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ABA students smiling in class Applied Behavior Analysis

M.S. in Applied Behavior Analysis

  • Irvine, CA
  • Full-Time, Part-Time
  • 2 Years Full-Time, Up to 5 Years Part-Time

The M.S. in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) program provides students with a solid foundation in the principles of behavior analysis, equipping them with skills to bring about socially significant behavior change through data-based decision making and program development. Using modern technologies, students will be challenged to become leaders in the field of applied behavior analysis. […]

The M.S. in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) program provides students with a solid foundation in the principles of behavior analysis, equipping them with skills to bring about socially significant behavior change through data-based decision making and program development. Using modern technologies, students will be challenged to become leaders in the field of applied behavior analysis.

The Chicago School’s ABA master’s curriculum offered in Irvine, California covers all four domains of behavior analysis:

  • Applied behavior analysis
  • Experimental analysis of behavior
  • Service delivery
  • Theory and philosophy (radical behaviorism)

Guided by practitioner faculty, students will use modern technologies to bring about socially significant behavioral changes through data-based program development.

In addition to coursework, ABA students receive practicum experiences and complete a capstone project—either a master’s thesis, or applied clinical project. The thesis option, the Advanced Research Project, is targeted for individuals who are interested in conducting research or continuing on to doctoral studies

Graduates of the M.S. ABA program are qualified to sit for the national BCBA® certification exam upon meeting all requirements, which includes completion of all required, supervised fieldwork. Certified as a BCBA®, graduates will be able to pursue employment in the following areas:

  • Clinical service delivery
  • Consulting
  • Nonprofit
  • Education
  • Business and industry

M.S. in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA): Irvine Student Experience

Our Irvine campus, is located in Orange County next to UC Irvine in the heart of University Plaza. Over 100 national and multinational businesses are headquartered in Irvine, opening up significant networking and job opportunities.

Our Irvine campus is also home to one of our well-known Chicago School counseling centers, which provide students the extraordinary opportunity to apply to gain real-world training at the centers while also learning marketing and operations related to running a private practice or mental health clinic.

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Science and Human Behavior

Designed to enhance a student’s understanding of the application of behavior analysis to individual and social problems, with an emphasis on the philosophical bases of behavior analysis. Students read Skinner’s seminal text, Science and Human Behavior, in which he describes behavioral and cultural analyses, as well as critiques and related articles. The major objective of the class includes understanding and critiquing Skinner’s approach to the study and control of individual and group behavior. Topics include discussing individual behavior that seems difficult to study with a behavior-analytic approach (e.g., private events) as well as control of group behavior and the problems associated with such control. Students will be able to discuss the pros and cons of Skinner’s perspective, identify the aspects of his beliefs with which they agree or disagree, and explain their own perspectives.

Measurement and Design in Behavior Analysis

This course addresses the measurement of behavior, data display, interpretation of data, and experimental design. Aspects of measurement including behavior definition, measureable dimensions of behavior, measurement systems and their selection, and data collection, graphing, and interpretation will be covered. Students will learn how to evaluate the validity and reliability of measurement procedures including interobserver agreement, social validity, and treatment integrity. This course also covers the uses and defining features of single-subject experimental designs as well as their advantages and limitations.

Behavior Assessment

In this course, students learn to determine the need for behavior analytic services, conduct and interpret the results of behavioral assessments, identify common functions of problem behavior, and create socially meaningful behavior change goals. Assessments of relevant skill strengths and deficits, preference assessments, as well as indirect and descriptive assessment, and functional analysis of problem behavior will be examined.

The M.S. Applied Behavior Analysis is aligned with degree, coursework, and supervised experience requirements for eligibility to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst® (BCBA®) by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board® (BACB®).  Applicants for BCBA® certification must meet additional requirements established by BACB® including application, examination, and background check.

BCBA Examination Pass Rates


*Pass-rate data are not published for sequences with fewer than six first-time candidates in a single year or for sequences within their first four years of operation.

There may be state professional licensure requirements to practice applied behavior analysis.  A state’s licensure board determines the specific requirements for candidates seeking professional licensure and those requirements are subject to change.  The following is professional licensure information as of the date of publication:

  • Graduation from the M.S. Applied Behavior Analysis Program in conjunction with BCBA® certification aligns with degree and certification requirements for professional licensure in Alabama, Arizona, Alaska, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, Mississippi, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin. Graduation from the M.S. Applied Behavior Analysis Program aligns with degree requirements for professional licensure in Arizona, Massachusetts, and New York. Note that candidates for licensure may be required to meet additional state requirements such as application, examination, and background check.
  • A professional license is not required to practice behavior analysis in Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, West Virginia, Wyoming, and the District of Columbia. State laws on professional licensure are subject to change by their legislatures.

Due to recent and ongoing changes in state professional licensure of applied behavior analysis practitioners, students should contact the state board directly to verify information regarding professional licensure.  To assist with this research, the Association of Professional Behavior Analysists (APBA) publishes information regarding state licensure.

Licensure and Certification FAQ

Within core coursework students are required to complete 7 credits of practicum. Practicum courses are designed to meet the requirements of the BACB®. Specifically, according to the BACB® certification guidelines, 50% of the required supervision hours can be offered in a group format, and as such, these courses have been included in The Chicago School’s MS Applied Behavior Analysis curriculum.

Students are also required to complete a thesis (Advanced Research Project) or a non-thesis option known as the Advanced Applied Project. The thesis must be a data-based empirical evaluation, but does not necessarily need to mark an original contribution to the published literature (it may be a replication and extension). The primary function of the master’s thesis is to demonstrate that students are actively learning to function as scientist-practitioners who are continually engaged in making data-based assessment and treatment decisions. The applied project is a demonstration that the student can assess and treat a client effectively and ethically from start to finish. The applied project process is as stringent as the thesis option and demonstrates similar skills as the thesis option but focuses on application rather than research. The course sequence facilitates student completion of theses and applied projects with a carefully designed course sequence that has the necessary steps toward thesis and project completion embedded into the required coursework. Any student considering going on to a PhD program should choose the thesis option.

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Admissions Operations
c/o The Chicago School of Professional Psychology
203 N LaSalle St., Suite 1900
Chicago, IL 60601

Application to The Chicago School of Professional Psychology’s M.S. Applied Behavior Analysis program is open to any person who has earned a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution and who meets other entrance requirements. Students applying to the M.S. in Applied Behavior Analysis program must submit the following:

  • Application
  • Application Fee: $50
  • Resume or Curriculum Vitae
  • Essay – Please answer the following question within three double spaced typed pages (approximately 500-750 words). Essay must specifically address the program/specialization for which you are applying.
    • Psychology is a vast discipline with many career options. In an essay format, please describe:
      • Why you chose this particular program/specialization. Cite specific experiences and examples.
      • Why it is important to you to study this discipline at a school that emphasizes cultural awareness, competence, and understanding of diversity (see our Commitment to Diversity statement).
      • Your professional career goals as they relate to this specialization.
      • Why you believe this program will assist you in reaching these goals.
    • Official College/University Transcripts
      • Students must submit official transcripts from all schools where degrees have been earned. The Chicago School requires that all schools be regionally accredited higher education institutions. Official transcripts may be sent directly from the institution or with your application for admission as long as they are official, sealed, and signed across the envelope flap when they arrive.
    • Three Letters of Recommendation
      • Appropriate recommendations are from professors and/or supervisors from significant work or volunteer experiences, who can appraise your academic or professional performance.

International Application Requirements

The Chicago School is dedicated to keeping our professional degree programs accessible to anyone regardless of financial status. In addition to the scholarships that may be available, our Financial Aid department will help provide you with information to determine what financial arrangements are right for you.

Learn more.