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    The Chicago School of Professional Psychology
  Mar 23, 2023
2010-2011 Academic Catalog and Student Handbook with Addendum 
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2010-2011 Academic Catalog and Student Handbook with Addendum [Archived Catalog]

M.A. Applied Behavior Analysis



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 Analysis 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 LA 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 all 3-credit courses.  Blended courses combine on-ground classroom instruction with additional on-line content.  The purpose of the on-line instruction 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 contrast to the LA Campus, the Chicago Campus is oriented toward the full-time day student, although there are many part-time students in Chicago as well.  Many student 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.

Admissions Requirements

Application to The Chicago School’s Doctor of Philosophy in Applied Behavior Analysis or the Master of Arts 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. Persons with the M.A. in ABA are encouraged to apply for the Ph.D. 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. There are separate applications for the campus-based programs and the online certificate program. A master’s degree is required for the online BCBA Respecialization.

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 IELFTS: 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.


Transfer of Credit

Prior graduate course work, if within the area of study, may be eligible for transfer or waiver of credit. All accepted students may petition by submitting a Petition of Transfer/Waiver of Credit form** and all required documentation. The decision to accept transfer credit is solely that of the school, which reserves the right to require satisfactory performance on an examination before awarding a transfer of credit. Satisfactory completion of a competency examination is required before transfer of credit is awarded when the course in question has been taken more than five years prior to admission. No credit will be transferred for course work that is more than 10 years old. Transfers of credit are subject to the following conditions.

  • Transferred course credit is restricted to graduate-level courses from a recognized, regionally-accredited graduate degree granting institution.
  • Transfer of credit is not granted for clinical practicum or internships.
  • Transfer of credit is granted only for courses in which the grade obtained was a “B” or higher. (Pass/Fail grades are not eligible.)
  • For each hour of credit accepted a transfer a fee will be assessed. Please see the tuition and fee page of the TCS website.
  • A maximum of 12 semester hours of credit may be transferred into the M.A. program.
  • Transfer credits can be applied to the BCBA Re-specialization to satisfy prerequisite coursework; however, The Chicago School can only guarantee courses completed within the framework of our program will be honored by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board. Therefore, students planning to sit for the Board exam are encouraged to contact them in advance for a final determination regarding the course(s) in question. Students may contact the Board by visiting (

A course that does not meet the specific content requirements of an existing TCSPP elective course may be accepted as transfer credit as an elective if the course supports the required competencies and learning objectives of the program and meets the following conditions:

  • The course must meet all other requirements for transfer credit.
  • The course must be at the equivalent degree level.
  • Approval by the Department Chair for the transfer credit and documentation of this approval is required.

** Please submit all required documentation with each petition. Any credit approved for transfer will not be added to the student’s academic record until after the second week of their first semester.


Waiver of Courses

Any domestic or international student with previous graduate course work may request a waiver** of additional course work. Waiver of courses does not reduce the total number of hours of course work to be completed at The Chicago School; it permits students to substitute course work as approved by the department chair. An international student who has completed an undergraduate course(s) that, in the judgment of the department chair, is equivalent to a required course at The Chicago School may apply for the course to be waived. Waiver will not apply to undergraduate courses offered by U.S. educational institutions. Students may seek a waiver for a total of 12 credit hours for the M.A. and 15 credit hours for the Ph.D. Waiver and transfer of credit hours may not exceed a total of 12 for the M.A. and 15 credits for the Ph.D.

Waivers granted for course work in the BCBA Respecialization program are not guaranteed to be honored by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board. Therefore, students planning to sit for the board exam are encouraged to contact them in advance for a final determination regarding the course(s) in question. Students may contact the board by visiting ( 

** The Petition for Transfer of Credit/Waiver is available on the school intranet. Please submit all required documentation with each petition. Any credit approved for transfer will not be added to the student’s academic record until after the second week of their first semester.


Residency Requirement

It is expected that students will fulfill all degree requirements through courses offered at The Chicago School. Under unusual circumstances, and subject to the approval of the department chair, a student may be permitted to complete certain course requirements at another institution.


Satisfactory Progress

Matriculated students must be continuously enrolled in their degree or certificate program until graduation unless granted an approved leave of absence. Satisfactory progress semester hours do not include waiver or transfer credit hours. No student will be permitted to take fewer than three semester hours of course work in the fall or spring semesters unless that student has fewer than three semester hours of course work remaining or is on an approved leave of absence. In order to receive financial aid, however, students must be at least half-time for the semester.

Credit Hours Per Year and Program Length

The maximum duration of the Master of Arts in Applied Behavior Analysis program is five years. Students must complete, at minimum, nine semester hour credits each calendar year. Students must be enrolled for a minimum of nine semester hours during fall and spring semester and five credits during summer term to be classified as full-time in terms of financial aid.


Graduation Requirements

By the end of the third week of the semester in which a student expects to meet the program requirements for the Master of Arts degree, he or she is required to submit the Petition for Degree Completion to the Office of Student Services. Students must be in good standing in their program for the Master’s degree to be awarded.

*Detailed information and the Petition for Degree Completion can be found on The Chicago School website.

Program Specific Requirements

The M.A. in Applied Behavior Analysis 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.

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 M.A. in ABA program is to provide students with a solid foundation in applied behavior analysis. Students are trained to understand the principles of Behavior Analysis and learn how they underlie applied practice. Students learn to implement ABA procedures correctly and ethically, and gain the skills to move forward to the next steps in their professional progression including eligibility for certification as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst®.

 Students enrolled in the M.A. program take courses covering the content areas and practicum requirements for the Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) certification and also receive a solid foundation in clinical psychology skills as well as more extensive exposure to the techniques of behavior analysis and the science and philosophy behind them. The aim is to prepare students to sit for the BCBA exam and for a rewarding career in the rapidly growing field of applied behavior analysis.

The M.A. in ABA is a two year program that requires 54 semester credits, which include 49 core credits and 5 credits in elective coursework. Within core coursework students are required to complete 8 credits of practicum. Practicum courses are designed to meet the requirements of the BACB. Specifically, according to the BACB certification guidelines 50% of the required supervision hours can be offered in a group format, and as such, these courses have been included in the TCS ABA curriculum. While registered in these courses, students are also required to maintain an approved applied practicum placement in the community for a maximum of 25 hours per week and receive one-hour of individualized supervision from a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. Practicum placement may be fulfilled in the student’s current place of employment contingent on approval from the Department Chair. Details on practicum requirements are provided when students initiate the process.      

Masters students are also required to complete a thesis. The thesis must be a data-based empirical evaluation, but does not necessarily need to mark a contribution to the published literature (it may be a replication and extension). The primary function of the Masters 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 MA course sequence facilitates student completion of theses with a carefully designed course sequence that has the necessary steps toward thesis completion embedded into the required coursework. Students are required to enroll in the Advanced Research Project course for 3 semesters, during which they propose, conduct, and defend their theses. Students attend the research lab of the faculty member that has been indentified as their thesis advisor and research lab serves as a forum for students to both present and receive feedback throughout the thesis process. Poster sessions (designed to be consistent with professional conference poster sessions) and are platform presentations scheduled for thesis proposals and defenses.


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 geriatric, people with traumatic brain injury, and regular and special education. Thus, while ABA techniques apply to people with disabilities, they are arguably more useful to the 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 Analysis: International and the Behavior Analysis 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.

Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) Licensure Track (Optional), M.A. Program

Masters degree-seeking ABA students on the Chicago Campus may petition to take the additional course work and practicum necessary to pursue the Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) licensure credential in Illinois. The LPC licensure track requires approximately an additional 24 semester hours, six credits of supervised practicum and internship (600 hours), and the Clinical Competency Exam (CCE) beyond the ABA Specialization requirements.

Students planning to earn this credential should discuss the courses required with their advisor and the department chair during the fall semester of their first year. Generally, one additional summer and another year will be sufficient to meet the requirements if the student’s choice of this track is made in the fall semester of the first year.

Writing Assessment and Requirements

Believing that academic preparedness is a key to success in graduate school, The Chicago School of Professional Psychology requires new students to complete its innovative program, Foundations for Scholarship and Practice. This program, offered by the Center for Academic Excellence (CAE), reinforces the skills new students need to achieve their career goals. “Foundations” is an integral part of the first semester’s curriculum and all students are required to complete the program successfully and in a timely manner.

Foundations for Scholarship and Practice consist of three elements:

  1. Writing Assessment Process – In this component of “Foundations,” each student writes an essay in response to an assigned question and submits it to CAE for scoring. CAE returns the scored essay with constructive feedback. Based on the student’s performance, the school may waive the Academic Writing Course requirement (#2, below). Essay submission by the given date is considered successful completion of this element of “Foundations.”
  2. Academic Writing Course – This online course in professional writing is taken before or during the first semester at The Chicago School. A final grade of “pass” is considered successful completion of this element.
  3. Academic Focus Program – Academic Focus is an online, tutorial-driven orientation to graduate academics. A final grade of “pass” is considered successful completion of this element.

Professional Development Group

All Master of Arts in Applied Behavior Analysis students are required to enroll in a Professional Development Group during their first semester. In the M.A. program, a student’s Professional Development Group faculty member automatically becomes her or his advisor until that student selects a Thesis Chair. The Professional Development Group class is graded on a pass/fail basis.

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 plan for students to spend three hours studying for each hour in class. Full-time status requires a minimum of nine credit hours of registration per semester, or five to six semesters, to complete the 54 hours required. However, the program can be completed in as little as two years if the student strictly limits her or his other commitments and takes nine to 13 hours per semester. 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. Registration for courses during the summer semester is required.

Class Scheduling

Since the Master of Arts in Applied Behavior Analysis program is able to draw upon the skills of professionals from across North America, 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

Master of Arts in Applied Behavior Analysis

The Master of Arts in Applied Behavior Analysis program requires a minimum of 54 semester credits, including 46 credits of classroom-based course work and eight credits of practicum. The specialization requires eight credits (1000 clock hours) of field-based clinical training held at approved sites. In addition to clinical training, the M.A. requires students to complete a thesis (three one-credit courses – AB 560, AB 561, and AB 562). The curriculum is structured with core classes and electives. Students may repeat AB 581, AB 582, and AB 583 (Special Topics). Students may choose to exceed 54 credits if desired.

Applied Behavior Analysis Courses

Total M.A. Applied Behavior Analysis credits: 54