Ph.D. in Behavioral Psychology

The Applied Behavioral Science doctoral program trains highly competent researchers in behavior analysis. Students are taught to discover and produce, translate and apply, and communicate knowledge in the behavioral sciences for understanding and solving problems of societal importance.

The curriculum provides a sequence of instruction that integrates:

  • Courses in the basic principles of behavior, experimental methods and research design
  • Conceptual foundations with training in basic, applied, and intervention research (e.g., assessment, analysis, intervention, evaluation).

For its research and training, the department receives considerable grant funding. 

The doctoral training program operates according to a junior colleague model. Students work closely with their advisors, joining them in every aspect of professional development. This includes designing and conducting research, preparing manuscripts for presentation and publication, and presenting and publishing those manuscripts. Students typically work with one advisor, but may work with others or have co-advisors.

The Doctorate in Behavioral Psychology is accredited by the Association for Behavior Analysis International Accreditation Board: annual report data.

KU’s licensure programs strive to maintain accurate and up-to-date information about the educational requirements for licensure in U.S. states and territories. However, regulations are subject to change and varying interpretations. In addition to possible changes in educational requirements, licensure often includes additional requirements, such as specific examinations and additional training or practicum hours. It is highly recommended that students seek guidance from the appropriate licensing agency before beginning an academic program to ensure they know what is needed to obtain the license/certification/registration in the state in which they intend to practice and/or seek licensure.

The PhD program helps meet the educational requirements for licensure in the state of Kansas and Missouri.

Students who plan to practice their profession outside Kansas need to familiarize themselves with licensure requirements in the state in which they would like to practice. Some states currently do not require licensure, but most do and may have additional licensure laws or requirements. Note also that licensure rules and regulations may change at any time. The process for obtaining a license in the state or states in which an individual may wish to work can be found through the state licensure board. It is important that you be aware of all such requirements BEFORE beginning the academic program to ensure you can obtain a license in the state or states for which you wish to work. For states in which you seek licensure, we highly recommend that you contact the individual state licensure board.

Provided below is a resource from the Behavior Analyst Certification Board® (BACB), which provides state-specific information about licensure for Applied Behavior Analysts in the states that require it:

BACB Licensure of Behavior Analysts

Annual reporting period: Calendar year January-December 2023

  •   Number of students whose degrees were conferred by the program:
    • 6
  •   Median years until graduation for students whose degrees were conferred by the program:
    • 5.4
  •   Number of students enrolled in the program:
    • 37
  •   Number of students no longer enrolled for any reason other than conferral of degree:
    • 4
  •   Number of completed applications received:
    • 24
  •   Number of students admitted:
    • 3

ABAI Accreditation Report

BCBA Examination Pass Rates

Course Requirements

Ph.D. students are required to take one course in each of seven content areas, along with two practicum courses. Students complete and orally defend an empirically based Master's thesis. With approval, empirically-based theses from other graduate programs may meet this requirement. Following competency exams, students propose, conduct, and defend an empirically-based dissertation.

Current Doctor of Philosophy in Behavioral Psychology requirements from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Affiliated Programs

The department offers a joint PhD-MPH degree in collaboration with the Master's of Public Health (MPH) program in the Department of Preventive Medicine at the University of Kansas Medical Center. This is the first degree in the nation to combine an MPH with the strengths of advanced study in applied behavioral science. It incorporates efficiencies in the elective and research requirements of both departments.

Faculty and student research teams address issues in community health and development, child and youth health and development, disabilities and independent living, and healthy aging. Separate admission is required for both the department (Ph.D. program) and Preventative Medicine (M.P.H. program).

ABAI Accredited Doctoral Program
ABAI Accredited Doctoral Program