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Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), M.A. 

Help better the lives of children and adults struggling with behaviors ranging from everyday social interactions to complex disorders such as autism spectrum disorder. Whitworth's ABAI-verified course sequence can be completed by itself or as part of a master's degree in behavior analysis. 

  • Whitworth's ABA coursework is verified by the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI).
  • Save time and money by completing the ABA course sequence along with your master's degree.
  • Receive Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) supervision as part of the required field experience from a Whitworth supervisor or a BCBA at your place of employment. 

"I chose ABA because it combined my interests in science, psychology, and working with people with developmental disabilities."

Dana Parkin '20

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Degree Snapshot
Credits 32-46
Average Completion Time 2-3 years
Class Format In-person, evening classes with online components
Cost Per Credit $675* per credit (financial aid & scholarships available)
Application Deadlines Fall Term Start | Apply by July 1
Spring Term Start | Apply by Nov. 15
Later applications will be considered as program space allows.  

*for the 2022-23 academic year

What is Behavior Analysis?

Behavior analysis, also known as applied behavior analysis, is the scientific study of the principles of learning and behavior. ABA is used to better the lives of children and adults with psychological disorders by reducing behaviors that interfere with positive learning and functioning. Most commonly, ABA therapy is used to help people with autism. Research shows that use of consistent ABA therapy can significantly improve behaviors and skills (social skills, communication, reading, fine motor dexterity, hygiene, grooming, etc.) and decrease the need for special services.

Is a M.A. in Applied Behavior Analysis Right for You?

  • Behavior analysts are in high demand. Annual demand for individuals holding Board Certified Behavior Analyst® certification has increased each year since 2010. According to the BLS, employment for those working in the field of behavioral disorders is expected to grow 25% from 2019 to 2029.
  • Behavior analysts work in a variety of settings from schools and workplaces to clinics and even homes.

I chose Whitworth because the supervision piece was included. Living in a place where there are not a lot of BCBAs, I needed to make sure I could get my supervision from the program I was attending. It also didn't hurt that the campus is beautiful!

- Austin Skellenger '16

Learn more about Dana Parkin.

Enhance Your Career Opportunities

Whitworth's ABA degree program can open doors to new career opportunities and is often a good fit for those interested in teaching, social work, mental health and counseling programs, criminal justice, and other behavioral services. You'll obtain specialized training to address behavioral challenges in children and adults by applying a systematic scientific approach.

What type of job can I get? 

While the majority of BCBAs provide direct ABA services or work independently as consultants, you will be well-qualified to work in a variety of environments in both the public and private sector, or to to implement administration or supervision directly related to providing ABA therapy or services, including positions such as...

  • Clinical Director
  • Clinical Supervisor
  • Clinical Coordinator
  • Lead/Head Behavior Analyst
  • Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA)
  • Behavior Analyst 

Program Curriculum

ABA Course Sequence (26 credits)

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.*

NumberCourse TitleCredits
EDB 510 Foundations in Applied Behavior Analysis 1
EDB 521 Intervention for Behavior & Motivation 3
EDB 526 Designing Instruction & Supports for Individuals with Low-Incidence Disabilities 3
EDB 536 Intensive Interventions for Behavioral Challenges 3
EDB 550 Assessment in Applied Behavior Analysis 3
EDB 560 Single Case Research Methods 3
EDB 562 Ethical Treatment & Research 3
EDB 564 Concepts & Principles in Applied Behavior Analysis 3
EDB 570 Supervision of Behavioral Interventions in Schools & Other Settings 3
EDB 595 Exit Project in Applied Behavior Analysis 1

Fieldwork Experience (6-20 credits)

In addition to the above coursework, 2,000 fieldwork hours are required to apply for the Board Certified Behavior Analyst Examination. Students have the option of completing some of their hours (limited supervision track) or all of their hours (full supervision track) by enrolling in Whitworth courses.

Limited Supervision Track (6 credits)

This track is for students, such as current behavior technicians, who are able to complete the remainder of their fieldwork hours under the supervision of a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) at their place of employment.  

Full Supervision Track (20 credits)

This track is for students who need assistance with accessing supervision from a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) to complete all 2,000 fieldwork hours.

*Requirements for eligibility to take the Board Certified Behavior Analyst Examination under the 5th Edition Task List include a master’s degree or higher, successful completion of required coursework and supervised fieldwork experience. Please see the BACB website for more information.

For course descriptions and learning outcomes of this major, please view the course catalog.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where do behavior analysts work?

Behavior analysts are best known for advances in autism treatment and support; they are also recognized for working as consultants and independent contractors and as Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs).® BCBAs are well-qualified to work in a variety of environments in both the public and private sector, although the majority provide direct ABA services or work independently as consultants. Others are employed to implement administration or supervision directly related to providing ABA therapy or services.

Do I need to have a bachelor's degree in a specific area to be accepted into the program?

There is no required major for those entering the applied behavior analysis program.

When do classes meet? 

Whitworth’s ABA program was designed specifically for those who work during the day. On-campus classes for this program meet during the later afternoon or evening.

What is required for BCBA certification?

In order to apply to take the Board Certified Behavior Analyst Examination® as of January 2022, students must complete the following:

  • a master’s degree or higher from an accredited university
  • successful completion of required coursework
  • supervised fieldwork experience

At the end of Whitworth's 46-credit master's program (full supervision track), students will have completed the above requirements. Specific eligibility requirements to sit for the board examination are listed on the Behavior Analyst Certification Board, Inc.® website.

Candidates must apply to take the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) Examination® and pass the exam to become certified. The BACB® is the only credentialing organization for professionals within the discipline.