Educator and student working on laptop

M.S. at the 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 theMaster of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis and Autism at The Sage Graduate Schools is for you.

The program follows a “scientist-practitioner” model of training. This means that all instruction is grounded in the scientific approach towards studying behavior, as espoused by B. F. Skinner. 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, as well as optional clinical supervision delivered by geographically close BCBA supervisors or through distance supervision (e.g., webcam observation).

The goals of the program are: (1) to prepare students to work with persons with autism, (2) to provide each student with 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 frequently 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 effective in reducing the impact of autism spectrum disorders.

Your studies will combine two tracks. 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. If you choose to complete the practicum coursework, your 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 deeper 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 online format of our coursework allows for a multimedia 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 Sage’s 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.