Ph.D. in Applied Behavior Analysis in Chicago

Program Description

The Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) doctoral program at the Chicago Campus trains students to use a natural-science approach to understanding why individuals behave the way they do and use that approach to effect socially significant behavioral changes. 

Students in The Chicago School's Applied Behavior Analysis doctoral program develop a strong foundation in the science of behavior (experimental analysis of behavior), the philosophy of behavior analysis (B.F. Skinner’s radical behaviorism), application of basic principles of behavior discovered in the laboratory to human behavior (ABA), and the ethics of applying a science of behavior to human affairs. 

Ph.D. students in the Chicago Campus' Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) program benefit from a faculty with diverse interests and expertise. Courses may sometimes be offered in flexible formats that meet changing student needs – these formats may include cross-campus classes with faculty and students from the Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. campuses. This sharing of faculty enhances student accessibility to experts in various areas of behavior analysis. 

The Ph.D. in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) program includes advanced coursework in the experimental analysis behavior, philosophical and conceptual issues, research methods, and experimental and instructional design. Students are trained and provided the opportunity to teach courses at the master’s level. This rigorous doctoral program requires students to pass a comprehensive written and oral exam and to conduct dissertation research that makes an original contribution to the knowledge base of the field.

Graduates are prepared to contribute to research that further advances an integrated, scientific understanding of the complexities of human behavior. They are also prepared to teach and mentor future behavior analysts at the undergraduate and graduate levels. The program helps students develop expert knowledge in behavior analytic theory, research, and practice. 

Graduates emerge ready to serve as highly competent behavioral scientist-practitioners in educational, clinical, and business settings, as well as any other areas where human behavior is important.


Applied Behavior Analysis



Graduates are eligible to pursue certification as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst ® (BCBA).

Total Credits

58 post-masters, 106 post-bachelors (48 credits completed in the M.S. ABA program and 58 credits completed in the Ph.D. ABA program

Fieldwork Requirements

Program Time to Completion

three years full time (post-master's) | five years full time (post-baccalaureate)
  • Bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution
  • Course in Psychology with a grade earned of “C” or better
  • Course in Statistics or Research Methods with a grade earned of “C” or better
  • Three letters of recommendation
Admission Requirements

GRE Requirements

Sample Courses


Addresses the major definitions for mental disorders, as well as the theories of etiology within the context of recent developments in the categorization and classification of psychological phenomena (DSM-IV TR). A survey of the classes of psychotropics used for the major disorders is also addressed in this course.

Psychology of the Lifespan

Examines normal development from infancy throh advanced ages, focusing on the development of perceptual and cognitive processes, psychosocial roles and familial interpersonal processes. Current clinical approaches are examined from diverse theoretical viewpoints and in view of recent research findings. Cultural diversity and individual differences are integral to this course.

Analysis and Treatment of Developmental Disabilities

Builds upon the basic principles of learning and applied behavior analysis. This course offers advanced coverage of special topics, including practicing behavior analysis in applied settings, such as schools and hospitals; conducting parent training; assessment and treatment procedures for improving communication skills of individuals with developmental disabilities; managing problem behavior such as self injury, food refusal, and noncompliance, and for dealing with special populations such as children with autism.

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