Ph.D. in Applied Behavior Analysis

Program mission

ABAI Accreditation Doctoral logo

The Caldwell University on-campus ABAI accredited Ph.D. in ABA program was designed to prepare students for high-level employment within areas where there are growing demands for competent professionals with expertise in applied behavior analysis: namely, developmental services, special education, mental health, and academia.

Program objectives

Ph.D. students are required to show proficiency in coursework, applied practicum, and dissertation research. The core curriculum for the Ph.D. in ABA program focuses on (a) the advanced principles and procedures of basic and applied behavior analysis practice and research, (b) the application of behavior analysis and behavioral support in complex environments (i.e., home, school, work, other community settings, and institutional settings), (c) supervision and training of others in behavior analysis, (d) conceptual and theoretical underpinnings of advanced topics in behavior analysis, and (e) development and completion of independent research in behavior analysis.

Admission Requirements Program Requirements (90 Credits)

Note: The application deadline for the Ph.D. program is January 15 and applications are considered for the fall semester only.

  • M.A. in Applied Behavior Analysis, Psychology, Special Education, or a related field (e.g., Speech Pathology, Social Work) and have earned BCBA® certification(or be eligible for BCBA® certification). Applicants who do not meet these requirements are urged to apply to the Caldwell University M.A. in ABA program or an equivalent program.
  • Minimum GPA of 3.6 in master’s degree coursework
  • Official transcripts of their master’s degree coursework
  • Satisfactory scores on the General Graduate Record Exam (GRE) or the Miller Analogies Test (MAT)
  • Three letters of recommendation that specifically speak to the likelihood of the applicant’s success in a doctoral degree program
  • Writing sample: a research-based paper in applied behavior analysis or a related area of psychology of at least ten pages that was previously submitted as part of graduate course. If applicable, the applicant’s master’s thesis is preferable.
  • Three to five page personal statement describing reasons for pursuing Ph.D. in ABA at Caldwell University, current research interests, and preferred faculty member with whom to study (including reasons for this choice).
  • Personal Interview (applicants who qualify for an interview will be contacted by the ABA Department).

Required Courses (60 credits)

ABA 510 Survey of Research Methods and Statistics (3)
ABA 526 Behavior Analysis and Learning (3)
ABA 534 Research Methods in Applied Behavior Analysis (3)
ABA 537 Introduction to Applied Behavior Analysis (3)
ABA 553 Assessing Autism Interventions* (3)
ABA 556 Advanced Applied Behavior Analysis (3)
ABA 563 Ethics for Behavior Analysts (3)
ABA 572 Language and Social Skills for Individuals with Autism* (3)
ABA 573 Scientific Writing for Behavior Analysts (3)
ABA 574 Professionalism for Behavior Analysts (3)
ABA 650 Thesis in Applied Behavior Analysis I (3)
ABA 651 Thesis in Applied Behavior Analysis II (3)
ABA 800 Applied Practicum in ABA I (3)
ABA 801 Applied Practicum in ABA II* (1-3) OR
ABA 809 Research Practicum in ABA (3)
ABA 810 Advanced Research Methods and Statistics (3)
ABA 826 Advanced Behavior Analysis and Learning (3)
ABA 834 Advanced Research Methods in ABA (3)
ABA 890 Dissertation in Applied Behavior Analysis I (3)
ABA 891 Dissertation in Applied Behavior Analysis II (3)
ABA 892 Dissertation in Applied Behavior Analysis III (3)
ABA 896 Dissertation Continuation (0)

Elective Courses (33 credits: Any 10 courses) 

ABA 521 Cognitive Psychology (3)
ABA 535 Biopsychology OR
ABA 627 Psychopharmacology (3)
ABA 600 Behavior Analysis of Child Development* (3)
ABA 601 Behavioral Applications to Childhood Disorders (3)
ABA 603 Older Learners with Autism* (3)
ABA 604 Advanced Language and Social Skills for Individuals with Autism* (3)
ABA 615 Functional Behavior Assessment (3)
ABA 616 Assessment and Program Development for Individuals with Autism Part I* (3)
ABA 618 Assessment and Treatment of Stereotypy (3)
ABA 619 Pediatric Feeding Disorders (3)
ABA 620 Stimulus Control (3)
ABA 625 Motivational Systems and Reinforcement (3)
ABA 626 Assessment and Program Development for Individuals with Autism Part II* (3)
ABA 630 Choice and Preference (3)
ABA 635 Concept Formation (3)
ABA 640 Self-Management (3)
ABA 645 Developmental Disabilities* (3)
ABA 646 Analysis of Verbal Behavior (3)
ABA 655 Philosophy of Behaviorism (3)
ABA 648 Standardized Testing for Developmental Disabilities* (3)
ABA 802 Applied Practicum in ABA III* (1-3)
*Specialization Track in Developmental Disabilities

Specialization Track in Developmental Disabilities

In their elective coursework, students may choose to focus on more basic research courses or more applied/clinical courses. Due to the nature of the applied/clinical coursework, an option for a Specialization Track in Developmental Disabilities was developed. Elective courses required for this specialization cover a broad range of diagnostic, assessment, treatment, and clinical aspects related to various developmental disabilities are denoted with an asterisk (*) above.

Status During Dissertation

Doctoral degree students who have completed all course requirements except for their dissertation may register in ABA 890 Dissertation in ABA I for three credits. Upon successful completion of ABA 890 Dissertation in ABA I, students will register for ABA 891 Dissertation in ABA II. Upon successful completion of ABA 891 Dissertation in ABA II, students will register for ABA 892 Dissertation in ABA III. Students who must continue beyond three semesters to complete their dissertation may register in ABA 893 Dissertation in ABA IV, ABA 894 Dissertation in ABA V and ABA 895 Dissertation in ABA VI. Students must seek permission of the department to continue thesis registrations beyond six semesters. Registration in any dissertation course with grant the student full-time status.

Transfer of Graduate Credit

For applicants who have earned their M.A. in ABA at Caldwell University, all credits will be accepted for transfer to the Ph.D. in ABA. For other applicants, Caldwell University will accept the transfer up to a maximum of 30 credits of graduate work in behavior analysis or a closely related field, provided that the courses taken are equivalent in content to those offered in the Caldwell University Ph.D. in ABA programs,the credits were completed within five years of the applicant’s admission to Caldwell University, and the grade earned in the courses submitted for transfer credit is a “B” or better. Official transcripts of previous graduate work as well as the catalog description and course syllabus of each course must be submitted for review at the time of application. Approval of transfer credit is based on course content and grade earned in the course. Each credit transfer request will be reviewed by the Program Coordinator on a case-by-case basis.

Statement of Outcomes Assessment

As the capstone requirement for the Ph.D. in Applied Behavior Analysis, students must complete the courses Dissertation in ABA I, II, and III (ABA 890, ABA 891, and ABA 892), and additional dissertation courses, if necessary. In these classes, students will complete a comprehensive survey of the research literature in a particular area within applied behavior analysis, write this as a formal publication-quality literature review paper, and then orally defend it. Students will then design and conduct an original experimental research study using the principles of ABA. The dissertation research study will be written in American Psychological Association (APA) format. Following approval of the written component, both the dissertation proposal and the completed dissertation will be orally defended to a committee of faculty members and outside professionals. The goal of the completed dissertation is to generate scholarly work that will be of professional publication quality and that is a substantial and innovative contribution to the field in terms of theoretical implications or clinical applications.

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