teacher and elementary students in classroom

M.A. in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)

The Master of Arts in Applied Behavior Analysis allows you to work as a behavior analyst for school districts, agencies, and private employers.

ABA Program Highlights

  • Face to face online learning
  • Personal and specialized attention
  • Highly qualified instructors with real world experience
  • Classes taught by Board Certified Behavior Analysts
  • Collaboration with community partners for supervision
  • Course assignments are direct field experience

Admissions Requirements

  • Applicants need prior experience in education, special education or Applied Behavior Analysis. Two years prior experience is recommended.
  • Students are encouraged to be employed in the field, given that the course assignments are direct field experience.

You can start this program in the fall or spring term. Learn about application deadlines and admissions requirements.

BCBA Certification

Verified Course Sequences VCS Program ABAI

The Master of Arts in Applied Behavior Analysis prepares candidates for meeting the 5th edition requirements for the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BCBA) certification. Outside of coursework, supervised field experience is required to sit for the board certification exam.

There is a non-master’s option for those wanting coursework for BCBA certification, in which students can take between 1-7 courses of the verified course sequence.

This program is a Verified Course Sequence (VCS) by the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI).


Our ABA coursework prepares you for the BCBA exam and cover content requirements in behavior analysis concepts and principles; BACB compliance code, disciplinary systems and professionalism; philosophical underpinnings; measurement, data display and interpretation; experimental design; behavior assessment; behavior-change procedures; selecting and implementing interventions; personal supervision and management.

Master's in Education with an Emphasis in Applied Behavior Analysis required courses (27 units for students with a California teaching credential):

SPEC 724 Advanced Concepts, Principles and Philosophy in Behavior Analysis

(3 units) This course expands the study of basic behavioral principles of behavior analysis to address complex behavior in school and community settings. The philosophical underpinnings of behaviorism, which inform both the experimental analysis of behavior and applied behavior analysis will be examined. The science of behavior will be applied to address behavior change utilizing advanced tactics. Course content includes the literature on verbal behavior, rule-governed behavior, contingency-shaped behavior, generative instruction, relational learning, self-management, generalization, and maintenance of behavior. The primary goal of the course is to provide students with a contemporary view of applied behavior analysis and its methods and contributions. This course meets 45 hours of Philosophical Underpinnings, Concepts and Principles.

SPEC 725 Ethics in Applied Behavior Analysis

(3 units) This course will familiarize the candidate with the ethical responsibilities required of applied behavior analysts. Informed consent, protection of confidentiality, and selection of least intrusive, least restrictive behavior change procedures will be presented and discussed within the context of case method. Legal issues faced by direct service providers will be addressed. Ethical decision-making processes within the context of group functions will be emphasized. Upon completion of the class, the candidate will have an understanding of ethical standards of behavior analysts, the application of these standards, and the concepts necessary for best practices in this field. This class emphasizes the ethics code for behavior analysts and meets the 45 hours of ethics taught in one or more freestanding courses.

SPEC 730 ABA Personnel Supervision and Management

(3 units) This course is designed to address the professional standards of personnel supervision and management within the field of Applied Behavior Analysis. Topics include a natural science approach to effective supervision and leadership behaviors and managing staff and teams. Students will develop competency in organizational behavior management, performance improvement, behavioral systems analysis, and become sensitive to cultural and ethical practices. Using the concepts, principles, and methods of the science of behavior, students will learn to assess and implement change programs in organizations and apply basic principles of behavior, behavioral interventions and tactics to improve systems in work, school, and community settings. Meets 30 hours of content in Personnel Supervision and Management and 15 hours in Behavior-Change Procedures; Selecting and Implementing Interventions.

SPEC 731 Selecting and Implementing Advanced Intervention in Behavior Change

(3 units) This course provides candidates with an expanded understanding of behavior analysis and its applications in clinical settings, classrooms, schools, and the community. The course covers the selection and implementation of advanced behavior change procedures. An emphasis is placed on selecting interventions based upon assessment results and identifying and understanding effective behavior change techniques used in various settings. Course content includes the principles of rule-governed behavior, verbal behavior, contingency contracting, self-management, generalization, and maintenance of behavior. This course covers topics such as discrete trials, errorless learning, stimulus equivalence, and the verbal behavior approach. Meets 45 hours of Behavior-Change Procedures; Selecting and Implementing Interventions.

SPEC 732 PBS: Behavior Assessment

(3 units) This course covers theories, practices, and ethical issues along three dimensions. The first area of focus is related to conducting behavior analytic assessments to determine skills and deficits with clients. The second area consists of conducting stimulus preference assessments to determine potential reinforcers for skill acquisition programs. The final area of focus is on functional behavioral assessment including indirect assessments, descriptive assessments, and functional analyses. Meets 45 hours of behavior assessment.

SPEC 726 Reading and Writing Applied Behavioral Literature

(3 units) Applied Behavior Analysis Literature Review is part of the research core completed by students pursuing the Master of Arts in Special Education with an Emphasis in ABA degree. SPEC 726 immerses the MA candidate in reading and analyzing the current theoretical and empirical literature on an educational and behavioral topic connected to their MA thesis. Students are expected to define their topic and write a literature review in anticipation of their master’s thesis. This course incorporates writing instruction, practice, and support for students undertaking graduate study in order to acquire the conventions of academic writing expected of master’s level students.

SPEC 727 Master’s Thesis Applied Behavior Analysis

(3 units) The Master’s Thesis Seminar provides support and direction during the development and completion of the thesis requirement for the Master of Arts degree. The thesis requirement may be fulfilled either through a research study or an applied project with the approval of the thesis advisor. Students who do not complete the thesis requirement during this course may be required to enroll in an Independent Research course each semester until their thesis requirement for the degree is met. Prerequisite: SPEC 722. Co-requisite or Prerequisite SPEC 726.

Students without a California teaching credential take an additional 3 units for 30 total units:

SPEC 715 Overview of Autism Spectrum Disorders

(3 units) This course is an overview of autism spectrum disorders. The course examines the psychological, physiological, social, communicative and educational characteristics of individuals who have been identified as having autism. Focus is on causes, diagnosis, specific behavioral manifestations and evidenced-based interventions.

SPEC 716 Curriculum Studies in Autism Spectrum Disorders

(3 units) This course focuses on the effectiveness of the major therapies/educational interventions that have been developed to treat autism. This course provides a thorough understanding of the educational needs, behavioral characteristics, and challenging behavior associated with the education and support of the student with autism spectrum disorder, including the building of social competency, support, and inclusion in general education settings. A specific emphasis is placed on utilizing the current research literature to identify meaningful interventions (e.g., visual strategies, social skill training, sensory needs) that address the educational support needs of individuals with ASD.

SPEC 729 Special Topics

(3 units) This course offers in-depth graduate level study, facilitated by an instructor or team of instructors, with expertise in a selected area of Applied Behavior Analysis. Open to graduate students in Special Education and ABA Master’s program.

SPEC 794 Evidence-based Practices for Students with Extensive Support Needs

This course provides candidates for the Education Specialist Extensive Support Needs Credential with the knowledge and skills to develop and implement educational programs that ensure that learners with extensive support needs are able to participate in class rooms, schools and the community. Candidates will learn to collaborate to develop and implement instructional, social, and life skill goals that ensure access to the Common Core and leads to effective inclusion of students with extensive support needs in general education. Candidates demonstrate their competency to integrate age and ability appropriate instruction and accommodations at levels equal to the intensity of the needs of the student. This course provides a knowledge base and introduces the skills necessary for the teacher in contemporary inclusive educational environments to assess, plan for, instruct, and evaluate students with extensive support needs.

* With permission of an advisor, 3 units of coursework from the Education Specialist credential program may also be applied as Elective.