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Program: M.S., Applied Behavior Analysis

Program Description

The Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) program is designed to provide advanced graduate-level training for students who have strong and well-defined interests in the scientific study of behavioral principles as applied to individuals and organizations. In this 2-year program, students can obtain their M.S. degree and complete the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB®) requirements to be able to practice independently as Board Certified Behavior Analysts®. We emphasize the philosophy, theory, science and methodology that guide clinicians in the field of ABA. Students of the program will learn how to conduct behavioral assessments and to design, implement and monitor outcome-based interventions, while adhering to BACB® ethical and professional guidelines. The coursework incorporates practical training with a focus on a conceptual understanding of the science of ABA. The breadth and scientific rigor of this program provides students with the foundation necessary to pursue careers as scientist-practitioners and to become competitive candidates for doctoral training. This program is offered in a cohort model, with sequentially advancing coursework, in collaboration with The Tseng College of Extended Learning. (Note: Please refer to the BACB website for standards and requirements to become eligible to sit for the Board Certification Exam.)

This program is administered through The Tseng College. It is entirely funded by student fees and is offered in the cohort format.

Program Requirements

A. Procedures and Requirements for Admission

For applications, admission requirements and deadlines for the M.S. in Applied Behavior Analysis, see the ABA program website.

To be considered for an interview for admission to the M.S. in Applied Behavior Analysis program, applicants must submit:

  1. An online application (see the ABA program website).
  2. A well-written statement of purpose (approximately 1,000 words, double-spaced, 12-point font), which is uploaded to the application.
  3. Original or certified copies of all academic transcripts.
  4. Three strong letters of recommendation.
  5. GRE scores if the applicant has a cumulative undergraduate GPA less than 3.0.

B. Classified Admission and Conditionally Classified Admission

Participation in any of the graduate programs offered by the Department of Psychology is limited to classified and conditionally classified graduate students. Conditionally classified admission, used sparingly by the department, is for students who have met all requirements for admission to the graduate program except for completion of a course or examination. The department specifies the conditions to be fulfilled before classified standing is awarded. Normally, these conditions must be met within the first semester of graduate training. Applicants interested in the M.S. in Applied Behavior Analysis program are advised to review the admission requirements on The Tseng College website.

C. For Admission to Classified Graduate Status

  1. Admission to the program generally requires an undergraduate degree (or its equivalent for international students), from a regionally accredited institution, in Psychology. Applicants who do not have a degree in Psychology should consult with the program director.
  2. A GPA of 3.0 is required except on approval by the Graduate Admission Committee.
  3. For applicants with GPAs between 2.5 and 2.99, completion of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is required, with a score at or above the 50th percentile on any one of the three subject areas of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or a score of 4 or better on the GMAT (please see the Graduate Studies Handbook).
  4. General University requirements also must be met. Carefully consult other sections of this Catalog for details. These requirements include passing the Upper Division Writing Proficiency Exam (UDWPE) with a score of 8 or higher.

D. Program Requirements

1. Required Courses (37 units)

Board Required BCBA Eligibility Coursework (19 units)

PSY 551A Becoming a BCBA: Professional and Certification Issues (1)
PSY 552 Principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (3)
PSY 553 Measurement and Experimental Evaluation of Behavior (3)
PSY 555 Assessment in Applied Behavior Analysis (3)
PSY 557 Behavior Change Procedures and Systems Support (3)
PSY 558 Topics in Behavior Analysis (3)
PSY 600 Ethical Practice with Individuals, Families, and Multidisciplinary Teams (3)

Advanced Concepts, Methods and Practice (12 units)

PSY 525AB Advanced Psychological Measurement (3)
PSY 611 Developmental Psychopathology and ABA Interventions (3)
PSY 629 Concepts and Clinical Application of Behavior Analysis (3)
PSY 692A Seminar in Research Methodology (3)

Culminating Experience (6 units)

PSY 696 Directed Graduate Research (3)
PSY 698D Graduate Culminating Project (3)

2. Continuing Education Practica Courses for Students Preparing to Sit for the Board Certification Exam

XBEH 903 Practicum [Tseng College Continuing Education (CE) Hours]

To meet a professional requirement, students of this program can enroll in BACB®-approved practicum in which they complete the behavior analytic supervised experience competencies to sit for the BCBA® Examination. Students enroll in practica for each semester of the 2-year program (total of 18 CE units of Practica). The practica provides opportunities to accrue experience hours at approved sites and/or with program faculty.

Total Units Required for the M.S. Degree: 37

More information

For more information about this program, please contact


Department of Psychology
Chair: Jill Razani
Sierra Hall (SH) 376
(818) 677-2827

Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis
Graduate Coordinator: Tara Fahmie
(818) 677-3257

Staff: Ashley Rice
(818) 677-3257

Staff: Jesse Knepper
(818) 677-4415

Staff: Alejandra Nuñez
(818) 677-6146

Student Learning Outcomes

At the end of the program, students will:

  1. Understand how to access professional information and practice within ethical guidelines.
  2. Know the various scopes of practice and research in behavior analysis.
  3. Know how to initiate, continue, modify or discontinue behavior analysis services.
  4. Know how to choose the most effective assessment and behavior change procedures and give preference to scientifically validated methods.
  5. Know how to define and use behavioral principles and concepts in identifying functions of behaviors and making behavioral change.
  6. Know how to select, define, measure, assess, manipulate, record and interpret behaviors and behavior changes.
  7. Know how to use experimentation to assess intervention outcomes using various methods and designs.
  8. Know how to design and use systems for monitoring and carrying out interventions.
  9. Know how to teach various audiences about behavior analysis.
  10. Be ready for in-field and supervised behavior service experiences.
  11. Be prepared to take the board certification exam.