Return to: Programs of Study
Chicago - Washington D.C. - Online
For information about the Ph.D. Psychology, Behavior Analysis Specialization program offered in Los Angeles and Irvine, please click here .
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is the ethical design, implementation, and evaluation of environmental changes to produce socially significant improvements in behavior. The M.S. Applied Behavior Analysis program incorporates the content areas and practicum requirements for eligibility to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst® (BCBA®) by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board® (BACB®). Please see further information about professional licensure and certification below.
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.
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.
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.
Program Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this program students will be able to:
- 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.
- Analyze complex behavior, interactions, and systems through a radical-behaviorist framework, and design interlocking contingencies to address complex cultural issues.
- Evaluate the impact of diversity issues on individuals and society (as a whole in domestic or international settings,) and demonstrate sensitivity and competence while working with diverse populations.
- 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.
- Conduct original behavior-analytic research and to synthesize and evaluate behavior-analytic and other psychological research.
Post-Baccalaureate Program Entry
Students that enroll in the post-baccalaureate Ph.D. Applied Behavior Analysis program sequence complete all program requirements and can apply for the award of the M.S. in Applied Behavior Analysis degree as part of their Ph.D. program. Both the Ph.D. Applied Behavior Analysis and the M.S. in Applied Behavior Analysis are aligned with degree, coursework, and supervised experience requirements for eligibility to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst® (BCBA®) by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board® (BACB®). Applicants for BCBA® certification must meet additional requirements established by BACB® including application, examination, and background check.
Post-Master’s Program Entry
Students that have a master’s degree in Psychology, Education, Behavior Analysis, or other related degree recognized by the BACB®, but have not completed the BACB®-approved course sequence will meet degree, coursework, and supervised experienced requirements for eligibility to take the BCBA® credentialing examination (based on the Fourth Edition Task list) at the completion of the Credentialing Track curriculum requirements.
State Professional Licensure
There may be state professional licensure requirements to practice applied behavior analysis. A state’s licensure board determines the specific requirements for candidates seeking professional licensure and those requirements are subject to change. The following is professional licensure information as of the date of publication:
- The M.S. Applied Behavior Analysis, Ph.D. Applied Behavior Analysis, or other related degree recognized by the BACB® in conjunction with BCBA® certification aligns with degree and certification requirements for professional licensure in Alabama, Arizona, Alaska, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, Mississippi, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin. Graduation from the above listed degree programs aligns with degree requirements for professional licensure in Arizona, Massachusetts, and New York. Note that candidates for licensure may be required to meet additional state requirements such as application, examination, and background check.
- A professional license is not required to practice behavior analysis in Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, West Virginia, Wyoming, and the District of Columbia. State laws on professional licensure are subject to change by their legislatures.
It is the student’s responsibility to determine the licensure requirements for any state not listed above. The Ph.D. Applied Behavior Analysis may meet some or all of the requirements of states not listed, but additional state-specific approvals or coursework and/or practicum hours may be required beyond the program’s graduation requirements. Some state licensing requirements include the following: completion of a master’s degree, post-graduate field work, certification as a board certified behavior analyst, examination, and application for license.
Due to recent and ongoing changes in state professional licensure of applied behavior analysis practitioners, students should contact the state board directly to verify information regarding professional licensure. To assist with this research, the Association of Professional Behavior Analysists (APBA) publishes information regarding state licensure.
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.
Post-Master’s Degree Admission Requirements
Application to The Chicago School of Professional Psychology’s Ph.D. Applied Behavior Analysis program (post- Master’s) is open to any person who has earned a master’s degree as specified below from a regionally accredited institution and who meets other entrance requirements.
The school admits applicants whom it judges to possess sufficient academic aptitude, as well as the emotional and social maturity to function effectively as a professional behavior analyst. Applicants will be judged on their overall ability to engage in graduate work. Factors considered in admission are: undergraduate and any graduate coursework, GPA from undergraduate and graduate schools; successful work history; admission essay(s); and letters of recommendation from academic professors or professional or volunteer experience supervisors. An undergraduate or graduate GPA of a 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale is required for admission to the school’s Applied Behavior Analysis doctoral program. Applicants must submit official transcripts from all schools where a degree was earned. It is recommended that transcripts are submitted from all schools where credit was received to enhance their applications.
Applicants for admission to the Ph.D. post-master’s must fall into one of these categories:
- Category A: Have a master’s degree in Psychology, Education, Behavior Analysis, or other related degree recognized by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB®) and hold a current BCBA® certification in good standing.
- Category B: Have a master’s degree in Psychology, Education, Behavior Analysis, or other related degree recognized by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB®) and have completed the BACB® approved courses required to qualify for the BCBA® credentialing examination (based on the Fourth Edition Task) list.
- Category C: Have a master’s degree in Psychology, Education, Behavior Analysis, or other related degree recognized by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB®) and have not completed the BACB® approved courses required to qualify for the BCBA® credentialing examination (based on the Fourth Edition Task) list. Students admitted upon category C will be required to successfully complete the Credentialing Track requirements (28 credits)
Based on the evaluation of these materials, selected candidates may be invited to interview for further consideration of their application. Applications must be submitted with the $50.00 (USD) application fee in order to be evaluated.
For all students: In addition to the admission criteria, it is recommended that students have access to a computer that is less than three years old, a broadband or Internet connection, and the Microsoft Office Suite including Word, Excel, and Outlook and, at minimum, the following computing skills:
- A comfort with basic Internet technology
- The ability to open and attach files from and to email
- The ability to send and receive email
- The ability to save documents
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology reviews applications on a rolling basis. Once review begins, complete applications will be considered by the Admission Committee and applicants will be notified regarding the admission decision. The Chicago School of Professional Psychology does not share information or provide any feedback regarding admission decisions.
If a student is offered admission and in order to secure a place in the incoming class, a non-refundable tuition deposit of $250 will be required by the deposit deadline indicated in the offer of admission. The non-refundable deposit will be applied in full toward the student’s tuition upon enrollment.
Degree Completion Requirements
- Successful completion of required coursework (106 credit hours post-bachelor’s; 58 credit hours post-masters; 86 credit hours post-master’s credentialing track)
- Successful completion of Comprehensive Examination
- Successful completion of Dissertation
The following policies are located under Academic Policies and Procedures : Academic Calendar, Admissions Requirements, Attendance, Satisfactory Academic Progress, Service Learning, and Transfer Credit/Course Waiver. Click the link above for detailed information.
Earning a Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis
A student in the post-bachelor Ph.D. Applied Behavior Analysis program may earn a M.S. Applied Behavior Analysis following the successful completion of required coursework and specific program requirements. At the beginning of the semester in which a student expects to be eligible for the master’s degree, they are required to submit a Petition for Degree Conferral to the Office of the Registrar. The petition is a request to conduct an audit to determine eligibility for the degree. A student who meets the requirements is eligible to participate in the next scheduled commencement. A student who files a Petition for Degree Conferral is charged a fee.
The specific requirements are as follows:
- Academic and Financial Aid Good Standing
- Successful completion of required coursework (48 credits)
Students are expected to learn and to follow the ethical guidelines of the American Psychological Association, the Association for Behavior Analysis International, and the Behavior Analyst Certification Board® during and after their work at The Chicago School. A class in ethics is required at the Masters level, and student adherence to ethical codes is evaluated both formally and informally.
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.
Total Program: Ph.D. Applied Behavior Analysis (post-bachelors): 106 credit hours
- Required Core: 49 credit hours
- Electives: 9 credit hours
- Qualifying Master’s Degree: 48 credit hours
Total Program: Ph.D. Applied Behavior Analysis (post-masters): 58 credit hours
- Required Core: 49 credit hours
- Electives: 9 credit hours
Total Program: Ph.D. Applied Behavior Analysis with Credentialing Track Option (post-masters): 86 credit hours
- Required Core: 49 credit hours
- Electives: 9 credit hours
- Credentialing Track Option: 28 credit hours