MS in Applied Behavior Analysis

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This program is no longer accepting new students. If you have questions or concerns please contact us here.

Program Overview

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is the scientific study of learning and behavior in which the principles of behavior are applied to understand, predict, and improve socially significant behavior.

Drake’s ABA Program is a comprehensive program that provides intensive classroom instruction and supervised practicum experiences.  Coursework in the ABA Program will prepare individuals to enter the field with the ability to:

  • Teach new skills to children and adults and promote appropriate and desirable behavior
  • Assess, prevent, and treat challenging behavior
  • Supervise and train caregivers, school, personnel, staff, etc.
  • Work with children and adults with autism spectrum disorder and other developmental disabilities

Program Requirements

Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis

Completion of the Masters in ABA requires a total of 45 credit hours.  Students enroll for 9 credit hours each semester, which includes coursework and practicum hours.  The program will span 5 semesters (fall, spring, summer, fall, spring).

Students are required to take 21 hours of core courses and 9 courses of elective coursework related to advanced behavior-analytic topics or developmental and intellectual disabilities.  Students will complete practicum hours over 5 semesters. Practicum opportunities are arranged and coordinated by program faculty and students will rotate across at least two practicum sites during their tenure to help equip students will the skills necessary to be effective practitioners.

Part-time options are available, interested students should contact Dr. Valdovinos for more details.  

Certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis 

Students who already have a Master’s degree can complete the certificate program.  Completion of the Certificate in ABA requires a total of 36 credit hours.  The certificate program will span 4 semesters (fall, spring, summer, fall).  Students are required to complete 21 hours of core courses and complete practicum hours.

Specialization in ABA

Drake graduate students, in School of Education and College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, can designate a “Specialization” in Applied Behavior Analysis. The course work associated with the Specialization exists as part of the curriculum for the Master’s and Certification in ABA offered by the ABA program. Students interested in becoming Board Certified Analysts will have the option to enroll in the Certificate program in ABA after completing ABA 262, ABA 264, and ABA 265.


Anyone interested in a career in applied behavior analysis should be aware of the two primary credentials that are often needed to do so. The first is Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), and the second is Licensed Behavior Analyst (LBA; sometimes called a Licensed Applied Behavior Analyst or LABA).

The BCBA credential is a nationally recognized professional credential focused on discipline-specific professional standards. The LBA credential is a state-established credential that is related to specific state regulations on the practice of applied behavior analysis. The requirements for each state’s LBA credential vary. Some states require the BCBA credential to obtain the LBA credential, while others list the BCBA credential as one possible option for getting the LBA. For example, the state of Iowa issues licenses to practice behavior analysis if one holds the BCBA credential. Students interested in other state licenses should review the desired state’s criteria.

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