Applied Behavior Analysis

Students seeking training to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) may seek out the Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) certificate (if the student already has a masters degree) or the Master of Science degree in Applied Behavior Analysis.  Both options prepare students with training in the science of learning and behavior and the skills necessary to work as Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBA).   Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a scientific approach to the study of behavior.  Behavior analysts work directly with individuals to improve their social, educational, health, adaptive skills, and behavioral outcomes through the development of programming based upon the principles of ABA.  Behavior analysts are trained to describe behavior, explain, predict, and analyze the occurrence and non-occurrence of behavior in the context of the environment, and change behavior through the development of programming based on ABA strategies and tactics.

Through coursework firmly grounded in theory, with an emphasis on the application of theory to socially significant and effective practice, the M.S. in ABA program provides students with an excellent foundation to meet the proficiencies mandated by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB).  Students will be prepared to complete the required supervised field work and sit for the Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) examination. Pass-rate data for University of Michigan-Dearborn candidates are not available at this time.  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. Pass-Rate Data are available at the BACB website.

BCBAs provide services within mental health, educational, and human services environments that may include collecting and analyzing data, writing and evaluating behavior intervention plans, training others to implement components of treatment plans, and overseeing the implementation of treatment plans.  BCBAs are qualified to provide services to individuals with a variety of needs such as academic performance, skill deficits (e.g., communication, adaptive behavior and functional skills), and problem behavior (e.g., aggression, self-injurious behavior), and social interactions.  BCBAs also provide supervision to Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analysts (BCaBA) and Registered Behavior Technicians (RBT).

Admission Requirements

Students must submit the follow items with their application.

The GRE is not required for admission to this program. The Office of International Affairs lists additional admission requirements for international students.

  • Bachelor's degree from an accredited institution
  • Official transcripts from all post-secondary institutions attended
  • 3.0 GPA or higher on submitted transcripts
  • Two professional letters of recommendation
  • Personal statement

The university’s academic policies for graduate students apply.

Program Requirements

The Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis is a 30 credit hour degree program. A minimum cumulative GPA of B (3.0 on a 4.0 scale) must be maintained to continue enrollment in the program. The program requires successful completion of the following courses:

Core Coursework
EDC 506Applied Behavior Analysis I3
EDC 507Applied Behavior Analysis II3
EDC 622Science and Human Behavior3
Research and Assessment Coursework
EDC 516Research Methods Beh Analysis3
EDC 580Behavioral Assessment3
Advanced Coursework
EDC 623Ethics in ABA3
EDC 624Prog Develop, Super & Mgmt3
Elective Coursework (Select 3 courses)9
Intro to Dvlpmntl Disabilities
Early Child Ed Special Needs
Educating the Exceptional Chld
Child Maltreatment and Trauma
Mntl Hlth in Med, Hu Srv, Lrn
Adverse Childhood Experiences
Abnormal Psychology
Child Psychopathology
The Family
Assistive Technology
Total Credit Hours30

Program Notes:

1. Students must complete program requirements with a minimum 3.0 gpa.

2. Completion of this degree leads to, but does not equate to certification through the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB).

a. In order to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) a student must complete the required courses of this certificate, obtain supervision in an ABA setting, and successfully pass the BCBA exam.

i. ONSET OF EXPERIENCE: Supervisees may not start accumulating experience hours until they have done all of the following: • Started qualifying coursework (may begin accruing hours after attending first class meeting of a course with the Verified Course Sequence) • Passed the Experience Standards Training Module • Secured a qualified supervisor

ii. DURATION OF EXPERIENCE: The start and end dates of the experience may not be more than five years apart.

iii. ACCRUAL OF EXPERIENCE: For all categories, no fewer than 10 hours but no more than 30 hours, including supervision hours, may be accrued per week. Supervisees may accrue experience in only one category per supervisory period.

3. In order to be eligible to take the BCBA exam and complete practicum hours, a student must complete all the required courses with a C or better.

4. More information regarding Behavior Analyst Certification can be found at

Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis Accelerated Program Option (4+1 program)


The Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis Accelerated Program, or 4+1 program, is designed for undergraduate students who have the interest, and demonstrated ability, to pursue the M.S. in Applied Behavior Analysis. The program is designed to allow students who complete a B.A./B.S. at the University of Michigan-Dearborn to fulfill the requirements of the M.S. in Applied Behavior Analysis with one additional year of graduate study.  This will be achieved by combining a portion of undergraduate and graduate coursework as described below.  


To be eligible for the program, a student must:

  • Be enrolled in an undergraduate program at the University of Michigan-Dearborn.
  • Have a 3.25 cumulative GPA or better.
  • Have earned at least 60 credits at the undergraduate level.

Double Counting Credits

  1. The 4+1 Masters program allows current UM-Dearborn undergraduate students to complete both their B.A./B.S. and M.S. in Applied Behavior Analysis degrees in an accelerated format. 4+1 students can double-count up to 15 credits of 500-level or above courses.  The courses eligible to be double-counted include:
    1. EDC 506
    2. EDC 507
    3. EDC 516
    4. EDC 580
    5. EDC 539, EDC 561 or EDC 514 (select only 1 elective course)
  2. Students enrolled in undergraduate programs that require the 400-level equivalent of the courses listed above can count the 500-level version of those courses towards the completion of their undergraduate requirements.  If the 400-level version of the classes listed above are not part of the student's undergraduate requirements then these courses can count as electives towards the undergraduate degree.  Students who do not have room for any more elective credit in their plan of study can still complete this program, but may end up with more than the minimum number of undergraduate credits required for their program.
  3. At least one additional year of graduate work (at least 15 credits) would be needed to complete the Master's program.
  4. The double-counted classes appear on both the undergraduate and graduate transcripts.  Students are graded based on the graduate grading scheme for all graduate courses elected.

Admission to the Program

  1. Participation in the 4+1 program is limited to students who have:
    1. completed at least 60 undergraduate credit hours
    2. earned a cumulative GPA of at least 3.25
  2. Admission to the 4+1 program is at the discretion of the CEHHS Director of Master’s Degree Programs.
  3. Applicants to the 4+1 program must apply for the M.S. in Applied Behavior Analysis through the online graduate program application and indicate a "Yes" response to the 4+1 accelerated program question.  Students must submit a letter of recommendation from a UM-Dearborn faculty member or instructor and official transcripts.
  4. 4+1 students must enroll in the M.S. in Applied Behavior Analysis program for a minimum of two full terms, paying graduate tuition rates. 4+1 students do not dual register and should utilize their graduate registration, not their undergraduate registration, to complete the remaining credits of the graduate program.
  5. Students must attain a grade of B or better in each 500 level class double-counted or transferred to the graduate program.  Failure to do so may result in removal from the 4+1 program.  Students may be given the opportunity to retake courses once they complete their undergraduate degree

Feasibility of this Program

To complete the 4+1 program in five years students will have to complete any remaining required courses in the M.S. in Applied Behavior Analysis plan of study.  The following table shows a sample course schedule for the last three years of the accelerated program.  In this schedule it is assumed that students take 15 credits of graduate coursework as undergraduates, which leaves them with 15 credits to complete as graduate students.   Students taking less than the full 15 credits as undergraduates may require more than one year to complete the Master’s program.  The courses shown in the table are only the graduate level courses that would be required to complete the M.S. in Applied Behavior Analysis.  It is assumed students would fill in other requirements for their undergraduate degree as needed during years 3 & 4. 

Sample Course Schedule

The Association for Behavior Analysis International has verified the following courses toward the coursework requirements for eligibility to take the Board Certified Behavior Analyst® or Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst® examination. Applicants will need to meet additional requirements before they can be deemed eligible to take the examination.

EDC 506Applied Behavior Analysis I (Year 3 Fall)3
EDC 507Applied Behavior Analysis II (Year 3 Winter)3
EDC 539Child Maltreatment and Trauma (Year 4 Fall possible elective)3
EDC 516Research Methods Beh Analysis (Year 4 Winter)3
EDC 580Behavioral Assessment (Year 4 Summer)3
EDC 622Science and Human Behavior (Year 5 Fall)3
EDC 514Early Child Ed Special Needs (Year 5 Fall possible elective)3
or EDC 561 Educating the Exceptional Chld
EDC 603Mntl Hlth in Med, Hu Srv, Lrn (Year 5 Winter possible elective)3
EDC 623Ethics in ABA (Year 5 Winter)3
EDC 624Prog Develop, Super & Mgmt (Year 5 Summer)3
EDC 604Adverse Childhood Experiences (Year 5 Summer possible elective)3

Program Notes

  • Students only need to complete 3 courses (9 credits) of electives.  The course list above shows all possible elective options even though only 3 of these courses would need to be taken.
  • The undergraduate degree for 4+1 students can be conferred upon completion of the undergraduate degree requirements, rather than after completion of the graduate degree.

Learning Goals

  1. Describe and provide examples of the critical concepts and principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA).
  2. Describe and apply research methodology and measurement strategies used in the implementation and management of ABA.
  3. Describe and apply the principles of ABA in relation to individuals with a variety of disabilities in a range of clinical, educational, pre-vocational/vocational, home, and community settings.
  4. Describe and apply behavioral assessment procedures, including identification of target behaviors, developing operational definitions, conducting functional behavior assessment/functional analysis.
  5. Accurately graph, visually analyze, and interpret behavioral data, including functional analysis data.
  6. Describe ethical issues related to ABA service delivery with individuals with developmental disabilities and other mental health needs.
  7. Describe and apply principles of experimental design, including single-subject research methodology.
  8. Develop Behavior Intervention Plans based upon the results of a functional analysis.