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What is a Master of Applied Behavior Analysis and What You Do with It2019-03-06T22:39:58+00:00

What is a Master of Applied Behavior Analysis?

Acquiring a master’s degree in applied behavior analysis prepares you to make a positive difference in the lives of people with behavioral and psychological disorders. Though ABA is most widely used in treating and supporting children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, the field offers a variety of career options for individuals with a Master’s of Applied Behavior Analysis. Check out our careers page to learn more about what you can do with this degree.

According to the Behavior Analyst Certification Board’s (BACB) national workforce report, the demand for behavior analysts more than doubled between 2012 and 2014. Because applied behavior analysis has shown to be an effective therapy for children and young adults diagnosed with autism, it’s probably not a coincidence that the growing demand for behavior analysts in recent years has coincided with an increase in the prevalence of children identified with autism spectrum disorder.

There are of course other reasons to study behavior analysis. Individuals who complete a Master of Applied Behavior Analysis degree program come away with a broad set of skills that can be applied to encouraging positive behavioral changes and improving one’s quality of life. And thanks to online applied behavior analysis graduate programs, you can earn this impactful master’s degree without putting your life on hold to go back to school.

Through coursework and supervised practical experiences, students enrolled in graduate-level applied behavior analysis programs are taught how to affect positive behavior change in a variety of populations.

Graduate Coursework in Applied Behavior Analysis

Although specific course titles and content may vary, the majority of online ABA master’s degree programs are designed to meet the educational requirements for students who wish to pursue a career as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). Course sequences approved by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board allow graduates to sit for the BCBA exam. Coursework requirements for BACB credentials include graduate-level instruction in the following content areas:

  • Ethical and Professional Conduct
  • Concepts and Principles of Behavior Analysis
  • Research Methods in Behavior Analysis
  • Applied Behavior Analysis

Sample applied behavior analysis curriculum

Below is a sample of a partial ABA course sequence from our partner Simmons College. BehaviorAnalysis@Simmons offers a practice-based curriculum focused on contemporary research and the full range of applications of behavior analytic principles.

Term 1
Course Description
Introduction to Applied Behavior Analysis The focus of this class is on the fundamental underpinnings of applied behavior analysis, including behavioral vocabulary, definitions and principles (e.g., reinforcement, stimulus control and motivation).
Introduction to Single Subject Research Designs This course introduces students to various types of single-subject research designs. Types of measurement protocols, ethical issues, data collection and visual display are discussed in relation to each research design. Students will design, present and defend a hypothetical study.
Term 2
Course Description
Behavioral Assessment This course prepares students to conduct a functional behavioral assessment. By the end of the course, students should be able to plan effective clinical and educational interventions using a continuum of assessment methods.
Methodologies for Behavior Change I Students enrolled in this course are exposed to basic procedures and protocols to accelerate and decelerate behavior changes. Topics presented in this course include reinforcement, contingency contracting, rule-governed behavior, differential reinforcement, shaping and generalization.
Term 3
Course Description
Ethics and Legal Issues This course was designed to provide students with an overview of the Behavior Analyst Certification Board’s Professional and Ethical Compliance Code for Behavior Analysts. Students will also become familiar with federal and state legal regulations and policies specific to behavior management.
Methodologies for Behavior Change II This course builds on the topics, procedures and protocols introduced in Methodologies for Behavior Change I. Students in this course will be exposed to innovative behavioral instructional protocols such as precision teaching, PSI, direct instruction, stimulus equivalence and errorless instruction.

Note:This is a sample of a partial ABA course sequence from our partnerSimmons College. The sample contains general guidelines; students’ actual schedules in Simmons College’s BehaviorAnalysis@Simmonsprogram may vary.

Request additional information about Simmons College’s online Behavior Analysis’ program.

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Learning outcomes for the Master of Applied Behavior Analysis online degree

Students who complete an online graduate behavior analysis degree program should be able to work proficiently with the concepts and principles of applied behavior analysis. Learning outcomes for the Master of Applied Behavior Analysis degree should align with the competencies of professional behavior analyst practice. Generally, students who complete this program should be able to:

  • Describe the core principles of applied behavior analysis and how to effectively apply them in real-world situations
  • Use research to evaluate the effectiveness of intervention and treatment plans
  • Collect, analyze and interpret behavioral data to continue research and to refine treatment methods for patients
  • Implement research and treatment methods when interacting directly with patients

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