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An Applied Behavior Analysis Student works in the library Applied Behavior Analysis

M.S. Applied Behavior Analysis

  • San Diego, CA
  • Full-Time, Part-Time
  • 2 Years Full-Time, 3 Years Part-Time

In addition to providing a solid foundation in the philosophy, science, and application of behavior analysis, the M.S. Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) program incorporates the content areas and practicum requirements to make graduates eligible for national board certification by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board®. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job growth for […]

In addition to providing a solid foundation in the philosophy, science, and application of behavior analysis, the M.S. Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) program incorporates the content areas and practicum requirements to make graduates eligible for national board certification by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board®.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job growth for psychologists is expected to grow much faster than average. This master’s ABA program addresses that need by preparing students to serve diverse populations— including children, adults, and seniors—in residential, school, and community-based settings.

Guided by faculty with years of experience in the field, students will learn about the ethical design, implementation, and evaluation of environmental changes to produce socially significant improvements in behavior. By combining theory with real-world application, graduates of this Applied Behavior Analysis program will find themselves uniquely qualified to provide much needed services to underrepresented communities.


San Diego Student Experience

The Chicago School has served Southern California for the better part of a decade. By providing exceptional programs in psychology and the related mental health sciences—including Clinical Psychology, Applied Behavior Analysis, and Marriage and Family Therapy—the programs at our San Diego Campus provide expanded access to students in diverse communities all throughout Southern California.

Maintaining partnerships with local organizations and clinical sites all through Southern California, our San Diego Campus gives students the opportunity to engage in hands-on training where they can apply what they’ve learned in the classroom in real-world situations. By serving diverse and underserved neighborhoods and communities, students will develop a global worldview that can be applied to a career in any field.

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Behavioral Pharmacology

Prerequisite(s): AB 520. This course presents the basic principles required for the use of psychopharmacological agents. All major classes of psychotropics are presented, including antidepressants, mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, anxiolytics and sedatives/hypnotics, psycho-stimulants, and atypical medications. Other topics covered include laboratory and physiological assessments pertinent to their use, basic neuron-chemical and anatomical concepts associated with their proposed mechanism of action, drug-drug interactions, adverse reactions, and pertinent aspects of differential diagnosis. Psychiatric aspects of general medical conditions, with particular attention to the diagnosis and treatment of delirium, are presented. (3 credits)

Introduction to Instructional Design

Prerequisite(s): AB 520, AB 521, and AB 550 This course covers (a) the various systems of instruction that have been developed by behavior analysts, including Personalized Systems of Instruction, Programmed Instruction, Precision Teaching, and Direct Instruction, (b) the components of a measurably effective, evidence-based system of instruction, and (c) the basic methodological and procedural contributions from the fields of Instructional Design. (2 credits)

Advanced Verbal Behavior

Prerequisite(s): AB 520 Skinner’s (1957) Advanced Verbal Behavior offers a conceptual analysis of verbal behavior. This course provides students with the opportunity to analyze research that has influenced a behavior-analytic conceptualization of verbal behavior and to examine current trends in research related to verbal behavior. Students will read research that has contributed to empirical support for Skinner’s conceptualization of verbal behavior and analyze the strengths and limitations of these studies in order to identify areas of research that are still needed for a complete understanding of verbal behavior.  Students will then develop a framework for determining which aspects of verbal behavior have empirical support and which aspects of verbal behavior have yet to be explored. (2 credits)

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.

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 3/1/2017:

  • Graduation from the M.S. Applied Behavior Analysis Program in conjunction with BCBA® certification aligns with degree and certification requirements for professional licensure in Maryland and Virginia.
  • A professional license is not required to practice behavior analysis in California, Illinois, or Washington D.C.

It is the student’s responsibility to determine the licensure requirements for any state not listed above. The M.S. Applied Behavior Analysis may meet some or all of the requirements of states not listed, but additional state-specific approvals or coursework and/or practicum hours may be required beyond the program’s graduation requirements. Some state licensing requirements include the following: completion of a master’s degree, post-graduate field work, certification as a board certified behavior analyst, examination, and application for license.

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:

The Advanced Applied Project allows a student to demonstrate a level of competency that is necessary to be a successful professional applied Board Certified Behavior Analyst. The thesis option, the Advanced Research Project is targeted for individuals who are interested in conducting experimental research and pursing a doctoral degree.


Chicago School’s ABA course sequence is approved by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board®. Graduates are eligible to sit for certification by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board®.

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Admissions Operations
c/o The Chicago School of Professional Psychology
350 N Orleans St, Suite 1050
Chicago, IL 60654-1822

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.
      • 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. Letters should arrive in a sealed envelope, signed across the seal.

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.

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