Behavior Analysis

The PhD program in Behavior Analysis is a doctoral program designed to train and position qualified behavior analysts to make significant contributions to the science and to the community.

Students sitting in class

Candidates for the PhD program in Behavior Analysis should have the motivation and capacity to contribute to professional literature. They should also be interested in a fusion style of research wherein the findings from other disciplines are used to improve behavior analytic research.

Coursework includes topics such as behavioral assessment, descriptive analysis, demonstration of functional relations, measurement and intervention tactics, data display and interpretation, selection of target behaviors and goals, family issues, legal and ethical issues and crisis management.

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.

Students are actively engaged in professional research, teaming up with Simmons's nationally renowned faculty to implement, write, and publish research, and to present their work at national conferences and in peer-reviewed journals.

Recent research topics include:

  • Cameron, M.J., Maguire, R.W. & McCormack, J. Stress-Induced Binge Eating: A Behavior Analytic Approach to Assessment and Intervention. J Adult Dev18, 81-84 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10804-010-9112-9
  • Lamprime, A. B., & Dittrich, G. A. (2014). An evaluation of a treatment package consisting of discrimination training and differential reinforcement with response cost and a social story on vocal stereotypy for a preschooler with autism in a preschool classroom. Education and Treatment of Children, 37, 407-430.
  • Kelly, A. N.., Axe, J. B., Allen, R. F., and Maguire, R. W. (2015) Effects of presession pairing on challenging behavior and academic responding for children with autism. Behavioral Interventions, 30, 135-156
  • Axe, J. B., & Laprime, A. P. (2017). The effects of contingent pairing on establishing praise as a reinforcer with children with autism. Journal of Developmental and Physical Disabilities, 29, 325-340. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10882-016-9526-9
  • Almeida, D., Allen, R., Mannion, C., Maguire, K., & Maguire, R. W. Identifying Community-Based Reinforcers. (2018). Journal of Behavioral Education
  • Yorlets, C., Maguire, R.W., King, C.M. and Breault, M. (2018) Acquisition of complex conditional discriminations in a child with autism spectrum disorder. The Psychological Record, 68, 219-229. DOI 10.1007/s40732-018-0283-2
  • Dudley, L.L., Axe, J.B., Allen, R.F., Sweeney-Kerwin, E. (2019). Establishing praise as a conditioned reinforcer: Pairing with one versus multiple reinforcers. Behavioral Interventions, 1-19.
  • Axe, J. B., Phelan, S. H., & Irwin, C. (2019). Empirical evaluations of Skinner's analysis of problem solving. The Analysis of Verbal Behavior, 35, 39-56. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40616-018-0103-4
  • Irwin, C., & Axe, J. B. (2019). Overview of applied behavior analysis and early intervention for autism spectrum disorder. In S. G. Little & A. Akin-Little (Eds.), Behavioral interventions in schools: Evidence-based positive strategies., 2nd ed. (pp. 205-226). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. doi:10.1037/0000126-012
  • Bird, Z. & Chase, P.N. (2020). Student pacing in a master's level course: Procrastination, preference, and performance. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis,
  • Axe, J. B., & McCarthy-Pepin, M. (2021). On the use of the term, "discriminative stimulus," in behavior analytic practice. Behavioral Interventions, 36(3), 667-674.https://doi.org/10.1002/bin.1776
  • Davis, C. R., & Axe, J. B. (2021). Analyzing consequence variables within the high probability request sequence for a child diagnosed with CHARGE syndrome. Behavior Analysis in Practice, 14(2), 352-359. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40617-020-00524-w
  • Meleshkevich, O., Axe, J. B., & Espinosa, F. D. (2021). Effects of time delay and requiring echoics on answering questions about visual stimuli. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 54(2), 725-743. https://doi.org/10.1002/jaba.790
  • Palmer, S.K., Maguire, R.W., Lionello-DeNolf, K.M., & Braga-Kenyon, P. (2021). Expansion of Sidman's Theory: The inclusion of prompt stimuli in equivalence classes. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 115-255-271.
  • Frampton, S. E., Guinness, K. E., & Axe, J. B. (in press). Parallel treatments design: A systematic review. Behavioral Interventions.

Admission options and prerequisites vary by program. Learn more about the requirements for the PhD 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

  • Associate Professor of Practice and Director of the Doctoral Program for Behavior Analysis
Gretchen Dittrich photo

Gretchen Dittrich

  • Associate Professor of Practice and Director of Mentoring and Supervision for Behavior Analysis
Noelle Neault photo

Noelle Neault

  • Associate Professor of Practice and Chair of the Behavior Analysis Department