Special education MA with an emphasis in applied behavioral analysis

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Special education MA with an emphasis
in applied behavior analysis

Jennifer McComas presents to special education students.
Jennifer McComas, head of the special education MA with an emphasis in ABA program, presents to special education students.

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.

Rated #9 in the nation among special education graduate programs by U.S. News & World Report in 2020

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 Behavior Analyst Certification Board, Inc.® 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.

The special education MA with ABA is a full-time, on-campus program and requires 36 total credits (nine credits in four semesters). As part of this coursework, you’ll complete three semesters of practicum experience with a board certified behavior analyst and a final capstone research project.

Year 1

Fall term

  • EPSY 5657 – Interventions for Behavioral Problems in School Settings (3 cr)*
  • EPSY 5663 – Methods in Autism Spectrum Disorder (3 cr)
  • EPSY 5659 – Foundations in Behavior Analysis (learning and cognition requirement) (3 cr)*

Spring term

  • EPSY 8708 – Functional Behavior Assessment (3 cr)*
  • EPSY 5623 – Ethics in Applied Behavior Analysis (3 cr)*
  • EPSY 8994 – Research Problems: Educational Psychology: Practicum in Applied Behavior Analysis (3 cr)*

Year 2

Fall term

  • EPSY 8706 – Single-Case Design (3 cr)*
  • Measurement/evaluation core course requirement (3 cr)
  • EPSY 8994 – Research Problems: Educational Psychology: Practicum in Applied Behavior Analysis (3 cr)

Spring term

  • Social/personality core course requirement (3cr)
  • Statistics core course requirement (3 cr)
  • EPSY 8994 – Research Problems: Educational Psychology: Practicum in Applied Behavior Analysis (3 cr)

*Denotes courses that address Board Certified Behavior Analysts task list items.
Bolded practicum courses require commitment of up to 30 hours per week.


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 McComasProgram coordinator, head 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