COE: MS: Applied Behavior Analysis
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Help people... become a BCBA

The College of Education proudly hosts the Master in Science in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Program approved by the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) and accepted by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board®, Inc. (BACB®).

Due to great demand for part-time and full-time BCBAs who are sought by schools and agencies throughout the U.S. and worldwide, our College presents the M.S. in ABA Program to prepare behavior experts who provide the needed assistance in our region. If you are a professional who assists individuals who have behavioral concerns, or for school personnel who provide instruction and guidance directly to children in inclusive settings, this program supports your knowledge, understanding, and implementation of research-driven strategies that improve the quality of life of children and families.

Applied Behavior Analysis is a well-developed discipline among the helping professions, with a mature body of scientific knowledge, established standards for evidence-based practice, distinct methods of service, recognized experience and educational requirements for practice, and identified sources of requisite education in universities (BACB, 2014).

BCBA therapists are practitioners with behavior intervention expertise who…

  • are certified to conduct descriptive and systematic behavioral assessments, including functional analyses, and provide behavior analytic interpretations of results
  • design and supervise behavior analytic interventions
  • effectively develop and implement appropriate assessment and intervention methods for use in unfamiliar situations and for a range of cases
  • may work as independent contractors for organizations
  • teach others to carry out ethical and effective behavior analytic interventions based on published research and designs
  • can deliver instruction in behavior analysis
  • supervise the work of Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analysts (BCaBA) and Registered Behavior Technicians (RBTs) others who implement behavior analytic interventions

To become a BCBA®, a candidate must meet the following requirements (starting January 1, 2022):

  1. Have a master's or doctoral degree from an accredited institution
  2. Completed and pass course work outlined by the Fifth Edition Task List
  3. Complete practical fieldwork in applied behavior analysis following all requirements established by the BACB
  4. Pass the BCBA Exam

UMSL's M.S. in ABA Program is a two-year, 39-credit program that provides students the eligibility for all requirements listed above. Courses in the M.S. in ABA Program are taught by Ph.D. and Master's level BCBAs with extensive clinical and practical experience.

Logo for National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC SARA)

National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC SARA)

To determine if this program meets the reciprocity requirements for like state educational certification programs outside the state of Missouri, follow this link for further contact information and resources.

Master of Science (MS)

Contact Advisors:

Marty Woytus & Kristel Schlemper

116 South Campus Classroom Building (SCCB)
p: (314) 516-5937

Deadline to Apply:
July 1st


Slide 1 UMSL adds new Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis
Students can begin enrolling in a new Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis program after approval by the Missouri Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development. The program was built upon the success of an existing certification program in the College of Education. (Photo by August Jennewein)

Admission Requirements

Applicants must meet the general graduate admission requirements of the Graduate School, described in the UMSL Bulletin.  Students are considered for admission to the graduate program in Applied Behavioral Analysis only after they have formally applied for admission through the Graduate School.  Applications may be completed on-line.

In addition to Graduate School admission requirements, the following requirements apply:

  • An undergraduate degree with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0
  • Letter of Intent/Statement of Purpose (1-2 pages)
  • One Letter of Reference

Degree Requirements

To earn an M.S. in Applied Behavior Analysis, students must complete at least 23 credit hours of graduate-level course work, 10 credit hours of practicum experience, and at least 6 credit hours of Thesis Research for which students will be required to write and defend a thesis.

Required Foundation Courses 

Students are required to complete the following courses within the first 15 credit hours of study.

SPEC ED 6641Basic Principles and Concepts of Behavior Analysis3
SPEC ED 6642Behavior Assessment3
SPEC ED 6643Research Methods in Applied Behavior Analysis3
Total Hours9

Required Courses

Students are required to complete the following courses.

SPEC ED 6644Behavior Interventions in Applied Behavior Analysis3
SPEC ED 6645Ethics and Professionalism in Applied Behavior Analysis3
SPEC ED 6646Verbal Behavior Concepts and Applications3
SPEC ED 6647Advanced Concepts and Principles in Behavior Analysis3
SPEC ED 6648Behavior-Based Consultation and Supervision2
Total Hours14

Required Practicum Courses 

Through the course of five semesters, students are required to complete practicum courses in order to accrue the minimal hours of supervised experience required by the BACB to qualify for the BCBA exam.

SPEC ED 6651Practicum I in Applied Behavior Analysis2
SPEC ED 6652Practicum II in Applied Behavior Analysis2
SPEC ED 6653Practicum III in Applied Behavior Analysis 2
SPEC ED 6654Practicum IV in Applied Behavior Analysis2
SPEC ED 6655Practicum V in Applied Behavior Analysis2
Total Hours10

Required Research Courses 

Students take a minimum of 6 thesis credit hours (no more than 3 per semester) starting in year two of the program.

SPEC ED 6661Thesis in Applied Behavior Analysis6
Total Hours6

Thesis Requirement

Students are required to complete a total of 6 credit hours of thesis. The student will engage in sustained and self-motivated study through the research process, conferring with advisors, and drafting and revising a manuscript.  The thesis proposal must be approved by the committee and successfully defended. A committee chair will be identified, who will consult with the student on selecting two other members for the committee.

Students will work with their committee chair to identify a thesis project such as the following but not limited to a literature review, a scholarly tutorial, or an empirical study. The thesis project should be a scholarly work related to behavior analysis.

Students are expected to follow all other general requirements of the Graduate School regarding master’s degree and thesis requirements.

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Andresa De Souza, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor

Dr. De Souza received a B.S. in Psychology from State University of Londrina in Brazil, an M.S. in Behavior Analysis and Therapy from Southern Illinois University Carbondale under the supervision of Dr. Ruth Anne Rehfeldt, and a Ph.D. in Applied Behavior Analysis from the University of Nebraska Medical Center under the supervision of Dr. Wayne...
Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA)
The Board Certified Behavior Analyst (or BCBA) is a national credential obtained by completing a graduate program or coursework in behavior analysis and by passing the BCBA national examination. Professionals who are certified at the BCBA level are independent practitioners who provide behavior-analytic services. BCBAs may supervise the work of Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analysts (BCaBAs), Registered Behavior Technicians® (RBTs), and other professionals who implement behavior-analytic interventions.
Missouri Licensed Behavior Analyst (MO-LBA)