Master of Arts in Behavior Analysis


The Master of Arts in behavior analysis in the Department of Psychology at Western Michigan University prepares students for doctoral study work or employment at the M.A. level in developmental disabilities, mental illness, substance abuse, education, government, and business and industry.

A minimum of 37 hours is required, and a minimum grade of B is required in all coursework in the program.

Goals and objectives

  1. Provide comprehensive training in behavior analysis that will serve as a basis for specialized training during later years of graduate or post-doctoral study.
    1. Students will develop a strong knowledge base of conceptual, theoretical, and applied issues in behavior analysis.
    2. Students will develop knowledge of scientifically supported behavioral applications relevant to a variety of applied problems.
    3. Students will develop knowledge of research methods, which includes at the Ph.D. level, statistical analysis.
  2. Establish professionalism and ethicality.
    1. Students will understand and commit to the APA, ABAI, and relevant BACB ethical codes.
    2. Across professional contexts students’ appearance, language, and conduct will be marked by integrity, accountability, and ethicality.
  3. Instill in students a professional identity that fosters lifelong learning and engagement in the broader behavior-analytic and psychological community.
    1. Students will pursue professional development via participation in regional, national, or international organizations as members.
    2. Students will pursue professional development by attending and participating in conferences, workshops, colloquium, and professional trainings.
  4. Instill in students an awareness and openness toward individual differences and cultural diversity.
    1. Students will acquire knowledge of individual differences and cultural diversity.
    2. Students will demonstrate a respect for and ability to work with diverse individual.
    3. Students in applied areas will be aware of the impact of their clients.
  5. Establish in students the skill set to consume and conduct empirical research.
    1. Students will be nested in an active research community with an identified mentor.
    2. Students will demonstrate knowledge of and behave in accord with human subjects and animal subject protections.
    3. Students will seek individualized experiences in research methods and experimental design issues relevant to their research interests.
    4. Students will demonstrate an ability to comprehensively evaluate a substantive area of the research literature.
    5. Students will demonstrate an ability to review the strengths and weaknesses of the scientific literature in a targeted domain, link that review to an applicable research question, and develop a research design to provide information relevant to answering that question.
    6. Students will demonstrate an ability to analyze and integrate the research findings into the broader scientific literature in a relevant domain.
  6. Students seeking certification by the Behavior Analysis Certification Board (BACB) to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) will obtain the necessary preparations to apply for certification and successfully pass the BACB examination.
    1. Students seeking BACB certification will take courses in the VCS to acquire the applied and professional skills designated by the BACB task list.
    2. Students seeking BACB certification will learn the skills necessary to function effectively in a specialized service setting during external practicum.
  7. Students will have the ability to orally communicate their research and applied projects in professional settings.
    1. Applied students will be able to orally present case materials in a concise, organized, and comprehensive way.
    2. Students will be able to orally present research in a concise, organized, and comprehensive way.
    3. Interested students will be afforded the opportunity to serve as a course instructor demonstrating their capacity to serve as an educator in psychology.

Undergraduate preparation

An undergraduate major in psychology is preferred; a minimum of 18 hours in psychology is required for admission. These hours must include:

  • An introductory course in statistics. The equivalent course at WMU is PSY 3000.
  • A minimum of eight hours in both experimental and applied behavior analysis, including laboratory and field experience. Courses at WMU that satisfy this requirement include PSY 3300, PSY 3570, PSY 3600, PSY 3770 and PSY 4600.

If your academic background does not contain preparatory experiences you will be required to remediate program deficits through completion of PSY 5100 and additional course work. Specific courses will be determined in conference with your advisor. Generally, such remedial work will be in addition to the minimum of 37 hours for the completion of the Master of Arts degree.


Area I: Principles of Learning and Motivation (3 credit hours)

  • PSY 6100 - Conditioning and Learning

Area II: Theoretical Issues in Behavior Analysis (3 credit hours)

  • PSY 6760 - Skinner's Behaviorism

Area III: Professional Ethics (3 credit hours)

  • PSY 6050 - Professional and Ethical Issues in Psychology

Area IV: Applied Behavior Analysis (7 - 10 credit hours; *=required)

  • PSY 6260 - Behavioral Assessment*
  • PSY 6270 - Supervision and ABA (must take if seeking BCBA certification) 
  • PSY 6650 - Behavioral Interventions*

Area V: Research Methods (3 credit hours)

  • PSY 6080 - Research Methods in Behavior Analysis

Area VI: Experimental Analysis of Behavior (3 credit hours)

  • PSY 6110 - Experimental Analysis of Behavior

Area VII: Master's Thesis or Master's Project (6 credit hours)

  • PSY 7000 - Master's Thesis
  • PSY 7050 - Master's Project

Area VIII: Professional Experience (6 credit hours)

  • PSY 5980 - Special Projects in Psychology
  • PSY 5990 - Practicum in Psychology (Available opportunities
  • PSY 6910 - College Teaching Practicum
  • PSY 7100 - Independent Research

Area IX: Electives (0 - 3 credit hours)