Applied Behavior Analysis, M.S.

Master the science and application of Applied Behavior Analysis

USJ’s M.S. in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is the only on-campus ABA master’s program in Connecticut, an ABAI verified course sequence, and offers applied research and supervision opportunities.

USJ’s distinct advantage is that we build the required supervisory experience into the third year of the program. During your last year of coursework, you will have the opportunity to enroll in six total credits of intensive practicum, where you will obtain BACB supervision experiences. Students not enrolled in the intensive practicum course will enroll in six credits of practical application coursework. Please visit the BACB website for additional information regarding supervision requirements. Our top ABA Master’s Program prepares students for careers in behavior analysis across a wide variety of settings and populations.

Program Fact Sheet Program Curriculum Request More Info

Program Benefits

  • Improves the skills of experienced human service professionals from such disciplines as Education, Special Education, Psychology, and others
  • Introduces applied pedagogical concepts, principles, and practices of Applied Behavior Analysis for application to a wide range of professional settings
  • Provides both supervised experience and research opportunities in collaboration with experienced full-time faculty members

What is Applied Behavior Analysis?

  • The use of the science of behavior to solve problems of social significance
  • An approach to behavior that is grounded in empirical data
  • Students with a Master’s degree in Applied Behavior Analysis can seek employment in fields such as:
    • Educational assessment, planning, and program evaluation
    • Staff and parent training
    • Prevention and community intervention
    • Therapy/counseling
    • Developmental disabilities and Autism
    • Organizational behavior management and human service administration
    • Sports and health psychology

Frequently Asked Questions

Get answers to your questions about the M.S. in Applied Behavior Analysis Program.

Is your program verified by the Association for Behavior Analysis International?

Our coursework is verified by the Association for Behavior Analysis International. NOTE: You must have both your courses and experience hours completed prior to taking the exam. Verified course sequences are located here.

How many USJ graduates pass the exam required to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst?

Pass rates for all BACB-approved programs can be found here.

What about BACB supervision experiences?

During your last year of coursework, you will have the opportunity to enroll in six total credits of intensive practicum, where you will obtain BACB supervision experiences. In order to enroll in the practicum courses, you will have to be an employee of the Gengras Center School in good standing. If you elect to work at an off-campus location, the USJ practicum coordinator will be available to assist you in locating and documenting BACB supervision experiences. Students not enrolled in the intensive practicum course will enroll in six credits of practical applications coursework. You will learn more about practicum and approved practicum experiences upon acceptance into the program. Please visit the BACB website for additional information regarding supervision requirements.

How do I apply to the program?

  • Complete online application
  • $50 non-refundable application fee
  • Official transcripts from a regionally accredited institution, sent from that institution to the USJ Office of Admissions
  • Two professional letters of recommendation
  • Two Part Personal Entrance Essay
    • Part 1: Please explain why you have chosen to enter the field of behavior analysis (300 word minimum).
    • Part 2: Identify the elements that you feel are essential to becoming an effective, well-rounded behavior analyst (300 word minimum).
  • Resume

When are applications due?

The M.S. in ABA has a fall start only (i.e., we do not accept students to begin during the spring semester). To begin courses in the upcoming fall semester, we recommend that students submit their application by April 1. Even after the priority deadline, we continue to review applications when we receive them. Depending on availability and the quality of the application, students will be accepted for the upcoming fall. If there is no available space when an application is received, we will put the applicant on a wait list in case any students fail to register. If that is not the case, the applicant will be guaranteed a spot with the following cohort of students.

What is the tuition cost for the entire program?

For a complete list of graduate program rates or for financial aid questions, please visit our Tuition and Fees page.

How can I learn more about the financial aid process?

Information about applying for financial aid can be found here.

My GPA is below a 3.0, should I still apply?

The admissions criteria for our program include a minimum GPA of 3.0. That being said, we consider many variables when reviewing an application, and GPA is just one of those variables. Something that we value is experience in the field of applied behavior analysis. If your GPA is below 3.0, but you have ABA experience and letters of recommendation from individuals in the field of behavior analysis this will help your application. You should also include a section in your personal entrance essay outline with an explanation of your GPA is below the required standard and how you plan to address those issues in your graduate studies.

What is applied behavior analysis?

Applied Behavior Analysis, or ABA, is the science and study of behavior. Its roots lie in behaviorism, the premise of which emphasizes a focus on behaviors themselves in order to understand, analyze, and modify them. For regulatory purposes, this practice is defined as the design, implementation, and evaluation of instructional and environmental modifications to produce socially significant improvements in human behavior. Read more from the Association of Professional Behavior Analysts.

ABA is largely based on the principles of learning and behavior; these principles explain how a behavior is learned and how it changes (or can be modified) over time. ABA experts such as behavior analysts and behavior specialists have been using this knowledge to develop ways in which to analyze and change behavior — and to improve lives — since the early 20th century. Today, ABA is widely used across a variety of fields.

What can I do with a Master’s degree in Applied Behavior Analysis?

Wondering what jobs and career options are available to Master’s in Applied Behavior Analysis degree holders? You may be surprised to find out that your possibilities reach far beyond the classroom.

According to the Association for Professional Behavior Analysts, 80% of Board Certified Behavior Analysts are employed full time in job settings that include:

  • Educational assessment, planning, and program evaluation
  • Therapy and mental health
  • Developmental disabilities and behavioral disorders
  • Staff and parent training

The list below highlights some of the more traditional applications of applied behavior analysis as well as some out-of-the-box and experimental career paths available to master’s degree holders. 

Board Certified Behavior Analyst®

To become a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst® (BCBA), master’s students must complete their degree program and supervised clinical experience in addition to passing the certification exam.

BCBA career options are vast and varied. These professionals provide services for children, adolescents, and adults with autism, intellectual or developmental disabilities, or mental disorders. With the primary objective of improving their patients’ mental and physical health, independence, and social functioning, BCBAs analyze their behavior patterns; they then map out programs to modify existing behaviors, replace undesirable behaviors with new, more appropriate behaviors, and expand upon their behavioral repertoire. BCBAs find work in schools, homes, hospitals, assisted living facilities, and more. Learn more about the Behavior Analyst Certification Board.

Organizational Behavior Management

Organizational behavior management (OBM) aims to improve individual or group performance within an organizational setting, particularly in businesses. The goal of applied behavior analysts in organizational analysis is to create a balanced situation in which poor performance areas are improved, high performance areas are maintained, and organizational goals are met. Applied behavior analysts focus on principles such as reinforcement, punishment, and stimulus control to hit these targets. The overarching hope of this process is to create happier employers and employees, leading to a more efficient and harmonious workplace. Read the BACB’s fact sheet on organizational behavior management.

Animal Behaviorist

With a Master’s degree in Applied Behavior Analysis students can further their education with a P.h.D to become an Animal Behaviorist. As an Animal behaviorists an applied behavior analyst gets “back to basics” to analyze and modify operant (or voluntary) behaviors in non-human animals. Operant conditioning was developed by B.F. Skinner. Though the concept was first explored by Edward Thorndike, Skinner rejected Thorndike’s reference to unobservable mental states (like pleasure,) instead focusing solely on observable behavior and its equally observable consequences. Skinner stressed that reinforcement leads to desired actions or responses, while punishment stops undesired actions responses. Skinner gained worldwide recognition after training pigeons in World War II to guide missiles to their targets using operant conditioning, effectively proving that a positive outcome leads to learned behavior (the pigeons learned to peck the disc in return for the reward of food.)

Although the underpinnings of applied behavior analysis are present in both non-human animal and human behavior analysis and modification, animal behaviorists are able to focus on the fundamental elements of operant conditioning with their subjects. Animal behaviorists find work in shelters, farms, zoos, and in-home behavior consulting settings or private practices. Visit the Animal Behavior Society website.

Speech and Language Development and Therapy

Verbal Behavior Therapy builds upon motivation and uses positive reinforcement (in the form of rewards such as food or toys) to reinforce verbal communication in a child with developmental disabilities or impaired social or language skills. Applied behavior analysts working in speech and language therapy use ABA learning principles and techniques such as repetition, prompting, and shaping as motivation. The foundation of therapy is laid by teaching “mands,” or requests, so that the child learns that verbal communication (words) can produce desired results. Learn more about Verbal Behavior Therapy.

Careers in Experimental Behavior Analysis

As applied behavior analysis continues to grow and evolve into a well-known and widely used branch of psychology, more experimental subspecialties have cropped up that present new and exciting opportunities for Master’s in Applied Behavior Analysis degree holders. After earning a Master’s degree students can further pursue a career in Experimental Behavior Analysis by continuing their education and earning a P.h.D.

Experimental Behavior Analysis is based on B.F. Skinner’s theories of radical behaviorism. Skinner viewed all observable actions as behaviors, which can be analyzed and modified through operant conditioning. Behavioral economics, behavioral pharmacology, and behavioral toxicology are just a few of the subfields that behavior analysts can dive into. Academia and government also employ experimental behavior analysts. The overarching theme in all Experimental Behavior Analysis is, of course, experimentation. Read B.F. Skinner’s scholarly article on the experimental analysis of behavior.

What is the job outlook for Behavior Analysts?

According to Burning Glass Technologies®’ Labor Insight Database, demand for behavior analysts and assistant behavior analysts is increasing. The data collected was used to assess the national employment demand for behavior analysts from 2010 to 2018. 

Their findings gathered that annual demand for individuals holding BCBA/BCBA-D certification has increased each year since 2010, with a 1,942% increase from 2010 to 2018 and a 127% increase from 2017 to 2018. In addition, increases in demand occurred in every state since 2010. 

Annual demand for individuals holding BCaBA certification has increased each year since 2010, with a 1,098% increase from 2010 to 2018 and a 184% increase from 2017 to 2018. In addition, increases in demand occurred in every state since 2010. 

View the entire US Employment Demand for Behavior Analysts: 2010–2018.

Pursue a rewarding, lucrative career and improve lives — earn your Master’s degree in Applied Behavior Analysis.

With so many fields and industries requiring the expertise of educated behavior analysts, a Master’s degree in Applied Behavior Analysis is a surefire way to open up a myriad of career opportunities. No matter which field you choose to utilize your expertise, applied behavior analysts improve lives and make the world a better place for all.

USJ’s ABA program prepares compassionate, driven individuals for a challenging and rewarding career in the unique field of behavior analysis.

When are classes held?

All of our courses are offered on campus and either begin at 4 p.m. or 6:45 p.m. Monday through Thursday. We do not offer any online courses.

Are students given opportunities to conduct research while in the program?

The ABA faculty encourage students to seek research opportunities. As part of the M.S. coursework, you must propose, complete, and defend an empirical master’s thesis. We also offer a small number of competitive research graduate assistantships. As part of this assistantship, you work with the ABA faculty on a variety of research projects and can receive a tuition waiver.

How long will the program take and how many classes will I take a semester?

The M.S. program will take three years to complete. You should be prepared to be on campus one to two evenings per week each semester.

Does USJ offer graduate assistantships?

Yes, USJ offers a small number of competitive assistantships each year. For additional questions and information, please contact the Office of Graduate Academic Services ([email protected]).

The Association for Behavior Analysis International has verified the following courses toward the coursework requirements for eligibility to take the Board Certified Behavior Analyst® or Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst® examination. Applicants will need to meet additional requirements before they can be deemed eligible to take the examination.

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