Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.

Tiered Model of Education Application



Programs seeking initial recognition from the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) are required to complete the Tiered Model of Education application (online self-study report), which is an assessment of the complete program, led by program administrators with involvement from faculty, students and external stakeholders. The self-study application process provides an opportunity for the administration and faculty to examine the program in light of the standards and policies and to draft recommendations for its own action to improve the program and services for students. The self-study report (submitted via ABAI’s online application system) permits an opportunity, once in a recognition cycle, for the program to report on these assessment efforts and the current status of the program’s compliance maintaining its recognition status.


The first step in the process is to determine eligibility and notify ABAI of the intention to apply for recognition. Program administrators should carefully review the Tiered Model of Education standards and information. If they believe their program meets requirements, they should submit a formal eligibility request to ABAI (see instructions below). ABAI will not award initial accreditation or recognition to a program that is subject to an action by a recognized institutional accrediting organization or government agency that could lead to the suspension, revocation, or termination of accreditation or authority to provide post-secondary education.


The review process places great emphasis on the outcomes or products of the program’s training efforts. The review also evaluates the program’s resources and processes. Consistent with this approach, the guidelines and principles identify and describe general domains that are considered important to the success of any training program in behavior analysis. For each domain, programs are expected to document their records of achievement, and must provide narrative responses and statistical data to complete the application.


It is assumed that, with reasonable guidance about the kind of information needed, programs can decide how best to present their goals, objectives and the means by which these are achieved. Similarly, it is assumed that with adequate information from a program, ABAI can reach an informed, fair and reasonable decision about the program’s status with respect to recognition in one of the Tiers. All programs are evaluated according to the same standards with considerable flexibility as to specific course content and the manner in which research and practical training are handled, the structure of the program, and with regard for applicable laws, regulations, and cultural environments.


Eligibility Requirements

Programs in the United States must be housed in a public or private institution authorized to confer degrees in its state of operation, be accredited by an organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), and have at least one graduate. ABAI will not award initial recognition to a program that is subject to an action by a recognized institutional accrediting organization or government agency that could lead to the suspension, revocation, or termination of accreditation or authority to provide post-secondary education. 


For programs outside the United States, eligibility is determined on a case-by-case basis and upon evidence that the programs fall within the scope of the ABAI Tiered Model of Education, that there is legal authority to confer higher education degrees (as applicable), that recognition will be beneficial to the programs and their students, that there is a commitment by program administrators to remain current on changes to educational standards and policies and to participate in continuing professional development opportunities (including those offered by ABAI), and that the program has at least one graduate. The request must indicate how the program meets the eligibility criteria. Programs located outside of the United States are permitted to apply to Tiers 1-4b, but those outside a higher education institution are only permitted to apply to Tier 4a or 4b. All programs, regardless of location, are evaluated via an identical process using the standards, policies, and procedures of the ABAI Tiered Model of Education and with regard for applicable laws, regulations, and cultural environments.


Finally, programs applying for recognition must be in compliance with all applicable federal, state, and local government requirements. In cases where standards and these requirements differ, the more stringent will apply. If conflicts exist between government requirements and our standards, ABAI will defer to the government requirements. For non-U.S. programs, where there is a conflict between standards and policies and local laws, ABAI in consultation with the programs, will attempt to resolve the conflict in a reasonable manner that is beneficial to students.


The program is responsible for emailing a notification to ABAI indicating its eligibility and intent to apply for recognition via the Tiered Mode of Education. The notification must be sent on institutional/organizational letterhead, containing the information outlined in the template. 

  1. Download template 
  2. Then email the ABAI Education Department with a formal letter


Application Requirements

If the program is deemed eligible to apply for recognition, the program coordinator will receive an email indicating they have been given access to the online application system. The online  application system permits the program coordinator to complete it in sections, saving and returning to it as needed. The application must be completed in its entirety, submitted, and the application fee paid, before ABAI can will review it. To help programs prepare for the application, we provide access to all the standards which outline requested information. Programs may not email components or application materials to ABAI. The online application system specifies where to upload relevant files and submit data.



  1. Determine eligibility. As described above, email ABAI with a letter of intent indicating the program is eligible to apply. 
  2. Review standards. Access materials below to assess program performance with standards and prepare for the online application system.
  3. Prepare information. Gather requested program data and prepare narrative responses in the templates provided (below and in the online application system). Programs needing careful consideration (e.g., unique arrangements, large student enrollment, consortium, etc.) should contact the Education Department for guidance. 
  4. Complete application. 
    1. Enter institution information directly into online application.
    2. Upload completed templates with narrative responses. 
    3. Enter statistical data directly into online application.
    4. Upload specified documentation as attachments directly into online application. 
  5. Pay application fee.
  6. Receive receipt of application submission and payment from ABAI within one week of submission.


Standards and Materials

Download the application templates ahead of time to review the standards and requirements, and prepare for the online application system. The templates for each standard area are also available in the online application system. 


Modifed by Eddie Soh