Masters in Applied Behavior Analysis (On-campus)
We are still accepting applications for Fall 2024
The ABA On-Campus program has extended its application window.
What you can earn
Join a fast-growing career that improves lives
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a rapidly growing career that creates meaningful change and empowers individuals living with developmental disabilities. Our on-campus program is designed to help working professionals acquire the knowledge and skills to effect real change at both individual and systemic levels.
Upon completion of the program, you will earn your M.Ed. in special education and be fully prepared to take the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) exam. By becoming a board-certified behavior analyst (BCBA), you will unlock a world of professional opportunities in this rapidly growing field!
ABA program mission statement
Our goal is to prepare students to be competent, inclusive, ethical, and professional behavior analysts who work with persons with developmental disabilities and their families.
Students coming out of our program will:
- Understand and fluently apply the principles of behavior analysis.
- Have a working knowledge of current evidence-based practices for individuals with developmental disabilities.
- Select or create contextually appropriate, evidence-based interventions for individuals with whom they work and critically analyze and evaluate the effects of those interventions.
- Work collaboratively and openly with schools, families and other community stakeholders, always with an understanding of how culture and equity impact service delivery.
- Ensure that the primary outcome of their work is to improve the quality of life for the individual and their family.
Our ABA Program is guided by five core ethical principles.
Behavior analysts have a responsibility to engage in practices that maximize their clients' well-being and avoid those that cause harm. We understand that behavior analytic services are most likely to benefit our clients when they are provided in the context of a trusting and compassionate relationship. Where conflicts of interest arise between consumers of behavior analysis, we prioritize outcomes for the most vulnerable clients.
Behavior analysts have a responsibility to provide individuals of all backgrounds and abilities access to and authentic participation in meaningful activities that promote relationships, a sense of community, and an improved quality of life.
- Professional excellence
Behavior analysts have a responsibility to be honest and transparent. We engage in ongoing professional development and analyze our own practices. Professional excellence requires respectful and effective collaboration with individuals from other disciplines while maintaining a commitment to data-based decision-making. Analyzing evidence from different methodologies is encouraged as a way of collaborating with others and improving practice.
Behavior analysts respect clients’ rights and promote client dignity, privacy, and autonomy. We assist clients to set and achieve their own goals, develop their own agency, and make decisions about their own lives.
- Social justice
Behavior analysts have a responsibility to attend to injustice where they see it, avoid perpetuating inequitable systems, and advocate for equitable systems change. We are uniquely qualified to identify controlling and contextual variables that contribute to inequitable educational and service-delivery systems and develop solutions to supplant them.
- Begin and finish the program in a supportive cohort
- Graduate in two years
- Four courses each quarter, autumn, winter and spring
- Classes are held three evenings per week
Our program cultivates a supportive cohort environment. With sequential courses, you'll progress through the curriculum in sync with your peers and complete the program in two years.
The Association for Behavior Analysis International has verified the following courses toward the coursework requirements for eligibility to take the Board Certified Behavior Analyst® or Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst® examination (via Pathway 2). Applicants will need to meet additional BACB® eligibility requirements, including evidence of residency in an authorized country, before they can be deemed eligible to take the examination.
- EDSPE 533 Concepts and Principles of ABA-A (3 credits)
- EDSPE 534 Concepts and Principles of ABA-B (3 credits)
- EDSPE 535 History and Philosophy of ABA (3 credits)
- EDSPE 571 Measurement in ABA (3 credits)
- EDSPE 536 Assessment in ABA-A (3 credits)
- EDSPE 537 Assessment in ABA-B (3 credits)
- EDSPE 552 Instructional Strategies in ABA (3 credits)
- EDSPE 531 Designing Comprehensive Behavioral Interventions (3 credits)
- EDSPE 511 Methods of ABA Research (3 credits)
- EDSPE 539 Ethics and Professionalism in ABA-A (3 credits)
- EDSPE 549 Ethics and Professionalism in ABA-B (3 credits)
- EDSPE 553 Supervision in ABA (3 credits)
The following courses are required to earn your masters degree in special education.
- EDSPE 500 Practicum Seminar (18 credits)
- EDSPE 525 Autism (3 credits)
- EDSPE 554 Behavior Analysts in Schools (3 credits)
- EDSPE 563 Collaborating with Families and Educational Teams (4 credits)
- 150 supervised fieldwork hours required for the BACB exam
- 75 hours provided through group practicum at UW
- 75 hours provided by local agencies or schools
Supervised fieldwork experience is essential for eligibility to sit for the BACB exam and plays a crucial role in applying the strategies and skills learned during coursework. To fulfill this requirement, we use a shared supervision model. You'll engage in a group practicum, providing 75 hours of supervision through the UW, and complete an additional 75 hours of individual supervision through a local agency or school.
This arrangement offers valuable exposure to diverse practicum placements and multiple experiences. Notably, our program offers opportunities to complete fieldwork experiences at the internationally recognized Project Data at the UW Haring Center.
Earning your master's degree and BCBA certification involves two separate examinations:
Board Certified Behavior Analyst examination
After finishing this program, you will have met all requirements to sit for the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) exam. Our faculty and advisors will help you navigate BACB exam process.
It is important to note that while the BCBA certification is valid in all 50 states, many states also require behavior analysts to be licensed. State laws related to licensure of behavior analysts vary and do not necessarily reflect the same requirements as the BCBA certification. Please research the requirements for the state you plan to apply for licensure in. For more information, visit BACB's page on state licensure.
IMPORTANT: Only individuals residing in the United States, Canada and UK may apply for BACB certification. Visit BACB's page on international development.
During your final quarter, you will need to pass a comprehensive master's examination that covers all ABA content covered throughout the program. This examination is a University of Washington requirement.
Admission requirements and process
We highly value candidates who have experience working with individuals with disabilities. A minimum of one year of direct applied behavior analysis experience is preferred. Whether you've worked as a tutor, paraeducator or teacher in an ABA-focused program, your practical experience is valuable. Candidates with additional ABA experience are given preference.
We do not have specific requirements regarding the field of your bachelor's degree. Instead, we consider all relevant experiences when evaluating applicants.
- Already have your master's degree?
If you already hold a master's degree in another field, you can apply to the program as a graduate non-matriculated student. This pathway allows you to take a reduced course load per quarter while still completing the program within two years. We welcome master's degrees from any field of study and value the diverse experiences you bring to the program. If you have any questions about the sufficiency of your master's degree toward certification, please contact the Behavior Analyst Certification Board.
- Bachelor's degree from an accredited institution
Your degree can be in-progress when applying but must be completed before the program starts.
- Unofficial transcript(s) with minimum 3.0 GPA
- Include one from each institution from which you've earned a degree and one from every institution you have attended in the previous 5 years.
- Your transcripts must include your name, coursework and degree (if completed)
- If you are offered admission, the UW Graduate School will request an official transcript from your most recent degree earned
The UW Graduate School requires a cumulative GPA of 3.0, or 3.0 for your most recent 90 graded quarter credits (60 semester credits). However, we review your application holistically. If your GPA is below 3.0, contact us at email@example.com for advice on how to strengthen your overall application.
- Two letters of recommendation
At least one letter should speak to your work experience in applied behavior analysis. During the online application process, you will be given instructions for adding your recommenders and getting their letters submitted electronically. All recommenders must submit their letters online.
A current academic and professional resume or vita is required. In addition to educational degrees and professional experience, you should include a listing of all relevant awards, publications, presentations or other achievements that will help us evaluate your application. We are looking for at least one year of experience with applied behavior analysis
- Statement of Purpose
The admissions committee uses your statement of purpose, along with other evidence, to determine whether your goals are well-matched with our programs. Your statement should answer the following questions:
- What in your past experience has influenced your interest in applied behavior analysis?
- What in your academic and work experience has prepared you for graduate school in ABA?
- Why is the program at the University of Washington a good match for your academic and career goals?
- Diversity, equity, and inclusion are important to our ABA program. Please speak to the unique experiences and perspectives you would bring to our program.
Your statement should be 2 pages, double-spaced.
- Personal history statement (optional)
While optional, you can add to your application by submitting a personal history statement with each application. This statement should address your intellectual growth and development, inclusive of and beyond your academic goals. Speak to topics like:
- Educational, cultural and economic opportunities and disadvantages you've experienced
- Ways these experiences affected the development of your special interests, career plans and future goals.
- Any additional topics requested on a specific program's page
Statements should be no longer than two pages long. And while there are no standard formatting requirements, we encourage double-spaced text with a legible font.
- Gather all required documents
- Visit the Graduate School website
- Log into your account or create a new profile if you are a first-time applicant
- Complete all steps in application process and upload your documents
- Pay the nonrefundable $85 application fee
- You may request a fee waiver during the application process
- Submit your application
When completing your application, you will select the following options:
- Graduate type:
- Graduate if you want to earn your master’s degree
- Graduate Non-matriculated if you already have your master’s degree
- Education - Seattle (MEd - Special Education - Applied Behavior Analysis)
Here is our general timeline for decisions. Have questions about the process? Visit our graduate admissions page.
Step 1: Application processing
- Within 7 business days after the deadline, we will check if your application if fully complete
- We will email you whether your application is complete or incomplete
- If your application is missing anything, you will have a short amount of time submit these items
- You can also log into the online application and check your status and see any missing items
Step 2: Application review
- Committees begin reviewing applications about three weeks after the deadline
- You will receiving an email when your application has entered the review phase
Step 3: Decision notification
- The final decision will be emailed to you
- Your status will also be updated in the online application
- You may be able to transfer up to six credits toward your UW masters in special education
- You must petition the BACB to substitute courses toward BCBA exam requirements
If you have previously taken similar courses at another university, you may be eligible to transfer up to six credits toward your UW master's degree. The acceptance of transferred credits is subject to advisor approval in compliance with the Graduate School's policies.
Please note that the University of Washington is not authorized to approve course substitutions that fulfill the BACB's requirements for the BCBA exam. If you believe you have completed a course that adequately substitutes for the BACB's requirements, you must petition the certification board directly.
We value and welcoming applications from international students! If you are applying from outside the United States, there are additional requirements and application materials.
- Prior degree requirements
- At minimum, you must have the equivalent of a U.S. bachelor's degree (a four-year degree from an institution of recognized standing)
- Evaluation of your degree will be based on:
- The national system of education in the foreign country
- The type of institution
- The field of study and level of studies completed
- International transcripts must be submitted in the original language.
- Your transcript should include date of graduation and title of the awarded academic degree
- If your transcript is not in English, you must also provide a certified English translation
- You do not need to have your transcript evaluated for the degree by an agency
- English language proficiency
Per UW Graduate School policy, you must submit a demonstration of English language proficiency if your native language is not English and you did not earn a degree in one of the following countries:
- United States
- United Kingdom
- New Zealand
- South Africa
- Trinidad and Tobago
The following tests are accepted if the test was taken fewer than two years ago:
- Minimum score: 80
- Recommended score: 92+
- The UW's 4-digit code is 4854
- You must request from the center where you took the test that your scores be sent electronically using the IELTS system (E-TRF) to the following address:
- University of Washington All Campuses, Organisation ID 365, Undergrad & Graduate Admis, Box 355850, Seattle, WA, 98105, United States of America
- Minimum score: 6.5
- Recommended score: 7.0+
- School information for submission:
University of Washington, All Campuses
Undergraduate & Graduate Admission
Seattle, WA 98195
- You must request from the center where you took the test that your scores be sent electronically using the IELTS system (E-TRF) to the following address:
- Minimum score: 105
- Recommended score: 120+
- Follow the instructions on the Duolingo website to submit your scores
- Financial ability
If apply and are offered admission to UW, you will need to submit a statement of financial ability.
Costs and funding
We are a tuition-based program. Estimated tuition rates are based on your residency:
- Washington state residents: $19,584 per year
- Out-of-state students: $35,352 per year
Estimates are subject to change and may differ due to course load and summer quarter enrollment. Estimates include building fees, technology fees, U-Pass, etc. Additional program-specific fees are not included in this estimate.
Funding & Scholarships
Federal financial aid is available for students. Visit the UW Financial Aid website for information and resources. The College of Education also provides scholarship and other funding opportunities.
ABA on-campus program student data
The following data is from the 2022-23 annual reporting period
|Number of students whose degrees were conferred by the program
|Median years until graduation for students whose degrees were conferred by the program
|Number of students enrolled in the program on January 1st of the reporting year
|Number of students no longer enrolled for any reason other than conferral of degree
|Number of completed applications received
|Number of students admitted
|Percentage of first-time candidates passing the BCBA certification examination
*2021 data, most recently available per the BACB