The Department of Applied Behavioral Science trains researchers and scientist-practitioners in the discovery, translation, and application of knowledge toward solving human behavior problems of societal importance. For this, the department offers a Master's of Arts (M.A.) in Applied Behavioral Science and a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Behavioral Psychology. The Department of Applied Behavioral Science (Lawrence) and the Departments of Preventive Medicine and Public Health (KU Medical Center, Kansas City and Wichita) also offer a joint Ph.D./M.P.H. degree. This joint program is the first in the nation to combine the strengths of advanced study in applied behavioral science with a Master of Public Health (M.P.H.) degree. The Department welcomes applications from students wishing to pursue these degrees.

Certifications

The Department has also established a one-year Certificate Program in Community Health and Development. The certificate program offers advanced training and University-based certification to those involved in building healthy communities. The focus is on training in core aspects of community work from community assessment and strategic planning to intervention, evaluation, and sustainability.

In addition, the graduate curriculum has been approved by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB). Thus, students who enroll in and meet grade requirements of select graduate courses as well as obtain clinical supervision by board certified faculty are eligible to sit for the BCBA exam at the master’s or doctoral level.

Curriculum Requirements

The coursework accompanying our Master's and Ph.D degrees fulfill the curricular requirements of the Behavior Analysis Certification Board. In addition, these programs are accredited by the Association for Behavior Analysis International.

M.A. in Applied Behavioral Science

The ABAI accredited master's program trains highly competent scientist-practitioners in applied behavioral science. The program offers courses on the empirical and conceptual foundations of behavioral science, and its research methods, but emphasizes coursework and supervised experience in behavioral assessment, analysis, intervention, and evaluation. Its mission is to advance empirically-based solutions to problems of societal importance.

Course Requirements

The M.A. degree requires 30 credit hours -- 12 of them in four content areas, 3 in a practicum. Students must also conduct, write, and orally defend an empirically-based thesis.

When is the application deadline?

  • The application deadline is December 15th. If positions are still available, we will consider applicants who apply after this deadline. To find out if any positions are still available, you should contact the professor(s) with whom you want to work.

Where do I send my application materials?

Is the GRE required?

  • While students are not required to take the GRE, students who have done well on it may be at an advantage compared with others who have not taken the exam
  • The Department considers students who may have less than perfect verbal or quantitative scores and they may still be strong candidates for graduate study. Students scoring less than 500 on both quantitative and verbal are, needless to say, at a competitive disadvantage.

Is there a minimum undergraduate GPA, below which my application will not be considered?

  • No, but you must keep in mind that admission to graduate school is a competition.
  • The most qualified applicant will be the one accepted. Having said that, we recognize that many students do poorly in their first year or two of undergraduate study.
  • We also recognize that students with extensive math and/or physical science coursework on their transcripts may have lower GPA's than more traditionally trained undergraduate psychology majors.
  • With respect to your academic record, we tend to look for students who posted a high GPA in their last two years and have taken (and done well in) coursework relevant to behavioral science.

Who reviews my application?

  • On the departmental application you will indicate the faculty members with whom you would like to work. These faculty members will conduct the initial review of your application. From there, if a faculty member is interested in your application, he/she must obtain consent of three other faculty members and the department's director of graduate training before your name can be forwarded to the KU Graduate School with our recommendation to accept.

What happens after I submit my application?

  • Shortly after the application deadline, the ABS faculty will review all completed applications. This process may take several weeks to complete as it must be coordinated with the KU Graduate School.
  • If one of the professors puts you on their short list of candidates, then that professor will contact you.
  • The professor will usually invite you to visit KU and discuss how your career goals may be compatible with the activities of that professor. Applicants are strongly encouraged to visit KU if invited to do so.
  • The professor with whom you interviewed will notify you of his/her decision in a timely fashion.
  • Ultimately, students must be accepted by the professor in the ABS department and the KU Graduate School (a separate entity). Students are not admitted into the program without both acceptances.

When do you typically know if you will be accepted to the program?

  • First, applicants should know that each applicant must be accepted by a faculty member of the ABS department and the KU Graduate School (a separate entity). If both of these requirements are met, only then will the student be admitted into the ABS program. For example, it is possible to be accepted by the KU Graduate School and not accepted by a faculty member. In this situation (and similar situations), the student would not be accepted into the ABS program.
  • Shortly after the application deadline, the ABS faculty will review all completed applications. This process may take several weeks to complete as it must be coordinated with the KU Graduate School. If one of the faculty members puts you on their short list of candidates, then that faculty member will contact you and invite you to an interview. The faculty member will usually invite you to visit KU and discuss how your career goals may be compatible with the activities of that professor. Applicants are strongly encouraged to visit KU if invited to do so. Following the interview, the faculty member will either invite you to join his or her lab or, most likely, place you on his or her waiting list. If you are placed on the waiting list, the faculty member will usually contact you with a final decision within a few weeks. The professor with whom you interviewed will notify you of his/her decision in a timely fashion.

Does the graduate program offer funding and/or tuition waivers or reimbursement?

  • Funding for graduate students depends on the faculty advisor and his or her sources of funding (e.g., grants, clinical work, etc.). Currently, the majority of the students in the doctoral program have funding.
  • While some faculty can offer graduate teaching or research assistantships, the department does not guarantee funding. Contact the faculty with whom you would like to work to learn more about funding opportunities they may provide for you

How long does does it typically take to complete the program?

  • MA
    Generally, students complete all requirements for the MA degree in 2 to 3 years.
  • PhD
    If a student enters with a master's degree, it is expected that the student will complete the requirements for the Ph.D. degree within four years.
  • Both
    Students who enter the department with a bachelor degree are required to complete the requirements for the master's degree before pursuing the requirements for the Ph.D. degree. Typically, students will complete the requirements for the master's degree within 3 years and the requirements for the Ph.D. degree within 4 to 7 years.

Does the ABS department offer courses and supervision that fulfill requirements of the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB)?

  • The ABS Department currently offers a course sequence that fulfills the BACB education requirements. The ABS department does not programmatically offer supervision. However, many faculty will provide the supervision necessary to fulfill the BACB supervision requirements. If you are interested, you should discuss this with faculty with whom you are interested in studying.
  • You may visit the BACB website at http://bacb.com/ for eligibility and exam information.

Is the ABS program accredited through the Behavior Analysis Accreditation Board (BAAB)?

  • Yes, the master’s and doctoral programs are currently accredited by the BAAB through 2019.

Can people work/do research with faculty other than their advisor?

  • Students are typically admitted to work with one faculty member. In addition, students are often very busy conducting either their own research under supervision of their faculty advisor or conducting research that is part of their advisors line of research. Further, the faculty member with whom the student wishes to work may not have sufficient time or resources to supervise an additional graduate student. However, there is nothing that prohibits the practice of working/doing research with multiple faculty members. Applicants are encouraged to discuss this with the faculty members with whom they may be interested in working.

Are you expected to stay in Lawrence for the summer?

  • This depends on the needs and requirements of your faculty supervisor. Some faculty supervise clinical and research programs that are in operation whenever KU is in session and some faculty supervise clinical and research programs that are open year round. If your faculty supervisor does not work during the summer, it is still expected that you work on projects that contribute to your progress as a student, such as continued exposure to the literature and writing manuscripts.

My question didn't appear in this list.

  • Contact the department at absc@ku.edu with your question.

Certifications

Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA)

LogoBACB

The Department offers a program that allows students to become Board Certified Behavior Analysts® (BCBAs®). For this, they (a) take 225 content hours in areas such as basic principles, research design, assessment, application and ethics in 16 courses pre-approved by the BACB®; (b) complete 1500 hours of field experience supervised by a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (e.g., faculty member, doctoral student); and (c) complete the Master’s degree program. They may then take the examination. Students interested in pursuing this certification should discuss this path with their advisor. Students interested in pursuing this certification should speak with Dr. DiGennaro Reed, who coordinates course requirements for the Department.

Graduate Certificate in Community Health and Development

The Department of Applied Behavioral Science (ABS) has established a one-year Certificate Program in Community Health and Development. The certificate program offers advanced training and University-based certification to those involved in building healthy communities. The focus is on training in core aspects of community work—from community assessment and strategic planning to intervention, evaluation, and sustainability.

Learn more about the Graduate Certificate in Community Health and Development

 

Departmental Graduate Awards

Flora E. Thompson Fund
Flora Thompson was the Department's much beloved first administrative officer. This expendable fund was established in her name by her family and friends. It supports graduate student travel to national conferences.

Baer, Wolf, and Risley Outstanding Graduate Student Award
The Baer, Wolf and Risley Outstanding Graduate Student Award is given to graduate students completing their final requirements in the Ph.D. program. The students are nominated by the faculty based on substantial contributions to research, teaching and departmental service.

The Todd R. Risley Student Award
The purpose of this award is to provide a $500 annual award from the Endowed Todd R. Risley Student Award Fund to a doctoral student from ABS chosen by a committee comprised of the ABS Awards Committee and four of the Founding Donors of the Risley Fund. Students must be matriculated in the Department of Applied Behavioral Science doctoral program and may work at any affiliated site including, but not limited to Juniper Gardens, North Star Academy, Edna A. Hill Child Development Center, KU Work Group for Community Health and Development, Parsons Institute, and others. The award can fund dissertation research or travel to present a paper pertaining to research and/or activities that have a clear path to scalable and sustainable solutions. Todd’s passions included: research with the potential for widespread application; early language development; implementation of innovative autism programs; design of environments to promote engagement; and parenting, However, any other research that represents the spirit of Todd’s innovation will be considered.


 

Fellowships, Assistantships and Other Funding Opportunities

Graduate School Guidelines on Research and Teaching Assistantships

The latest information about Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs) may be found at the website of the Provost's Office. where you will find eligibility requirements, information about tuition assistance, and general guidelines.

Graduate School Scholarships, Fellowships, and Assistantships

The graduate school offers a number of different fellowships to attract particularly strong applicants. A Dissertation Fellowship may be applied for after students have successfully proposed their dissertation project. An ethnic minority GTA scholarship is also available. Application and eligibility information for all of these programs may be obtained.

Graduate School Travel Fund

Once during your graduate career, you may receive a $400 award to cover expenses associated with attending and presenting a paper at a professional conference. Be sure to apply early in the year you hope to secure funding. The graduate school has a limited amount of funding; it is awarded on a first come-first-served basis. More information may be obtained.

Kansas Graduate Certificate in Community Health and Development Application Form (PDF)

Educational objectives and rationale for the certificate program

The Department of Applied Behavioral Science (ABS) has established a one-year Certificate Program in Community Health and Development. The certificate program offers advanced training and University-based certification to those involved in building healthy communities. The focus is on training in core aspects of community work—from community assessment and strategic planning to intervention, evaluation, and sustainability.

Educational objectives include to:

  1. Promote understanding of the processes and methods of promoting community health and development (drawing on models and methods of related disciplines)
     
  2. Develop core competencies in this work (e.g., creating partnerships, community assessment, analyzing problems and goals, strategic planning, intervention, advocacy, evaluation, planning for sustainability)
     
  3. Enhance experience and competence through supported practice in addressing issues in community health and development (e.g., substance abuse, prevention of chronic diseases, independent living, violence and injury prevention, youth development, neighborhood development)

The program draws from the knowledge and practice areas of behavioral science (e.g., behavioral psychology, anthropology, community psychology), public health, and community development. Practicum experiences with community-based organizations and partnerships provide opportunities to apply competencies for promoting community health and development issues in real-world contexts.

Requirements and course sequence associated with the certificate program

Students will enroll in three (3) three-hour graduate-level courses. The requirements include the following:

  1. ABS 710 (3 hrs – typically Fall semester) Community Health and Development — Provides an introduction to concepts, methods and related core competencies in this work (e.g., creating partnerships, community assessment, analyzing problems and goals, strategic planning, intervention, developing logic models, evaluation, advocacy, cultural competence, planning for sustainability). [Taught Fall semester only, typically Tuesdays 2:30 – 5:00 p.m.]
     
  2. ABS 876 (3 hrs – typically Fall semester) Practicum in Community Development — Enhances experience and competence in core competencies through supported practice in implementing and evaluating community development projects (e.g., evaluating a youth development initiative). [Typically, Mondays 3:30–5:00 p.m. for a common meeting, with field work (5-6 hours per week) by agreement with the practicum site.]
     
  3. ABS 875 (3 hrs – typically Spring semester) Practicum in Community Health Promotion — Enhances experience and competence in core competencies through supported practice in implementing and evaluating community health promotion projects (e.g., developing a strategic plan for prevention of chronic diseases). [Typically, Mondays 3:30–5:00 p.m. for a common meeting, with field work (5-6 hours per week) by agreement with the practicum site.]

Intended audiences--those who might benefit

Potential audiences or markets for the curriculum program include: a) University students in related disciplines (e.g., applied behavioral science, preventive medicine and public health, architecture and urban design, social welfare, public administration, anthropology, education), b) practitioners in the fields of community and public health (e.g., from public health departments and community health partnerships), c) practitioners in child and youth health and development (e.g., from United Way agencies and regional prevention centers), d) practitioners in community development (e.g., from community-based organizations), and e) practitioners in global health and development (e.g., from non-governmental organizations).

We anticipate a market for this program in Kansas and the Kansas City metropolitan area, nationally, and globally (through the recently designated World Health Organization Collaborating Center for Community Health and Development at KU). We anticipate that these groups will benefit from a flexible, University-based graduate program that combines contact time, supervised practice, and (eventually) distance learning. Students who are drawn to the certificate course as a preliminary step could subsequently, if accepted into these programs, pursue a Master's Degree or PhD in a related department of school at KU (e.g., MPH in Preventive Medicine and Public Health, Social Welfare, Education; joint Ph.D. degree in Applied Behavioral Science - MPH degree).

Faculty associated with or contributing to the certificate program include:

  1. Jomella Watson-Thompson, PhD, Assistant Professor of Applied Behavioral Science and Associate Director of The Center for Community Health and Development (a World Health Organization Collaborating Centre), jomellaw@ku.edu
  2. Vincent Francisco, PhD, Kansas Health Foundation Professor of Applied Behavioral Science and Co-Director of The Center for Community Health and Development (a World Health Organization Collaborating Centre), vtf@ku.edu
  3. Glen White, PhD, Professor of Applied Behavioral Science and Director of the Research and Training Center on Independent Living, glen@ku.edu

Student Eligibility and Administration of the Program


  • Eligibility criteria for admission to the Certificate Program include a B.A. degree from an accredited institution.

  • Students admitted for the certificate program may be enrolled either as a regular graduate student or admitted to the Graduate School as a non-degree seeking student.

  • The total credit hours earned from a certificate and transferred into a graduate degree program cannot exceed six hours, eight hours if the student holds a baccalaureate degree from KU.

  • As with other graduate programs, student records will be handled by the Department's Graduate secretary.

  • Awarding of certificates will be handled consistent with guidelines and timing of degree awards of the Graduate School.

Student Application

 

Angela Robb
Office Manager and Graduate Advising Specialist
785-864-0503
4007 Dole Human Development Center
  • Graduate Support
  • Scheduling Officer
  • Hiring Paperwork
  • General Questions

Edward K. Morris
Professor, Director of Graduate Studies
785-864-0519
Dole Human Development Center, Room 4017

The ABS GSO provides support and representation of the department's graduate students. GSO officers provide student representation at faculty meetings and within department committees, hold a poster session each spring to promote professional practices in research, provide supports for essay and presentation skills, and also maintain the departmental library as a resource for students.


Questions about the Graduate Program?

If you have questions about our graduate program, please contact Dr. Edward Morris, Director of Graduate Studies, at ekm@ku.edu

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