Jul 23, 2024  
2024-2025 Graduate Catalog 
2024-2025 Graduate Catalog

Applied Behavior Analysis, M.S.

College of Behavioral and Community Sciences  
Department: Child and Family Studies 

This Major shares core requirements with the Applied Behavior Analysis, M.A.  


The Master’s of Science degree in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is designed to meet growing needs in Florida and nationally for practitioners who can work effectively in the fields of developmental disabilities, autism, education, child protective services, child behavior disorders, rehabilitation, mental health, and business and technology. ABA provides an approach for developing, implementing, and evaluating practical strategies to produce changes in socially significant behaviors of individuals in the context of community settings. Three important features characterize the scientific basis upon which ABA is built: a) it focuses upon objectively measurable behavior of individuals; b) it studies environmental influences upon the targeted behaviors; and c) it places a premium upon single-subject research designs to analyze the effects of different environmental variables. 

The master’s degree in ABA is in the Department of Child and Family Studies in the College of Behavioral and Community Sciences. Students demonstrate knowledge of behavioral principles and procedures in courses that constitute a core curriculum, demonstrate applied behavior analysis skills through supervised fieldwork experiences, and complete a data based thesis. The major is designed to prepare students to meet the standards to be Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs). It will prepare them for employment in a variety of fields where there are growing demands for competent professionals with expertise in applied behavior analysis.


The systematic analysis and application of behavioral principles is an extensive repertoire of professional behaviors. In the USF ABA major, these skills are acquired as students move through the sequenced curriculum of coursework and fieldwork experiences. The curriculum requires application of behavior analytic principles, with direct supervision by faculty and BCBA supervisors. Students participate in fieldwork training in community agencies under the supervision of BCBAs. In addition to the 10-25 hours of behavior analysis practice they complete in their fieldwork sites each week, students also participate in practicum seminars each semester. In these seminars, the Practicum Coordinator discusses important practice issues and facilitates student discussion of their applied work. The supervision of the students’ research theses rests in the hands of designated core faculty members (i.e., “major professors”). Major Professors serve as mentors for the students by closely supervising their research and their progress through the major. Therefore, as students are mentored by their major professors during the major, a meaningful major professor-student relationship is essential.

Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI)

Admission Information

Must meet University Admission and English Proficiency requirements as well as requirements for admission to the major, listed below.

  • Three letters of reference from professors and/or employers who know the applicant well
  • Current resume or curriculum vitae
  • One-page narrative describing the applicant’s experiences, training, and interest in Applied Behavior Analysis and in the Master’s in Applied Behavior Analysis at USF.


Specific Procedures

The primary assumption underlying admission to the major is that every student accepted is capable (a) of successfully completing his or her respective program and (b) of performing competently in the field as an Applied Behavior Analyst. Applicants are selected based on their potential to benefit from the major and their potential to contribute both to the Major and the field of Applied Behavior Analysis.

Within the admissions process, a culturally diverse student body is actively recruited, and applicants of academic and professional promise are not systematically excluded on the basis of race, ethnic origin, gender, age, religion, lifestyle, sexual orientation, or physical handicap. The admissions process is selective, but flexible–all pertinent data submitted for consideration will be evaluated as an entire package. The evaluation process, however, does involve both academic and interpersonal considerations. The profession of Applied Behavior Analysis requires that the practitioner possess personal characteristics as well as academic and technical competencies, and the admissions process attempts to evaluate both these areas.

Admission to the major is based on

  • past academic work in Applied Behavior Analysis or related field,
  • a CV outlining relevant work, volunteer, and extracurricular experience in applied behavior analysis;
  • letters of recommendation; and
  • a statement of ABA interests, and professional goals.

Students may apply, after conferral or anticipated conferral of their Bachelor’s degree. Applications should be submitted by the posted deadline to be considered for application in the following fall term. Late applications will be considered if space in the major is available.

For further Admissions Information, please visit Graduate Admissions.

A decision about each applicant’s candidacy is made by the Graduate Director based on the strength of the applicant’s record and his/her:

  • Academic record and experiences as an undergraduate
  • Career goals and their compatibility with those of the Major
  • Potential for successful completion of the Major
  • Sensitivity to the needs of potential client populations
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Communication skills, both oral and written

NOTE: The Graduate Director reserves the right to contact all references identified by the candidate.

Curriculum Requirements

Total Minimum Hours - 45 hours

  • Shared Core Requirements – 18 Credit Hours
  • Additional Required Courses - 11 Credit Hours
  • Thesis – 8 Credit Hours
  • Practicum – 8 Credit Hours

This is a cohort model with students completing Major in a face-to-face format on-campus. All courses must be earned with a grade of “B-” or better.

Comprehensive Exam

The student’s thesis proposal will constitute the comprehensive exam.

Practicum (8 Credit Hours)

Thesis (8 Credit Hours Minimum)

(Offered face-to-face)