to an assigned question and submits it for evaluation. Based upon the results of this assessment, , the school may waive the Academic Writing Course requirement (#3, below). Essays are due by Friday of the third week of the first term and essay submission by the given date is considered successful completion of this element of Foundations.

3.  Academic Writing Course (AWC) – This online course is taken before or during the first or second term at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. A final grade of “pass” is considered successful completion of this element. Failure to earn a final grade of “pass” may result in an Academic Development Plan or referral to the Student Affairs Committee. All students are required to take the course, unless they place out through the Writing Assessment Process. Students who place out of the Academic Writing Course may elect to take the course. Based on academic performance concerns, instructors may require AWC completion by a student by creating an Academic Development Plan.

Failure to complete any element of Foundations by the required due date may result in Academic Development Plan or referral to the Student Affairs Committee. 

Preparing for the Academic Writing Course

It is solely the responsibility of the student to make the necessary adjustments to his/her school, work and personal schedules as required for full participation in this course. The Chicago School is not responsible for ensuring that these adjustments are made. Students failing AWC must retake the course in the subsequent semester. The successful completion of AWC is a graduation requirement.

Fees associated with Foundations for Scholarship and Practice

All students incur a one-time fee for their participation in Foundations for Scholarship and Practice. See Tuition & Fees schedule for a full list of applicable course fees.

The Program

General Description

The graduate programs in Applied Behavior Analysis will develop and graduate professionals who can help people and organizations select, implement, and manage effective systems to improve outcomes across a variety of settings. The programs provide students with a solid understanding of the Theory and Philosophy of Behavior Analysis as the foundation that informs the Applied Behavior Analysis, 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 objective of the PhD program in ABA is to train individuals to contribute to applied practice settings in addition to the behavior analytic scholarly and political communities Doctoral level ABA students gain a comprehensive understanding of Theory and Philosophy, the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, Applied Behavior Analysis, and Service Delivery. Graduates are equipped with the repertoire to function as leaders in their respective positions (i.e., clinical, academic, etc.) and are prepared to address a range of issues and problems, and to design, implement, and test practical effective solutions that work in the real world. Entry to the PhD in Applied Behavior Analysis program is offered to post-baccalaureate students with and without their Masters degree. The incoming profile of the student determines the semester credits, the course sequence, and the years required to complete the program.


In Fall 2004, The Chicago School of Professional Psychology (TCS) accepted its first cohort of students in the newly established MA in Clinical Psychology, Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) program. In Fall 2008 the TCS ABA department initiated a doctoral training program, and both the MA and doctoral programs in ABA were launched at the newly opened TCS Los Angeles campus (TCS LA ABA). The TCS LA ABA program was designed from the outset to meet the needs of working professionals wanting to obtain graduate training. The Chicago campus is designed for full-time day students, but also accommodates working professionals who want to continue their education. Both programs are supported by highly qualified behavior-analytic core faculty members, and both have a number of nationally and internationally recognized adjunct faculty.

The TCS ABA programs are 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 people with autism or other developmental disabilities, behavior analysis is applied to numerous populations and problems. Thus, in both TCS ABA programs, 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 geriatrics, people with traumatic brain injury, and regular and special education. Thus, while ABA techniques apply to people with disabilities, they are just as useful to people in the general population.

The TCS ABA Departments provide 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 TCS ABA department’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 TCS ABA Department 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 ABA programs emphasize 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 our Mission in the TCS ABA Department to remain at the forefront of the development of this field.

Program Outcomes

  1. Students will describe and explain behavior in behavior analytic (non-mentalistic) terms.
  2. Students will evaluate and provide examples of behavioral responses.
  3. Students will select a data display that effectively communicates quantitative relations and highlights patterns of behavior.
  4. Students will understand and use behavior change procedures.
  5. Students will use the most effective assessment and behavior change procedures within applicable ethical standards.
  6. Students will use and interpret behavioral assessments.
  7. Students will establish support for behavior analysis services from persons directly and indirectly involved with these services.
  8. Students will use alternating treatments (i.e., multi-element, simultaneous treatment, multiple or concurrent schedule) designs and analyze their effects on treatment to improve professional practice.
  9. Students will select and use appropriate measurement procedures given various situations.
  10. Students will make recommendations to the client regarding target outcomes based upon such factors as: client preferences, task analysis, current repertoires, supporting environments, constraints, social validity, assessment results and best available scientific evidence.


The ABA program prepares and qualifies students to take the BCBA Exam. The exam results are treated as a professional qualification for individual students, as well as data about the adequacy of the program in preparing students. Students should visit ( for details.

Ethics and Professional Behavior

Students are expected to learn and to follow the ethical guidelines of the American Psychological Association, the Association for Behavior Analyst: International, 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.


The Applied Behavior Analysis specialization/re-specialization course work is approved by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board® and meets the requirements necessary to take the Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) exam. ABA curricula are periodically reevaluated by the BACB to maintain approval status. 

Professional Development Group

All Doctor of Philosophy in Applied Behavior Analysis students are required to enroll in a Professional Development Group during their first semester at the school. Ph.D. program students are matched with an advisor and should enroll in that faculty member’s Professional Development Group. The Professional Development Group class is graded on a pass/fail basis.


Doctoral students are also required to complete a dissertation. The dissertation must be a data-based empirical evaluation that marks an original contribution to the published literature. The PhD course sequence facilitates student completion of the dissertation with a carefully designed course sequence that has the necessary steps toward dissertation completion embedded into the required coursework. Students receive detailed information about the dissertation process and related requirements during their first year in the program.

More specific information is location in the Program Guidebook.

Full-Time vs. Part-Time Status

Since the function of the program is to increase the student’s knowledge and abilities, and these goals require intensive efforts and substantial time, the student must consider carefully the balance between school, work, family, and other responsibilities. In general, faculty members plan for students to spend three hours studying for each hour in class. Students who work full time should take a lighter load (five to nine hours per semester) in order to be able to devote to the program the energy and time that will yield the maximum benefit to them.

Class Scheduling

Some classes will be scheduled to meet in non-traditional formats to minimize travel. These will be announced well in advance so that students can make appropriate arrangements. Classes generally meet in one of three schedule patterns:

  • Once a week for one, two, or three hours
  • The distance class involves few or no face-to-face meetings, but instead extensive work via the internet or a similar distance communication system.
  • Between three and eight times a semester (for longer periods at each class meeting) when the faculty member is traveling from outside the Chicago area

Classes are offered in a mix of day, evening, and weekend times. Note that there are some classes offered only in one time slot, such as evenings or weekends. Students are expected to have arranged other obligations in such a way as to permit attendance to classes whenever they are scheduled.

The Curriculum

The PhD in Applied Behavior Analysis is a 112 credit program which consists of 99 core credits and 13 electives. As part of the core coursework, students are required to complete comprehensive examinations (comps) in order to ensure that they are competent scientist-practitioners in Applied Behavior Analysis. The comps assess knowledge and skills across the four domains of Behavior Analysis: Basic, Applied, Service Delivery, and Theory and Philosophy. Some examples of comprehensive examination format include written examination, oral defense, grant proposal, and syllabus design. In addition to the comprehensive exams, doctoral students are also required to complete a doctoral dissertation. The dissertation must take the form of a data-based empirical evaluation, and must mark a contribution to current peer-reviewed publications in the field. In an effort to facilitate timely graduation, relevant components of the dissertation process have been built into the doctorate student course sequence. Students are required to enroll in Proposal Development seminar and Dissertation Development courses (see Course Descriptions), during which they propose, conduct, and defend their dissertation (13 total credits). Dissertation-related activities are also infused throughout the other Core courses. Students attend the research lab of the faculty member that has been identified as their dissertation chair and research lab serves as a forum for students to both present and receive feedback throughout the dissertation process. The dissertation proposal and defense is conducted in a committee style format, and details of the process are delineated for the students at the outset of the dissertation process.

M.A. Level Coursework:  54 Credits

Required Core PhD Courses: 45 Credits

Electives: 13 Credits

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