Applied Behavior Analysis & Autism

Welcome to the Center for Applied Behavior Analysis (CABA) at The Sage Colleges' Esteves School of Education.

Are you interested in working with people diagnosed with autism? Do you want to learn effective strategies that will make a difference to children and adults with this disorder? Then Sage's Applied Behavior Analysis and Autism program is for you.

[Autism education] 

The program follows a "scientist-practitioner" model of training. That means all instruction is grounded in the scientific approach towards studying behavior. You will learn about research design, the importance of empirical evidence, and the focus on experimentation to discern causes of behavior. This knowledge will be coupled with a thorough training in the only therapeutic approach to the treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorders that has empirical research to support its effectiveness with this population.

This program is delivered completely via distance learning, utilizing online delivery of classes, and there is an optional clinical supervision track supervised by geographically close Board Certified Behavior Analysts or alternative supervision (e.g., webcam observation).

The goals of the MS program are:

  1. to prepare students to work with persons with autism,
  2. to give the students the educational and skill competence necessary to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, and
  3. to increase the number of professionals who have behavioral skills.

Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) is rapidly becoming the most often diagnosed childhood disorder. Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), a branch of psychology rooted in the application of science to the study of human behavior, is a special therapy that has been shown to be quite effective in reducing the impact of autism spectrum disorders.

Your studies will combine two tracks, plus and optional supervised practicum. You will thoroughly study Applied Behavior Analysis, both the conceptual underpinnings as well as the skills necessary to effect behavioral change. You will learn strategies for defining and assessing behaviors, development of instructional goals that are measurable, antecedent strategies to promote learning, use of consequences to effect positive change, and rules for determining success and mastery. You will learn the procedures and strategies for dealing with language development, abnormal behavioral patterns, and socialization issues. For practicum track students, the application of these skills will be evaluated in clinical settings where you will be working with persons with autism and other disorders.

The second major focus of the program involves a deep understanding of autism. You will learn about the etiology of the disorder and assessment strategies. You will understand how persons with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are affected in all areas of development, including language, learning, socialization, and personal behaviors. Different theoretical explanations of ASD will be covered, as well as different therapeutic approaches towards solving language, learning, and behavioral issues.

The on-line format of our coursework allows for a multi-media presentation of material. In each course, students are given varied access to proven learning tools for their own growth and improved comprehension: audio-visual presentations by professors, written tools, and active learning experiences such as fluency drills and practice in data collection. In one course, students may read and discuss articles on the treatment of autism from many different perspectives; in another course, students may watch video clips of children with autism engaged in different learning activities and apply different data analysis procedures. There is also an emphasis on research and evidence-based practice. Consistent with Sages approach that experience is the best teacher, students also practice designing and applying research principles. Applied behavior analysis is not only a treatment for autism, but an effective framework for teaching in general. Our professors and adjuncts are all behavior analysts who enjoy using our technology to teach students at every level. Our programs are broadly focused on training professionals in the best, evidence-based practices in the treatment of autism, while individualizing each students educational experience to maximize his/her experience of the program.

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Quick Facts

  • The ABA & Autism M.S. coursework is 100% online
  • The ABA & Autism M.S. program accepts students to begin in the fall and spring semesters. Complete applications and all supporting materials are due by the posted deadlines. Please visit our Admission page for more information.
  • Those who complete the master's program in Applied Behavior Analysis and Autism (practicum track) are eligible to take the national examination to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). Students who complete the non-practicum track program will be eligible to take the BCBA exam after completing independent fieldwork outside of Sage.
  • The ABA & Autism program is lock step. This means that each student is expected to complete the coursework and the practica at the pace that is described in the ABAA Program of Study. Programs include summer semesters.
  • Students who already possess a masters degree in a related area (such as special education or psychology) and are interested in board certification as a Behavior Analyst (BCBA), may choose to complete The Sage Colleges Applied Behavior Analysis Certificate Program, and receive a recommendation to take the examination that leads to BCBA certification.

Notice to Applicants & Candidates

Services restricted to New York State licensed professionals, including licensed psychologists, cannot be rendered by program students or graduates unless: (a) they are licensed in New York State to provide such services, or (b) they provide those services in an exempt setting as salaried employees.

Due to the recent re-writing of the APA practice act, now only psychologists can do "behavior analysis" type of activities: modifying behavior, conducting behavior analysis, etc. In New York, the New York psychologists have adopted this practice act, therefore, only licensed psychologists can do behavior analytic practice, unless one works in a school, clinic, hospital, and similar institutions. The New York State Education Department, which approves all graduate programs, requires this disclaimer in our materials. If your state does not adhere to this new definition of psychological practice, then this disclaimer will have no functional relevance to you. Please refer to the FAQ page for a more in-depth explanation of this statement.