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Pepperdine | Graduate School of Education and Psychology

MS Applied Behavior Analysis Courses

This program provides the breadth and depth of topics, theory, and practicum needed to become a highly competent and compassionate board-certified behavior analyst. Its comprehensive curriculum includes the foundational aspects of Applied Behavior Analysis, in-depth explorations of ethical conduct, behavioral assessment and treatment, human development, and multicultural considerations, among others.

Class Schedules

The Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) 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 fieldwork requirements to qualify.

GSEP offers three academic terms per year. The curriculum can be completed in less than two years, in either a four-term or five-term sequence.

Note: Courses are subject to availability each term.

Four-Term Sequence:

Semester I
PSY 613 Concepts and Principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (3)
PSY 615 Measurement, Data Analysis, and Experimental Design for ABA [co-requisite: 613] (3)
PSY 630  Preparation for Practicum  (2)
  Total Units 8
Semester II
PSY 614 Ethical and Professional Conduct for ABA (3)
PSY 616 Applications of ABA for Behavior Change [prerequisites: 613, 615; co-requisite: 617] (2)
PSY 617 Assessment Procedures for ABA [prerequisites: 613, 615] (3)
PSY 620 Practicum in ABA [prerequisites: 613, 615, 630; co-requisite: 614] (2)
  Total Units 10
Semester III
PSY 625 Selecting and Implementing ABA-Based Interventions [prerequisites: 613, 614, 615, 616, and 617] (2)
PSY 619 Autism Spectrum Disorders (2)
Psy 631  Multiculturalism and Diversity in ABA (3)
PSY 620 Practicum in ABA [prerequisites: 613, 615: co-requisite: 614]  (2)
  Total Units 9
Semester IV
PSY 618 Supervision and Management for ABA [prerequisites: 613, 615] (2)
PSY 629 Behaviorism [prerequisites: 613, 615] (3)
PSY 6XX  Elective (3)
PSY 620 Practicum in ABA [prerequisites: 613, 615; co-requisite: 614] (2)
  Total Units 10

Select one elective from the following:

  1. PSY 603 Assessment of Individuals, Couples, and Families (3 units)
  2. PSY 658 Individual, Couple, and Family Development (3 units)
  3. PSY 626 Research and Evaluation Methods for Mental Health Professionals (3 units)
  4. PSY 656 Physiological Psychology (3 units)
  5. PSY 657 Psychopathology (3 units)
  6. PSY 667 Industrial/Organizational Psychology (3 units)

Note: It is required that students in the MS in Applied Behavior Analysis program complete 34-37 units to graduate, depending upon previous coursework. If you have any questions please contact your program advisor

Five-Term Sequence:

Semester I
PSY 613 Concepts and Principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (3)
PSY 615 Measurement, Data Analysis, and Experimental Design for ABA [co-requisite: 613] (3)
PSY 630 Preparation for Practicum  (2)
  Total Units 8
Semester II
PSY 614 Ethical and Professional Conduct for ABA (3)
PSY 616 Applications of ABA for Behavior Change [prerequisites: 613, 615; co-requisite: 617] (2)
PSY 617 Assessment Procedures for ABA [prerequisites: 613, 615] (3)
  Total Units 8
Semester III
PSY 625 Selecting and Implementing ABA-Based Interventions [prerequisites: 613, 614, 615, 616, and 617]                (2)
PSY 631 Multiculturalism and Diversity in ABA (3)
PSY 620 Practicum in ABA [prerequisites: 613, 615, 630; co-requisite: 614] (2)
  Total Units 7
Semester IV
PSY 618  Supervision and Management for ABA [prerequisites: 613, 615]                                        (2)
PSY 619 Autism Spectrum Disorders (2)
PSY 620 Practicum in ABA [prerequisite: 613, 615; co-requisite: 614] (2)
  Total Units 6
Semester V
PSY 629 Behaviorism [prerequisites: 613, 615] (3)
PSY 6XX  Elective (3)
PSY 620 Practicum in ABA [prerequisite: 613, 615; co-requisite: 614]                                    (2)
  Total Units 8

Select one elective from the following:

  1. PSY 603 Assessment of Individuals, Couples, and Families (3 units)
  2. PSY 658 Individual, Couple, and Family Development (3 units)
  3. PSY 626 Research and Evaluation Methods for Mental Health Professionals (3 units)
  4. PSY 656 Physiological Psychology (3 units)
  5. PSY 657 Psychopathology (3 units)
  6. PSY 667 Industrial/Organizational Psychology (3 units)

Note: It is required that students in the MS in Applied Behavior Analysis program complete 34-37 units to graduate, depending upon previous coursework. If you have any questions please contact your program advisor

Core Course Descriptions

 PSY 613 Concepts and Principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (3)

This course teaches foundational concepts and principles of applied behavior analysis. Students will learn a range of principles such as mechanisms of learning, respondent conditioning, and operant conditioning. This course will also explore how basic principles of learning are applied to issues of social significance.

 PSY 614 Ethical and Professional Conduct for Applied Behavior Analysis (3)

This course teaches ethical principles and standards of responsible professional conduct that apply to the implementation of applied behavior analysis, as specified by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board. This course also addresses legal and social policy issues affecting service delivery to people with disabilities.

 PSY 615 Measurements, Data Analysis, and Experimental Design for Applied Behavior Analysis (3)

This course teaches methods of measuring behavior and developing measurement procedures. Students learn to create and interpret visual data displays. Students develop knowledge and skills of experimental design to evaluate the effectiveness of interventions and interpret articles from the behavior-analytic literature. Prerequisite: PSY 613 (or may be taken concurrently with PSY 613).

 PSY 616 Applications of Applied Behavior Analysis for Behavior Change (2)

Building on foundational knowledge of the concepts and principles of applied behavior analysis, this course teaches fundamental elements of behavior change, specific behavior-change procedures, and skills of developing intervention plans based on assessment results and the best available scientific evidence. Prerequisites: PSY 613 and 615.

 PSY 617 Assessment Procedures for Applied Behavior Analysis (3)

This course covers the knowledge and skills for identifying client problems, communicating behavioral concepts in nontechnical language, and collaborating with others who support and/or provide services to one's clients. Students learn to design and implement individualized behavioral assessment procedures and organize, analyze, and interpret observed data. Prerequisites: PSY 613 and 615.

 PSY 618 Supervision and Management for Applied Behavior Analysis (2)

This course develops understanding of using applied behavior analytic strategies to provide effective training to caregivers and staff, as well as to provide supervision and management both at the individual and organizational levels and when providing mentorship to future behavior analysts. Prerequisites: PSY 613 and 615.

 PSY 619 Autism Spectrum Disorders (2)

This course examines the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) using a developmental approach that emphasizes how clinical presentation changes with age. Students will review a range of evidence-based therapeutic interventions including intensive early interventions, social skills building, and interventions for older adults. Diversity factors, barriers and challenges to accessing and implementing treatment, and the role of advocacy will also be incorporated.

 PSY 620 Practicum in Applied Behavior Analysis (2,2,2)

This course focuses on professional development, discussion of ABA field placement cases, and case presentation skills. Students must register for PSY 620 for 2 units each term, over a period of three consecutive terms, for a total of 6 units. Students must obtain a placement in an approved ABA setting, with a signed, written agreement, prior to the first class meeting. Supervised hours gained while enrolled in practicum count toward certification requirements of the Behavior Analyst Certification Board. Prerequisites: PSY 613, 615, and 630.

 PSY 625 Selecting and Implementing ABA-Based Interventions (2)

Building on foundational knowledge of the concepts and principles of applied behavior analysis, this course teaches how to design individualized behavior change protocols to address challenging behavior and skill acquisition needs. The course further explores specialized areas such as treatments for social skills, feeding disorders, and attention disorders. Prerequisites: PSY 613, 614, 615, 616, and 617.

 PSY 629 Behaviorism (3)

This course aims to increase the understanding of radical behaviorism, the philosophy that provides the basis for the tenets of the experimental analysis of behavior and applied behavior analysis. Prerequisites: PSY 613 and 615.

 PSY 630 Preparation for Practicum in ABA (2)

This course prepares students for their clinical fieldwork experience at ABA-based agencies and during their practicum courses. The course addresses common questions and concerns students have prior to beginning clinical work at their practicum sites. Students are taught the requirements for entering practicum such as obtaining site and supervisor approval, signing contracts for supervision, displaying appropriate conduct during practicum, and using fieldwork tracking tools provided by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board®. Students must register for PSY 630 at least one term before beginning Practicum in ABA (PSY 620).

 PSY 631 Multiculturalism and Diversity in ABA (3)

This course prepares students to work with diverse populations. The course addresses a variety of topics including gender, trauma, cross cultural supervision, application of the behavior analyst certification board (BACB) Ethics code when working with diverse populations, education on various cultures, beliefs, expectations, how they best or least interact with other cultures/ethnicities, ASD and culture, bias, LGBTQIA+, working with low socioeconomic status (SES) populations, use of translators, and the neurodiversity movement. 

Elective Descriptions

 PSY 603 Assessment of Individuals, Couples, and Families (3)

This course examines the application of psychological instruments to the assessment of individuals, couples, and families. Fundamentals of psychological assessment are reviewed, including standardized and nonstandardized testing approaches, basic statistical concepts, and ethical and cultural considerations in assessment. Students gain experience in the administration, scoring, and interpretation of selected tests as well as in report writing.

 PSY 626 Research and Evaluation Methods for Mental Health Professionals (3)

This course covers basic concepts in statistics, research design, and program evaluation for mental health professionals, including experimental and correlational design methods, levels of measurement, central tendency, dispersion, correlation, and the use of inferential statistics for hypothesis testing. Students are also introduced to methods of evaluating programs and clinical outcomes while considering systemic and sociocultural influences. Emphasis is given to helping students become knowledgeable consumers of research, including the use of research to inform evidence-based practice.

 PSY 656 Physiological Psychology (3)

This course examines a wide range of brain-behavior relationships with specific emphasis on aspects of psychological development and clinical practice. The long-term effects of childhood trauma, the effects of head injury, and the neurological aspects of disorders such as autism, schizophrenia, and depression are also discussed.

 PSY 657 Psychopathology (3)

This survey course examines the historical and conceptual perspectives on psychopathology and the manner in which these perspectives interface with therapeutic strategies.

 PSY 658 Individual, Couple, and Family Development: A Life Cycle Approach (3)

Students study the biological, psychological, and socio-emotional development of individuals and families throughout the life span. The impacts of experiences such as having children and parenting, adolescence, marriage, divorce, grief and loss, and aging and long-term care on individuals and families are explored. Cultural understandings and contextual considerations (e.g., SES, social position, social stress, educational level, housing, poverty, etc.) of human development are addressed.

 PSY 667 Industrial/Organizational Psychology (3)

This course provides students with the theoretical foundation of industrial and organizational psychology. It introduces students to organizational inquiry leading to a deeper understanding of theories and practices impacting the individual, groups, and organizations in a variety of work settings. Students research, analyze, apply, and explore such topics as team dynamics, the role of emotional intelligence at work, personnel selection, assessment, training, performance management, multiculturalism, and organizational leadership theories.