Applied Behavior Analysis, M.S.

Saint Louis University's M.S. in Applied Behavior Analysis involves the application of behavioral principles to produce socially significant changes in behavior. 

Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is the science of how and why behavior occurs. The science is used to work with individuals and organizations looking to make socially significant changes in behavior, focused on increasing well-being. Those who use applied behavior analysis work in a variety of fields, including working with individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities, those with mental health concerns including depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders, working in organizations to improve culture and performance, sports, health, and fitness, criminal justice, diversity, equity, inclusion and access (DEIA), schools and education and medical health institutions. Practitioners use direct assessments, research and foundational principles and concepts of behavior to design and evaluate interventions. SLU’s ABA programs focus on providing students with a diverse set of experiences in the many applications of ABA while ensuring a focus on providing a safe space for students to develop their cultural humility so they can effectively work with a diverse client population.

There are three things that set SLU’s master's ABA program apart from other programs. First, we are dedicated to creating a culturally humble environment where students are required to explore their own biases and develop the skills necessary to provide culturally humble services to clients across all settings. Second, students are provided a flat fee for their education, ensuring there are no unforeseen expenses or unplanned cost increases in tuition. Third, students complete their required fieldwork experience as part of the program, providing additional guidance and oversight as they practice their skills and ensuring they do not have to seek out fieldwork experiences on their own.

SLU’s ABA program provides state-of-the-art in-person and online learning that prepares students for a successful career. The program has a strong diversity, equity and inclusion focus to ensure students are prepared to provide the best services possible to a variety of clients across settings. Graduates of SLU’s ABA program are well-positioned to apply to Ph.D. programs around the country in behavior analysis and other fields. Students who complete a thesis often gain opportunities to present their research at local and national conferences and gain publication in peer-reviewed journals.

Curriculum Overview

SLU’s applied behavior analysis curriculum includes two tracks: our research track, completed in-person, and our clinical track, completed online. Both tracks include eight 3-credit-hour courses, five practica, one seminar, and six hours of thesis (research track) or three hours of capstone (clinical track). Students will complete 1,500 hours of supervised fieldwork as part of their coursework, ensuring they are eligible to sit for the BCBA® exam upon graduation. Due to the program's cohort model, most students begin coursework in the fall of each year. The program also offers both full-time and part-time formats.

The program requires 39 credits, as follows:

  • Principles and Concepts in Behavior Analysis
  • Measurement and Experimental Design
  • Behavioral Assessment
  • Behavior Change and Process
  • Basic Behavior Analysis
  • Supervision and Organizational Behavior Management
  • Philosophy of Behavioral Science
  • Behavior Change and Ethics
  • Five practica
  • Introduction to ABA practicum seminar
  • Capstone (clinical track) / Thesis (research track)

More detailed program information can be found in the ABA Program Student Handbook here.

Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA)

The SLU MS ABA program meets all required elements for persons seeking a BCBA® certification, including degree, coursework and field experience.

Fieldwork and Research Opportunities

SLU’s applied behavior analysis program offers students a practice-integrated education. Students are transformed into knowledgeable and ethical scientist-practitioners prepared for a range of clinical and management careers across the health, education, and social services sectors. Those seeing BCBA® certification through SLU’s practicum must complete a total of 1,500 hours of ABA field practicum across five semesters under the supervision of a Board Certified Behavior Analyst® (BCBA®). SLU’s pracitca experience is designed to ensure students master all areas of the BCBA® content list in their first three semesters, expand their research skills in their fourth semester and address a social justice topic in their final semester. The diversity within our practica experiences ensures students are well equipped to practice as independent professionals.

Field Education Policy and Procedures Manual


After graduation, applied behavior analysis students are eligible to sit for the BCBA® examination. Alumni from this program have worked in a wide range of fields including serving those diagnosed with autism and their families, adults with challenging behavior and developmental disabilities, job training sites, schools, healthcare agencies and more. They have also gone on to lead state education initiatives and advocacy projects.

Those in ABA also practice in a variety of other fields including:

  • Sports, health, and fitness
  • Organizational behavior management
  • Diversity, equity, inclusion and access
  • Gerontology
  • Criminal justice
  • Mental health

Admission Requirements

Successful applicants should possess a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university and a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00.

It is recommended that students have taken prior coursework in applied behavior analysis or have independently studied ABA texts.

Application Requirements

  • Application form
  • Official transcript(s)
  • Two letters of recommendation (one academic, one professional)
    • One academic letter of recommendation from a professor who has evaluated your academic performance in the classroom
    • One professional letter of recommendation from a supervisor who has evaluated your work in the field or related volunteer experience
    • If you have been out of school five or more years, you may submit two professional letters
    • If you are entering the program directly from an undergraduate program, you may submit two academic letters
    • If you have been out of school and the workforce for five or more years, please contact us to determine the best individuals to provide your letters of recommendation
  • Resume or academic vitae
  • Professional Statement
  • Interviews may be requested

Requirements for International Students

ABA requires a TOEFEL score of 92 or higher.

All admission policies and requirements for domestic students apply to international students. International students must also meet the following additional requirements:

  • Demonstrate English Language Proficiency
  • Financial documents are required to complete an application for admission and be reviewed for admission and merit scholarships. 
  • Proof of financial support that must include:
    • A letter of financial support from the person(s) or sponsoring agency funding the student's time at Saint Louis University
    • A letter from the sponsor's bank verifying that the funds are available and will be so for the duration of the student's study at the University
  • Academic records, in English translation, of students who have undertaken postsecondary studies outside the United States must include:
    • Courses taken and/or lectures attended
    • Practical laboratory work
    • The maximum and minimum grades attainable
    • The grades earned or the results of all end-of-term examinations
    • Any honors or degrees received.

WES and ECE transcripts are accepted.

Application Deadlines

There are two deadlines for applicants.

  • March 1: Any student wishing to be considered for merit-based scholarships, graduate assistantship positions, and financial aid must apply by this deadline
  • August 1: Any student wishing to begin their coursework in the fall of that year

Review Process

Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis. The admissions committee considers several factors to determine a candidate's eligibility:

  • Strength of the undergraduate program
  • Application information
  • Professional statement
  • Work experience
  • Any graduate degrees earned
  • Motivation, leadership and service
  • Undergraduate GPA 
  • Clinical experience in behavior analysis


Tuition Total Program Cost
MS Applied Behavior Analysis $39,000

Additional charges may apply. Other resources are listed below:

Net Price Calculator

Information on Tuition and Fees

Miscellaneous Fees

Information on Summer Tuition

Financial Aid

We recognize that cost can be a concern when choosing to continue your education and have identified the following financial aid resources to assist you.

FAFSA and Other Resources

All incoming students should complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application. A step-by-step guide to submitting your FAFSA is available online. Saint Louis University Student Financial Services provides a Graduate Financial Aid Handbook that outlines the process of financing your graduate education.

The following links to resources in Saint Louis University Student Financial Services may also be helpful:


New and continuing students are eligible for merit-based scholarships. Prospective students will be automatically screened for scholarship eligibility. No additional application is required; awards are based on information provided in the admission application.

Please note that the terms of the scholarship are subject to change if a student petitions for a degree transfer or fails to remain in good academic standing.


The Doerr Fellowship for Equity and Inclusion is a full-tuition fellowship funded by the School of Social Work for new and continuing students. A separate application is required with a deadline of March 1. This fellowship requires that recipients serve as members of the School of Social Work's Equity and Inclusion Committee. Recipients will also be expected to actively participate in the diversity, equity and inclusion activities sponsored by the Doerr Center throughout the year.

Newly accepted master's or doctoral students and students in the first year of a program are eligible to apply for a University-wide diversity, dissertation or presidential fellowship. Find more details on application components here.

Graduate Assistantships and Internships

By filling out a graduate assistantship/internships application, you will automatically be considered for a graduate assistantship or a graduate internship with the School of Social Work. Assistantships are appointed for one year. Students must reapply to be considered for a second year, and recipients are not guaranteed to receive subsequent/continuing internships.

Graduate assistantships are University-funded assistantships awarded by the School of Social Work. They are assigned and funded for two semesters (a duration of nine months, 20 hours per week), working with designated faculty. Benefits include 12 months of health care coverage, a stipend and 18 credit hours of tuition remission. 

Depending on faculty needs, the graduate assistant works with one or two faculty members. Time is divided between both faculty mentors if the student is assigned to two. Students who receive a fully-funded University-funded assistantship in one year may not receive it in subsequent years. However, they remain eligible for graduate internship while pursuing a graduate degree in the School of Social Work.

Graduate internships are funded and awarded by the School of Social Work. They are assigned and funded for two semesters (a duration of nine months, 8-16 hours per week), working with assigned faculty. Graduate interns may be assigned to assist with administrative work, research or faculty teaching. Depending on the hours assigned, tuition benefits will differ; health insurance and stipends are not awarded for graduate internships.

Other Funding for Current Students

Current students may be eligible for conference/training funding, graduate assistantships and scholarships. 


VCS Program

Saint Louis University’s ABA program is currently a Verified Course Sequence (VCS). Students who graduate from the program will have completed all requirements necessary to sit for the BCBA® exam.

  1. Graduates will be able to assess relevant behavior analysis literature/scholarly contributions.
  2. Graduates will be able to apply behavioral theories, practices, policies or research methodologies.
  3. Graduates will be able to apply knowledge from applied behavior analysis to address problems in broader contexts.
  4. Graduates will be able to articulate applied behavior analysis explanations/arguments to a disciplinary/professional audience in both written and oral formats.
  5. Graduates will be able to evidence scholarly/professional integrity (ethics) in behavior analysis.
ABA 5001Supervision and Organizational Behavior Management3
ABA 5002Philosophy of Behavioral Science3
ABA 5116Practicum IV1
ABA 5118Practicum V1
ABA 5775Basic Behavior Analysis3
ABA 5746Principles & Concepts in Behavior Analysis3
ABA 5747Behavioral Assessment3
ABA 5748Behavior Change and Process3
ABA 5749Ethics in Behavior Analysis3
ABA 5774Measurement & Experimental Design3
ABA 5820ABA Introduction to Practicum Seminar1
ABA 5826Applied Behavior Analysis Practicum I2
ABA 5827Applied Behavior Analysis Practicum II2
ABA 5828Applied Behavior Analysis Practicum III2
Clinical Track or Research Track3-6
Choose 3 hours of Clinical Capstone or 6 hours of Thesis Research
Advanced Clinical Research Capstone
Thesis Research
Total Credits36-39

Continuation Standards

Students must maintain a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.00 in all graduate/professional courses. Any course with a letter grade B- or below will have to be retaken.

Roadmaps are recommended semester-by-semester plans of study for programs and assume full-time enrollment unless otherwise noted.  

Courses and milestones designated as critical (marked with !) must be completed in the semester listed to ensure a timely graduation. Transfer credit may change the roadmap.

This roadmap should not be used in the place of regular academic advising appointments. All students are encouraged to meet with their advisor/mentor each semester. Requirements, course availability and sequencing are subject to change.

Research Track (On Campus, Full-time)

Plan of Study Grid
Year One
Critical course:  ABA 5746 Principles & Concepts in Behavior Analysis 3
Critical course:  ABA 5774 Measurement & Experimental Design 3
Critical course:  ABA 5826 Applied Behavior Analysis Practicum I 2
Critical course:  ABA 5820 ABA Introduction to Practicum Seminar 1
Critical course:  ABA 5747 Behavioral Assessment 3
Critical course:  ABA 5748 Behavior Change and Process 3
Critical course:  ABA 5827 Applied Behavior Analysis Practicum II 2
Critical course:  ABA 5001 Supervision and Organizational Behavior Management 3
Critical course:  ABA 5828 Applied Behavior Analysis Practicum III 2
ABA 5775 Basic Behavior Analysis 3
Year Two
Critical course:  ABA 5002 Philosophy of Behavioral Science 3
Critical course:  ABA 5116 Practicum IV 1
ABA 5990 Thesis Research 3
ABA 5749 Ethics in Behavior Analysis 3
Critical course:  ABA 5118 Practicum V 1
Critical course:  ABA 5990 Thesis Research 3
 Total Credits39

Clinical Track (Online, Full-time)

Plan of Study Grid
Year One
Critical course:  ABA 5746 Principles & Concepts in Behavior Analysis 3
Critical course:  ABA 5774 Measurement & Experimental Design 3
ABA 5826 Applied Behavior Analysis Practicum I 2
ABA 5820 ABA Introduction to Practicum Seminar 1
Critical course:  ABA 5747 Behavioral Assessment 3
Critical course:  ABA 5748 Behavior Change and Process 3
ABA 5827 Applied Behavior Analysis Practicum II 2
Critical course:  ABA 5001 Supervision and Organizational Behavior Management 3
ABA 5828 Applied Behavior Analysis Practicum III 2
ABA 5775 Basic Behavior Analysis 3
Year Two
Critical course:  ABA 5002 Philosophy of Behavioral Science 3
ABA 5115 Advanced Clinical Research Capstone 3
ABA 5116 Practicum IV 1
ABA 5749 Ethics in Behavior Analysis 3
ABA 5118 Practicum V 1
 Total Credits36

Apply for Admission

For admission questions contact:

Social Work School Graduate Admissions Office

For program questions contact:

Natalie Parks, Ph.D., BCBA-D, LBA
Director of the Applied Behavior Analysis Program
Associate Clinical Professor