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Updated August 13, 2020

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Autism/Applied Behavior Analysis Program (MEd)

  • Credits:
    38
  • Degree:
    Master of Education

Program Description

The autism and applied behavior analysis program at Cambridge College prepares you to sit for the national Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) exam, including completing the required Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) course sequence and required field experience hours. The master’s degree curriculum is divided into two parts — autism / special education courses (14 credits) and ABA course sequence (24 credits). As an applied behavioral analysis student at Cambridge College, you’ll learn about the history, prevalence, and diagnosis of autism as well as assessment methods and clinical applications of ABA therapy for autism as well as the legal and ethical requirements for professional applied behavior analysts.

Cambridge College Autism and Applied Behavior Analyst Program Highlights

Because Cambridge College specializes in offering degree programs for adult students juggling work and family demands, this applied behavior analysis MEd degree is designed to make academic progress and graduation as straight-forward as possible:

  • Take online and on-campus classes, including evening and weekend options. Cambridge College truly gets adult students and understands the time pressures they face.
  • Apply without taking the GRE. Thanks to a no-hassle admissions application process, you can begin your behavior analyst degree sooner.
  • Make steady academic progress. You can graduate in two years. 
  • The curriculum aligns with current certification standards and the corresponding edition of the BCBA exam.
  • Learn from faculty with strong field experience. Applied behavior analysis faculty at Cambridge College bring years of hands-on ABA experience, including the clinical application, leadership, and ethical considerations that come up in using ABA for autism.
  • Bond with your fellow students. Cambridge College requires all applied behavioral analysis MEd students to hold active employment in a relevant, related field with at least one year of experience in an ABA treatment setting. That means many of your coworkers will also be your classmates, which builds great connections, study partners, and peer support.
  • Make the most of the convenient location. All of our classroom locations are near public transportation and/or free parking.
  • Pay less tuition compared to similar applied behavior analysis programs. Cambridge College proudly offers lower tuition to graduate students than other options you may find. Because BCBA certification guidelines dictate the ABA content for applied behavior analysis programs, your decision of where to earn your degree rests almost entirely on where you can most affordably graduate with an autism behavior analyst master’s degree. 

Among Cambridge College’s Autism / Applied Behavior Analysis master’s degree graduates, 86 percent pass the Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) exam on the first try.

Source: BCBA Examination Pass Rates for Verified Course Sequences 2014-2018, published by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB).

Autism and Applied Behavior Analysis Program Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of your Master of Education, Autism / Applied Behavior Analyst degree from Cambridge College, you graduate with these important outcomes:

  • Prepare and be eligible to sit for the national Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) exam.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of applied behavior analysis (ABA) and associated scientific principles that govern human behavior and the treatment of individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).
  • Use applied behavior analysis strategies to meet the needs of individuals with autism.
  • Create, implement, and evaluate individualized plans for ABA therapy for autism in a variety of settings for individuals across the autism spectrum.
  • Understand all clinical, educational, and ethical issues related to the application of ABA strategies in a broad range of treatment contexts and behaviors.
  • Communicate and collaborate effectively with ABA clients, their families, and other educational and medical professionals.

Applied Behavioral Analysis Salary Ranges and Careers

Nationally, the demand for behavior analysts with proper credentials is increasing. Between 2012 and 2014, the demand more than doubled, and this growth trend in applied behavioral analysis jobs continues.*

The demand includes the needs for more ABA professionals who have graduated from autism and applied behavior analysis programs (MEd) and who have passed the BCBA exam. In fact, among the available behavior analyst credentials, the BCBA credential has seen the largest increase in demand.*

Whether you are already working in autism or a related field or you’re looking for a new in-demand profession, this graduate degree program from Cambridge College prepares you for a variety of behavior analyst jobs and career paths.

Massachusetts is one of the top three states with the highest and fastest-growing demand for applied behavior analysts.*

The BCBA average salary nationally is $56,730.* However, industry association reports list common behavioral analysis salary reports above $75,000 and even above $145,000.* With the growing demand for behavior analysts and with even a few years of work experience, experts predict good salary gains, especially in the Cambridge and Boston areas.

Applied behavior analysis is a growing and versatile career field. In fact, there are so many other career types that now sometimes encompass ABA therapy for autism, that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not yet track behavior analyst as a stand-alone professional designation, even though the national demand for people with BCBA certification continues to grow.

However, the highest concentration of ABA for autism jobs come from the following types of employers:

  • Healthcare, including treatment planning, case management, and treatment
  • Educational services, both within traditional school settings as well as with private providers of ABA services to individuals and families
  • Social assistance, including therapy-type skills, other educational settings such as workplace training, and treatment planning in community service settings**

Other options for applied behavioral analyst careers include working for:

  • Insurance carriers and related fields
  • Local government, including public administration
  • Research organizations, including data analysis**

*Source: US Behavior Analyst Workforce: Understanding the National Demand for Behavior Analysts, Behavior Analyst Certification Board

**Sources: Payscale.com and Association of Professional Behavior Analysts report, 2014

 

Example Applied Behavior Analysis Courses

Cambridge College required courses in autism and applied behavior analysis topics include the following:

  • Autism: History, Prevalence, Diagnosis, and Characteristics
  • Social and Psychological Perspectives in Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • Collaborative and Consultation Techniques
  • Basic / Advanced Applied Behavior Analysis
  • Ethics in Applied Behavior Analysis
  • Research Methods in Applied Behavior Analysis

View the full Cambridge College autism and applied behavior analysis program curriculum.

Applied Behavior Analysis Scholarships and Financial Aid

Some 60 percent of Cambridge College graduate students qualify for financial aid from a variety of sources, which makes pursuing a Master of Education degree possible for so many students. Take time now to learn more about financial aid through Cambridge College, including grants, scholarships, loans, and more.

Important Note: Applied behavior analysis employers typically offer tuition assistance to their employees. Get insights into how employer tuition assistance programs work.

Related Programs at Cambridge College

If you’re still exploring your options for behavior analyst programs, consider these additional master’s degrees offered through Cambridge College:

Curriculum


Autism & Special Education Courses
14
Credits
Autism: History, Prevalence, Diagnosis and Characteristics
ESP 610 3 credit(s)
This course examines current research and theoretical models that focus on typical and atypical development of children. Emphasis is on understanding the child with autism in terms of psychological, intellectual, social, and physical development. The historical problem of biological versus psychological causation of autism will be examined along with trends in autism research that continue to this day. This course will focus on autism as a neurological developmental disorder characterized by an impairment in social interaction, communication skills, and in behavior. Autism is acknowledged as a "spectrum" disorder meaning that children with autism may range from extremely low cognitively to highly intelligent with little or no language to communicate to being highly verbal. The cause(s) of autism is not known at this time, with 9 out of 10, for whom the cause is idiopathic. Autism Spectrum Disorder is the fastest growing developmental disability with 1 in 150 children now being diagnosed with autism. It is more common than Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome, and Childhood cancers combined.
Social and Psychological Perspectives in Autism Spectrum Disorders
ESP 630 3 credit(s)
Social deficits are one of the defining characteristics of autism, including Asperger’s syndrome, and most are almost always associated with other autism spectrum disorders and similar diagnoses. This course will introduce candidates to social skills intervention through a whole family approach focusing on both students with deficits associated with global delay as well as higher functioning students who demonstrate deficits primarily or exclusively in the area of social skills. This class will take into account the needs of not only the student, but also the siblings, parents, separated parents, extended family relationships, household economic needs, and culturally specific variables that make up the landscape of the dynamic American family.
Communication Disorders - ASD
ESP 616 3 credit(s)
Communication-based disabilities are a diagnosing criteria of Autism spectrum disorders, diagnoses with similar characteristics, and are commonly seen in severe levels of developmental delay. Not only do communication difficulties greatly impact life-long educational, social, and vocational opportunities, they are closely associated with the presence of challenging behaviors such as aggression and self-injury. Following a review of typical and atypical language development, physiological, environmental, and psychological theories of language development will be presented. This course will examine criterion-based and peer-normed communication assessments, effective language-based teaching strategies for children with severe disabilities, and alternative communication forms such as picture exchange communication system, sign language, and other non-vocal communication systems. In addition, students will be introduced to the following: Provision of family-centered services; impact of culture on work with individuals with disabilities and their families; and recommended practices/framework for assessment and facilitation of communication for individuals with ASD.
Assistive Technology: Modifying the Curriculum for Diverse Learners
ESP 615 3 credit(s)
How do we as educators implement the mandated requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act that calls for assistive technology to be considered in each Individualized Education Program (IEP)? Candidates examine assistive technologies and the federal laws impacting the education of students with disabilities and investigate assistive technologies addressing seating and positioning, access to the technology, augmentative and alternative communication (low-tech and high-tech). Candidates examine curriculum modifications using technology, and software that addresses these modifications and individual learning styles. The course provides a comprehensive understanding of the various augmentative and alternative communications (AAC) methodologies, including the appropriate use of aids and devices. Course assignments connect assistive technologies to classroom practice.
Collaboration and Consultation Techniques
ESP 594 2 credit(s)
The course explores the concept of school and community working together as partners to support each other in a strong coalition. A school district serves several smaller communities in one, and rarely does a community act as a single entity. To establish and sustain community and school linkage is critical to an effective partnership. The course explores the core mission of public schools and creates an environment that helps young people learn and achieve at high standards. The community school approach supports young people’s academic, social, and interpersonal goals by creating an effective learning atmosphere. Schools are a microcosm of societal values and community philosophy that daily affects students’ lives. The power structure of a community — its formal and informal networks and the people in them — that makes things happen is studied.
ABA Course Sequence
24
Credits

Students must complete all autism and special education foundation courses above prior to entering into the ABA course sequence. Exceptions must be approved by the ABA program chair. Consultation with ABA program chair required before entering the ABA course sequence.

In addition to the following courses, students must also take:

  • ABA 719 - Behavioral Interventions
Basic Applied Behavior Analysis I
ABA 715A 4 credit(s)

The course introduces the science of behavior analysis, and the basic concepts and principles of behavior analysis (e.g., reinforcement, punishment). It includes the philosophical underpinnings of the science of behavior analysis including goals, philosophical assumptions, dimensions of applied behavior analysis, radical behaviorism, experimental analysis of behavior, and professional practice. This course is a prerequisite for all other ABA courses in the sequence. The course will provide credit hours towards eligibility for the behavior analysis certification examination.

Basic Applied Behavior Analysis II
ABA 715B 4 credit(s)

The course introduces the science of behavior analysis, and the basic concepts and principles of behavior analysis (e.g., reinforcement, punishment). It includes the philosophical underpinnings of the science of behavior analysis including goals, philosophical assumptions, dimensions of applied behavior analysis, radical behaviorism, experimental analysis of behavior, and professional practice. This course is a prerequisite for all other ABA courses in the sequence. The course will provide credit hours towards eligibility for the behavior analysis certification examination.

Behavior Assessment
ABA 716 3 credit(s)

This course reviews basic concepts and principles of applied behavior analysis (ABA), building upon knowledge learned in Basic ABA I. An emphasis will be placed on the application of concepts and principles to real world situations.

Research Methods in Applied Behavioral Analysis
ABA 718 3 credit(s)

This course focuses on single-subject experimental designs and human behavior. The students will learn about the characteristics of science and the rationale for having behavior as a focus. The student will be exposed to different issues related to measurement, specific research designs, and important issues, such as variability, associated with the designs. How to accurately interpret research data from a variety of research experiments will also be discussed. The student will also learn about the ethical standards and guidelines that professionals in the field of applied behavior analysis must follow when working with humans. This course provides credit hours toward education qualifications required to sit for the behavior analysis certification exam.

Ethics in Applied Behavior Analysis
ABA 720 3 credit(s)

This course prepares students for the ethical and professional practice of Applied Behavior Analysis. Students will learn the importance of ethical conduct as it relates to the professional practice of tasks identified in the Fifth Edition Task List. Students will learn about the foundations of ethical and professional behavior to endure a high quality of practice in both behavior analysis and education in general. The Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) Professional and Ethical Code for Behavior Analysts will be reviewed and discussed in detail. This course provides credit hours towards eligibility for the behavior analysis certification examination.

Supervision and Management in Applied Behavior Analysis
ABA 722 3 credit(s)

This course helps prepare students for management and supervisory positions within the field of applied behavior analysis. The course provides students with behavior analytics strategies for managing, supervising, and training personnel. The use of a functional assessment approach and function-based strategies, along with performance monitoring and feedback, will be reviewed. This course also includes a review of several behavior-change procedures. This course is based on the BACB®'s Task List (Fifth Edition).

ABA Fluency Seminar
ABA 721 1 credit(s)

This one-credit course is designed to strengthen students’ ability to demonstrate key core knowledge competencies in the field of applied behavior analysis. During the course of the term, students will engage in a number of fluency based instructional activities that will enable them to demonstrate knowledge in all of the BCBA task list content areas. Students will be required to practice these skills both during class sessions and via software specifically designed to support fluency training and competence demonstration. Students must demonstrate proficiency in each of the task list content areas in order to successfully pass this course.

ABA Faculty

ABA faculty are Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBA). Other faculty listed on this page teach other programs/courses in the School of Education.

Admissions

  • Admission Test:

    No standardized graduate school tests required for admission into non-licensure programs.

  • Admissions Office:
    1-800-829-4723
  • Application Form:
  • Application Fee:
    $50, nonrefundable ($100 for international students; $100 for EdD)

Program Requirements

Applicants to the MEd programs that include the ABA course sequence must meet the requirements below before they may begin the ABA coursework.

  • Active employment in a relevant, related field with at least one year of experience in a ABA-based treatment setting.
  • Be working with or supervised by certified BCBA personnel. (Supervisor name and contact information must be submitted and verified upon program entry.)

Applicants must be prepared to pursue timely completion of the ABA course sequence, given that the sequence aligns with a particular edition of the exam approved by the national Behavior Analyst Certifying Board.

Health Requirements for Massachusetts Students

The Massachusetts Health Department and Cambridge College require the following of students in Massachusetts:

Immunizations – All students in Massachusetts are required to get certain immunizations before you can register for your first term. See form

Health Insurance – In Massachusetts, undergraduate students taking nine or more credits/term and graduate students taking six or more credits/term must enroll in the College’s health insurance plan. Students who have insurance with comparable coverage may request a waiver. See information and enroll or waive.

 

School Requirements

See Admissions Requirements for School of Education

International Students 

International students are accepted at Massachusetts location only, and need to provide supplemental documentation:

  • Official demonstration of English language proficiency
  • Supplemental documentation for issuance of I-20
  • International transcripts, evaluated by an accepted evaluation service

Transfer Credit

Graduate program applicants, please complete the transfer credit request form if you wish to have prior course work evaluated for transfer. Learn more.

Undergraduate program applicants, once you are accepted, your official transcripts are evaluated for transfer credit.

 

Tuition

  • Credits:
    38
  • Cost per credit hour:
    $574
  • Application Fee:
    $50, nonrefundable ($100 for international students; $100 for EdD)
  • Health Insurance Fee:
    $3,415 - Required for Massachusetts students only. See waiver details on Tuition & Fees page.

Note: Rates are as of July 2020, and are subject to change without notice. Rates apply to all students, unless otherwise noted.

Financial Aid

Cambridge College offers financial aid to students in our degree programs who are enrolled at least half time. Undergraduate students must be enrolled in at least 6 credits each term. Graduate and doctoral students must be enrolled in at least 4 credits each term. Learn more

Grants, Scholarships and Loans

Cambridge College welcomes the opportunity to support your efforts to pay for college.  Federal, state and local resources in the form of grants, scholarships, loans and work-study, including Cambridge College Scholarships, are available to help defray the cost of tuition. Learn more

Getting Your Company to Help

Many companies have tuition assistance programs, designed to help their employees with their professional development. Learn more

Take the Next Step Toward Your Autism and Applied Behavior Analysis Degree