Behavior Analysis

Simmons University's Behavior Analysis MS and EdS programs are perfect for students looking to become Board Certified Behavior Analyst® (BCBA®) and make a difference in the lives of those with behavioral challenges. BCBAs® are known for their work in improving quality of life, communication, and learning outcomes, particularly for individuals with autism. This program can be completed part-time, with classes available in the evenings. To earn either the master’s or educational specialist degree, students must complete 40 credits.

Students sitting in the common area of the Main College Building

Our behavior analysis program is the only master's degree in New England that is accredited by the Behavior Analysis Accreditation Board (BAAB) of the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI). We offer a Behavior Analyst Certification Board® Verified Course Sequence and exceptional preparation for the BCBA® exam — with on-campus students achieving a first-time pass rate of 85% in 2018, as compared to the average of 65%.

Why study Behavior Analysis?

With the rate of autism diagnoses on the rise, the need for BCBA® trained professionals has never been greater. BCBAs® not only do well professionally, but they also do meaningful work, as recognized on the list of "Best Jobs for Do-Gooders", where Behavior Analyst appears in the top ten. Graduates have the skills to work with individuals with developmental disabilities, traumatic brain injuries, and mental health conditions.

Our students learn from faculty with expertise ranging from experimental behavior analysis and verbal behavior to behavioral medicine and organizational behavior management. You'll graduate ready to pursue a career in a variety of traditional and emerging fields. With a focus on teaching the science of behavior, Simmons University provides students with an in-depth understanding of analytics, the history of the science, and opportunities to read and analyze research.

What will you learn?

To prepare students for the BCBA® exam, Simmons teaches everything from introductory courses on research and analysis to intensive practicums in the field. Classes in this program include Ethics and Legal Issues, Methodologies for Behavior Change, and Advanced Topics in Behavior Analysis.

In addition to learning from world-class faculty, students are mentored and partnered with a certified BCBA® that prepares them for in-class assignments, certification exams, and internships or careers.

What can you do with a degree in Behavior Analysis?

Upon completing Simmons’ BCBA® program and earning certification, many of our graduates advance their careers by pursuing supervisory roles in their current fields. However, with wide potential uses for this degree in both experimental and applied settings, graduates may also choose to launch a career in a different field—such as behavioral education, behavioral medicine, consulting, organizational behavior management, instructional design, or animal training.

Other graduates will continue their studies at the doctoral level in order to contribute to the growing body of behavior-analytic research or to pursue opportunities to teach at the college level. Positions requiring BCBA® or BCBA-D certification increased by 1,942% throughout the U.S. between 2010 and 2018, and Massachusetts ranked second nationwide for job postings requiring one of these two credentials. Those who relocate to pursue graduate studies at Simmons benefit from a robust job market in Massachusetts with many providers of ABA services.

Learn more about our Behavior Analysis degree!

Our graduates have gone on to found schools, establish their own practices, pursue doctoral degrees, and assume leadership roles in schools and clinics throughout the region.

Simmons University’s Behavior Analysis program can be completed as an MS or EdS and opens the door for students to become BCBAs®. Interested in learning more about becoming a BCBA®Request more information today!

ABAI Accreditation Board Masters Seal

The Master of Science Degree in Behavior Analysis is accredited by the Association for Behavior Analysis International Accreditation Board. Every year accredited programs are required to submit an annual report to the Association for Behavior Analysis International's Accreditation Board.

This program requires the completion of 40 credits, and leads to the conferral of a Master of Science (M.S.) degree for students who enter with a baccalaureate degree as the highest level of education completed, or an Educational Specialist (Ed.S.) degree for students who already hold a master's degree.

Students take two weekday evening courses each semester over five consecutive semesters of study, including summers, to complete the degree requirements. The majority of courses are offered on campus, but some courses may include online instruction.

Our Behavior Analyst Certification Board® Verified Course Sequence fulfills both the coursework and experience requirements associated with sitting for the BCBA® exam. Additionally, upon obtaining BCBA® certification, our graduates are eligible to apply for Applied Behavior Analyst (LABA) licensure in Massachusetts.


BEHV 424 Introduction to Applied Behavior Analysis (4 credits)
The focus of this course is on basic behavioral vocabulary, definitions, and principles (e.g., reinforcement, stimulus control, and motivation). The format includes a combination of lectures, group discussions, and small group activities. Readings from assigned texts will serve as the basis for class presentation and discussions.

This course will use behaviorally based pedagogical strategies, such as Say All Fast Minute Each Day Shuffle (SAFMEDS), interteaching, group activities, case studies, readings, literature reviews, guided notes, Socratic questioning, quizzes and exams, a midterm and a final exam. Active student responding will be prioritized.

BEHV 415 Introduction to Single Subject Research Design (4 credits)
This course presents and assesses the experimental control developed by various types of single-subject research designs. Additionally, the types of measurement protocols, ethical issues, data collection, and visual display are discussed in relation to each research design.

This course will use behaviorally based pedagogical strategies, such as Say All Fast Minute Each Day Shuffle (SAFMEDS), interteaching, group activities, case studies, readings, literature reviews, guided notes, Socratic questioning, quizzes, exams, a midterm, and a final exam. Active student responding will be prioritized. Students must design, present, and defend a hypothetical study in a professional poster format.

BEHV 426 Behavioral Assessment (4 credits)
Assessment is the cornerstone of behavior analysis. Whether working with people or animals, individually or in groups, addressing any given problem, the foundation of the behavior analyst's work is rigorous assessment. This course introduces the methods of behavioral assessment, focusing on developing hypotheses and testing them to identify functional relations. The course also teaches students to plan effective clinical and educational interventions based on the results of multi-dimensional behavioral assessment that uses a continuum of methods.

Through this course, students will learn to conduct a functional behavioral assessment including planning, collecting data, interpreting data, composing narrative reports, and establishing rapport with clients while determining how best to measure progress and develop goals. By the end of the course, students will be able to perform these processes with any client.

This course will use behaviorally based pedagogical strategies, such as Say All Fast Minute Each Day Shuffle (SAFMEDS), interteaching, group activities, individual self-paced modules, readings, literature reviews, guided notes, Socratic questioning, quizzes, exams, and a final project. Active student responding will be prioritized.

BEHV 427 Methodologies for Behavior Change I (4 credits)
The purpose of this course is to expose students to basic procedures and protocols to accelerate and decelerate behavior changes. Some topics presented include reinforcement, contingency contracting, rule-governed behavior, the development and implementation of token economies, differential reinforcement, shaping, punishment, and generalization. Students present an assigned article on a specific topic area during each class, followed by class discussion and lecture.

This course will use behaviorally based pedagogical strategies, such as interteaching, student presentations, group activities, curriculum sheets, readings, literature reviews, guided notes, Socratic questioning, quizzes, exams, and a final poster project. Active student responding will be prioritized.

BEHV 430 Ethics and Legal Issues (4 credits)
This course was designed to provide students with an overview of the Behavior Analyst Certification Board's (2014) Professional and Ethical Compliance Code for Behavior Analysts. Ethical issues outlined in the Behavior Analyst Certification Board's (BACB) Task List will be reviewed in the context of this class ( Additionally, the student will become familiar with federal and state legal regulations and policies specific to behavior management and restraint, as well as discuss larger ethical issues such as cultural impact, guardianship, and discrimination.

BEHV 434 Methodologies for Behavior Change II (4 credits)
The purpose of this course is to expose students to innovative behavioral instructional protocols, such as precision teaching, PSI, direct instruction, stimulus equivalence, and errorless instruction.

This course will use behaviorally based pedagogical strategies, such as lecture with guided notes, active choral responding, practice opportunities with modeling, Personalized System of Instruction, guided reading, guest lectures, weekly quizzes, a final exam and two student projects.

BEHV 445 Advanced Topics in Behavior Analysis (4 credits)
Examines the how fundamental behavior analytical 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 (4 credits)
Skinner was not only the founder of the field of Behavioral Analysis, especially the Experimental Analysis of Behavior and Radical Behaviorism, but was also something 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 and BEHV 462 Mentoring and Supervision: Intensive Practicum (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.

Students fulfill the Verified Experience requirement associated with BCBA® certification by completing an Intensive Practicum while registered in their Mentoring and Supervision courses. With the required hours of supervised experience incorporated into our Mentoring and Supervision courses, the cost of BCBA® supervision is included in the cost of tuition at Simmons. While enrolled in the Mentoring and Supervision courses, which are typically completed during the final two semesters of the program, students receive weekly group supervision, as well as weekly one-on-one supervision from an Individual BCBA® Supervisor provided by Simmons. Students may complete the required hours of supervised experience on the job if they are employed at an approved site. While beneficial throughout their studies, work in a related field is not required of students until they enroll in the Mentoring and Supervision courses; most students choose to work full-time in the field throughout the program. The Department of Behavior Analysis can provide students who are not working at an approved site with guidance in finding suitable employment prior to registering for the Mentoring and Supervision courses. Relevant job opportunities are widely available in Massachusetts, with ample opportunities to work with individuals with an autism diagnosis in home-based, school-based, or clinical settings, and most students easily identify suitable employment options. International students may apply for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) while enrolled in the Mentoring and Supervision Courses.

While enrolled at Simmons, students who wish to gain experience with research are encouraged to connect with faculty to discuss their interests. Our faculty and doctoral students are actively engaged in research, and welcome the participation of motivated master's and Ed.S. students.

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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Behavior Analysis at Simmons University

Our Behavior Analysis program prepares students for leadership roles in the implementation, evaluation and administration of applied behavioral analytic principles and methods.

Graduate Program Videos

Our Faculty

Ronald Allen photo

Ronald Allen

  • Assoc. Professor of Practice & Doctoral Program Director
Gretchen Dittrich photo

Gretchen Dittrich

  • Associate Professor of Practice of Behavior Analysis and Director of Mentoring and Supervision
Judah Axe photo

Judah Axe

  • Associate Professor of Education and Behavior Analysis and Director of Special Education