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Ph.D. in Health Services Research

Ph.D. in Health Services Research


The mission of the Behavior Analysis concentration in the Ph.D. in Health Services Research is to train the next generation of behavioral scientists and scientist-practitioners to work across disciplinary boundaries to expand scientific understanding and capability and to solve socially relevant problems.

The program relies on a junior-colleague model to develop world-class researchers, educators, and leaders inside and outside the academy.

Research Opportunity

Within the Behavior Analysis concentration, students can focus on a variety of research and application areas such as populations with learning differences (autism and dd), social justice, teaching sciences, animal behavior, behavioral neuroscience, and behavioral health and contingency management.

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.


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 3.5 or better
  • Acceptable GRE scores
  • Commit to a career in behavior analysis
  • Three reference letters
  • Statement of interest

Degree requirements

  • 18 semester hours of core HSR courses
  • 15 semester hours of BEHV concentration courses
  • 9 semester hours of dissertation
  • 9 semester hours of electives

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