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Applied Behavior Analysis (M.Ed.)

Department of Special Education
Applied Behavior Analysis

Program Overview

Developed by expert faculty at Vanderbilt's Peabody College, the Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) M.Ed. Program is designed for licensed special education teachers who want to practice ABA in educational settings or are specifically interested in training focused on school-based applications that integrate best ABA and SPED practices. The program is housed within the U.S. News & World Report No. 1 ranked Department of Special Education, which conducts groundbreaking research, establishes innovative practices, and develops widely used methods.

Our Association for Behavior Analysis International-verified course sequence and fieldwork opportunities are grounded in educational research and technology and challenge students to integrate applied behavior analysis into educational practice. As a student in the program, you will join a community of scholars whose mission is to deliver high-quality behavioral services under challenging, real-world conditions and develop and extend behavioral technology to improve the lives of individuals with disabilities. 

In addition to coursework, you'll have opportunities to apply the principles, concepts, and skills you acquire through fieldwork placements in school, clinic, and home settings. You'll also have the opportunity to collaborate on and assist with research projects led by our esteemed faculty in special education and ABA. And you'll join a supportive professional community that facilitates continuing education and development.


There's a growing need for Board Certified Behavior Analysts. According to the Behavior Analyst Certification Board, annual demand has grown each year since 2010, with job postings increasing by 80 percent from 2018 to 2019 alone.

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Note: The GRE is optional for admission to master's programs for the 2021 application cycle only due to ongoing restrictions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have taken the GRE and believe your scores will improve your application, you may submit the GRE with your application.

 

Program at a Glance

Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Applied Behavior Analysis

Department of Special Education

Program Director:  Joey Staubitz
Program Co-director:  Erin Barton 
Admissions Coordinator: Kelly Limina
Admission Term: Fall 2021
Credit Hours: 30-31
Priority Application Deadline: December 31, 2021*

*We will continue to accept applications after this date, but applications will be evaluated for admission and scholarships as space and funds are available..

Our Commitment

Our Commitment to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

Throughout our courses, we highlight the importance of advocating and promoting equity among students with special needs. We focus on including all students no matter their background, needs, or skills level. We do this by teaching our scholars to be strong team members and collaborators, by having high expectations while developing their professional dispositions, and by providing field experiences in high-need schools with diverse learners.

Selected Courses Related to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

SPED 7100: Cultural Diversity in American Education - This course focuses on cultural diversity and the ways in which it has been defined and treated in the American educational system. An interdisciplinary perspective informs the course, with particular attention to history, sociology, psychology, anthropology, and educational literatures.

SPED 7000: Education and Psychology of Exceptional Learners - This course presents an overview of people who are labeled "exceptional" and the implications for education related to them. It examines the disabilities that people have and the services, systems, and concepts associated with them. Content includes legal, sociological, educational, political, general system theory, and psychological perspectives.

Selected Faculty Research Related to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

Jeannette Mancilla-Martinez, associate professor of special education and associate dean for graduate education
Professor Mancilla-Martinez’s program of research is focused on advancing students’ language and reading comprehension outcomes, including those of students from Spanish-speaking, low-income homes. Her studies build on her earlier research in reading development and the central importance of supporting students’ language comprehension to mitigate later reading comprehension difficulties.

Naomi Tyler, associate professor of the practice
Professor Tyler’s research focuses on improving the education of students with disabilities in inclusive settings, translation of research to practice, supply and demand of special education faculty, diversity in personnel preparation, teaching diverse learners, and high incidence disabilities.

Program Areas and Specializations

There are three areas of specialization in the Applied Behavior Analysis Program: early childhood special education, high incidence disabilities (e.g., learning and behavioral disorders), or severe disabilities. By tailoring coursework, fieldwork, research, and networking opportunities to students' chosen areas of emphasis, we facilitate our students' development into skilled and confident practitioners of behavior analysis in their areas of specialization and beyond.

 

Program Curriculum

The ABA degree program stresses field-based learning and experience, with the opportunity to participate in supervised research. You'll plan your program of study in consultation with your faculty advisor. Electives are aligned with your selected area of emphasis (i.e., early childhood, high incidence disabilities, and severe disabilities), and each set of electives emphasizes a different aspect of ABA in special education. A mandatory practicum course connected with concentrated supervised fieldwork is designed to help you satisfy field experience requirements established by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board. 

The following are required courses for each specific program area:

Early Childhood Special Education

  • SPED 7400 Management Procedures for Academic and Social Behavior
  • SPED 8400 Experimental Analysis of Behavior
  • SPEDE 7400 Instruction and Learning in Early Childhood Special Education
  • SPEDE 7450 Screening and Assessment in Early Childhood Special Education
  • SPED 8810 Intro to Single Case Research Methodology
  • SPEDH 7600 Advanced Procedures in Classroom Management and Social Skills
  • SPEDE 7800 Speech and Language for Exceptional Learners
  • SPED 7981 Theory in Behavior Analysis
  • SPED 7430 Administering Ethical Behavior Analytic Services
  • SPED 7980 ABA Practicum

High Incidence Disabilities

  • SPED 7400 Management Procedures for Academic and Social Behavior
  • SPED 8400 Experimental Analysis of Behavior
  • SPEDH 7620 Intensive Intervention – Behavior
  • SPED 8810 Intro to Single Case Research Methodology
  • SPED 7981 Theory in Behavior Analysis
  • SPED 7100 Trends and Issues (LD or BD)
  • or SPED 7200
  • SPEDH 7610 Intensive Intervention – Academic
  • SPED 7430 Administering Ethical Behavior Analytic Services
  • SPED 7600 Advanced Procedures in Classroom Management and Social Skills
  • SPED 7980 ABA Practicum

Severe Disabilities

  • SPED 7400 Management Procedures for Academic and Social Behavior
  • SPED 8400 Experimental Analysis of Behavior
  • SPEDS 7250 Methods of Instruction for Students with I/MD
  • SPEDS 7700 Characteristics of Students with I/MD
  • SPED 8810 Intro to Single Case Research Methodology
  • SPED 7981 Theory in Behavior Analysis
  • SPED 7430 Administering Ethical Behavior Analytic Services
  • SPED 7600 Advanced Procedures in Classroom Management and Social Skills
  • SPED 7980 ABA Practicum

Severe Program Elective Note: Selected from list below by student and advisor and approved by Director of Professional Studies; may include additional 1-hr practicum

  • SPED 7710 - Current Issues in Autism and Severe Disabilities
  • SPEDS 7000 – Advanced issues in Family Intervention
  • SPEDS 7300 – Advanced Procedures for Transition to Adult Life
  • SPEDS 7100 – Augmentative and Alternative Communication
  • SPEDS 7200 – Advanced Access to General Education and Teaching Functional Academics
  • SPEDS 7600 – Teaching Reading to Students with Severe Disabilities
Program Curriculum

Faculty

ABA program faculty have years of experience designing and evaluating function-based interventions for the challenging behavior of individuals with disabilities. All are themselves Board Certified Behavior Analysts.
Erin Barton
  • Associate Professor, Department of Special Education
Nealetta Houchins-Juarez
  • Instructor of the Practice, Department of Special Education
Joseph Lambert
  • Assistant Professor, Department of Special Education
Jennifer Ledford
  • Associate Professor, Department of Special Education
Blair Lloyd
  • Assistant Professor, Department of Special Education
Johanna Staubitz
  • Instructor of the Practice, Department of Special Education