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

Documents & Resources: Syllabus Examples


Course syllabi are one component of a well-developed curriculum. Course syllabi document how the courses addresses program-level objectives and ABAI-required content areas. In each content area, the scope of training is expressed in terms of hours of contact with the instructor. Programs are allowed flexibility in terms of how they achieve the prescribed contact hours. The main program-related standards are included here for reference of each degree level and the purpose of each content area is included below.


Standards for the Degree Program


All Programs: 

Faculty provide descriptive syllabi including learning objectives, methods of assessment, and assignment of grades for all the components in the curriculum. Distance education components meet the same standards as conventionally delivered components. 

Doctoral Degree Programs: 9-101 Standards 

The students demonstrate a systematic understanding of a field of study and mastery of the skills and methods of research associated with that field. 
The students conceive, design, implement, and adapt a substantial process of research with scholarly integrity. 
The students contribute through original research that extends the frontier of knowledge by developing a substantial body of work, some of which merits national or international refereed publication. 
The students engage in critical analysis, evaluation, and synthesis of new and complex ideas, and can communicate with their peers, the larger scholarly community, and society in general about their areas of expertise. 

Master’s Degree and Graduate-Level Programs: 9-106 Standards 

The students demonstrate knowledge and understanding founded upon bachelor’s-level studies. 
Program extends and/or enhances knowledge typically associated with bachelor’s-level degree programs, and provides a basis or opportunity for originality in developing and/or applying ideas, often within a research context. 
The students apply their knowledge and understanding and problem-solving abilities in new or unfamiliar environments within broader (or multidisciplinary) contexts related to their field of study. 
The students communicate their conclusions, and the knowledge and rationale underpinning these, to specialist and non-specialist audiences clearly and unambiguously. 
The students study in a manner that may be largely self-directed or autonomous. 

Bachelor’s Degree and Undergradaute-Level Programs: 9-110 Standards 

The students demonstrate knowledge and understanding in a field of study that builds upon their general secondary education, supported by advanced readings.  
The students apply their knowledge and understanding in a manner that indicates a professional approach to their work or vocation, and have competencies typically demonstrated through devising and sustaining arguments and solving problems within their field of study. 
The students gather and interpret relevant data (usually within their field of study) to inform judgments that include reflection on relevant social, scientific, or ethical issues. 
The students communicate information, ideas, problems, and solutions to both specialist and non-specialist audiences. 
The students have learning skills necessary to continue further study with a high degree of autonomy. 



Content Areas & Contact Hours


Content Area and Contact Hours (All Tiers)

Bachelor’s & Undergraduate 

Master’s & Graduate 


Principles of Behavior 

Purpose: To develop students’ competence in the use of technical terminology pertaining to the concepts and principles of behavior analysis. 

Research Methods 

[Doctoral] Purpose: To develop competence in measurement of behavior, data collection analysis and graphic representation, experimental design with particular emphasis on single subject design, and applicable statistical procedures. 


[Master's & Bachelor's] Purpose: To develop competence in measurement of behavior, data collection analysis and graphic representation, and experimental design with particular emphasis on single subject design. 

Conceptual Analysis 

Purpose: To develop competence in the history and philosophy of behaviorism, theoretical approaches to understanding behavior, and interpretation of behavior in terms of the concepts and principles of behavior analysis. 

Applied Behavior Analysis 

Purpose: To develop competence in the application of the principles of behavior and multiple areas of investigation and practice 

Basic Behavior Analysis 

Purpose: To develop competence in understanding how principles of behavior are discovered and described in the context of basic research. 


Purpose: To understand legal constraints and ethical guidelines as pertinent to behavioral research and practice. 

Specialized Elective 

[Doctoral] Purpose: To develop competence in one or more specialized areas of behavioral investigation. 

Supervised Experiential Learning 

Purpose: To develop skill in professional practice or research. 


[Doctoral] Work to complete a thesis (or equivalent) and / or a dissertation may fulfill this requirement. 

[Master's] Work to complete a thesis (or equivalent) may fulfill this requirement. 

Thesis or Equivalent 

Purpose: To develop competence in defining a research problem, designing a method to address the problem, and conducting and reporting an investigation that carries out the method to conclusion. 

As required by the institution 
As required by the institution 

Purpose: To demonstrate independent scholarship in the context of an investigation that produces an original contribution to the basic, applied, or conceptual analysis of behavior. 

As required by the institution 
Total Hours of Instruction 



Sample Syllabi

Several exemplary syllabi are available for reference. These syllabi were used to meet some or all the hour requirements for the Principles of Behavior, Conceptual Analysis, and Basic Behavior Analysis content areas. These three content areas were first selected based on needs and questions from programs transitioning to the Tiered Model standards; other content areas and examples may be included in the near future.


Important notes about the sample syllabi:

  • Programs should not replicate these syllabi. Rather, programs can use these examples for inspiration and as references when designing course contents to fit their own program curriculum.
  • Each program has its own unique objectives, course and credit arrangements, and faculty specialties that are not obvious when referencing one syllabus (i.e., out of context) from the entire curriculum.
    • Some of these syllabi come from courses that are used as prerequisites; some courses are offered as electives and rely on foundational knowledge in other components of the curriculum.
  • These syllabi are exemplary in scope and content; while assessments, assignments, and schedules were reviewed, they were not the primary items of concern.


Sample Syllabi for the Basic Behavior Analysis Content Area 


Sample Syllabi for the Conceptual Analysis Content Area


Sample Syllabi for the Principles of Behavior Content Area



Disclaimer: The programs whose syllabi are being shared have given their consent for this information to be made public only for the purposes described above (reference and informational purposes). We ask that users view the syllabi in good faith and do not copy or distribute them, and that users consider copyright and intellectual property rights and ownership. We also acknowledge that course materials, readings, and texts can become outdated and professional judgement should be used when referencing readings sampled above. 



Modifed by Eddie Soh