Department of Behavior Analysis

The Department of Behavior Analysis offers outstanding graduate training for students seeking to improve the lives of others through the science of behavior analysis.

Studying Behavior Analysis at Simmons University

We prepare students for a wide variety of professional paths, including service to individuals with autism and developmental disabilities, educational and clinical settings, industry, and private practice. Our faculty are skilled educators and leading researchers, with expertise ranging from experimental behavior analysis and verbal behavior to behavioral medicine and organizational behavior management.

Department strengths include a focus on the science of behavior and a robust experiential learning program, helping students achieve professional success. Students have access to excellent training opportunities in Boston’s world-renowned medical area and around New England. Within the College of Natural, Behavioral, and Health Sciences and Simmons University, we collaborate with colleagues and students in health, science, and the humanities, and we are proud to advance Simmons’ values of social justice, science, and practice for the social good.

Programs in this department

Highlights of Behavior Analysis at Simmons

  • Our campus program was the first accredited master’s program in New England; the program is accredited by the Association for Behavior Analysis International.
  • Our programs are designed for working professionals, with evening classes and options for on-campus or online study.
  • We offer rigorous BCBA® exam preparation. In 2020, first-time takers in our on-campus program had an 83% pass rate, 17% over the national average.
  • Students develop clinical and research skills during Practicum experiential learning courses
  • We seek to practice cultural humility and increase diversity in the field of behavior analysis.

Students come to Behavior Analysis at Simmons because of our reputation for focusing on the science of behavior, and consequently, the program opens their eyes to the full scope of the field, and all the ways they can apply behavior analysis.

- Russell Maguire, Associate Professor, Department of Behavior Analysis

Student-centered courses and practicum prepares our students for success

  • Small, interactive classes provide strong foundations in theory and practice, and cultivate faculty/student connections.
  • Emphasis on research literacy and the science of behavior, prepares students to develop innovative treatments and solutions based on the latest behavior analytic research.
  • Applied learning experiences prepare students for clinical practice within the field.
  • Students partner with Simmons’s nationally renowned faculty to conduct, publish, and present leading research at national conferences and in peer-reviewed journals. Their work reflects the highest levels of innovative inquiry and intellectual rigor to advance the field.


Our graduates are recognized leaders in the field, who have founded schools, established independent practices, completed doctoral degrees, and led institutions locally and nationally. Practice areas of Simmons graduates include education, behavioral medicine, organizational behavior management, instructional design, and animal training. Our graduates teach at prestigious institutions, such as the University of Rochester Medical Center, Northeastern University, and Regis College, and have founded many respected schools, including the Nashoba Learning Group and Realizing Children’s Strengths.

Faculty highlights

  • Seven full-time faculty members.
  • Faculty research topics include: management of negatively reinforced challenging behaviors; analysis of verbal behavior and motivating operations; stimulus control and stimulus equivalence; behavioral interventions for people with autism, service delivery models of applied behavior analysis in developing countries, traditionally under-served and rural areas; and behavioral medicine and health promotion.

Mission Statement

  1. To make the philosophy, theory, and science of behavior analysis  explicable and accessible to individuals in an optimal position to affect meaningful educational, social, and behavioral changes.

  2. To generate and publish innovative research by fusing behavior analysis with relevant findings from other scientific discipline.

  3. To include, whenever possible, students as authors on presentations and publications.

  4. To demonstrate how behavior analysis can influence the breadth and depth of issues centered on the human condition.

  5. To prepare students to pass the Behavior Analysis Certification Board’s examination to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst.

Dean Lepaine Sharp-McHenry

Meet Dean Sharp-McHenry

"My vision for CNBHS is to create a collaborative culture of inclusive excellence that fosters inquisitive inquiry among science and health professionals which ignites intellectual curiosity focused on solving problems through research, education, and innovation." Learn more about Dr. Lepaine Sharp-McHenry, Dean of the College of Natural, Behavioral, and Health Sciences.

Meet the Dean
Gretchen Dittrich photo

Gretchen Dittrich

Associate Professor of Practice, Chair of the Behavior Analysis Department and Director of the Master's Program

Elizabeth Atwood

Administrative Assistant