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Applied Behavior Analysis Specialization

The Applied Behavior Analysis doctoral specialization at Utah State University prepares graduates to be highly effective university faculty and behavior analytic practitioners who significantly improve individuals' lives through research, intervention, and teaching.

The specialization offers students the opportunity to advance their behavior analytic skills by:

  • taking advanced coursework in behavior analysis theory, research and practice
  • practicing applied behavior analysis in clinical and educational settings
  • collaborating extensively with faculty in the areas of research, teaching, and staff supervision

Graduate students in the Applied Behavior Analysis specialization have the opportunity to work on and conduct research in multiple settings including:

  1. The ASSERT Program, an early intensive behavioral intervention preschool program for children with autism
  2. The Utah Behavior Support Clinic and associated intervention program
  3. Public school sites and group homes in and around the Cache Valley

Through coursework and supervised clinical experience, doctoral students can meet the requirements to sit for the Behavior Analysis Certification Board exam to become Board Certified Behavior Analysts.

Faculty and current doctoral students are engaged in research and development projects in a variety of topics, including, but not limited to behavioral interventions for individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities, preference and reinforcer assessment, direct instruction, fluency, functional analysis, assessment and treatment of problem behavior, parent training, verbal behavior and school-wide Positive Behavior Supports.

Required coursework is a blend of broad multidisciplinary courses and focused specialization courses.  Core coursework, common to all areas of disability disciplines, includes multidisciplinary courses that bring together diverse perspectives on disabilities, effective services, and research methodology.  Specialization courses provide deep coverage of current developments in applied behavior analysis research and practice.

Core Coursework

Course Title / Description Credits (17/19)
EDUC 6570 Introduction to Education and Psychological Research
Introduction to research methods including identifying research questions, conducting research literature reviews, and design and implementation of research projects. (Students should enroll in the section of this course that is designated for full-time doctoral students.)
3
EDUC 6600 Measurement, Design, & Analysis
This course integrates concepts in measurement, research design, and statistical analysis for research in psychology and education. (STAT 5200 is an acceptable substitution.)
3
REH/SPED 7820 Seminar: Special Topics
In-depth study of special topics in special education and rehabilitation. Seminars examine historical aspects, relevant research, and theoretical positions on selected topics.
1 (3)
SPED 7400 Multicultural Issues in Disability
This seminar will focus on the juxtaposition of disability and ethnic/cultural/linguistic diversity. Three broad areas will be presented. The first area will focus on the ethnic/cultural/linguistic demography of disability. The second area will focus on the prejudice, discrimination, and handicapism and the ways in which these forces impact upon an individual who has a disability and who is a member of an ethnic/cultural/linguistic minority group. The third area will focus on practice applications, translating the concept of the first two areas into practical suggestions for professional practice.
3
SPED 7920 Doctoral Orientation Seminar
Orients new students to the doctoral program including career planning, program planning, fundamental concepts of scientific research and literature review, and knowledge of the available facilities and faculty members.
3
SPED 7940 Journal Reading Group
Under faculty direction, students read and discuss published research. Students learn to critique empirical and theoretical papers as well as current research findings in important areas of Disability Disciplines.
1
SPED 7820 Evidence-Based Practice
This seminar explores evidence-based practice as a framework for providing the most effective possilbe services to persons with disabilities by linking research and practice. Students will learn processes for posing appropriate clinical questions, systematically and critically reviewing research, and developing formal practice quidelines.
3
USU 6900 Research Integrity
The purpose of this class is to provide an underpinning of ethical conduct for students entering the research enterprise at USU. The course is designed for graduate students based on regulatory requirements from federal funding agencies. Subjects covered are ethical treatment of human participants in research, conflicts of interest, ethical care and use of animals in research, collaborative science, data ownership, management and sharing, mentor/trainee relationships, authorship and publication practices, research misconduct and peer review.
0

Applied Behavior Analysis Coursework

Course Title / Description Credits (16)
SPED 7700 Single Subject Research Methods
Examines single-subject research methods for applied research, including measurement, design and analysis issues.
3
SPED 7730 Advanced Topics in Behavior Analysis
Discussion of advanced topics and issues in behavior analysis, including rule-governed behavior, stimulus control, settings events, functional analysis, and verbal behavior. Topics integrated into educational practice.
3
SPED 7940 Journal Reading Group
Under faculty direction, students read and discuss published research. Students learn to critique empirical and theoretical papers as well as current research findings in important areas of Disability Disciplines.
1
SPED 7820 Evidence-Based Practice
This seminar explores evidence-based practice as a framework for providing the most effective possilbe services to persons with disabilities by linking research and practice. Students will learn processes for posing appropriate clinical questions, systematically and critically reviewing research, and developing formal practice quidelines.
3
SPED 7720 Advanced Behavior Analysis in Education
Discussion of advanced topics in applied behavior analysis including: functional analysis, function-based interventions, behavioral acquisition procedures, and strategies for promoting generalization and maintenance of behavior. Specific discussion of how applied behavior analytic principles can be used in educational contexts.
3
Various Doctoral Level Behavior Analysis Course
In consultation with their advisor, the student selects an additional doctoral level behavior analysis course that supports their program of studies.
3

Preliminary Exams

Preliminary exams are conducted after approximately one year of full time study (or the equivalent) and provide a focus for students to attain foundational skills in research design and critique, and disciplinary knowledge. This three part exam is completed across a three day period. Components of the exam are:

  • Foundations of Applied Behavior Analysis: Specific questions focus on key foundational knowledge of applied behavior analysis.
  • Design of Research: The student outlines the design of a single-subject research project on a given topic relevant to special education.
  • Critique of Research: The student critiques a manuscript reporting single-subject research within special education.

Professional Products and Internships

A set of professional products and internships provide opportunities for mentored experience in critical professional skills.

Dissertation

The dissertation is the capstone experience of the doctoral program. The student plans, carries out, analyzes, and interprets substantial original research that contributes to the advancement of their field of study.

Primary Faculty

Support Faculty

Contact Information

For further information on the Applied Behavior Analysis Specilization, please contact  Dr. Thomas S. Higbee .