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Master's Degree Program

Graduate Opportunity

The first step to a meaningful career in the field can be taken at the University of North Texas by pursuing a Master of Science degree in Behavior Analysis.

The Department of Behavior Analysis' innovative program provides:

  • Knowledge of principles, theory and research methods of applied behavior analysis and the experimental analysis of behavior.
  • Procedures for systematic application of behavioral technology in natural environments.
  • Practical experience in functional analysis and in designing, implementing and evaluating behavioral intervention programs.

Our faculty members include professors who've been recognized by the Association for Behavior Analysis International and the National Institutes of Health, among others. They also provide consultations regarding behavioral interventions and human performance in institutions, business and industry.

Our graduate program was also the nation's first to earn accreditation from the Association for Behavior Analysis International. This distinction means we meet or exceed strict standards for excellence in education. Our courses have also been approved by the Behavior Analysis Certification Board, meaning they meet the standards for preparing professional to practice in Behavior Analysis. The department was awarded the Enduring Programmatic Contributions Award from the Society for the Advancement of Behavior Analysis for establishing a tradition of leadership in teaching, service and scholarship.

Research Opportunity

Behavior Analysis Online (BAO) Research Group.  The mission of this lab is to develop and study on line instruction. Behavior Analysis Online (BAO) is dedicated to delivering high-quality behavior analysis education using advanced instructional technologies aimed towards helping people and organizations across the globe. There are 3 UNT Graduate Assistantships every year.  Faculty Supervisors: Drs. Dr. Shahla Ala'i Kenda Morrison & Brook Wheetley.

Behavior Analysis Resource Center. A research and treatment team systematically assesses and develops treatment for behavior disorders exhibited by persons with developmental disabilities. This project has offices on the campus of the Denton State Supported Living Center and provides services to residents of the living center.  The project also provides training in behavior-analytic approaches to intervention for personnel at the center and employees of the Department of Aging and Developmental Services. Paid positions available for students who have demonstrated commitment. Faculty Supervisor: Dr. Richard Smith.

Easter Seals North Texas Autism Treatment Program (ESATP) Research Group. The mission of this lab is to provide service-learning experiences for students in the Department of Behavior Analysis, to offer the community evidence-based resources and expertise, and to produce pragmatic and humane research. Current research opportunities include, but are not limited to: systemic supports; parent training and support; social and activity behavior; and cultural compassion, understanding, and responsiveness in behavior analytic interventions. All practice and research takes place in the ESATP clinical sites in the DFW metroplex (Carrolton & Ft Worth). There are two to six junior positions, one to four senior positions and four part time research assistantships available every year.  The positions provide experience and training in program development and systems wide interventions Faculty Supervisors: Drs. Shahla Ala’i-Rosales and Jesus Rosales-Ruiz.

Little Learner Lab. The Little Learner Lab is dedicated to conducting applied research and providing professional practice opportunities related to behavioral interventions for children with autism spectrum disorder and related disorders. Research and practice opportunities are primarily supported by the UNT Kristin Farmer Autism Center (KFAC). Current research topics include: evaluating instructional arrangements that facilitate skill acquisition (e.g. matrix training), conditioned reinforcement procedures, observational learning, and stimulus control procedures during the treatment of behavior disorders. In addition to applied research opportunities, the Little Learner Lab also provides practicum and internship experiences related to the evidence-based practice of Applied Behavior Analysis. Faculty supervisor: Dr. Karen Toussaint.

Organization for Reinforcement Contingencies with Animals (ORCA). ORCA is a lab within the Behavior Analysis Department and also a registered UNT student organization. ORCA’s mission is to enhance the lives of animals and their guardians through behavior analytic research and to inform the public about these discoveries. Students learn about animal behavior and training, conduct research projects related to animal training, and volunteer with local community organizations. Current project sites include working with exotic animals at The Heard Museum and volunteering with a local service dog organization. Students conduct research related to applied animal training, human-animal interactions, and basic learning processes. These research projects are often conducted with students’ own pets or using the game PORTL. Faculty Supervisor: Dr. Jesus Rosales

Constructional Life Design.This research laboratory group focuses on teaching individuals how to analyze and program their own lives. Our philosophy is based on the work of Dr. Israel Goldiamond and his Constructional Approach, which was used initially to treat individuals with severe behavior problems. Our research has helped streamline the constructional approach and has investigated how to apply it to a wide range of populations, including juvenile delinquents, failing college students, and parents of children with autism. Our current research focuses on applying the constructional approach to new populations and analyzing the components that make up the constructional approach. As well, we are working on developing methods to best teach others practitioners how to use this approach with clients. Our goal is always to help people find greater satisfaction and success in their lives. Faculty Supervisor: Dr. Jesus Rosales-Ruiz

Strategies and Tactics in Application, Research, and Treatment – START Lab. The primary goal of this laboratory is on the application of behavioral principles to solve socially-relevant human problems. A substantive focus is on the use of digital and analog technologies to increase the precision as well as the scope of applied behavior analysis. Can we improve compliance with medical regimens? Motivate people to lose weight or exercise more? What role might technology play in allowing us to program and implement the relevant contingencies of reinforcement? Students in this lab will generate ideas, develop or adapt technologies, and use them to implement protocols to produce behavior change.All participants will be expected to acquire basic programming, data analytic, presentation, and writing skills through participation in local, regional, national, and international conferences, publications, and grant applications. Faculty Supervisor: Dr. Manish Vaidya.

Behavior Analysis and Cognition – STIMULUS CONTROL Lab. The primary goal of this laboratory is the pursuit of fundamental knowledge in the area of stimulus control. Sidman has suggested that a thorough-going behavioral analysis of stimulus control may allow us to displace the language of “cognition” and “intelligence” just as a thorough-going analysis of contingencies allows to displace the language of “purpose” and “intentionality”.  The focus in this laboratory is on the experimental analysis of phenomena often abandoned to other psychological approaches – concept formation, abstraction, short-term remembering, and attention. Each of these, and other interesting topics, are approached from a radical behaviorist perspective. Faculty Supervisor: Dr. Manish Vaidya.

All participants will be expected to acquire basic programming, data analytic, presentation, and writing skills through participation in local, regional, national, and international conferences, publications, and grant applications.

Teaching Sciences Lab. Members of the Teaching Sciences lab are interested in the development and delivery of effective instruction at the college level. Students who participate can obtain teaching and tutoring experience working with undergraduate students who are learning about basic principles of behavior analysis; participate in course redesign and evaluation; and lead or assist studies designed to improve our teaching efficiency and effectiveness, explore new or unfounded teaching strategies, and contribute to the existing scholarship of teaching and learning literature. Paid positions are sometimes available, contingent upon university budget and successful grant applications. Faculty Supervisor: Dr.Traci Cihon.

Neuroplasticity and Repertoire Restoration Laboratory. This laboratory will work to elucidate the role of the central nervous system in the support of lawful behavioral principles, to develop better behavioral tools for use in translational neuroscience, and to develop novel approaches to augmenting behavioral recovery from brain injury and disease. This laboratory will also work toward applying behavioral approaches to post-stroke and TBI therapy. Faculty Supervisor: Dr. April Becker.

Neurobehavioral Laboratory. The primary focuses of the Neurobehavioral Laboratory are real time measures of behavior and brain activity, specifically Event Related Potentials, and how they relate to a Skinnerian perspective. Conceptually, the laboratory is involved in understanding how brain responses can help providing some missing pieces of the puzzle when it comes to comprehending complex human behavior. From an applied perspective the laboratory focuses on creating training procedures to help paralyzed patients gain operant control of their brain responses to move external devices and facilitate their overall independence. Faculty Supervisor: Dr. Daniele Ortu.


Graduate Curriculum

The department's Master of Science degree program was the first graduate program in the nation to be accredited by the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI). The program is also a Verified Course Sequence (VSC) with the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BCBA). Whether alumni go on to pursue a doctoral degree or assume professional positions in the community, they are consistently viewed in their new settings as highly accomplished Behavior Analysts.

BEHV 5000. Observation and Measurement of Behavior and Environment. 3 hours. An examination of the factors to be considered in observing and measuring behavior and environment; methods of recording data with emphasis on the conditions under which each method is most appropriate.

BEHV 5010. Experimental Analysis of Behavior. 3 hours. Reviews classical experimental literature in behavior analysis. Compares methodology to that in natural and social sciences. Special emphasis on experimental analysis of human behavior.

BEHV 5020. Theory and Philosophy in Behavior Analysis. 3 hours. Study of the conceptual framework of behavior analysis; studies epistemological issues and nature of scientific explanation; examines common misconceptions and provides theoretical foundations for applications and basic research.

BEHV 5100. Introduction to Behavior Analysis. 3 hours. Defines and delimits the subject matter of behavior analysis. Examines the principles that describe behavioral processes and distinguishes the learned and unlearned components of operant and respondent behavior. Relates behavior change procedures to the processes accounting for learned behavior.

BEHV 5140. Research Methods in Behavior Analysis. 3 hours. An overview of strategies and tactics of experimental design in behavior analysis. Includes strengths and weaknesses of single organism methodology in basic and applied research. Topics include issues of experimental logic, experimental control, variability, data analysis and display, and interpretation of experimental findings.

BEHV 5150. Techniques in Applied Behavior Analysis. 3 hours. Analysis of problems in behavioral terms. Selection of management strategy and behavior change techniques, including behavioral contracting, contingency management, programmed instruction, removal or reduction of environmental stressors. Consideration of ethical issues, including informed consent, need for non-coercive or at least restrictive intervention. Supervised practical experience.

BEHV 5250.10 Quantitative Methods in Behavior Analysis. 3 hours. This course is designed to provide the student with an introduction to quantitative analyses within the Experimental Analysis of Behavior. The goal of the course is to facilitate the creation of well-informed consumers of quantitative literature.

BEHV 5810. Practicum. 2 hours. Students work in a small group in a field setting under the immediate supervision of a faculty member in the department. The purpose of this practicum is to provide experience in applying behavioral principles in a setting where faculty feedback is continuously available.

BEHV 5028. Autism I: Conceptual/Methodological Issues in Applied Behavior Analysis. 3 hours. Describes basic conceptual and methodological issues involved in behavioral treatment of children with autism. Topics studied include theories and controversies regarding etiology and assessment, distinctions between behavioral and alternative approaches to treatment, comparisons of treatment formats, and critical review of curriculum options. Behavior analysis majors must take BEHV 5810 concurrently with BEHV 5028.

BEHV 5029. Autism II: Applied Behavior Analysis Research and Practice. 3 hours. Describes research and practice associated with the scientist-practitioner model of applied behavior analysis intervention for young children with autism. Students conduct comprehensive reviews of experimental literature in the three critical areas of autism intervention and learn to evaluate this literature according to accepted rules of scientific evidence. Students propose and implement an intervention that addresses at least one experimental question and extends existing scientist/practitioner literature. Students complete projects that translate research findings to practice. Behavior analysis majors must take BEHV 5815 (second Practicum) concurrently with BEHV 5029 and must have received an A in BEHV 5810 and BEHV 5028. Prerequisite(s): BEHV 5028 and BEHV 5810.

BEHV 5250. Topics in Behavior Analysis. 3 hours. In-depth analysis and discussion of significant topics in behavior analysis. Topics include but are not limited to the following: philosophy of measurement of behavioral phenomena; rule-governed vs. contingency-governed behavior; the creation of settings and interpersonal dynamics; stimulus control; organizational behavior management.

BEHV 5330. Verbal Behavior and the Analysis of Human Behavior. 3 hours. Use of behavior analysis in understanding the nature and development of human communication. Explores how and why communication fails; develops guidelines for enhancing communication through understanding of the underlying behavioral processes.

BEHV 5540. Legal, Ethical and Professional Issues in Behavior Analysis. 3 hours. Addresses and reviews the effects of court decisions in development and implementation of behavioral interventions, ethical requirements of the Behavior Analysis Certification Board, and professional conduct in treatment, intervention and consultation settings. Topics include accountability, confidentiality, quality of services, quality of life, emergency management, research, professional collaborations and ethical safeguards.

BEHV 5560. Development of Behavior Intervention Programs. 3 hours. Focus is on the integrated components of behavioral programming. Includes developing behavioral objectives, functional analysis, design of intervention procedures, evaluative criteria and the integration of these components into a readable document.

BEHV 5570. Training and Supervision of Staff in Human Service Settings. 3 hours. Includes analysis of political and social contingencies existing in most institutional settings. Describes training considerations and ways to establish a positive work environment for staff and clients. Principles underlying effective supervisory practices are described.

BEHV 5815. Practicum. (Take two, 1 hour) Students work individually or in pairs on a project in any of a variety of applied settings. They are supervised by faculty through weekly meetings and occasional on-site observation. Project must be pre-approved, in writing, by faculty supervisor before registration. Practicum projects typically require about 100 clock hours (including time in the field and time meeting with supervisor). The purpose of this practicum is to provide the student with experience in planning and implementing behavior change. This course may be repeated for credit. Prerequisite(s): BEHV 5810.

BEHV 5820. Internship. 3 hours. Students work in the field, under the supervision of a qualified behavior analyst, in a setting of their choice for a period of 6 weeks. Internship settings include (but are not limited to) agencies serving persons with developmental disabilities, business and industry, consulting firms, research facilities, schools and offices of physicians, psychologists and other private practitioners. Prerequisite(s): BEHV 5810 and BEHV 5815.

BEHV 5900-BEHV 5910. Special Problems. 1–3 hours each. Open to graduate students who are capable of independent work in a specific area of interest. Outline of problem and proposed activities must be submitted in writing to faculty and approved in advance of registration.

BEHV 5950. Master’s Thesis. 6 hours. To be scheduled only with consent of department. 6 hours credit required. No credit given until thesis has been completed and filed with the graduate dean. Continuous enrollment required once work on thesis has begun. May be repeated for credit.

Special Organized Classes (When Available)

Attending UNT

Admission Requirements

You must meet the admission requirements for the Toulouse Graduate School® and the following program requirements. The graduate school admission requirements are outlined on their website. (The deadline to apply is January 15 each year for the following fall admissions start.)  The program requirements are:

  • A GPA of 3.4 or better
  • Acceptable GRE scores
  • Commit to a career in behavior analysis
  • Two behavior analysis prerequisite courses
  • Three reference letters
  • Statement of interest

Degree requirements

  • 24 semester hours of core courses
  • 7 semester hours of practical training courses
  • 6 semester hours of master's thesis
  • 6 to 9 semester hours of electives

Financial assistance

Donald L. Whaley Memorial Scholarship

This scholarship was established to honor the memory of Donald L. Whaley, Ph.D. (1934-1983). Dr. Whaley was the founder of the Center for Behavioral Studies and served as its Executive Director until his death in 1983.

The scholarship is available to behavior analysis majors, and is usually awarded to students at the time of admission to the graduate program. The scholarship is for $1,000, distributed equally across Fall and Spring semesters. Recipients must be enrolled for a minimum of six SCH any semester they receive support through the Donald L. Whaley Memorial Scholarship.

Douglas P. Field Research Scholarship

The Department for Behavior Analysis offers Douglas P. Field Research Scholarships on an ongoing basis. The number of scholarships awarded depends on funds available. These funds are intended to support independent (supervised) student research, typically culminating in a thesis project.  Please consult with your faculty advisor for assistance in developing your proposal.

Eligibility/Academic Requirements. Students must have completed at least 18 semester credit hours in the major before applying for this support. Students seeking this support must have at least a 3.2 GPA, with no C’s or unresolved I’s on the record. No proposals will be considered without a signature from a faculty advisor. Recipients of the scholarship must be enrolled for six or more hours during each semester they receive scholarship money.

Grace of a Miracle Scholarship in Behavior Analysis

Through a generous donation by Tammy Cline-Soza, MS, BCBA, the Department of Behavior Analysis is pleased to offer a scholarship in the amount of $1,000 to support research in applied behavior analysis that addresses the needs of families who have children with autism. Tammy created this scholarship to honor the memory of Karen Grace Mericle Buchanan, one of the parents who helped found the North Texas Autism Project at UNT. Karen passed away in 2002 and Tammy wished to pay tribute to her life and to encourage students in behavior analysis to pursue meaningful research that makes a difference in the lives of children and families.

Eligibility/Academic Requirements. Full time graduate student or undergraduate students in the Department of Behavior Analysis may apply. Students must maintain full time status in good standing and must have a desire to dedicate career to research & practice in the behavior analysis of family enhancement. Interested students will submit a letter of interest that details the importance, research question, method, and design of the proposed project; their qualifications and support to carry out the research, and the names and phone numbers of two references. Upon completion of the project, students will submit a completed thesis and a letter of gratitude to Donors and a synopsis of the thesis to scholarship committee. Interested students should contact Dr. Shahla Ala’i-Rosales.

Guy Bedient Memorial Scholarship in Applied Behavior Analysis

Guy Michael Bedient (1956-2007) earned his BS in Psychology under the supervision of Dr. Stephen Graf and his MS in Behavior Analysis under the supervision of Dr. Sigrid Glenn. Mr. Bedient dedicated his career in behavior analysis to improving the lives of individuals with autism and encouraging those he supervised to pursue advanced study in the science of behavior analysis. His clinical work was informed by basic research and he encouraged research that would advance the science of behavior analysis and disseminate behavior analytic contributions to other disciplines. Mr. Bedient emphasized reinforcement-based interventions, implemented in the learner’s natural environment. His treatment plans or protocols pulled from the breadth of behavior analytic specializations (e.g., discrete trial training, natural environment training, Precision Teaching, Direct Instruction).

Eligibility/Academic Requirements. Support is offered for ongoing or planned research projects. Those proposals that most closely align with Mr. Bedient’s priorities will be given extra consideration. Proposals should include the rationale and proposed methods with supporting references in addition to a letter of interest describing how the proposed research aligns with the goals of this scholarship fund. Proposals are due no later than March 1 of each year and the scholarship recipient will be announced at the ABAI Convention the following May. Note: Research funds are limited to $250.00 per application.

West Coast Behavioral Scholarship

Donnie Staff, MS, BCBA, and Shane Isley, MS, BCBA, Department of Behavior Analysis Alumni and founders of West Coast Behavioral Consultants, Inc. in Seattle, WA, have established the West Coast Behavioral Scholarship Award to support students interested in obtaining leadership skills in multi-disciplinary service delivery. Awards in the amount of $1,000 each are awarded annually. Students who receive West Coast Behavioral Scholarship Awards are eligible to apply for paid internships with our company.

Eligibility/Academic Requirements. Qualifying students must hold a leadership position (i.e., senior RA, TF, etc.) in one of the following community-based or university-based applied projects supervised by UNT Behavior Analysis faculty:

  • Behavior Analysis Resource Center (BARC)
  • Direct Assessment, Teaching, and Analysis Lab (DATA)
  • North Texas Autism Project (NTAP)
  • Teaching Sciences Lab
  • The Child Study Center-Autism Intervention

Additional projects deemed appropriate by selection committee may apply

In addition, students must have taken or will agree to take at least three credit hours of additional multi-disciplinary coursework in such areas as Psychological Aspects of Marital and Family Interaction (PSYC-5590) and/or Family Counseling (COUN-5580), or other courses as approved by the faculty. Students entering their second or third year of graduate studies and have maintained a 3.7 GPA or above will be given preferential consideration. Interested students should contact Dr. Karen Toussaint.

Information about other financial assistance programs is available at the Financial Aid website.

Toulouse Graduate School University of North Texas

1155 Union Circle #305459
Denton, TX 76203-5017

Telephone: 940-565-2383
Fax: 940-565-2141
E-mail: graduateschool@unt.edu