Frequently Asked Questions
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The ABAI Accreditation Board is the governance body responsible for the accreditation of training programs in behavior analysis at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. The Accreditation Board operates as an ABAI board and carries out its responsibilities in a manner consistent with the ABAI bylaws and articles of incorporation.
The mission of the ABAI Accreditation Board is to establish and implement standards for the accreditation of educational programs in behavior analysis. The accreditation process is designed to encourage, support, and recognize exemplary training of behavior scientists and scientist-practitioners in the experimental and theoretical foundations of behavior analysis and in ethical and evidence-based practice, and to promote continuous improvement through voluntary accreditation.
This depends on your interests and career goals. Behavior analysis covers a range of areas, as attested by ABAI members’ interests. It may be helpful to seek guidance from professors, practitioners or researchers, current graduate students, post-doctoral students, etc.
Please also consider attending the Expo at the ABAI annual convention, where representatives of accredited programs in behavior analysis gather to promote their training and provide prospective students an opportunity to ask questions. The annual convention offers other resources such as the Professional Development Series, a series of panel discussions for prospective and current students, coordinated by the Student Committee.
This depends on your interests and the interests of faculty at the different graduate training programs. Faculty members often have an area of specialization (e.g., the experimental analysis of behavior, organizational behavior management, theory and philosophy, etc.) that can influence whether or not you seek them out as mentors. Before applying to a graduate program you should familiarize yourself with the work of faculty members within a particular graduate program.
Regardless of a faculty member’s area of specialization, the ABAI Accreditation Board of ABAI ensures that all of its accredited programs meet standards of training that cover essential content areas:
- Principles of Behavior
- Research Methods
- Conceptual Analysis
- Applied Behavior Analysis
- Basic Behavior Analysis
A master’s in behavior analysis can be earned either as a stand-alone degree or as part of a doctoral program. Indeed, some behavior analysis programs offer only master’s degrees, some only doctoral degrees, and some include both. Most master’s programs take 2–3 years, while doctoral programs take about 5–6 years.
A master’s degree in behavior analysis typically prepares its recipients for the practice of behavior analysis. Some master’s programs afford students the opportunity to participate in research; however, a research project/thesis is not a requirement of all master’s programs.
A doctoral degree is research intensive and can prepare you for many professional roles that include more opportunities for supervised practice in applied behavior analysis, research (basic, applied, and/or conceptual analysis of behavior), and mentoring graduate students. Doctoral-level training can prepare you for a professional career in many settings including but not limited to:
- Academia (being a professor or an adjunct teaching position)
- Working with animals in human care (as a research scientist or animal behaviorist)
- Industry and organizations (as a researcher, consultant, or in-house specialist in organizational behavior management)
- Hospitals and clinics (as a research scientist or as a practitioner)
- Schools (as an on-site provider of services, supervisor, or consultant)
- Research institutes (as a research scientist)
- Government entities (as a research scientist, as a policy advocate)
The ABAI Accreditation Board differentiates standards for master’s and doctoral degrees, as well as those for bachelor’s programs.
The ABAI Accreditation Board list of accredited programs provides contacts and links to individual websites where you can find specific information.
In general, graduate programs look for applicants with strong academic records in behavior analytic or related coursework (e.g., psychology), relevant research and/or applied experience including publications and professional association membership, conference attendance and/or presentations, alignment of research interests with those of faculty, and strong letters of recommendation.
Graduate applications in behavior analysis typically contain three main components: application forms, letters of recommendation, and a personal statement. Programs will also likely request official copies of transcripts from all universities attended, official copies of standardized test scores (most commonly the Graduate Record Examinations), and a résumé or curriculum vitae. Some programs may also ask for a writing sample.
- Application Forms
These forms typically request general biographical and summary academic information. Some programs may require one form for the department/program and another for the university.
- Personal Statement
Sometimes called a statement of purpose or letter of intent, the personal statement is an essay in which you describe your qualifications and reasons for applying to graduate school. Some programs specify the information to be included in this statement or ask applicants to write a series of shorter essays in response to particular questions. A word limit is typically indicated.
- Letters of Recommendation
Programs often ask for two or three letters of recommendation (or references) from individuals who can speak to your qualifications for graduate school. Applicants may ask instructors or supervisors with whom they have worked closely and who have direct knowledge of their qualifications.
See the list of ABAI accredited programs for links to individual websites.
For some programs students pay full tuition, whereas other programs provide significant funding and may not accept students unless they can offer financial assistance. Additionally, some programs offer paying assistantships (e.g., teaching, research, or practicum based). In the United States, financial aid is available to cover graduate school expenses (up to a federally set maximum amount). Federal student loan interest rates are set by Congress, and are typically much lower than rates for personal loans, car loans, or mortgages. Additional information about financial aid in the US can be found here: https://studentaid.ed.gov.
With the seemingly nonstop barrage of exams, papers, and labs that come with graduate school, it can, at times, start to feel like a bit too much to handle. If you should find your resilience starting to wane, remember that there are a few ways to lighten the load:
- Form study groups with other students in your cohort
No one knows your experience at graduate school like your fellow classmates. Use them as a resource to study, share ideas, and motivate yourself to continue. Planning study sessions with other students can help establish a more stable study schedule, and you may find yourself less likely to skip or forget about a study session with others than if you plan to study alone.
- Connect with fellow students through the Student Committee to share strategies for success
Communication with ABAI's Student Committee can be an invaluable resource not only for finding helpful strategies, but also for sharing those that have worked for you. In addition, networking with your peers can help to develop strong relationships that may continue throughout your professional life.
- Look for Professional Development Series events on relevant topics
ABAI notates certain presentations at the Annual Convention as part of its Professional Development Series. These discussions include information on topics like how to acquire grant funds, effective dissemination of behavior analysis, and practical implementation of applied behavior analysis in general education settings, along with a range of others.
For more questions about training in behavior analysis, or ABAI Accreditation in general, please contact the ABAI Accreditation Board at: ABAIaccreditation@abainternational.org.