About the Program

Our Behavior Analysis program prepares students for leadership roles in the implementation, evaluation and administration of applied behavioral analytic principles and methods. Our innovative curriculum emphasizes contemporary research and the fusion of applied behavior analysis with other scientific fields. 

While many students in our Applied Behavior Analysis programs are drawn from the fields of education and special education, the potential applications for this degree vary widely. Our alumni go on to satisfying careers in diverse fields such as behavioral medicine, organizational behavior management, instructional design and animal training.

Our evening class schedule allows students to continue working full-time in a related field throughout the program. The Simmons College course sequence in Behavior Analysis is approved by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board™ and meets the coursework requirements for the Board Certified Behavior Analyst™ (BCBA) examination. Simmons College graduates achieved an average first-time pass rate of 80% on the BCBA® exam in 2015, as compared to the national average of 65%.

Behavior Analysis Accreditation Board seal

Program Requirements

There are two degree options that students may pursue – the Educational Specialist (Ed.S.) and the Master of Science (M.S.) The Ed.S. degree program is an advanced graduate degree that provides a student who currently holds a master’s degree with an area of educational specialization. The M.S. meets the educational needs of an individual who holds a bachelor’s degree and is seeking a master’s degree. The entire program of study is 42 credits.


Tier 1

BEHV 424 Introduction to Applied Behavior Analysis

Reviews the definition and characteristics of applied behavior analysis. Teaches the fundamental principles of behavior that provide the framework for instructional programming.

BEHV 415 Introduction to Single Subject Research Designs

Presents and assesses the experimental control developed by various types of single-subject research designs. Additionally, the types of measurement protocols, data collection and visual display are discussed in relation to each research design. Students must design, present and defend a hypothetical study in professional poster format.

Tier 2

BEHV 426 Behavioral Assessment

Focuses on the identification of functional relationships and the evaluation of interventions from information gained through behavioral assessment. Teaches how to conduct descriptive analyses and how to systematically manipulate variables to demonstrate functional relationships between the educational environment and behavior.

BEHV 427 Methodologies for Behavior Change I
BEHV 434 Methodologies for Behavior Change II

In these courses, students will learn how to establish, strengthen, and weaken target behaviors. Emphasis will also be placed on the generalization and maintenance of established behavioral repertoires.

BEHV 430 Legal and Ethical Issues

Legal and ethical responsibilities to learners with special needs and their families are reviewed. Students will learn to reference their professional behavior to ethical considerations such as the learner’s dignity. Students will also become familiarized with the legal and/or regulatory requirements of the state or agency within which they provide services.

Tier 3

BEHV 445 Advanced Topics in Behavior Analysis

Examines how the fundamental behavior analytics protocols (e.g., schedules of reinforcement, stimulus control, etc.) can be used to assess and account for sophisticated human behaviors, such as verbal behaviors, private events and derived relational responding. Translational research (i.e., from laboratory to the real world) is presented and discussed.

BEHV 465 Theoretical and Applied Issues in Skinner's Writings

Skinner was not only the founder of the field of Behavioral Analysis, especially the Experimental Analysis of Behavior and Radical Behaviorism, but was also somewhat of a visionary regarding where the field should move. His seminal works Verbal Behavior and Science and Human Behavior, as well as selected articles, are presented and their relevance and application to current events is discussed.

BEHV 461 Mentoring and Supervision 
BEHV 462 Mentoring and Supervision 

Tier 1 courses must be completed before taking Tier 2 courses;
Tier 2 courses must be completed before taking Tier 3 courses

    Russel Maguire
    • Russell Maguire
    • Associate Professor/Chair, Grad Prog. Director, Behavior Analysis
    • Phone: 617-521-2550
    • Office: W303E
    Ronald Allen
    • Ronald Allen
    • Associate Professor of Practice
    • Phone: 617-521-2571
    • Office: W303F
    Gretchen Dittrich
    Judah Axe
    • Judah Axe
    • Associate Professor, Education and Behavior Analysis
    • Phone: 617-521-2144
    • Office: W304A
    Christina Boyd Pickard
All faculty »
Master's Thesis

Master's Thesis Seminar (2 credits)

The master’s thesis is a research project that builds throughout the course of the program, resulting in a manuscript that presents an original piece of single-subject, behavior analytic research.

Throughout the program, you will meet in live, weekly sessions with a thesis advisor who will help you design your research question and plan for data collection. You will conduct research in the field and will complete a research thesis that describes your study and the gap in the literature it addresses. Once your research is complete, you will defend your thesis in front of a panel of faculty members. The result of this project is a piece of high-quality, original research of publishable quality in the field of behavior analysis.

Through the thesis process, you will gain knowledge of advanced single-subject research methodologies. This assures that you will leave the program with the advanced knowledge and skills that will enable you to read and incorporate behavior analytic research into your applied clinical work. In addition, you will learn how to write research in a scientific, technical manner, crafted according to the APA format.


Mentoring and Supervision

Mentoring and Supervision (8 credits)

There are two mentoring courses, taken in consecutive terms. These courses provide individualized and group supervision to students using the basic principles of behavior analysis in the classroom or work setting. They fulfill the Behavior Analyst Certification Board’s requirements for completion of supervision under the Intensive Practicum category.

Students will meet individually with an appointed Individual BCBA Supervisor for one 90-minute meeting per week, and will meet as a small group with a Simmons College Group BCBA Supervisor for a second 90-minute weekly meeting.

Students must work at an approved site throughout the mentoring program. Students must work a minimum of 10 hours per week every week of the mentoring term to meet BACB® Eligibility Standards for supervision. However, Simmons College recommends students work 30 hours per week to ensure they accrue sufficient hours. Students must complete a total of 750 work hours in the approved settings over the course of the supervision experience (2 terms). A minimum of 10% of these work hours must be supervised. More than one setting may be combined to fulfill these requirements.

Responsibilities include direct and clinical service provision to human clients for whom behavior analytic services are appropriate. Per BACB standards, no more than 50% of the hours worked may be direct services. Clinical responsibilities include designing and/or monitoring behavior analytic programs, overseeing implementation of programs by others, conducting behavior analytic assessments and analyses, training other service providers to implement behavior analytic programming, and data analysis.

Gainful Employment Disclosure

EDS Behavior Analysis

How to Apply

If you have already submitted your application online you can check your application status here. Please allow three business days for received documents to be reflected on your application status page.

Admission options and prerequisites vary by program. Learn more about the requirements for the MS or EdS in Behavior Analysis.

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