CHICAGO ● LOS ANGELES ● WASHINGTON D.C.
Master of Science, 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 master’s 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. Graduates may 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 M.S. in Applied Behavior Analysis in Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington D.C.
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.
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).
One major opportunity in Chicago is the 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 opportunity arises from the relationship between the ABA Department in Chicago and the Counseling Department. 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.
The DC campus is affiliated with training sites in DC, Virginia, and Maryland that add depth and breadth to the student’s academic experience. Students work in structured hospital clinic settings such as Kennedy Krieger Institute at Johns Hopkins Medical University, in community programs for at risk children (e.g., National Children’s Center), specialized educational settings (The Aurora School and Ivymount School), general and special education settings (e.g., Harbor School, Fairfax County Public School System) and in community clinics that utilize a variety of interdisciplinary, evidence-based treatment approaches (e.g., Optimal Beginnings). These sites offer opportunities to work with children who have feeding and/or behavior disorders, conduct parent training for parents of at-risk children, engage staff and teacher in ABA training across a variety of settings, develop and implement intensive early behavioral intervention programs, and learn organizational behavioral management techniques.
Application to The Chicago School’s Doctor of Philosophy in Applied Behavior Analysis or the Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis programs 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. 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.
The M.S. 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 Record Examination (GRE) is required for ABA doctoral work but not 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.
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 (www.wes.org) or Educational Credential Evaluators Inc. (www.ece.org). 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.
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. Information on the Academic Success Program is located under Student Life .
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.
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 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 objective of the M.S. 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.S. 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.S. in ABA is a two year program that requires 48 semester credits, which include 45 core credits and 3 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.
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 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 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.
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.
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 (www.bacb.com) 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 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.
Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) Licensure Track (Optional), Chicago Campus
Master’s 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.
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.
Professional Development Group
All Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis students are required to enroll in a Professional Development Group during their first semester. In the 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. 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.
The Los Angeles Applied Behavior Analysis 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 Applied Behavior Analysis 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 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.
The Chicago Applied Behavior Analysis 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.