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Applied Behavior Analysis Option (M.S. in Psychology)

The Master of Science in Psychology, Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) option is comprised of 55 quarter units, including courses offered by the psychology department and the division of special education and counseling. The ABA option trains students in the concepts, principles, and procedures of behavior analysis, giving special consideration to their application in the areas of counseling and behavioral medicine, and in educational settings with both normal children and those with special needs.

The program is designed for graduate students who plan to work as behavior analysts, specialists, or consultants with a Masters degree, and for those who wish to pursue doctoral training in behavior analysis. The program is currently accredited by the Association for Behavior Analysis International and it meets the course requirements to sit for the BACB exam.


Program Mission and Description

The Master's program in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) at California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA) was first accredited in 1994 by the Association for Behavior Analysis, and only the second ABA program accredited by the organization. The program, founded by Barry Lowenkron and G. Roy Mayer, is unique in a number of ways, not the least of which is that it is an interdisciplinary program involving two different departments, the Department of Psychology and the Division of Special Education and Counseling, in two separate colleges within the University. Students apply to either the Psychology Department or the Division of Special Education and Counseling, and once admitted, take courses in both departments. The advantages of an interdisciplinary program have been described elsewhere (Mitchell & Lowenkron, 1995).


Admission to the Program and Deadlines

Acceptance into ABA program involves a two-step application process:

1. Applicants must submit an online application to the University by going to For questions, deadlines, and other information regarding this application, you can visit The University Admissions website or call (323) 343-3901. You should submit one copy of official transcripts from all colleges/universities attended to The University Admissions Office. Please note that the University has it's own deadlines and requirements independent of the Psychology Department that also must be met to be considered for Fall admission.

2. Applicants must also submit a separate application directly to the Department of Psychology. The ABA Department Application must be accompanied by:

(a) A brief, but complete, Letter of Intent containing a personal summary of your interest in ABA, your plans for specialization, and any experience you have had in this area

(b) Three (3) letters of recommendation, two (2) of which should be academic (e.g. from professors or instructors).

(c) One copy of official transcripts from all colleges/universities attended.

(d) A personal interview is required prior to final acceptance. You will be notified if you are selected for an interview.

Department applications can be mailed or dropped-off in person to the following address: California State University, Los Angeles, Department of Psychology, Attn: Michael Sizemore, 5151 State University Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90032-8227


Please note: if you are mailing your application, we recommend you write the mailing address exactly as it appears above and that you contact the department office at (323) 343-2272 to confirm receipt of your materials.



Applicants must submit a complete departmental application by February 1st to be considered for September (Fall) admission. Applicants are responsible for providing all materials to accompany their application and only complete applications will be processed. Applicants are required to have a grade point average of 3.0 or higher in the last 90 quarter units (or 60 semester units). After initial review of applications, selected applicants will be required to interview with faculty in the ABA program. All applicants will be notified of their status by April 1st.



Interested students should review our FAQ's. For other questions or for clarification on any aspect of the application process for the ABA Option, you can contact the Department of Psychology at (323) 343-2272 or contact the program Director, Dr. Henry Schlinger at (323) 343-2257. Dr. Schlinger can also be reached via e-mail at


Prerequisite Program for Non-Psychology Majors

Students who do not have a bachelor's degree in Psychology are also encouraged to submit the University and Department applications. In such instances, admission may be granted on a conditional basis. Students admitted conditionally will be required to complete 31-36 units of Psychology coursework with a GPA of 3.0 or higher before beginning the Masters program. Whenever possible, credit will be given for equivalent coursework taken elsewhere. Click here for a list of Prerequisite Coursework.

Please note: coursework taken at a community college does not apply to upper division psychology requirements.

Requirements for the Degree (55 units)

The aim of the program is to provide comprehensive training in behavior analysis. Students are expected to develop both a theoretical understanding as well as mastery of the application of the science of behavior analysis. The program, which most students complete in approximately two years, is designed to prepare students for employment at the master's level or for doctoral study. The program's core curriculum has been approved by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (

Students who select the comprehensive examination (PSY 596) must be advanced to candidacy and must comply with college requirements before enrolling to take the examination.

Students who want to opt for the Thesis Option must be advanced to candidacy, must maintain a 4.0 GPA in the first 16 units of psychology ABA coursework, and must pass an ABA program writing competency exam by the end of the spring quarter of their first year in the program.


Departmental Core Requirements (4 units)


PSY PSY 417 - Single Case Research Design (4)


Required Courses (35 units)


Conceptual/Experimental Analysis of Behavior (12 units)

PSY 428 - Introduction to Analysis of Behavior (4)

PSY 421 - Psychology of Learning and Behavior (4)

PSY 500 - Seminar: Learning and Behavior (4)


Applied Behavior Analysis (23 Units)

COUN 501 - Behavior Analysis in School, Home, and Agency Settings (4)

COUN 502 - Advanced Behavioral Contingency Management in Schools (4)

COUN 504 - Advanced Study in Application of Behavior Analysis to Education (4)

COUN 592 - Behavior Interventions for Severe Behavior Problems (4)

COUN 593 - Practicum: Staff Development and Consultation (3)

PSY 528 - Seminar in Applied Behavior Analysis (4)


Electives (4 units for Thesis students; 8 units for students who take the Comp Exam)


Select from the following:

PSY 501 - Seminar: Sensation and Perception (4)

PSY 506 - Seminar: Physiological Psychology (4)

PSY 510 - Seminar: Abnormal Psychology (4)

PSY 511 - Seminar: Developmental Psychology (4)

PSY 512 - Behavior Disorders in Children (4)

PSY 538 - Seminar: Conceptual Issues in Behavior Analysis (4)


Field Work (4 Units)


PSY 585 - Directed Clinical Practice (4)


Comprehensive Exam (2 units) or Thesis (6 units)


PSY 596 - Comprehensive Examination (0)

PSY 598 - Directed Study (2)


PSY 597 - Graduate Research (2)

PSY 599 - Thesis (4)



References Lowenkron, B., & Mitchell, L. (1995). Developing an interdisciplinary master's program in applied behavior analysis. The Behavior Analyst, 18, 321-329.

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