PsyD in Applied Behavior Analysis: Degree Program Options

Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) programs are rare; more common, and quite similar in scope, are Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in ABA programs. Learn about the programs and career opportunities.

Essential Information

Both the Psy.D. and Ph.D. programs in applied behavior analysis teach students to recognize, assess and diagnose behavior problems, as well as look for the factors that cause them. As in all doctoral programs, research is emphasized, and students learn to collect and analyze data. The programs also include clinical experience, such as working in rehabilitation facilities for people with brain injuries. Students must complete a dissertation, as well as comprehensive exams and practica. Many doctoral programs will accept applicants with bachelor's degrees as long as they have sufficient psychology course credits. Some programs, however, require a master's degree. Relevant work experience may help in the admissions process.

Doctoral Degree in Applied Behavior Analysis

Students examine ABA theories and procedures. Scholars are trained to identify environmental factors that contribute to behavioral issues and create modification treatments that encourage beneficial changes. Programs educate students on how to conduct assessments and evaluate treatments. Research is integral to applied behavioral analysis, so students are trained to conduct behavioral experiments and write scientific reports.

Through laboratory work and collaboration with behavior analysts, students learn to conduct ABA procedures in professional and ethical manners. During practical work, they may help children with developmental disabilities learn to read, co-workers or families to communicate more effectively with each other or adults to re-learn aspects of their daily lives after brain injuries. Students must take courses in qualitative and quantitative research, statistics and ethics. Some of the more advanced topics they could study include:

  • Applied behavior analysis concepts and principles
  • Experimental analysis
  • Verbal behavior
  • Biopsychology
  • Behavioral interventions
  • Behavioral medicine

Popular Career Options

Graduates from doctoral applied behavior analysis programs are prepared to take the Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) certification test. Upon earning their BCBAs, individuals can practice ABA. They may work for clinical facilities, educational institutions or businesses in careers such as:

  • Researcher
  • Behavior analyst specialist
  • Professor

Doctoral degree programs in applied behavior analysis train students to diagnose behavior issues and conduct detailed research. Graduates must obtain certification to practice and can pursue careers in research and education.

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