Chicago - Washington D.C. - Online
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is the ethical design, implementation, and evaluation of environmental changes to produce socially significant improvements in behavior. At the M.S. level, the Applied Behavior Analysis program incorporates both the academic content areas and experience requirements to make graduates eligible for national board certification by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board®. Through the integration of theory and practice, the ABA program provides a solid foundation in the philosophy, science, and application of behavior analysis, promoting an interdisciplinary and translational approach to clinical practice. At the PhD level, the program expands upon the knowledge and skills learned in the MS program by strengthening students’ research, clinical, and leadership skills. The aim is to prepare students for a rewarding career in the rapidly growing field of Applied Behavior Analysis. 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, and who can teach and mentor students of behavior analysis in university settings.
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology’s Ph.D. Applied Behavior Analysis program is offered in a variety of formats across the different campuses. Many students work (some full-time) but we advise students to consider carefully the balance between school, family, and work and make reasoned choices about time and resource allocation. Students at the M.S. level (the first two years of the doctoral program) generally invest a minimum of 20-30 hours of coursework per week excluding practicum. Each campus offers unique opportunities for students to expand their experiences. Once doctoral students become certified as BCBAs®, they are encouraged to provide BCBA® supervision, teaching and/or advisement to M.S. students in unique training opportunities that allow them to hone their supervision, teaching, research and management skills.
Program Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this program students will be able to:
- Apply behavior-analytic principles to an understanding of diversity and will evaluate diversity from a selectionist/radical-behaviorist approach.
- Evaluate ethical behavior and to arrange contingencies to establish and maintain ethical behavior in their individual work and at a systems level.
- Communicate effectively with clients, stakeholders, and other professionals; present research and other information to the professional community and the general public; and lead advocacy efforts for clients, agencies, and groups.
- Develop and apply advanced techniques to assess and intervene on behavior.
- Evaluate systems and train others to design and conduct behavior-analytic interventions and research.
- Conduct original behavior-analytic research and to synthesize and evaluate behavior-analytic and other psychological research.
- Analyze complex behavior, interactions, and systems through a radical-behaviorist framework, and design interlocking contingencies to address complex cultural issues.
There are two entry points into the Ph.D. Applied Behavior Analysis Program:
• Post-Baccalaureate - 106 credits (48 Credits MS ABA and 58 Credits as below)
• Post-Master’s and BCBA® requirements - 58 credits
Post Baccalaureate Admission Requirements
Application to The Chicago School of Professional Psychology’s Ph.D. Applied Behavior Analysis 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. 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.
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: 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 must meet these requirements for admission to the Ph.D. post-master’s:
- Applicants must fall into one of these three categories:
- 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 OR
- 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. These courses must be completed prior to enrollment in Ph.D. ABA doctoral program courses. OR
- Have a master’s degree in Psychology, Education, Behavior Analysis, or other related degree recognized by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB®) and have taken courses for the Third Edition Task List, but do not currently hold the BCBA® credential may elect to take courses at TCSPP that provide the supplemental content necessary for testing under the Fourth Edition Task List prior to starting doctoral courses. These courses will not count towards the doctoral level graduation requirements.
- Graduate coursework* that includes:
- 3 credits of Experimental Analysis of Behavior
- A completed empirical, behavior analytic thesis
- Students needing to complete the thesis pre-requisite or the supervised fieldwork required to qualify for the BCBA® credentialing examination may be admitted to the Ph.D. Applied Behavior Analysis program and must complete these pre-requisites prior to being allowed to enroll in PA730 Comprehensive 1. These courses will not count towards the doctoral level graduation requirements.
*Admissions committee may request syllabi and thesis for review and approval by program faculty.
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 additional 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
TOEFL or IELTS, International Credentials, and International Students
TOEFL or IELTS: If English is not your primary language, you must submit official TOEFL or IELTS scores with your application (TOEFL School Code: 7161). International students who received a bachelor’s degree from an accredited United States institution are exempt from this requirement. The minimum scores are: TOEFL - 550 paper based, 213 computer based, 79 internet based; IELTS - 6.5.
ELS Educational Services, Inc.: The Chicago School is a cooperative member of ELS Educational Services, Inc. which provides intensive English language programs. Students who have successfully completed ELS course 112 may be considered for admission in lieu of the TOEFL or IELTS.
International credentials: Applicants with international credentials must obtain and submit an official “course-by-course” evaluation through an evaluation agency such as World Education Services (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 (on-ground) and $250 (online) 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 .
Earning a Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis
An M.S. Applied Behavior Analysis is awarded following the successful completion of the program requirements. At the beginning of the semester in which a student expects to be eligible for the master’s degree, he or she is required to submit online an Intent to Graduate form to the Office of the Registrar. The form is a request to conduct an audit to determine eligibility for the degree. All students who file an Intent to Graduate form for Program Completion will be charged a fee. Students who meet the requirements are eligible to participate in the next scheduled commencement and must file an Intent to Participate form with the Registrar.
Click here to view the M.S. Applied Behavior Analysis catalog page.
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 goal of the Ph.D. Applied Behavior Analysis program is to develop professionals who can help individuals and organizations, 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 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 Ph.D. Applied Behavior Analysis program is to train individuals to contribute to applied practice settings in addition to the behavior-analytic scholarly and political communities. Doctoral-level ABA students gain a comprehensive understanding of Science and Philosophy, the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, Applied Behavior Analysis, and Service Delivery. Graduates are equipped with the repertoire to function as leaders in their respective positions (i.e., clinical, academic, etc.) and are prepared to address a range of issues and problems, and to design, implement, and test practical effective solutions that work in the real world. Entry to the Ph.D. Applied Behavior Analysis program is offered to post-baccalaureate students with and without their Master’s degree. The incoming profile of the student determines the semester credits, the course sequence, and the years required to complete the program.
The Ph.D. Applied Behavior Analysis 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 people with autism or other developmental disabilities, behavior analysis is applied to numerous populations and problems. Thus, in the program, students can focus not only on issues related to the assessment and treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorders, but also on the assessment and treatment of severe behavior problems, instructional design, organizational behavior management, and applications with non-traditional populations such as geriatrics, people with traumatic brain injury, and regular and special education. Thus, while ABA techniques apply to people with disabilities, they are just as useful to people in the general population.
The Ph.D. Applied Behavior Analysis program provides training to students related to all four domains of Behavior Analysis (i.e., 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 Ph.D. Applied Behavior Analysis 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 and to contribute to the research agenda as applied 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 ABA doctoral program emphasizes the investment in contributing to research and/or to become clinical leaders in our field. 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 Ph.D. Applied Behavior Analysis program at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology to remain at the forefront of the development of this field.
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 at the Masters level, and student adherence to ethical codes is evaluated both formally and informally.
The Applied Behavior Analysis BCBA® course sequence (seven 3-credit courses) is approved by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board® and meets the academic requirements necessary to take the Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA)® exam. Some or all of the supervised experience can be met through the M.S. in Applied Behavior Analysis program. The BCBA® course sequence is periodically reevaluated by the BACB® to maintain approval status. Students should visit (www.bacb.com) for details.
Professional Development Group
All Ph.D. Applied Behavior Analysis students are required to enroll in an Advanced Professional Development Group (PA602) during their first semester or term in the post-Masters program. Their instructor serves as their academic advisor until they select a dissertation chair. The Advanced 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 their dissertation research.
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. Applied Behavior Analysis course sequence facilitates student completion of the dissertation with a carefully designed course sequence that has the necessary steps toward dissertation completion embedded into the required coursework. Students receive detailed information about the dissertation process and related requirements during their first year in the program.
More specific information is located in the ABA Program Guidebook.
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 members plan for students to spend 20-30 hours per week devoted to course study. Students who work full time should seriously consider the impact of a doctoral program on their personal life in order to be able to devote the energy and time that will yield the maximum benefit to them and to succeed in the program.
At the Chicago campus, 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 local 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.
At the Washington, DC Campus: The DC ABA program follows an executive format to accommodate working professionals and students who commute to attend the program. Classes meet on campus every other weekend and are enhanced with online and/or distance communication technology on alternate weeks when class is not scheduled. This allows students to learn independently and utilize the classroom experience to synthesize and integrate learning in a manner that enhances their clinical, supervisory, and research skills.
For the online campus, class meeting times will be scheduled once per week based upon the availability of the instructor and the students. Students are asked to log in to their course prior to its start in order to assist in establishing a course meeting time quickly. Core class meeting times will be scheduled for two hour periods each week unless otherwise specified. Online students will be required to attend three weekend residencies (scheduled once per year in the last 3 years). Students will be notified in advance the location and dates, so they can plan travel accordingly.
The Ph.D. Applied Behavior Analysis is a 106-credit program which consists of 45 core credits, 13 electives, and 48 credits from a qualifying master’s degree, which includes completion of a thesis. As part of the core coursework, students are required to complete comprehensive examinations (described above) in order to ensure that they are competent scientist-practitioners in Applied Behavior Analysis. The comprehensive exams assess knowledge and skills across the four domains of Behavior Analysis: Basic, Applied, Service Delivery, and Theory and Philosophy. In addition to the comprehensive exams, doctoral students are also required to complete a doctoral dissertation. The dissertation must take the form of a data-based empirical evaluation, and must mark a contribution to current peer-reviewed publications in the field. In an effort to facilitate timely graduation, relevant components of the dissertation process have been built into the 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. Dissertation-related activities are also infused throughout the other Core courses. Students attend the research meetings of the faculty member that has been identified as their dissertation chair (either face to face or via Go to Meeting). The research meeting 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.
Total Program: Ph.D. Applied Behavior Analysis: 106 credits:
- Required Core Courses: 45 credits
- Elective Courses: 13 credits
- Qualifying Master’s Degree: 48 credits