The Chicago School of Professional Psychology offers a Ph.D. Psychology, Behavior Analysis specialization program in Los Angeles, California. The program embeds advanced behavior analysis coursework in a foundational framework of psychology theory, research and professional practice so students receive a comprehensive understanding of behavior and learning. Upon successful completion of the program, graduates are prepared to work in educational, clinical, and business settings to successfully respond to the diverse needs of consumers of behavioral interventions and therapies, and who can teach and mentor students of behavior analysis in university settings.
Prior to advancing to the Ph.D. Psychology, Behavior Analysis specialization program, students complete the M.S. Applied Behavior Analysis program which 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 Chicago School of Professional Psychology’s Ph.D. Psychology, Behavior Analysis specialization program is oriented toward the full-time/weekend student who is a working professional during the week, although part-time student options are also offered. The program follows a blended format in which students attend classes on campus every other weekend while in between completing on-line content designed to support material covered during the on-ground classes. The program is rigorous and students are advised to consider carefully the balance between school, family, and work and make reasoned choices about time and resource allocation.
In order to meet BACB® supervised experience requirements, students at the master’s level (the first two years of the doctoral program) complete Practicum in conjunction with their supervised independent fieldwork hours. Once certified as a BCBA®, qualified doctoral students are encouraged to participate in The Chicago School of Professional Psychology’s Student Apprentice Program to provide BCBA® supervision to master’s level students enrolled in Practicum, while working under the direction of a faculty mentor to gain teaching experience in higher education.
The program is designed to prepare students in a wide variety of areas in behavioral service delivery as a practicing behavior analyst, and Licensed Psychologist in the state of California. Students focus on issues related to the understanding and analysis of human behavior from assessment to development of interventions aimed to help individuals with behavioral challenges to have better lives. A strong understanding of behavior from several perspectives assists graduates in looking at behavior and function of behavior in multiple ways to develop comprehensive behavioral treatment for the individuals they serve. Assessment and treatment of behavior is examined across a wide array, including severe behavior problems, mental health 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 behavior analytic techniques apply to individuals with developmental disabilities, they are just as useful to people in the general population.
The doctoral program emphasizes not only knowledge in research, assessment and intervention techniques, but also sound understanding of basic concepts and principles of psychology and advanced concepts in behavior analysis so that students will have the conceptual and scientific underpinnings necessary to understand why behavioral interventions work, how to measure their effects, and how to make appropriate modifications to interventions when they do not. This is accomplished through the specialization training within the Ph.D. in Psychology program which provides students with instruction and exposure in subject matter related to all four domains of Behavior Analysis (i.e., Philosophy, Experimental Analysis of Behavior, Applied Behavior Analysis, and Service Delivery). Because behavioral interventions, such as Applied Behavior Analysis, are based on a rapidly developing and evolving behavioral technology grounded in research, the knowledge base is constantly changing. It is our Mission in the Ph.D. Psychology with specialization in Behavior Analysis program at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology’s Los Angeles campus to remain at the forefront of the development of this field.
Program Learning Outcomes
By the end of the program students will be able to:
- Identify, describe and use psychological and function-based assessments to develop and evaluate efficacy of interventions and state and plan for possible unwanted effects of those interventions.
- Provide for ongoing documentation, implementation, evaluation, and termination of behavioral services, including staff training and environmental support.
- Develop and use behavior-analytic procedures to produce short- and long-term benefits for clients.
- Describe multicultural and diversity issues and the historical variables that contribute to them, and apply the analysis to solving individual and social problems.
- Explain and behave in accordance with ethical and professional standards set by the American Psychological Association and Behavior Analysis Certification Board.
- Communicate effectively with individuals and groups of people in a variety of formats, for varying reasons.
- Review, evaluate and apply research to empirically-based practices and contribute to knowledge of psychology and behavior through research and professional practice.
- Identify and describe various research methodologies and experimental designs to evaluate effective and ethical interventions.
- Describe behavior from historical and modern perspectives in psychology and behavior analysis.
Post-Baccalaureate Program Entry
Students that enroll in the post-baccalaureate Ph.D. Psychology, Behavior Analysis Specialization program sequence complete all program requirements and can apply for the award of the M.S. in Applied Behavior Analysis degree as part of their Ph.D. program. Both the Ph.D. Psychology, Behavior Analysis Specialization and the M.S. in 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.
Post-Master’s Program Entry
Students that have a master’s degree in Psychology, Education, Behavior Analysis, or other related degree recognized by the BACB®, but have not completed the BACB®-approved course sequence will meet degree, coursework, and supervised experienced requirements for eligibility to take the BCBA® credentialing examination (based on the Fourth Edition Task list) at the completion of the Credentialing Track curriculum requirements.
State Professional Licensure
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:
- The M.S. Applied Behavior Analysis, Ph.D. Psychology, Behavior Analysis Specialization, or other related degree recognized by the BACB® 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, Montana, Missouri, Mississippi, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Vermont, and Wisconsin.
- Graduation from the above listed degree programs 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 Ph.D. Psychology, Behavior Analysis Specialization 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.
Upon successful completion of the Ph.D. Psychology, Behavior Analysis Specialization program, graduates will have earned a doctoral degree in psychology that aligns with the degree level and degree name requirements of the California Board of Psychology. There are additional requirements for licensure as a Licensed Psychologist in California that fall outside the scope of The Chicago School’s Ph.D. Psychology program. Specifically, students must complete two years (3,000 hours) of post-doctoral supervised professional experience. Upon earning a qualifying doctoral degree, successful completion of supervised professional experience, and completion of additional required instructional hours in specified content areas, which may be available as electives in the program, an individual may apply to sit for the psychologist licensing exams administered by the California Board of Psychology
Post Baccalaureate Admission Requirements
Application to The Chicago School of Professional Psychology’s Ph.D. Psychology Behavior Analysis specialization program (post- baccalaureate) 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 Ph.D. Psychology, Behavior Analysis specialization program has two specific required undergraduate courses - a course in psychology and a course in either statistics or research methods - that must be completed prior to enrollment with a grade earned of “C” or better.
Post-Master’s Degree Admission Requirements
Application to The Chicago School of Professional Psychology’s Ph.D. Applied Behavior Analysis program (post- Master’s) is open to any person who has earned a master’s degree as specified below from a regionally accredited institution and who meets other entrance requirements.
The school admits applicants whom it judges to possess sufficient academic aptitude, as well as the emotional and social maturity to function effectively as a professional behavior analyst. Applicants will be judged on their overall ability to engage in graduate work. Factors considered in admission are: undergraduate and any graduate coursework, GPA from undergraduate and graduate schools; successful work history; admission essay(s); and letters of recommendation from academic professors or professional or volunteer experience supervisors. An undergraduate or graduate GPA of a 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale is required for admission to the school’s Applied Behavior Analysis doctoral program. 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.
Applicants for admission to the Ph.D. post-master’s must fall into one of these three categories:
- Category A: Have a master’s degree in Psychology, Education, Behavior Analysis, or other related degree recognized by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB®) and hold a current BCBA® certification in good standing.
- Category B: Have a master’s degree in Psychology, Education, Behavior Analysis, or other related degree recognized by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB®) and have completed the BACB® approved courses required to qualify for the BCBA® credentialing examination (based on the Fourth Edition Task) list.
- Category C: Have a master’s degree in Psychology, Education, Behavior Analysis, or other related degree recognized by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB®) and have not completed the BACB® approved courses required to qualify for the BCBA® credentialing examination (based on the Fourth Edition Task) list. Students admitted upon category C will be required to successfully complete the Credentialing Track requirements (28 credits)
Based on the evaluation of these materials, selected candidates may be invited to interview for further consideration of their application. Applications must be submitted with the $50.00 (USD) application fee in order to be evaluated.
For all students: In addition to the admission criteria, it is recommended that students have access to a computer that is less than three years old, a broadband or Internet connection, and the Microsoft Office Suite including Word, Excel, and Outlook and, at minimum, the following computing skills:
- A comfort with basic Internet technology
- The ability to open and attach files from and to email
- The ability to send and receive email
- The ability to save documents
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.
Degree Completion Requirements
- Successful completion of 106 credit hours of coursework (58 credit hours post-masters; 86 credit hours post-master’s credentialing track)
- Successful completion of Comprehensive Examination
- Successful completion of Dissertation
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.
Earning a Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis
A student in the post-bachelor Ph.D. Psychology, Behavior Analysis program may earn a M.S. Applied Behavior Analysis following the successful completion of required coursework and specific program requirements. At the beginning of the semester in which a student expects to be eligible for the master’s degree, they are required to submit a Petition for Degree Conferral to the Office of the Registrar. The petition is a request to conduct an audit to determine eligibility for the degree. A student who meets the requirements is eligible to participate in the next scheduled commencement.
The specific requirements are as follows:
- Academic and Financial Aid Good Standing
- Successful completion of required coursework (48 credits)
Students are expected to learn and to follow the ethical guidelines of the American Psychological Association, the Association for Behavior Analysis International, and the Behavior Analyst Certification Board® during and after their work at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. A class in ethics is required at both the master’s and doctoral levels, and student adherence to ethical codes is evaluated both formally and informally.
Professional Development Group
All students are required to enroll in a Professional Development Group during their first semester in the post-master’s program. Their instructor serves as their academic advisor until they select a dissertation chair. The Professional Development Group class is graded on a pass/fail basis.
Students are required to take and pass a written comprehensive examination and an oral defense before they are allowed to propose their dissertation research to the Institutional Review Board (IRB). Four 1-credit courses prepare students to take the exam and to defend their answers. Students have two chances to pass each component (a third attempt may be allowed under extenuating circumstances). When the written and oral components of the comprehensive exam are passed, the student becomes a Doctoral Candidate and can proceed to his/her dissertation research.
The comprehensive exams assess knowledge and skills across foundational psychology theories and practices and the four domains of Behavior Analysis: Basic, Applied, Service Delivery, and Theory and Philosophy.
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 Ph.D. Psychology, Behavior Analysis specialization 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.
The dissertation must take the form of a data-based empirical evaluation, and must mark a contribution to current peer-reviewed publications in the fields of psychology or behavior analysis. In an effort to facilitate timely graduation, relevant components of the dissertation process have been built into the doctoral 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 (12 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.
More specific information is located in the Program Guidebook.