Psychology: Applied Behavior Analysis Program

Program Description

Applied Behavior Analysis is a specialty that has been evolving since the mid 1960’s as an area of extensive basic and applied research and as a profession of behavior change. Applied Behavior Analysis can be differentiated from other areas in psychology in that it is focused on analyzing and modifying behavior using well established principles of learning that stress environmental variables that can be manipulated directly to improve performance. FSU has been a leader in the generation of behavior analysis research and has achieved “Top 50” status in the world in both authors published and educational institutions represented. The Florida Panhandle has become a center of professional behavior analysis activity in the past fifteen years with over a dozen PhDs with specialty training in behavior analysis on the faculty of FSU or in active professional behavior analysis practice in the community. Florida State University's Applied Behavior Analysis 2021 program outcomes and BACB pass rates (pdf). Previous program outcome data from 2015 to present can be found at the ABAI Accredited Programs website. 

Program Mission

The mission of the program is to (a) provide students with a thorough understanding of the principles and applications of behavior analysis through coursework and experiential practica which allow students the opportunity to gain knowledge and experience across myriad settings; (b) to contribute to the discipline of behavior analysis and the community by preparing graduate students to become Board Certified Behavior Analysts; and, (c) to utilize research to develop useful solutions to social and behavioral problems

The Master's degree in Applied Behavior Analysis at the Panama City campus is accredited by the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) Accreditation Board. Our graduate curriculum and practicum have been verified by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB), which certifies professionals at the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels. There are numerous settings for behavior analysis practicum experiences in the Panama City and Tallahassee areas that provide students with ample opportunities to practice their behavioral skills. The Early Childhood Autism Program (ECAP), based at the Panama City campus, is one of the opportunities.  Currently, all students receive assistantships and tuition waivers through placement with approved behavior analytic agencies.

This is a 5-semester non-thesis program with a comprehensive exam at the end plus a Professional Portfolio and Capstone Project demonstrating a wide variety of behavioral skills. Courses are taught by resident faculty from the Panama City campus and faculty from the Tallahassee campus. These courses are typically taught via Interactive Television Network, which allows students to live in either Panama City or Tallahassee. ABA faculty travel between the two campuses to ensure equal in-person contact at both locations.  Given that this program was designed to prepare students across a number of behavior analytic areas that build on one another, transfer credit is not accepted.

Potential Careers

Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBA’s) are currently working in the following areas: autism, behavior and learning disorders, developmental disabilities, Performance Management, parent and child interactions, child abuse and neglect, behavioral safety, school consultation, curriculum development and evaluation, parent and staff training, and language development. BCBA’s can be self-employed, serve as educational or behavioral consultants for local or national consulting firms, work in residential settings, or be employed by the state. Based on an informal survey of Master's grads taken in the Spring of 2012, salaries for BCBA’s range from $45,000 - $70,000.

Financial Support

Currently, all students receive a tuition waiver via paid assistantship placements with approved behavior analytic agencies. 

Admission Requirements

To be considered for admission a student must have attained a GPA (Grade Point Average) of at least 3.0 (on a 4.0 system) on all work attempted while registered as an upper-division student working toward a baccalaureate degree. GRE score submissions are recommended and scores at the 50th percentile on the Verbal portion and 40th percentile on Quantitative are typical of those who are admitted. Experience applying the principles of applied behavior analysis in a real-world setting is preferred and in recent years applicants enter the program with 1 to 5 years of ABA experience. Students may be admitted from an allied field such as education, counseling or other related degrees.  See below for the required prerequisite courses 

A student must submit the following to be considered for admission: 

  • University Application for Admission to a graduate program at Florida State University and a $30 application fee. 
  • One official copy of transcripts from all colleges attended. 
  • Personal statement describing your experiences with behavior analysis and your career goals. 
  • Three letters of recommendation (at least two letters must be from faculty). 
  • Resume. 

Students admitted to this program will be required to undergo federal and state criminal background checks prior to first semester registration. Positive results may change a student's admission status because of the practicum requirements of the program. 

Prerequisite Courses

A minimum of 15-hours of undergraduate psychology courses is required, including:

  • General Psychology 3 hours
  • Developmental Psychology or the equivalent 3 hours
  • Applied Behavior Analysis 3 hours
  • Conditioning and Learning 3 hours
  • Research Methods 3 hours

For the above courses, students must receive a grade of B- or higher. Students may apply to the program before completing the prerequisites but must complete them before beginning graduate coursework in the program.

Application Deadline: January 15th for Fall enrollment (the program does not offer spring and summer admission).

Applications must be made to Florida State University and to the Master's Program in ABA.


Course Requirements: A total of thirty-nine (39) hours are required to obtain a Master of Science Degree in Applied Behavior Analysis. All students must take the following courses and obtain a grade point of 2.75 (B-) or better for a course to be credited toward the department requirements. A grade point of 3.0 (B) is required for EAB5780.  The semester in which courses are offered is subject to change. The Behavior Analyst Certification Board, Inc. has approved the following course sequence as meeting the coursework requirements for eligibility to take the Board Certified Behavior Analyst examination. Applicants will have to meet additional requirements to qualify to take the exam.

I. Basic Principles These courses are taken during the first year of study

  • EAB 5700 Basic Principles of Behavior (Fall)
  • EAB 5701 Basic Methods of Applied Behavior Analysis (Spring)

II. Special Areas of Application Each student is required to complete four courses in areas of application that are the most fully researched and in which demand is greatest for professionals.

  • EAB 5710 Behavior Analysis in Developmental Disabilities and Autism (Summer of first year)
  • EAB 5711 Behavior Analysis in Mental Health and Aging (Fall of second year)
  • EAB 5722 Behavior Analysis in Education (Spring of first year)
  • EAB 5740 Behavior Analysis in Performance Management and Supervision (Spring of first year)

III. Theory and Research in Applied Behavior Analysis

  • EAB 5708 Experimental Analysis of Behavior (Fall of first year)
  • EAB 5796 Research Methods in Applied Behavior Analysis (Summer of first year)
  • EAB 6130r Skinner’s Theory of Behaviorism (Spring of second year)

IV. Ethical and Professional Issues

  • EAB 5780 Ethical & Professional Issues in Applied Behavior Analysis (Fall of first year)

V. Practicum

  • EAB 5940 Applied Behavior Analysis Practicum (Summer of first year)
  • EAB 5941 Applied Behavior Analysis Practicum (Fall of second year)
  • EAB 5942 Applied Behavior Analysis Practicum (Spring of second year)

[Note: These are S/U graded courses that are taken sequentially. EAB 5941 and 5942 are taken after completion of EAB 5700, 5701, 5780 and 5940.]

Psychology: Applied Behavior Analysis Program Faculty

Nikki Dickens, EdD, BCBA
ECAP Director
Technology 128/129
(850) 770-2272

Amy Polick, PhD, BCBA-D
Holley A-311-D
(850) 770-2252

Koehler, Leah IMG_7585_1.jpg

Leah Koehler, PhD, BCBA-D
Holley A-211-X
(850) 770-2296