Applied Behavior Analysis (MS)

Admission           Requirements           Financial Support           FAQs

Overview

In the early 1960s, the Department of Psychology at ASU was nicknamed Fort Skinner in the Desert and was the first psychology department in the U.S. to start a program that would specialize in behavioral research, theory, and applications. In fact, ASU’s first PhD graduate was Montrose M. Wolf (1935-2004) who originated time-out for children with behavior problems and became known as a “father of ABA.”

Infused with this rich history, our MS ABA is the only known classroom-based masters program at a Research I University to provide a BACB-approved curriculum for certification and 1500+ supervised practicum hours required for state licensing in Arizona.

In addition to four, full-time semesters of scientific coursework and a summer internship, the degree’s culminating experience will be the presentation of our students’ year-long Capstone Projects at a region-wide career event to recognize and celebrate the program’s rising graduates.

For more information about our MS ABA program and admission requirements, please explore and read all of program's webpages including our FAQs page. If you need more detailed information, you may send specific questions to MSABApsych@asu.edu.

 

Admission           Requirements           Financial Support           FAQs

Applications for a Fall start date are now open and we will have a rolling deadline until the class is filled. Click here for application requirements and instructions.

Prospective Students

The MS ABA in the Department of Psychology is a two-year program plus summer that meets or exceeds the BACB Fourth Edition Task List for coursework with over 270 classroom hours and more than 1500 hours of practicum experience. This scientifically-based program is full-time and intensive; successful graduates will be able to sit for certification upon program completion and once certified, be eligible for state-licensing. With licensure, alumni will have greater job potential and competitiveness to earn higher salaries in a field with an increasing demand for practitioners. The Behavior Analyst Certification Board, Inc.® (BACB) has approved the program's course sequence as meeting the coursework requirements for eligibility to take the Board Certified Behavior Analyst Examination®. Applicants will have to meet additional requirements to qualify.

No other program in the country provides this level of practicum experience with classroom instruction at a top-tier, Research I university in a highly regarded Department of Psychology. The program’s learning outcomes will include mastery across three major areas:

  • Basic Behavior-Analytic Skills;
  • Client-Centered Responsibilities; and
  • Foundational Knowledge.

Students will be trained to acquire and effectively practice the following sets of skills and abilities:

  • when and how to use different types of measures, fundamental elements of behavior change, and specific behavior change procedures and systems;
  • development of experimental designs;
  • identify, define, measure, assess and intervene with behavior problems;
  • provide an array of training and supervisory tasks;
  • distinguish between verbal operants; and
  • have the ability to define an array of key concepts such as stimuli, responses, punishment, reinforcement, and types of conditioning.

In addition, students will acquire the ability to explain and behave in accordance with professional ethics and attitudes of science such as determinism, pragmatism and empiricism.

Curriculum by Semester          Core Courses

MS ABA Curriculum

The Behavior Analyst Certification Board, Inc.® (BACB) has approved the following course sequence as meeting the coursework requirements for eligibility to take the Board Certified Behavior Analyst Examination®.  Applicants will have to meet additional requirements to qualify. Course descriptions can be found below the table. Click on the Practicum Placements tab above to view the practicum rotation schedule.

PSB courses and the practicum experience are ONLY available to students enrolled in Psychology's MS ABA program. 

Curriculum by Semester

Core Courses

PSB 501: An introduction to the fundamental principles of behavior including the history, theory, definitions, processes, concepts and characteristics of applied behavior analysis.

PSB 510:  This course will introduce students to the practical applications of research methodology in order to examine the effects and evaluate the efficacy of behavioral interventions. It will provide students with an empirical science approach to designing, conducting, and critically evaluating research involving applications of the experimental analysis of behavior in the use of graphic displays, single-case, ABAB, multiple baselines, changing criterion and alternating treatment designs.

PSB 520:  Ethical standards and legal responsibilities including regulatory requirements and Arizona licensing statutes for ABA professionals who provide services to individuals with special needs and their families.

PSB 511: This course builds upon PSB 501 and PSY 510 and focuses on research techniques such as time-series methods for single case assessment, behavior measurement and the effectiveness of treatment interventions on behavior. Topics include conducting component and parametric analyses and use of experimental designs such as withdrawal, reversal, criterion, and multiple baselines.

PSB 530: Focuses on how to conduct behavioral observations and functional analyses using various methods for assessment and for data collection, organization and interpretation.

PSB 540: Includes techniques for conducting task analyses; developing target intervention outcomes; determining alternative behaviors and environmental changes; and use of behavior change procedures such as reinforcement, extinction, punishment, shaping, modeling, training and teaching.

PSB 573:  An in-depth review of the philosophy and theory of behaviorism and its scientific application. Includes Skinner’s conceptual framework plus fundamental elements of behavior change and procedures.

PSB 563: This course includes an overview and the use of Behavioral Systems Analysis (BSA) and Performance Management (PM) as they relate to the identification and modification of environmental variables that can affect and improve individual and organizational performance as a system. Basic techniques will include analysis of antecedents, behavior and consequences and development of interventions to support the desired performance improvements and increase system productivity.

PSB 578:  An overview of the major theories and research related to the development of psychological disorders of childhood and adolescence including autism, attention deficit disorder, behavior disorders and intellectual disabilities.

Practicum Rotations                         Practicum Sites 

Practicum Placements

The mission of Psychology's MS ABA program is to ensure that our graduates will experience the breadth and depth of applied behavior analysis from an evidence-based, scientific perspective through their coursework and from hands-on, clinical experience through their practicum training. Our program is purposefully designed to not train specialists in a targeted area of study – rather, our graduates will acquire knowledge and skill sets about ABA interventions across behavior disorders, applications, and age groups. As such, our practicum placement program provides 1500 hours of training with several clinical populations through a range of settings and treatment modalities. 

In addition, all students are required to enroll each semester in the ABA Practicum course which meets every week. Not only do students receive additional case supervision from a licensed ABA faculty member but PSB 580/PSB 583 (summer) is also an opportunity for students to present and discuss their cases using a Grand Rounds model, an important teaching and learning tool within clinical graduate training.

The practicum experience course and placements are ONLY available to students enrolled in Psychology's MS ABA program.

Practicum Placement Rotation Schedule

Year 1 First Semester Rotation: Starting the fourth week of Fall semester, students rotate through three practicum partner locations for four weeks each. This allows students to directly experience different ABA treatment settings, clientele, and organizations in the Phoenix Metro Area.

December Match Day: For Practicum Placement #1, students and practicum partner locations are matched based on the student’s rank order list of desired experience/location, and the practicum partner location’s ranked list of students. Every student in the program is assured of a practicum placement although a student's choices cannot be guaranteed.

Year 1, Practicum Placement #1: Practicum Placement #1 begins Spring semester and lasts through the entire semester at the student’s matched practicum location. ASU’s academic calendar is in effect for holidays and semester breaks. A small stipend is available based on the student's practicum hours. (Total length of placement: ≈ 4 months)

April Match Day: For Practicum Placement #2, students and practicum locations again participate in a match; however, students will not be allowed to rank their first practicum placement location nor can locations rank those students. Every student in the program is assured of a practicum placement although a student's choices cannot be guaranteed.

Year 2, Practicum Placement #2: Practicum training begins the first week of Summer Session A and continues through the last week of Spring semester of the following year at the student’s matched practicum location. ASU’s academic calendar is in effect for holidays and semester breaks. A small stipend may be available based on the student's practicum hours. (Total length of placement: ≈12 months).

Our Practicum Partners

Arion Care Solutions

Arizona Centers for Comprehensive Education and Life Skills (ACCEL)

Autism Spectrum Therapies

AZA United

Blossom Park, LLC

Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD)

Chrysalis Academy

Devereux Arizona

Hope Group

Highland Behavioral

Intermountain Services for Human Development

MARC Community Resources

Melmed Center

Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center (SARRC)

S.E.E.K. Arizona

St. Dominic Savio Academy

Trumpet Behavioral Health

The Young Mind Center

MS ABA Capstone Projects

The Capstone Project is conducted under faculty supervision and must be approved by the student’s faculty mentor, the MS ABA program director, and the Department of Psychology Chair. Several options may fulfill the Capstone Project requirement including (1) a comprehensive literature review and synthesis of leading-edge ABA research, techniques and therapies; or (2) a scientifically-based research project including methodology, data collection and analysis; or (3) a comprehensive case study that demonstrates knowledge of ABA’s underlying scientific principles; or (4) an evaluation of a new program or the development of an innovative approach for treating a specific problem behavior in a targeted population.

Students must enroll in PSB 593 for both summer sessions A and B and for Fall and Spring semesters of their second year.

Faculty

Our program's faculty provide the expertise, specialization, and years of experience across a range of content and research areas to ensure the best academic graduate training that can only be found at a top-tier psychology department in a research-intensive university.  Many of our faculty are also Professors of Practice who not only teach our courses but are active practitioners in Arizona's ABA community.  ASU Psychology's MS ABA program is committed to providing the best possible education in the science and theory of psychological principles of learning, motivation, and behavior to ensure that all of our graduate students become tomorrow's practitioner-scientist leaders of applied behavior analysis. 

Kellie A. Band, DBH, BCBA, LBA; Founder, United Behavioral Services;  
Course: PSB 578 ABA in Developmental Disorders
 
Aaron Blocher-Rubin, PhD, MBA, BCBA, LBA; CEO AZA United;
Course: PSB 563 Basic Principles of Organizational Behavior Management (OBM)
 
Keith Crnic, PhD, Foundation Professor, Department of Psychology, Clinical Psychology;  
Courses: PSB 598 Special Topics; PSB 591 Pro-Seminar
 
Adam D. Hahs, PhD, BCBA-D, LBA; Director, MS ABA Program, Department of Psychology;  
Courses: PSB 501 Basic Principles of ABA; PSB 580 ABA Practicum; PSB 511 Advance Research Methods in ABA; PSB 593 Capstone
Paige Raetz (Maxwell), PhD, BCBA-D, LBA; Residential Transition Academy Director, SARRC;
Course: PSB 540 Development of Applied Behavioral Intervention
 
Federico Sanabria, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, Behavioral Neuroscience;  
Courses: PSB 573 Advanced Principles of Learning and Analysis of Behavior; PSB 593 Capstone
 
Donald M. Stenhoff, PhD, BCBA-D, LBA; Director, Dept of Behavioral Services, ACCEL;
Courses: PSB 510 Basic Principles of Experimental Analysis of Behavior; PSB 530 Behavioral Observation and Functional Assessment
 
Abby Twyman, MEd, BCBA, LBA, Clinical Director, Trumpet Behavioral Health;  
Course: PSB 520 Ethical Issues and Professional Standards in ABA
 
Clive Wynne, PhD, Professor, Department of Psychology, Behavioral Neuroscience;
Courses: PSB 598 Special Topics; PSB 591 Pro-Seminar; PSB 593 Capstone

NEWS & More!

MS ABA program director, Dr. Adam Hahs, was recently voted President-elect by the Arizona Association for Behavior Analysis (AzABA). Congrats to Adam!  Read more.

Applications for a Fall 2017 start date are open NOW!! Click here for application requirements and instructions.

MS ABA Spring Meet & Greet, Jan 23, PSY 230, 3:30p - 5:30p. Are you considering graduate training in a field of psychology but just not sure if a PhD program is the route for you? If so, come meet program faculty, practicum partner supervisors and current grad students who will be available to answer questions and provide information about our cutting-edge program oriented to training the next generation of top-tier scientist-practitioners in the science and practice of ABA. Enjoy free refreshments and great people!

The Department of Psychology MS ABA Program is excited to announce its sponsorship of the Arizona Association for Behavior Analysis (AzABA)! The MS ABA program is committed to ensuring that our students experience diverse professional development opportunities. A sponsorship of this state-level behavior-analytic organization affords all MS ABA program students those experiences via free AzABA individual memberships (posted 25 Sep 2016).

CEU Courses

Spring 2016 CEU Course: May 6, 2016, 9:00am - 1:00pm PSY 230 "Blended Autism Intervention: Brain, Behavior and Genetics" We're proud to welcome renowned expert in behavior analysis and behavioral medicine, Dr. Travis Thompson, who will be conducting a workshop on blended treatment approaches for children with autism. Traditional behavior-analytic interventions with this population will be explored and additional insight inclusive of a neurogenetic component as to how and why resultant changes in behavioral repertoires may persist will be highlighted.

ASU's Department of Psychology is an Approved Continuing Education (ACE) provider with certification from the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB). As an ACE provider in a research-rich, academic environment, we’ve positioned ourselves to be unique with experts from within and outside of the behavior-analytic community where behavior analysts can maintain contact with cutting-edge theory, practice, and methodology as it relates to the science of behavior analysis. Our CE courses provide a robust, scientifically-based educational experience while offering diversity for you to be better positioned to accrue sufficient hours to meet the recently increased BACB CE quantity and content requirements. CE courses will be offered each semester so bookmark this page for upcoming events!

In the News

BACB April 2016 Newsletter

Can a microbiome contribute to autism? Read more in The Scientific American story highlighting one of ASU's researchers.

MS ABA Program featured in ASU News story by Emma Greguska (posted 8/27/15).

 

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some of the closely related fields for a bachelors degree?
What are the minimum GRE scores you're requiring? Do I need to take the GRE Psychology subject test
Can I transfer my course credits from another masters program
Will the program's practicum hours allow me to get my license in another state?
Can I take any of the courses online?
Will I be able to work full-time while I'm a graduate student in this program?
What time of day are the courses?
I'm going to be graduating in December. Can I start the program in the Spring?
Can I use this masters degree as a way to start a doctoral program in Clinical Psych?
What's the difference between a MS ABA degree and a Masters degree in Psychology?
Will this program allow me to specialize in autism spectrum disorder?
I'm a senior this year and would like to apply for next year. Can I still apply this fall?
I'm not sure if this is the right field for me. Where can I get more info about Applied Behavior Analysis?

 

What are some of the closely related fields for a bachelors degree? 

For this program, closely related fields to psychology include sociology, family studies, social and behavioral sciences, social work, public policy, special education and health care related fields such as kinesiology and speech/hearing sciences. Our primary concern is that applicants have familiarity with scientific methods and psychological/ behavioral principles and theories. At a minimum, we would require prospective students to have had Introductory Psychology and at least two of the following (or their course equivalents): developmental psych, abnormal psych, abnormal child psychology, research methods, or statistics.

 

What are the minimum GRE scores you're requiring?

Since the program is relatively new, we don’t yet have sufficient data to provide average GREs for students accepted into the program. However, we would like to see a total score around 1100 in the old GRE scoring system. For revised GRE scoring, this would approximate scores in the 150s for Verbal and above 145 for Quantitative. Please note, however, that we will be looking at an applicant’s total record including undergraduate GPAs, letters of recommendation, essay, and experience in addition to GRE scores.  Applicants do NOT need to take the GRE Psychology subject test. Prospective students need to directly contact ETS to make arrangements for taking the GRE.

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Can I transfer my course credits from another masters program?   

In general, the program will not approve preadmission credits from other masters programs including online ABA programs. In extremely rare instances, it may be possible to transfer up to 12 graduate-level credits hours with grades of "B" or better that were not used towards a previous degree. Preadmission credits must have been taken within three years of admission to an ASU degree program. 

 

Will the program's practicum hours allow me to get my license in another state?

Psychology's MS ABA program requires every student to participate in over 1500 hours of practicum experience in order to graduate.  All of these hours are supervised by an Arizona-licensed behavior analyst.  Once certified by BACB, a program graduate will be eligible to become licensed as a behavior analyst in Arizona.  Behavior analyst licensing varies by state so prospective students should check the licensing requirements for other states.

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Can I take any of the courses online?

No. Psychology's MS ABA program is classroom-based only and online courses will not be offered nor accepted as substitute coursework toward the degree.

 

Will I be able to work at work full time while I'm a graduate student in this program?

The Department of Psychology's MS ABA program at ASU is most likely the only ABA program in the country at a Research I institution psychology department that offers classroom-based courses AND provides its students with over 1500 hours of practicum fieldwork.  As such, it is a very intensive, full-time program.  It would be extremely difficult for a graduate student in our program to be able to maintain a typical, 40-hr week job. Students would need to work at their practicum sites during normal office hours Mon through Friday in addition to taking classes in the late afternoon/early evening Mon thru Wed/Thursday. 

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What time of day are the courses?

In general, classes will start in the late afternoon around 4:30pm or 5:00pm and run approximately 3 hours, Monday thru Thursday. The exception to the evening coursework is PSB 580, your practicum course which will typically be held Monday mornings. Both summer sessions will primarily be devoted to your full-time practicum placement (PSB 583) and you will also need to enroll in the Capstone course (PSB 593) for both summer sessions.

 

I'm going to be graduating in December.  Can I start the program in the Spring?

No. Psychology's MS ABA program will only have Fall semester start dates.

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Can I use this masters degree as a way to start a doctoral program in Clinical Psych at ASU?

No. The MS ABA is a professional degree intended for those who wish to become a certified, then licensed, ABA practitioner. ABA practitioners provide intervention/treatment services across a range of life span behavior disorders such as autism, traumatic brain injuries, eating disorders, addiction, and dementia. Behavior analysis is also used in industry as a human resource tool. This master’s degree is "terminal" – i.e., it will not allow you to continue your studies in one of the department’s doctoral programs such as clinical psychology.

 

What's the difference between a MS ABA degree and a Masters degree in Psychology?

Depending on the university or the department offering the graduate program, a Masters degree in Psychology can cover a range of topics within the discipline of psychology. Some MA/MS Psychology programs are designed to be a jumping off point for doctoral degrees in psychology. Other MA/MS programs may offer degrees in applied psychology, human factors, counseling, family therapy, or school psychology.  It's important to carefully read about masters programs to determine if the program's curriculum and focus match your career desires. Our MS ABA program is solely focused on Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) which is a field that began in Psychology and is based on the scientific principles of learning and behavior. For more information about ABA, please visit the BACB website.

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Will this program allow me to specialize in autism spectrum disorder?

Our program is specifically designed for our students to graduate as practitioner-scientists capable of providing interventions and treatments across a range of disorders in a variety of settings or modalities.  Over the course of their practicum placements, students will be required to have gained training and experience with more than one type of disorder. A student can request that most of their practicum training be focused on a single disorder and of course, a student can complete their Capstone project on a specific disorder with approval by their graduate advisor/mentor.  Psychology's MS ABA program does not provide specialist training; prospective students who wish to only specialize in autism are encouraged to apply to programs that are designed for that career path such as ASU's Master of Education online program on Autism Spectrum Disorder offered through the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College.

 

I'm a senior this year and would like to apply for next year.  Can I still apply this Fall?

Absolutely! The initial deadline for the MS ABA Program application is February 15. Review of applications will begin as early as February 15th to fill limited openings, and will continue with monthly until the class is filled.  

 

I'm not sure if this is the right program for me. Where can I get more info about Applied Behavior Analysis?

A good place to get started is with the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) website.  Like most major universities, we unfortunately don’t have a graduate advising program for post-bacs and can only offer career counseling services to our current psychology majors through our undergraduate advising office. We strongly encourage you to explore the internet to conduct this type of research or to meet with an academic advisor or faculty member at your home university.

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Degree Offered

Applied Behavior Analysis (MS)
Liberal Arts & Sciences, College of

Location
Tempe

Plan of Study

The Plan of Study is the required curriculum to complete the program.

View Plan of Study

Requirements

Degree Requirements

The MS ABA program requires 42 credit hours across four full-time semesters and both A and B sessions during the summer between the first and second year. A Capstone Project is to be initiated at the beginning of Summer Session A and conducted throughout the summer and the program’s second year. Students are required to complete practicum hours during the summer.

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Admission Requirements

The ASU Department of Psychology application process is completed through ASU’s Graduate Admissions which includes the application form and your official transcripts. The application fee is required by the Graduate College before your application and transcripts will be forwarded to the Department of Psychology. Application to the MS ABA program is also completed via SlideRoom. SlideRoom is a web-based admissions service which is used to process program supplemental materials. To apply to the MS ABA program, follow the instructions on the MS ABA Admissions Checklist.

Applications will not be reviewed or considered until complete. Admissions are for fall only; there is no spring start date for the program. The initial deadline for the MS ABA Program application is February 15. Review of applications will begin as early as February 15, but we will continue to accept applications after that date until the limited class size is filled.

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Contact Information:  msabapsych@asu.edu

Financial Support

In addition to ASU graduate school tuition, the MS ABA program will have a program fee of $2,500 per Fall/Sp semesters and $2,000 for each summer session A & B between program years one and two. However, students will also receive small stipends for providing direct services during the practicum experience after their first semester in the program.

The program fee ensures that our students will have over 1500 hours of training and supervision in qualified clinical settings across every semester of the MS ABA program. Essentially, this fee replaces the monetary and time costs that students would otherwise have to pay for themselves if our program did not offer the 1500 hours of practicum necessary for certification and licensure. As a graduate of Psychology's MS ABA program, you will have the potential to earn a significantly higher salary as a licensed practitioner and most likely be employed more quickly since licensed practitioners are highly sought in the job marketplace.

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