Applied Behavior Analysis, M.S.

The M.S. in ABA prepares students to meet the coursework requirements to sit for the exam to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). Professionals with certification in ABA are highly sought after in many fields including education, special education, and business.

There are three ABA program options – a Master of Science, a Sixth Year Diploma Program, and a Certificate Program. All programs prepare students to take and pass the BCBA exam and to use ABA in applied settings, such as with individuals with or without disabilities in educational or therapeutic environments. The ABA courses will be particularly relevant for special educators, school psychologists, and other educational professionals. Supervised Independent Fieldwork is available as a program option.

Verified Course Sequence (VCS) first time pass rate data for the BCBA exam can be found at the BACB website here. Please note 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.

Applicaton Deadline

One month before the start of new cohort. *New cohorts begin every 3 semesters (not including summer).

The ABA program currently runs on a cohort system (subject to change), with a new cohort beginning every 3 semesters (e.g., Spring 2020, Fall 2021, etc.). Applicants are encouraged to contact the Special Education department to verify next cohort start dates, application timeline and more information regarding the application process.

All Master’s degrees in special education require 30 credits, as well as a culminating experience. Some graduate courses may require field experiences. Courses should not be taken without an adviser’s approval.

Admission and Program Requirements Are As Follows:

  • 3.0 minimum undergraduate GPA
  • An interview, essay and two letters of recommendation are required for admission. However, additional materials may be required. Please contact an adviser for more information.
  • The program includes a culminating requirement such as a comprehensive exam or a thesis. Contact the Special Education Office for information on acceptance to the program.
  • The program must include 30 credits at the 500 level or above.

Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis— 30 Credits

Verified Course Sequence:

SED 641: Ethics and Professional Conduct (3 Credits)
SED 642: Organizational Behavior Management and Supervision (2 Credits)
SED 689: Philosophical Underpinnings of ABA (1 Credit)
SED 690: Principles of ABA (3 Credits)
SED 691: Single Subject Research Methods (3 Credits)
SED 692: Advanced ABA (3 Credits)
SED 693: Assessment in ABA (3 Credits)
SED 694: Intervention in ABA (3 Credits)

Total: 21 credits

Other required courses:

SED 514: Transition within Disability Services (3 Credits)

SED 531: Research in Special Education (3 Credits)

Total: 6 credits


One 500-level elective is required (3 credits) to reach the 30-credit requirement. Graduate electives may be chosen from special education or related courses with advisor approval, but these may not be credits that have been applied to a previous degree. These courses may be any 500-level graduate level course in the School of Arts and Sciences, School of Education, or School of Health and Human Services.


Student may enroll in SED 695 (1 credit) to be taken once per-semester, across three semesters (for a total of 3 credits). SED 695 is an option for those students who would like Southern to provide support for BACB required supervision. At this time, student must arrange the location of supervision, where they are employed for 30+ hours per week (e.g., at the school where they currently work).


Comprehensive exam in Applied Behavior Analysis is required.

Special Education Comprehensive Examination Schedule:

  • Fall — Study Session: to be announced (see website). Comprehensive Examination: Typically given on the third Saturday in November, 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
  • Spring — Study Session: to be announced (see website). Comprehensive Examination: Typically given on the first Saturday in April, 9 a.m.-1 p.m.