The Department of Applied Behavioral Science offers a curriculum for understanding, analyzing, and developing solutions to problems of social importance across the lifespan. In particular, students learn to apply behavioral science to enhance the human condition through prevention and intervention. Among the problems are those in early childhood, developmental disabilities, education, physical disabilities, community health and development, and organizational behavior management. Introductory and core courses provide instruction in the basic principles of behavior, applied procedures and programs, rules of evidence for data-based decision-making, and conceptual foundations. Concentration and elective courses inform students about the individual, social, and cultural contexts of application (e.g., developmental, family, community). Recommended courses in other departments and professional schools enhance students’ appreciation of the interdisciplinary nature of human problems and their solutions (e.g., biology, political science, psychology, social welfare, sociology, special education). A capstone practicum integrates the coursework with supervised, hands-on training and opportunities for research.


Prospective majors should enroll in Introduction to Applied Behavioral Science (ABSC 100/101) and Principles and Procedures of Behavior Modification and Therapy (ABSC 304) during their first two years. The content of these two courses will give students a basic understanding of the field of Applied Behavioral Science and help students decide whether they would like to apply to be admitted to the major. The requirements and procedures for applying to be admitted to the major are listed below. Major application forms are available in the Department’s main office (4001 Dole Human Development Center) or in the College Undergraduate Services Office (109 Strong Hall). The interest codes are ABSCA-BA for the B.A. degree and ABSCA-BGS for the B.G.S. degree.


Majors are encouraged to consult with the ABS Advising Specialist or faculty members as early as possible about the major requirements, course choices, degree options, and Department and career opportunities.

Although there are no formal requirements for admission into the major, a grade of C or better in ABSC 100 and ABSC 304 is required for many upper-level courses (e.g., ABSC 308).

MAJOR REQUIREMENTS                         

The major requires 33-38 credit hours, at least 15 of them at the junior-senior level (i.e., numbered 300 and higher).  Each student who majors in Applied Behavioral Science selects a concentration as listed below, some concentrations contain several options:

    • Adults with Disabilities
    • Basic Research and Conceptual Foundations
    • Child Life Specialty
    • Community Health and Development
      • Health Promotion
      • Independent Living
      • Community Leadership and Development
    • Early Childhood Education
      • Early Childhood Education and Intervention
      • Early Childhood Autism Intervention
      • Early Childhood Research
    • Organizational Behavior Management Research and Practice       

    Other concentrations may be arranged with prior approval of a faculty advisor and the Department’s Undergraduate Studies & Advising Committee.

    For each concentration, majors are required to take the introductory course (ABSC 100/101), three required courses that teach students the core content and research methods of the discipline (ABSC 304, 308, 509), required courses that prepare students for their practicum work in the concentration, junior/senior elective courses, and practicum courses that provide students with hands-on experience in the field or research experience.

    Introductory Course

    ABSC 100 Introduction to Applied Behavioral Science (3); or

    ABSC 101 Introduction to Applied Behavioral Science, Honors (3)

    Core Knowledge Courses

    ABSC 304 Principles and Procedures of Behavior Modification and Therapy (3)

    ABSC 308 Research Methods and Application (4)

    ABSC 509 Contemporary Behavioral Science (3)

    Required Concentration Courses

    Students select a concentration or option within a concentration from among those listed above.  Each concentration has its own required sequence of courses as outlined later in this document.  Because there typically are prerequisites for enrolling in courses beyond the introductory level, students should consult with an advisor in their prospective concentration as early as possible.   This is particularly important for the practicum courses.  Many of the practicum courses have prerequisites that must be completed by the end of the junior year in order for students to graduate in four years at the University.  Planning ahead by meeting with the advising specialist or faculty advisor in the Department is essential. 

    Concentration Electives

    These are junior-senior level courses in each concentration elected from an open or restricted list of options needed to complete the major’s credit-hour requirement.  Students are also encouraged to select courses in their CLAS general education requirements and electives, and for their B.G.S. minor requirements that compliment their concentration (e.g., in the biological and social sciences, humanities, special education, social welfare).

    Practicum Courses

    Each concentration culminates in a required practicum. The practicum provides supervised, hands-on experience working in the field or on a research project. The minimum course prerequisites are completion of (or concurrent enrollment in) ABSC 100/101, 304, and 308 and consent of the instructor; some practicum courses also require completion of (or concurrent enrollment in) the required concentration courses. Students should consult an advisor in their concentration no later than the end of their sophomore year and every semester thereafter about their practicum placement and its prerequisites and requirements. Course syllabi describing these prerequisites and requirements are available from the faculty members who serve as practicum supervisors in each concentration.

    Hour Limitations

    No more than a combined 6 hours of the following courses will count towards the ABS major’s credit-hour requirement: ABSC 279 (Study Abroad Topics), ABSC 425 (Teaching Apprenticeship) ABSC 469 (Special Topics), ABSC 479 (Study Abroad Topic), ABSC 489 (Directed Readings), ABSC 499 (Directed Research), ABSC 599 (Honors & Thesis in Applied Behavioral Science), and ABSC 606 (Special Projects in the Community). However, the credit hours in these courses over the 6-hour limit count toward credits required for graduation.

    KU Core Curriculum          

    Effective Fall 2013, the KU Core defines the educational goals that are integrated into all of the degrees and majors pursued by KU undergraduate students.  Achieving the learning outcomes associated with the 6 educational goals will position KU students to be better thinkers and communicators; have a broader base of knowledge; appreciate human diversity be more aware of global culture, ethics, and social issues; and integrate skills and knowledge creatively. All students entering KU in Fall 2013 will follow curricula that coordinate with the KU Core goals. The KU Core goals and outcomes are described in detail on the KU Core webpage. See KU Core Courses for a list of ABSC course that align with the KU Core goals and learning outcomes.


    The Basic Foundation concentration requires a course in statistics. However, all ABS majors interested in pursuing graduate school and professional programs for advanced education and training are strongly encouraged to take at least one statistics course during their undergraduate tenure. Many graduate programs require completion of a statistics course for admission. However, credit hours in statistic courses do not count toward the required ABSC major hours (except for students in the Basic Foundation concentration).


    Courses that transfer to the University of Kansas as the equivalent of a specific ABSC course will count for meeting any ABSC requirement in the major or minor that that course would meet if taken at the University of Kansas. Courses that transfer to the University of Kansas as undesignated ABSC credits at the junior- senior level may be used to meet elective credit requirements in the major or minor.


    The Department offers a minor that may compliment majors in other departments, as well as student career interests. It requires 18 hours inclusive of ABSC 100/101 and 12 junior-senior hours in ABSC. Up to 3 hours of credit may be used to fulfill requirements for both the major and minor. Successful completion of the minor requires a minimum KU GPA of 2.0 in all courses taken for the minor. Within the minor, students may elect a sequence of courses in the Department’s concentrations -- areas that serve their career and their service interests. Students should consult with an advisor in the Department about relevant courses.



    International Experience, Research Experience, & Service Learning

    Qualified students may obtain (a) international experience in a program offered jointly with KU’s Study Abroad Program (ABSC 279, ABSC 479) and (b) research experience with faculty members who offer research courses and research practicum courses (e.g., ABSC 469, ABSC 499, ABSC 599). The Department also offers courses that include a service-learning component. Many of these programs, practicum courses, and service-learning courses meet the university’s requirement for international experience, research experience, and/or service learning.

    Department Honors

    The Department’s honors program is especially suited to students planning to attend graduate school. Students are expected to enroll in two semesters of ABSC 599, for a total of 4 to 8 credit hours. The course combines small group discussions of advanced topics in Applied Behavioral Science with honors thesis supervision on a project of the student’s design. Honors students are invited to attend the ABS Colloquium series. Students should meet with the Department’s Honors Advisor by the middle of their junior year to identify a faculty member with whom to complete their project in their senior year.  Prerequisite: At least 60 hours in the College with a 3.25 GPA and a 3.5 GPA in the Department.

    Double Majors

    The Department encourages double majors and minors in other departments. Double majors are especially appropriate for students planning to attend graduate school or enter professional programs (e.g., law, medicine). Any major in the College may be appropriate, but the most common have been Psychology, Human Biology, Sociology, Political Science, and Speech-Language-Hearing. Courses that are cross listed with other departments fulfill hour requirements in both majors, up to a maximum of 15 hours. Cross-listed courses only count once, however, toward the 124-hour CLAS graduation requirement.


    Assistant Behavior Analyst Certification         

    Students may pursue a program that qualifies them to become a Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA). For this, they must (a) pass a prescribed sequence of courses, (b) obtain requisite supervised experience by a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), (c) complete the major and their KU degree, and (d) pass a national examination. This program requires course and practicum credit hours beyond those required for the ABSC major.  Students should meet with the Department Behavior Analysis Certification Board advisor (Claudia Dozier) early in their junior year (or prior to doing their first practicum). For information, check the BACB.


    The Department prepares students for careers in their concentrations, as well as for graduate school and professional training in those and related areas.  Careers include work in such fields and settings as early childhood education; early childhood intervention programs; community programs for children, youth, and adults with developmental and/or physical disabilities; public health and health care settings; and community-based and nongovernmental organizations. For more specific lists and descriptions, see the individual concentrations. Many careers are enhanced by or require graduate study or professional training. 

    Graduate School and Professional Programs

    Upon graduation and later, many majors enter graduate school and professional programs for advanced education and training in fields related to their career interests. These fields include applied behavior analysis; applied developmental psychology; child, adolescent, and adult clinical and counseling psychology; community development; education; gerontology; law; medicine; public health and public policy; social welfare; and special education.


    American Psychological Association

    American Psychological Association Division 25: Behavior Analysis

    American Psychological Association Division 33: Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities

    American Psychological Association

    Division 22: Rehabilitation Psychology

    American Psychological Association

    Division 27: Society for Community Research and Action: Division of Community Psychology

    American Public Health Association

    Association for Behavior Analysis International

    Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies

    Kansas Association for Behavior Analysis

    Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE)

    United Way of America