Special education MA with an emphasis in applied behavioral analysis

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Special education MA with an emphasis
in applied behavior analysis

Improve the lives of people with disabilities through research

11.2% of people in Minnesota and 13.1% of people in the United State are living with some kind of disability according to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. That’s approximately one in every ten people. The MA in special education with an emphasis applied behavior analysis (ABA), prepares you to meet this growing need by becoming a board certified behavior analyst. You’ll work with people with disabilities—such as autism spectrum disorder and developmental disabilities—to recognize and analyze problem behaviors and recommend actions to improve their day-to-day lives.

Info session replay available

Watch a replay of the October 11, 2021 special education MA with an emphasis in applied behavior analysis info session.

Why study at the U?

  • Get your master’s degree in only four semesters and prepare to become board certified as a behavior analyst.
  • Conduct research with faculty who are leading the way in behavior analysis.
  • Gain real world experience working alongside board certified practitioners.
  • Make lifelong connections with other students and faculty who share your passion for making a difference.
  • Feel confident and knowledgeable in a high-need field.
  • Prepare for a career where your work will have lasting change on people’s lives and wellbeing.


Graduates of the MA with Applied Behavioral Analysis degree will find careers as:

  • behavior analysts
  • clinical behavior therapists
  • education behavior support specialists
  • intensive behavior therapists
  • residential and vocational specialists


BACB logo

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® has verified the following course sequence as meeting the coursework requirements for eligibility to take the Board Certified Behavior Analyst Examination®. Applicants will have to meet additional requirements to qualify.

Students are required to complete 33 credits and a capstone research project. If you plan to take the BCBA exam, you'll be required to complete 1,500 hours of concentrated supervised fieldwork (or 2,000 hours if accruing under supervised fieldwork) after beginning the MA in ABA program to qualify for the exam. This is the equivalent of approximately 25 hours per week across four semesters. Many of our practicum partners provide paid supervision in paid positions.

Note: At this time, Minnesota does not have licensing requirements specific to the state. Visit the Behavior Analysts Certification Board website for more information on licensing requirements by state.

Year 1

Fall term

  • EPSY 5657 – Interventions for Behavioral Problems in School Settings (3 cr)
  • EPSY 5623 – Ethics in Applied Behavior Analysis (3 cr)
  • EPSY 5659 – Foundations in Behavior Analysis (learning and cognition requirement) (3 cr)

Spring term

  • EPSY 8708 – Functional Behavior Assessment (3 cr)
  • EPSY 5663 – Methods in ASD (3 cr)
  • EPSY 8994 – Applied Behavior Analysis: Behavior Assessment and Intervention in Applied Settings (4 cr)

Year 2

Fall term

  • EPSY 8706 - Single-Case Experimental Design (3cr)
  • Measurement/evaluation core course requirement (3 cr)
  • EPSY 5702 – Research Problems: Educational Psychology: Supervision 1 (1 cr)

Spring term

  • Social/personality core course requirement (3cr)
  • Statistics core course requirement (3 cr)
  • EPSY 5703 – Research Problems: Educational Psychology: Supervision 2 (1 cr)

Some courses meet in person; others are on-line; and all are taught by PhD level faculty and instructors with extensive experience and expertise in their fields.


Visit the College of Education and Human Development's Finance and Funding page for information on tuition.


Scholarships, fellowships and awards

Special education scholarships, fellowships, and awards

College of Education and Human Development awards

Financial aid

Visit OneStop Student Services for more information on available financial aid.


Jennifer McComas headshot

Jennifer McComasHead special education MA with emphasis in ABA and emotional behavioral disorders licensure & MEd program
jmccomas@umn.edu | Lab

  • Functional analysis of problem behavior in educational and residential settings
  • Basic behavioral processes maintaining desirable and undesirable behavior, such as schedules of reinforcement, stimulus control, and establishing operations
  • Behavioral treatment of problem behavior based on concurrent schedules of reinforcement as well as antecedent stimuli
  • Analysis of academic performance of students with behavior problems