Applied behavioral scientists and researchers impact our society and culture in a variety of areas, including social work, public health, law enforcement, special and regular education, medicine, and psychology. Practitioners in this field improve how people learn, work and live. As a pioneering institution in behavioral research and practice, the University of Kansas is an ideal place to further your studies in this field and prepare you for a career of helping others. The KU Department of Applied Behavioral Science offers a Master of Arts in Applied Behavioral Science, with all-online courses designed for busy professionals and students. You’ll receive high-quality education and training on a schedule that fits your needs, and are thoroughly committed to training the next generation of behavior analysts.  

Program Requirements

We seek students who have backgrounds in psychology or education, with some clinical experience, who are interested in learning about the science of behavior and the field of behavior analysis. The online master’s program will include educational preparation required by the BACB for BCBA certification. An experimental master’s thesis is required with a defense scheduled on campus in Lawrence.

Curriculum Requirements

The coursework accompanying the online master's degree has been submitted for approval to Behavior Analysis Certification Board (BACB) for BCBA certification. Approval should be in place by fall 2018. In addition, the program is accredited by the Association for Behavior Analysis International.

M.A. in Applied Behavioral Science

The Association for Behavior Analysis International (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

This degree requires a total of 30 credit hours, including 12 hours of content coursework, 3 hours of research or practicum, and 9-12 thesis hours. Students must also conduct, write and orally defend an empirically based thesis. You can see the entire course requirements here. Inquire today to receive more information on the program's courses.

When is the application deadline?

  • KU accepts applications to the M.A. in Applied Behavioral Science on a rolling basis until July 1, with initial reviews beginning on Dec. 15. To find out if any positions are still available, please contact Thomas Zane, Director of Behavior Analysis programs.

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 Program Director will review all completed applications. This process may take several weeks to complete as it must be coordinated with the KU Graduate School.

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

  • First, applicants should know that each applicant must be accepted by the program director 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.
  • Shortly after the application deadline, the Program Director will review all completed applications. This process may take several weeks to complete as it must be coordinated with the KU Graduate School. If you have strong credentials, the Program Director will contact you and invite you to an interview. The Program Director will discuss how your career goals may be compatible with the activities of the program. Applicants are strongly encouraged to visit KU if invited to do so.

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

  • No except under extreme circumstances.
  • While some faculty can offer graduate teaching or research assistantships, the department does not guarantee funding.

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

  • Generally, students complete all requirements for the MA degree in 2 to 3 years.

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

  • The ABS Department has applied for course verification; acceptance should occur prior to fall 2018 semester. The ABS department does not programmatically offer supervision.
  • You may visit the BACB website at 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.

My question didn't appear in this list.

  • Contact the department at with your question.


Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA)


The Department has applied to the BACB for course verification approval, and acceptance is assumed to be in place prior to the fall 2018 semester.

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.


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

Departmental Awards and Funding

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.

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

Thomas Zane
Director of Online Behavior Analysis Programs, Board Certified Behavior Analyst
4029 Dole Human Development Center

Questions about the Graduate Program?

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

Upcoming Events: