Milwaukee Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Graduate Programs

Applied Behavior Analysis programs, or ABA programs, explore ways to use techniques and concepts of behavior analysis to create behavioral changes. Offered at the Masters, Doctorate, and Certificate levels, most ABA degree programs cover principles of behavioral psychology and their use in education, mental health, clinical, and other human-service settings.

Applied behavior analysis programs often highlight a research-based study of how behavior science can be applied to mental ailments such as autism spectrum disorders, or intellectual disabilities. There are also ABA programs where behavior is studied so that students can see how consumers act for market research purposes and other business applications.

Why Consider ABA Programs?

What Is Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)?

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) programs explore the scientific study of learning and behavior.ABA uses techniques and principles to bring about positive change in behavior. These practices are based on theories of how people learn. They also explore how environments influence behavior and how behavior can be modified, reinforced, or transformed.

 Applied behavioral analysis is an objective discipline. As such, ABA degree programs often focus on the data analysis of observed behaviors.

What Is ABA Used For?

The goal of Applied Behavior Analysis is to help people who have mental illness, autism, developmental disabilities, or other behavior challenges make socially significant behavior changes. 

A certified behavioral analyst might create an assessment and treatment plan to help clients learn social, communication, and adaptive life skills. Certified behavioral analysts typically hold a masters behavioral analysis degree, have completed a period of supervised practical experience and passed the BCBA exam.iii

ABA Program Curriculum

Some Applied Behavior Analysis programs are also BCBA programs. These are designed around required (approved) core Applied Behavior Analysis courses. Content requirement includes 270 classroom hours of graduate courses that are allotted in a specific way. ABA programs may therefore be formatted to touch on the following areas.v

  • Ethical and Professional Conduct
  • Concepts and Principles of ABA
  • Research Methods in Behavior Analysis (data analysis and experimental design
  • Applied Behavior Analysis (e.g. behavior change systems and intervention)
  • Discretionary (e.g. autism spectrum disorders)

FUN FACT

When surveyed about their education level, 27% of Applied Behavior Science Specialists reported they had a masters degree, 25% a doctoral degree and 40% post-doctoral training.ii

    Types of Applied Behavior Analysis Degrees

    Applied Behavior Analysis degrees may be offered as concentrations within Education, Professional Counseling, or Applied Psychology programs. To figure out what type of ABA program is great for you, you might reflect on several things.

    • What is your current education level and background?
    • Do you seek a Behavior Therapist degree or to work towards licensure as a Psychologist?
    • Are you drawn to research or practice?

    Masters in Applied Behavior Analysis

    A Masters in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) program may prepare students to seek professional licensure as a behavior analyst or counselor with their state board. Full-time MS-ABA degrees typically are designed as two-year programs. Part-time programs may also be available and  give students up to five years to complete their ABA masters degree.

    While schools vary, some MS-ABA degree programs entail about 42 credits. In their courses, students may be exposed to theories of behavior, research, and data analysis. They may also study the methods used to evaluate and measure observed behavior.

    In addition to coursework, most Masters in Behavioral Analysis programs include a hands-on practicum of 1,500 supervised hours (may vary). This may help fulfill certain certification requirements and allow students to apply theories learned in the classroom.

    Many ABA masters programs also end with an advanced research project, though graduation requiremnets vary.

    Applying to Masters in Behavior Analysis Programs

    To apply to a applied behavior analysis masters programs, students typically need to have earned a bachelors degree in Psychology, social and behavioral sciences or a closely related field from an accredited university.

    In addition to school-specific requisites such as GRE scores and a minimum GPA, applicants may also have to write a personal statement and furnish letters of reference. Contact individual ABA programs to learn about their specific requirements.

      PhD in Applied Behavior Analysis

      Those wishing to contribute to research into human behavior may wish to consider a PhD in Behavior Analysis program. PhD in Applied Behavior Analysis programs include coursework, dissertation research, and a comprehensive examination.

      PhD students are likely to take advanced courses in topics such as analysis of verbal behavior, professional development, and experimental analysis of behavior (EAB). Students may then be expected to research, write, and defend a dissertation based on data and original thought.

      In some universities, a full-time student may be able to complete their degree in five years, while part-time students may take about 10 years.

      Applying to PhD ABA Programs

      In some schools, the PhD in Applied Behavior Analysis program is a post masters program. Students may need to have a masters degree in Psychology, Education, Behavior Analysis, or a related degree that is BCBA-recognized.

      In addition, they might have to show current BCBA certification, provide referral letters, essays, and a resume. Requirements vary.

      Graduate Certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis

      For educators or counselors seeking extra skills or to explore the latest best practices, a Post Masters certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis may be a great option. ABA certificates may also be a way to finish any requirements for certification.

      Some graduate certificate in ABA programs are designed to be completed by full-time students in about one year. In general, they entail about 18 to 24 courses but this will depend on whether it is a BACB- approved course of study.

      ABA certificate programs with BCBA course sequences may follow guidelines to help students prepare for certification exams. Coursework is likely to cover ethics, interventions for autism, research methods, and learning.

      Students who seek to fulfill the BCBA requisites must also meet fieldwork requisites. Contact individual ABA certificate program to see if this is a part of the curriculum.

      Applying to ABA Certificate Programs

      Students in Certificate in Applied Behavioral Analysis programs may be required to have earned a Master of Arts in ABA, Psychology or Education with a minimum GPA. In addition, applicants may have to furnish a sample of their written work, letters of reference and undergo an interview. Speak with preferred ABA programs for specific requirements.

      What Is BCBA Certification?

      The Board-Certified Behavior Analyst® (BCBA®) is a graduate-level certification in behavior analysis.iii Professionals with this type of ABA certification may practice independently.

      BCBA programs are those that make use of the standards set forth by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board. To be eligible for BCBA certification, an applicant must meet one of three options.i

      1. Requires a masters or doctoral degree in behavior analysis, education or psychology from an accredited university. Also, applicants need to have completed two main parts. One is approved graduate coursework in behavior analysis. The other is a defined period of supervised practical experience to apply for the BCBA exam.
      2. Applicants must have a masters or doctoral behavior analysis degree or a related degree in education or psychology. They also need a full-time faculty position in behavior analysis that includes research and teaching. And finally, they need to have met finished their supervised practical experience to apply for the BCBA exam.
      3. The applicant has an acceptable doctoral degree that was conferred at least 10 years ago and at least 10 years’ post-doctoral practical experience to apply for the BCBA exam.

      What Might I Do With an ABA Degree?

      Graduates with ABA degrees might pursue a variety of possible career paths, although this depends on many factors. Some of these include the type of behavioral analysis degree you have earned, your interests, and your background. Sample careers you might consider after completing your ABA program include those listed below.

      • Behavior disorder counselorsv
      • Licensed psychologistsi
      • Special education teachersii
      • Applied behavior science specialistii

      Find Accredited ABA Programs

      Applied Behavior Analysis graduate programs may be available from regionally accredited universities. This level of approval speaks to quality standards vis a vis curricula, faculty, student services, and more.

      Search for ABA Degrees

      To begin your earch for ABA programs, scan the list on this page. Or if you know you want a graduate certificate, masters, or doctorate ABA degree, use the on-page menus to refine your search.

      You can also search by location or format. Don't forget some schools offer Applied Behavior Analysis programs online, which may provide added flexibility and convenience. 

      When you find an ABA program you like, simply follow the link to learn more and contact the school directly. Start applying today!


      [i] bacb.com/about-behavior-analysis/ |[ii] onetonline.org/link/summary/19-3031.03 |[iii] bacb.com/bcba/ |[iv] bacb.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/BACB_CourseContentAllocation.pdf |[v] bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/substance-abuse-and-behavioral-disorder-counselors.htm |[vi] bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/psychologists.htm |[vii] bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/special-education-teachers.htm

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