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Applied Behavior Analysis

ABA Master's Overview

The applied behavior analysis (ABA) programs at Mississippi State University (MSU) are designed to provide education, training, and experience to students with the goal of preparing them for practice in real-world settings. Our faculty members are equipped with extensive clinical experiences in the field of behavior analysis and have exceptional teaching, supervision, and research skills. Faculty in the ABA programs share the goal of preparing students to become behavior analysts who provide high quality, evidence-based services to a wide range of ages, populations, and functioning levels in order to make socially significant changes in the lives of others. Currently, our coursework is available both face-to-face and online. 

The master’s program in ABA is recognized by the Association of Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) as a Verified Course Sequence (VCS) program; completion of the program meets one of the Behavior Analyst Certification Board’s (BACB) requirements for credentialing as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). The VCS follows the BACB’s 5th edition task list for BCBA coursework requirements. 

The ABA programs at MSU adhere to the scientist-practitioner model, where both faculty and students are expected to be (a) consumers of empirically-based practice, (b) evaluators of their own empirically-based practice, and (c) informed consumers and producers of research that contributes to the field of behavior analysis. While there are no specific research requirements for students in the program at this time, engagement in research at any capacity is encouraged and fostered by faculty in the ABA program. 

Those interested in learning even more about our program should check out the University Spotlight episode of the Operant Innovations podcast where our program coordinator, Dr. Hallie Smith, was invited to share more information not only about the program itself, but about life in Starkville, Mississippi and the unique training opportunities built in to the program.

Undergraduate ABA Options

Are you an undergraduate student interested in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)?

Our program offers a 15 credit-hour minor (5 courses) in ABA that any student, regardless of their major, can add. If you are an educational psychology (EPY) major, we also offer a concentration in ABA within the major. For more specific information about the minor, including required courses and the course sequence, please review the information in the ABA Undergraduate Minor Handbook (linked below). If you are interested in adding the minor, talk to your advisor first, and then complete the Minor Declaration Form (which can be found in the Handbook) and email it to the ABA Undergraduate Minor Coordinator, Beca Spencer,  at If you have any questions about the minor, please contact Beca Spencer.

The ABA program also offers a single course that allows students to be eligible for the Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) certification. This course is available to students enrolled at MSU at either the undergraduate or graduate level. If you are interested in enrolling in this course, please follow the link below for more information.

Mission Statement

The mission of the ABA program is to prepare students to provide high quality behavior analytic services to a diverse population of individuals by offering excellent training, supervision, and research experiences. More specifically, the mission of the ABA Master’s program at MSU is for students to acquire the knowledge, skills, and experiences necessary to demonstrate competency in applied behavior analysis, as demonstrated by their mastery of criteria outlined by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) in the 5th edition task list.


Within the field of ABA, credentialed practitioners at all levels are required to meet a set of standards developed by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB). Although the standards differ across credentialing options (e.g., BCBA, BCaBA, RBT), completing specific coursework is a requirement for all credentials. Currently, the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) serves as the accreditation and approval body for all education programs and coursework in ABA. As is common in other disciplines, professional associations often oversee training programs within their discipline, and ABAI manages the verification of course sequences as part of its objective to foster high-quality education in behavior analysis. 

Verified Course Sequence (VCS) status is granted once ABAI has verified the sequence of courses as meeting particular instructor and coursework standards in a college or university program offering behavior analytic instruction. Completion of a VCS meets the coursework requirement for applications for the BACB’s Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) credential. ABAI has designated Mississippi State University’s ABA program as a VCS, meaning that our courses cover all of the required content to meet requirements for credentialing as a BCBA. 

Please note that this does not mean you will receive your BCBA upon completion of this program, as the BACB requires not only completion of coursework in behavior analysis, but also completion of supervised field work and passing of the credentialing exam.

Contact information of accrediting and approval bodies: 

ABAI Verified Course Sequences logo

Association for Applied Behavior Analysis International (ABAI)
550 W. Centre Avenue 
Portage, MI 49024 

Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) 
7950 Schaffer Parkway 
Littleton, CO 80127 



Students in the ABA program are admitted as a cohort each Fall semester and will take courses together as they progress through the course sequence. The program is designed to be completed in 2 years. Students are required to take a minimum of 2 semesters of practicum during their time in the program; although, students can choose to take practicum every semester if they choose. During students’ final semester in the program they will be required to take a written comprehensive master’s exam that they must pass in order to complete the program and obtain their degree.

Master of Science in Educational Psychology with a concentration in Applied Behavior Analysis  (40 Hours)

Major Core in Educational Psychology (10 hours) 
EPY 6214    Educational and Psychological Statistics (4 hours)
EPY 8253    Child and Adolescent Development and Psychopathology (3 hours)
EPY 8363    Psychological Testing in Education and Related Settings (3 hours)

Applied Behavior Analysis Concentration (24 hours) 
EPY 6113    Principles of Behavior Analysis (3 hours)
EPY 6223    Applications of Behavior Analysis (3 hours)
EPY 8493    Social Emotional and Behavioral Assessment (3 hours)

EPY 8713    Experimental Analysis of Behavior (3 hours)
EPY 8763    Advanced Applied Behavior Analysis (3 hours)

EPY 9443    Single Subject Design (3 hours)
EPY 9603    Legal and Ethical Issues in Behavior Analysis (3 hours)
EPY 9613    Consultation, Supervision, and Personnel Management (3 hours)

Practicum in Applied Behavior Analysis (6 hours; minimum) 

EPY 8390    Applied Behavior Analysis Practicum (6 hours)


Our program has established partnerships with several university and community-based behavior analytic providers in order to provide our students with high quality field-based training experiences. All of our practicum sites have established BCBA’s who will provide individual supervision to the students on a weekly basis. Faculty supervisors who are assigned instructors for the practicum course will also provide both individual and group supervision to students on a weekly basis. Potential placements for practicum are:

For students who are enrolled in our online program that are not within a reasonable commute to these locations, faculty will work with the students on an individual basis to locate an appropriate practicum placement within their region.



BACB Coursework Requirements-5th Edition Task List
Content Area Courses
BACB Compliance Code and Disciplinary Systems; Professionalism EPY 9603: Legal & Ethical Issues
Philosophical Underpinnings; Concepts & Principles

EPY 6113: Principles of ABA

EPY 8763: Advanced ABA 

Behavior Assessment EPY 8493: Social Emotional & Beh. Assmt.
Measurement, Data Display and Interpretations; Experimental Design EPY 9443: Single Subject Design 
Behavior-Change Procedures; Selecting and Implementing Interventions

EPY 6223: Applications of ABA 

EPY 8763: Advanced ABA

Personnel Supervision and Management EPY 9613: Consult., Sup., & Management

Graduate Certificate Option

Students with existing master’s degrees in education, psychology, or a related field, who are interested in completing verified coursework to be eligible to sit for the BCBA exam may apply to our certificate program in ABA. Students are encouraged to check with the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) to check that their existing degree is recognized as an acceptable degree prior to submitting an application. The certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is designed to lead students to certification as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA; by offering classes that are approved as a Verified Course Sequence (VCS; by the Applied Behavior Analysis International (ABAI). This is a 21-hour certificate program designed to begin in the Fall semester and be completed within 2 years.

To obtain the certificate in ABA, students must complete all 7 of the courses that make up the 21 ABA concentration credit hours but are not required to take the three educational psychology core classes. Students interested in the ABA certificate program, should apply to the program by selecting “Unclassified” within the list of degree/program options and indicating within your statement of purpose that you are interested in the ABA certificate program.

Prospective Students

Admission Requirements

Students must have a bachelor’s degree or be in the final semester of earning their bachelor’s degree when they apply for admission. We require a statement of purpose, a resume or curriculum vitae, as well as contact information for three (3) references who will be prompted to submit letters of recommendation. We also require that official transcripts be sent to Mississippi State University. Our program operates on a cohort model and we accept students into the program only in the Fall semester.

Application Process

Students interested in applying to the ABA Master’s program should apply online at We are no longer accepting applications for admission to our Fall 2024 cohort, we accept around 15 students to our Starkville campus program 25 to our online campus program and we no longer have any remaining slots available. We do not accept students into the program during any other semester. Applications for admission in Fall 2025 will be due March 1, 2025.

Financial Aid and Graduate Assistantships

Full time graduate students enrolled in the program are eligible to apply for assistantships throughout the university. For the 2022-2023 academic year, we were able to offer graduate assistantships (GA’s) to a total of 10 students in the Starkville campus cohorts. We hope that moving forward, we will continue to be able to offer this many positions. Applicants should begin the process early to secure an assistantship. Students with assistantships work 20 hours per week and may receive tuition reimbursement and a stipend. For more information and to submit an applications, please visit the Graduate School's website

Accepted applicants who are residents of Mississippi, have a 3.5 GPA or higher, and who plan to practice as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) in the state of Mississippi will be eligible to apply for the Hosemann Family Autism Foundation Scholarship. This scholarship provides one student per year a $5,000 award. Students who meet this criteria will be contacted by faculty in the program and prompted to complete the application. Applications will be reviewed by the scholarship committee and the recipient will be notified during the Fall semester. We are appreciative of the passion and generosity of the Hosemann Family Autism Foundation for the field of behavior analysis.

For the most current information regarding tuition and fees, please visit the Office of Graduate Studies or Account Services website.

BCBA Exam Preparation

Our program has partnered with Pass the Big ABA Exam to provide students with different options to help in their preparation for the BCBA exam at no expense to the students. Our faculty prioritize the training of their students and believe that it is their responsibility to adequately prepare them for the BCBA exam; providing financial support for them to access this resource is something that we are proud to be able to do for our students.

PTB Logo

Resources & FAQ’s

If you are interested in learning more about behavior analysis and becoming a BCBA, here is a list of resources you may find helpful. 

Behavior Analyst Certification Board 
About Behavior Analysis
Becoming a BCBA
Careers in ABA
Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI)
Behavior Analysis Association of Mississippi (BAAMS)


What is applied behavior analysis? 
Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is the science of applying the principles of learning to change socially significant behavior. This basically means that we use principles of learning to change behavior that matters. We can use ABA to increase academic skills, communication skills, and functional life skills; we can also use ABA to decrease inappropriate or problematic behaviors that may be negatively impacting a person. 

What will my degree actually be in? 
The awarded degree is a Masters in Educational Psychology with a concentration in Applied Behavior Analysis.

Do I need to have experience in behavior analysis to apply to this program? 
You do not! While we are excited about applicants who do have experience with behavior analysis, it is certainly not expected or required.  

How many courses will I be expected to take each semester? 
If you choose not to enroll in practicum courses, you can expect to take between 2-3 courses per semester. A complete course sequence will be provided to you upon admission.

Can I sit for the BCBA exam after completing this program? 
After completing the program and graduating, you will have completed all the required coursework to make you eligible to take the BCBA exam. However, in order to sit for the BCBA exam, you will also need to have accrued all the required experience and supervision hours. While those experiences are not required and not built into the program at this time, should you choose to enroll in the practicum courses that are offered by the program OR choose to get experience and supervision hours independent of the practicum courses we offer, you may have accumulated the required experience and supervision hours to sit for the exam.

Contact Us

If you have any questions about the program or applications, please feel free to reach out! We are happy to talk to you more about the program or answer any specific questions you may have. 

Dr. Hallie Smith is an assistant professor in the ABA program and serves as the Program Coordinator.

You can also follow us on social media to keep up with program updates and announcements, as well as learn more about ABA. We are on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.