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MS in Applied Behavior Analysis: Concentration in Autism Spectrum Disorders

The Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) with a concentration in Autism Spectrum Disorders is a 45 credit, 6-semester program that fulfills both the coursework and supervision requirements necessary to pursue certification in ABA. This program includes a carefully crafted sequence of courses, pre-approved by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB©), interwoven with a supervised learning experience (75 hours of supervision during 1500 supervised independent fieldwork hours over-seeing all required supervision activities). 

The program is designed to prepare educators, special educators, clinicians, and practitioners to apply behavioral principles to instruction, treatment of problem behavior, and special learning and behavior challenges. The focus in Autism Spectrum Disorders is to help graduate students acquire comprehensive, evidence-based information to assist in developing effective educational programming for students with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). 

Course Sample Sequence - Click Here 


ABA courses can be taken 100% online or a combination of online and on campus courses (offered in either ConcordEast Longmeadow, or Sturbridge, Massachusetts)


The Behavior Analyst Certification Board®, Inc. has verified the following courses toward the coursework requirements for eligibility to take the Board Certified Behavior Analyst® (Option 1) or Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst® examination. Applicants will need to meet additional requirements before they can be deemed eligible to take the examination.

Curriculum & Schedules

Code Course Name Credit Hours
ABA501 The Science of ABA: Concepts and Principles 3

This course introduces the philosophical assumptions and dimensions of the science of applied behavior analysis, including determinism, empiricism, parsimony, selectionism, pragmatism, and lawfulness of behavior. Students define key terms related to applied behavior analysis, the scientific principles of behavior, and behavioral technologies. Students differentiate between environmental and mentalistic explanations of behavior, and between conceptual, experimental, and applied analyses of behavior. This course provides students with a basic understanding of the application of behavior analysis to a wide variety of human conditions and severely disabling conditions. Students will learn the history of ABA and be introduced to the use of behavioral principles to increase and decrease behavior. The science of ABA can provide a framework for assessing a variety of children and adolescents, for designing, implementing, and evaluating IEP’s, for maintaining children in general education settings, and for assuring generalization and maintenance. Examples of educational strategies relying on behavioral principles for effective implementation will be discussed including reinforcement procedures, token economy procedures, stimulus control procedures, such as modeling and other forms of prompting, self-management procedures, and augmentative and assistive technologies.

ABA502 Ethical Practice in Applied Behavior Analysis 3

This course provides an intensive, practical review of the ethical, legal, and professional issues in the field of applied behavior analysis. Core Ethical Principles in the discipline of psychology, adopted by the Association for Behavior Analysis-International (ABAI) to guide professional practice in the specialty are introduced, with a focus on practical applications of these principles in educational settings where the discipline of applied behavior analysis is practiced. Using case studies interwoven with scientific literature from the field of applied behavior analysis, students demonstrate the ability to apply the Behavior Analyst Certification Board Guidelines for Responsible© conduct in real-life educational contexts.

ABA603 Research Methods in ABA 3

This course focuses on the measurement of behavior and the analysis of intervention effect using single-subject experimental design. Procedures for collection and display of behavioral data are demonstrated, practiced, and examined for reliability, validity, efficiency, and relevance to a variety of settings, with a focus on educational environments. Individualized measurement procedures are developed and implemented using a variety of single-subject design formats, and the contribution of single-subject research design to education, clinical practice, and scientific inquiry is examined. Ethical considerations of experimental analysis are examined.

ABA604 Behavioral Assessment and On-Going Evaluation 3

The process of identifying behaviors targeted for change and the use of behavioral assessment techniques to identify and analyze behavior-environment relations, for the purpose of developing successful, functionally-based intervention strategies. Methodologies of descriptive assessment and functional analysis, applied to both challenging problem behaviors and academic learning situations. Use of many practical behaviorally-based assessment tools, including checklists and rating scales, structured observation tools, and curricular assessments.

ABA605 Interventions & Behavior Change Procedures 3

Students implement behaviorally-based strategies to establish, strengthen, and weaken target behaviors. Fundamental elements of behavior change are reviewed, with a focus on selecting evidence-based tactics that utilize basic principles of behavior (reinforcement, punishment, extinction, and stimulus control) and utilizing appropriate parameters and schedules of reinforcement and punishment. Various procedures combining fundamental behavior principles and tactic are reviewed, modeled, practiced, and demonstrated to mastery and fluency. Basic behavior analytic skills of measurement and analysis are practiced in the context of utilizing behavior change procedures.

ABA606 Behavior Change Systems in Education 3

A system is a combination of independent but interrelated components comprising a unified whole. This class presents behavioral systems – methods, tactics, and models – designed to combine specific behavior change procedures in an effective manner to achieve success in the classroom setting. Procedures for evaluating the effectiveness of behavior change procedures and systems are practiced, and systems for supervision and competency-based training of those responsible for implementing and documenting programming and services are examined.

ABA607 Pre-Supervision in ABA 0

Each student identifies and proposes a site (or sites) to complete the requirements for supervision in applied behavior analysis. Attendance at 2 seminars is required during the pre-practicum. The seminar is a competency-based course which is part of the Program in Applied Behavior Analysis fulfilling the requirement for BACB© Supervision. The seminar is designed to ensure the student understands the requirements of supervision and is placed in an appropriate setting.

ABA608 Supervision I in ABA 5

This is an experiential learning opportunity designed to fulfill the requirement for a supervised independent practicum experience as defined by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB©). During a supervised independent practicum, students complete 1500 hours of Supervised Independent Fieldwork in behavior analysis. Students are supervised at least once every 2 weeks for 5% of the total hours they spend in Supervised Independent Fieldwork. The students’ primary focus during supervision is on learning new behavior analytic skills related to the BACB© Third Edition Task List (Behavior Analyst Certification Board, 2010). Activities conducted during this supervised learning experience adhere to the dimensions of applied behavior analysis identified by Baer, Wolf, and Risley (1968) in the article Some Current Dimensions of Applied Behavior Analysis published in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis. The assigned supervisor directly observes the student’s performance and provides specific feedback related to the results of observation and performance measurement.

ABA609 Supervision II in ABA 5

This is an experiential learning opportunity designed to fulfill the requirement for a supervised independent fieldwork experience as defined by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB©). During a supervised independent fieldwork experience, students complete 1500 hours of applied work in behavior analysis. Students are supervised at least once every 2 weeks for 5% of the total hours they spend in Supervised Independent Fieldwork. The student’s primary focus during supervision is on learning new behavior analytic skills related to the BACB© 4th Edition Task List (Behavior Analyst Certification Board, 2010). Activities conducted during this supervised learning experience adhere to the dimensions of applied behavior analysis identified by Baer, Wolf, and Risley (1968) in the article Some Current Dimensions of Applied Behavior Analysis published in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis. The assigned supervisor directly observes the student’s performance and provides specific feedback relate to the results of observation and performance measurement.

ABA610 Supervision III in ABA 2

This is an experiential learning opportunity designed to fulfill the requirement for a supervised independent fieldwork experience as defined by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB©). During a supervised independent fieldwork experience, students complete 1500 hours of applied work in behavior analysis. Students are supervised at least once every 2 weeks for 5% of the total hours they spend in Supervised Independent Fieldwork. The student’s primary focus during supervision is on learning new behavior analytic skills related to the BACB© 4th Edition Task List (Behavior Analyst Certification Board, 2010). Activities conducted during this supervised learning experience adhere to the dimensions of applied behavior analysis identified by Baer, Wolf, and Risley (1968) in the article Some Current Dimensions of Applied Behavior Analysis published in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis. The assigned supervisor directly observes the student’s performance and provides specific feedback relate to the results of observation and performance measurement.

ABA611 Supervision IV in ABA 2

This is an experiential learning opportunity designed to fulfill the requirement for a supervised independent fieldwork experience as defined by the Behavior Analyst Board (BACB©). During a supervised independent fieldwork experience, students complete 1500 hours of applied work in behavior analysis. Students are supervised at least once every 2 weeks for 5% of the total hours they spend in the supervised experience. The student’s primary focus during supervision is on learning and applying behavior analytic skills related to BACB© 4th Edition Task List (Behavior Analyst Certification Board, 2010). Activities conducted during this supervised learning experience adhere to the dimensions of applied behavior analysis identified by Baer, Wolf and Risley (1968) in the article Some Current Dimensions of Applied Behavior Analysis published in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis. The assigned supervisor directly observes the student’s performance and provides specific feedback related to the results of observation, work sample review, review of written work, and performance management.

ABA620 Group Supervision I in ABA 2

This is an experiential learning opportunity designed to fulfill the requirement for a supervised independent fieldwork experience as defined by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board(BACB©), during a supervised independent fieldwork experience, students complete 1500 hours of applied work in behavior analysis. Students are supervised at least once every 2 weeks for 5% of the total hours they spend in the supervised experience. The student's primary focus during supervision is on learning and applying new behavior analytic skills related to the BACB© 4th Edition Task List (Behavior Analyst Certification Board 20100. Activities conducted during this supervised learning experience adhere to the dimensions of applied behavior analysis identified by Baer, Wold, and Risley (1968) in the article Some Current Dimensions of Applied Behavior Analysis published in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis. The assigned supervisor directly observes the student's performance and provides specific feedback related to the results of observation, work sample review, review of written work, and performance measurement.

ABA621 Group Supervision II in ABA 2

This is a small group experiential learning opportunity designed to fulfill the requirement for a supervised independent fieldwork experience as defined by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB©). During a supervised independent fieldwork experience, students complete 1500 hours of applied work in behavior analysis. Students are supervised at least once every 2 weeks for 5% of the total hours they spend in the supervised experience. The student's primary focus during supervision is on learning and applying new behavior analytic skills related to the BACB© 4th Edition "Task List" (Behavior Analyst Certification Board, 2010). Activities conducted during this supervised learning experience adhere to the dimensions of applied behavior analysis identified by Baer, Wold, and Risley (1968) in the article Some Current Dimensions of Applied Behavior Analysis published in the journal of Applied Behavior Analysis. The assigned supervisor directly observes the student's performance and provides specific feedback related to the results of observation, work sample review, review of written work, and performance measurement.

SPE546 Teaching Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders 3

This course focuses on children with autism and examines the variety of exceptionalities and special needs of these children, emphasizing the development of collaborative partnerships among educators, clinicians, and (especially) parents and families. Neurobiological, psychological, educational, social, and emotional factors will be addressed. Specialized teaching strategies, techniques, and environmental/curriculum modifications for children with autism will be studied, including strategies for successful inclusion.

SPE552 Problem Solving and Program Analysis in Autism 3

This course will provide students with in depth knowledge of research-based teaching programs. Participants will learn the scientific cycle of assessment- planning-implementation-evaluation, acquire tools to participate effectively in cross-disciplinary teams and to collaborate with families of students with autism, and have the opportunity to reflect about collaborating with families when developing and implementing teaching programs. Established programs and professional resources will be presented to increase the knowledge of available educational options.

SPE560 Advanced Techniques and Process for Behavior Change 3

During this course, students will review and demonstrate a repertoire of planning, teaching, and supervision skills in programs for learners with autism. Designed as a practical and in-depth review of key behavioral instruction procedures tailored to the unique learning needs of students with autism, the course helps students demonstrate and evaluate methods of instruction. Presented in a highly visual, engaging, and step-by-step manner, course materials help students practice the cycle of evaluation, implementation, and analysis in areas such as communication and social behavior. Students learn how to perform some key aspects of teaching more deeply and effectively with models, “how to” fidelity checklists, and practice exercises. The examples and activities provide practical ways to set up, implement, and monitor educational programs. Special emphasis will include practice on reducing a problem behavior and learning to supervise others as they implement programs.