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University Bulletin
Graduate Degree Programs

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)

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Penn State Harrisburg
777 West Harrisburg Pike
Middletown, PA 17057

Degree Conferred:



The Graduate Faculty


The Program

The program, offered at Penn State Harrisburg, helps master's level graduates prepare to function in community settings as applied behavior analysts, and to provide the academic training necessary for graduates to apply for national board certification in behavior analysis. The overall model emphasizes the core areas of the discipline including the scientific basis of behavior analysis, as well as how biological, social, and individual differences affect human behavior. Training will emphasize the development of both assessment and intervention skills.

The program helps prepare graduates to work in hospitals, medical schools, mental health centers, health maintenance organizations, a wide variety of educational settings, forensic settings, research facilities, and in center- and home-based programs for individuals with autism and developmental disabilities.

The program is intended for both part- and full-time students. Courses will be scheduled for fall and spring semesters. Admission is in the fall and spring semesters only.

Admission Requirements

Students will be admitted on a competitive basis and must submit the following:

  • a completed Graduate School online application and payment of the application fee
  • two official transcripts of all colleges and universities attended
  • three letters of recommendation
  • a brief (two-page) interest statement

The applicant must have either (1) a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution or (2) a tertiary (postsecondary) degree that is deemed comparable to a four-year bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution. This degree must be from an officially recognized degree-granting institution in the country in which it operates. Applicants must have at least 18 credits in education, psychology, or related disciplines with a cumulative grade-point average of 3.0 or above in the last 60 credits. Scores from the Graduate Record Examinations are required in the verbal, quantitative, and analytic portions.

The language of instruction at Penn State is English. All international applicants must take and submit scores for the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or the IELTS (International English Language Testing System), with the exceptions noted below. The minimum acceptable score for the TOEFL is 550 for the paper-based test, or a total score of 80 with a 19 on the speaking section for the Internet-based test (iBT). Applicants with iBT speaking scores between 15 and 18 may be considered for the provisional admission, which requires completion of specified remedial English courses ESL 114G (American Oral English for Academci Purposes) and/or ESL 116G (ESL/Composition for Academic Disciplines) and attainment of a grade of B or higher. The minimum acceptable composite score for the IELTS is 6.5.

International applicants are exempt from the TOEFL/IELTS requirement who have received a baccalaureate or graduate degree from a college/university/institution in any of the following: Australia, Belize, British Caribbean and British West Indies, Canada (except Quebec), England, Guyana, Republic of Ireland, Liberia, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Scotland, the United States, and Wales.

A personal interview may be required.

Transfer Credits

Subject to the limitations given below, a maximum of 10 credits of high-quality graduate work done at a regionally accredited institution or recognized degree-granting institution may be applied toward the requirements for the master's degree. However, credits earned to complete a previous master's degree, whether at Penn State or elsewhere, may not be applied to a second master's degree at Penn State. Transferred academic work must have been completed within five years prior to the date of the first degree registration at the Graduate School of Penn State, must be of at least B quality (grades of B- are not transferable), and must appear on an official graduate transcript of a regionally accredited university. Pass-fail grades are not transferable to an advanced degree program unless the "Pass" can be substantiated by the former institution as having at least B quality.

The ABA program cannot guarantee approval by the Behavior Analysis Certification Board of courses taken at other institutions, even those institutions that also have BACB University Approved Coursework.

Degree Requirements

Requirements for the M.A. in Applied Behavior Analysis include 30 credits in required course work, including the master's project paper, supervised internship experience, and 6 elective credits for a total of 36 credits.

ABA Core Courses (to be offered annually) are required for all students in the program.

500. Experimental Analysis of Behavior (3)
511. Behavior Modification (3)
522. Single Subject Research  (3)
533. Applied Analysis of Behavior (3)
577. Behavioral Assessment and Treatment
588. Ethics and Legal issues in ABA (3)
594A. Research Project (3)
595. Internship (9)

Elective Courses (6 credits)

555. Behavioral Interventions in Autism (3)
566. Behavioral Pediatrics (3)
594A. Research Project (3-15)
597. Special Topics (1-3)

592. Current Topics (3)

443. Treatment and Education in Developmental Disabilities (3)

The culminating project in ABA 594A Research Project requires the completion of a master's project (e.g., research manuscript, training manual, literature review manuscript, or publication). The type and scope of the project is agreed upon by the student's research chair.


Graduate courses carry numbers from 500 to 699 and 800 to 899. Advanced undergraduate courses numbered between 400 and 499 may be used to meet some graduate degree requirements when taken by graduate students. Courses below the 400 level may not. A graduate student may register for or audit these courses in order to make up deficiencies or to fill in gaps in previous education but not to meet requirements for an advanced degree.


Last Revised by the Department: Fall Semester 2012

Blue Sheet Item #: 41-04-129

Review Date: 01/15/2013

UCA Revision #1: 11/8/06

Faculty linked: 8/14/14


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