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Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) 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 the philosophy, science, and application of behavior analysis. The aim is to prepare students for a rewarding career in the rapidly growing field of Applied Behavior Analysis. Graduates serve many different populations including children, adults, and seniors and may work in residential, school, and community-based settings. Individuals served may have no diagnoses (e.g., school children in a regular education class or teachers seeking to be more effective) or may have diagnoses such as autism, behavioral difficulties, developmental disabilities, mental illness, and a variety of geriatric conditions.
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology offers the M.S. Applied Behavior Analysis in Chicago, Los Angeles, Irvine, Washington D.C., and Online.
Program Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this program students will be able to:
- evaluate the impact of diversity issues on individuals and society and demonstrate sensitivity and competence while working with diverse populations.
- evaluate and resolve ethical dilemmas in accordance with behavior-analytic and psychological ethical guidelines.
- establish rapport and communicate effectively with clients, stakeholders, and other professionals.
- analyze behavior, design interventions, and evaluate interventions, by applying basic behavioral principles and assessment techniques to effect socially significant behavior change.
- conduct behavior-analytic research and evaluate behavior-analytic and other psychological research effectively and ethically.
Application to The Chicago School of Professional Psychology’s M.S. Applied Behavior Analysis program is open to any person who has earned a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution and who meets other entrance requirements. Applicants will be judged on their overall ability to do graduate work. Factors that are considered in admission are: GPA from undergraduate and any graduate schools, successful work history after completion of the baccalaureate degree, the admission essay, and letters of recommendation from academic professors or professional or volunteer experience supervisors. Generally, an undergraduate GPA of a 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale is required for admission. Applicants must submit official transcripts from all schools where a degree was earned. It is recommended that transcripts are submitted from all schools where credit was received to enhance their applications.
The M.S. 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 not required for master’s level applicants. Scores should be sent directly to the school (GRE School Code: 1119) for consideration. Please see the application for detailed instructions and information regarding application requirements, application deadlines, and letters of recommendation.
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 of Professional Psychology 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 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, 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 program in which the student is enrolled. When a student demonstrates deficiencies in competencies that interfere with academic performance, training competence, and/or professional behavior, the ADP is initiated. The completion of an ADP does not constitute disciplinary action, but failure to complete the plan may lead to disciplinary action.
Student Learning Assessment
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology (TCSPP) is committed to offering the highest quality undergraduate completion program and graduate programs in applied professional disciplines. To meet TCSPP’s standard for academic quality, program learning outcomes are aligned with course learning outcomes and guide assessment. Data collected from the results of student assessment and the aggregation of these data will inform how students are progressing towards achieving program outcomes.
All academic programs report annual assessments of student learning and other indicators of program effectiveness as part of the Academic Program Review process.
The M.S. Applied Behavior Analysis will develop and graduate professionals who can support individuals and organizations as well as select, implement and manage effective systems to improve outcomes across a variety of settings. The program provides students with a solid understanding of the Science and Philosophy of Behavior Analysis as the foundation that informs Applied Behavior Analysis, the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, and Service Delivery domains to produce graduates who rely on the science of behavior to contribute to the betterment of society.
The objective of the M.S. Applied Behavior Analysis 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. Applied Behavior Analysis 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 the philosophy, science, and application of behavior analysis. 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. Applied Behavior Analysis program requires 48 semester credits, which include 45 core credits and 3 credits in elective coursework. Within core coursework students are required to complete 7 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 TCSPP’s M.S. Applied Behavior Analysis curriculum.
Students are also required to complete a thesis (Advanced Research Project) or a non-thesis option known as the Advanced Applied Project. The thesis must be a data-based empirical evaluation, but does not necessarily need to mark an original contribution to the published literature (it may be a replication and extension). The primary function of the Master’s thesis is to demonstrate that students are actively learning to function as scientist-practitioners who are continually engaged in making data-based assessment and treatment decisions. The applied project is a demonstration that the student can assess and treat a client effectively and ethically from start to finish. The applied project process is as stringent as the thesis option and demonstrates similar skills as the thesis option but focuses on application rather than research. The course sequence facilitates student completion of theses and applied projects with a carefully designed course sequence that has the necessary steps toward thesis and project completion embedded into the required coursework. Any student considering going on to a Ph.D. program should choose the thesis option.
The program is designed to prepare students in a wide variety of specialization areas within ABA. Although it is common for lay people to assume that ABA is relevant only to individuals with autism or other developmental and/or intellectual disabilities, behavior analysis is applied to numerous populations and problems. Thus, students can focus not only on issues related to the assessment and treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorders, but also on the assessment and treatment of severe behavior problems, instructional design, organizational behavior management, and applications with non-traditional populations such as geriatric, individuals with traumatic brain injury, and regular and special education. Thus, while ABA techniques are typically associated with application to individuals with disabilities, they are also invaluable to individuals in the general population and in solving societal problems that require behavior change.
The program provides training to students related to all four domains of Behavior Analysis (i.e., Theory & Philosophy, Experimental Analysis of Behavior, Applied Behavior Analysis, and Service Delivery). Further, the programs and curricula are designed to infuse the scientist-practitioner model across these domains and teach students to be consumers of new research findings, evaluators of their own interventions and programs using empirical methods, and researchers, producing new data from their own settings and reporting these data to the applied and scientific community.
In summary, the program’s mission is to provide students with the scientific, analytical, and conceptual tools they need to provide effective, ethical, and practical behavior-analytic interventions to the diverse populations that they serve. The vision of the program is to provide the most comprehensive and effective graduate training in ABA, and to that end, the faculty provide the students with the most up-to-date information and research, and encourage critical analysis of the research with an emphasis on using it to drive practice. The program emphasizes not only knowledge of the research and assessment and intervention techniques, but sound understanding of the basic concepts and principles of behavior analysis, so that students will have the conceptual and scientific underpinnings necessary to understand why interventions work, how to measure their effects, and to make appropriate program modifications when they do not. Because ABA is based on a rapidly developing and evolving behavioral technology grounded in research, the knowledge base is constantly changing. It is the program’s mission to remain at the forefront of the development of this field.
The M.S. Applied Behavior Analysis 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 Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA)® course sequence (seven 3-credit courses) is approved by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB)® and meets the requirements necessary to take the Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA)® exam. The course sequence is periodically re-evaluated by the BACB to maintain approval status.
Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) Licensure Track (Optional), Chicago Campus
M.S.Applied Behavior Analysis 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 option is made in the fall semester of the first year.
Professional Development Group
All M.S. Applied Behavior Analysis students are required to enroll in a Professional Development Group during their first semester(on-ground campuses) or during the first year (Online). A student’s Professional Development Group faculty member automatically becomes her or his advisor until that student selects a Thesis or Applied Project Chair. The Professional Development Group class is graded on a pass/fail basis.
Full-Time vs. Reduced Load 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 campus delivery model has been created to serve full-time working students. The Los Angeles program operates on a Fall, Spring, and Summer semester. Classes are held on campus on Saturdays and Sundays on alternating weekends of each semester. Students entering the Los Angeles program will start in the fall semester. During the Fall and Spring semesters, which are comprised of 14 weeks, ABA students attend classes on 7 weekends and 4 weekends during the Summer semester which is comprised of 8 weeks. Additionally, the Los Angeles campus follows a blended-course model for some 2-credit 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 campus delivery model 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 typically offers one evening/nighttime section of all core M.S. Applied Behavior Analysis courses.
The Online M.S. Applied Behavior Analysis delivery model is oriented toward students who are working full time and/or do not have access to an on-ground program in this field. Students must be prepared for an accelerated schedule of 7-week courses and to commit to spending 20-30 study hours per week for each 3 credit course.