Applied Behavior Analysis Program

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The University of Memphis Behavior Analysis program is the ideal place for students looking to become Board Certified Behavior Analysts while earning an MS or EdD degree. Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is a rapidly growing field dedicated using the science of learning to change and improve the behavior of those in need. Our Behavior Analyst Certification Board® Verified Course Sequence offers a rigorous sequence of face-to-face coursework with classes which take place in the evenings during Fall, Spring, and Summer semesters.

Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBA) work with children and adults experiencing a range of behavioral difficulties, and the demand for BCBAs is quickly growing across the United States and abroad.  Many BCBAs work in the area of autism spectrum disorders and other developmental disabilities in school, clinic, and home settings; however, ABA has been successful in a range of applications including substance abuse, gerontology, classroom management, and many more.

ABA program certification verification certificate

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. Applicants will need to meet additional requirements before they can be deemed eligible to take the examination

Learn more about becoming a Board Certified Behavior Analyst with the ABA program

A Close-Knit Community

Our ABA program is designed to make you successful as a student and a future BCBA.  This requires both a strong clinical skill set as well as a community of supportive professionals.  To promote this community we operate on a cohort model which means you take all classes in a set sequence with the same students each semester.  We also have an active student association – The University of Memphis Association for Behavior Analysis – further promotes student involvement and engagement outside of class.  Our program is also highly engaged with the Tennessee Association for Behavior Analysis – TABA – which is a statewide organization promoting all things behavior analysis.  Faculty are heavily involved in TABA and students present, volunteer, and network with professional across the state to further foster a broader community.  Upon graduation, you’re sure to find a familiar face wherever you go!

Active and Involved Faculty

The faculty in the Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) program have a range of clinical and research background to ensure all students receive a broad range of experiences while in the program.  Clinically, our faculty have worked in a range of settings (e.g., homes, schools, clinics) across a spectrum of behaviors (e.g., problem behavior, selective mutism, phobias, skill development and athletics).  The research interests of the faculty are equally broad and range from experimental research dealing with complex behavior phenomena, to clinical application of virtual reality, to school-based interventions.  Faculty develop a close relationship with students both in and out of the program and support students even after graduation. Whatever your interest, there’s something here for you!

A Complete and Manageable Program

Our MS degree can be completed in as little as two years, taking two evening classes per semester. Our EdD degree can be completed in three years, including dissertation. Both programs include the required practicum experiences as part of the overall coursework, and faculty help secure practicum placements so when you graduate you should be immediately eligible to sit to become a BCBA. We also offer a unique opportunity to take classes simultaneously, but remotely, from the Lambuth Campus in Jackson, TN for students who live further from Memphis.

Behavior analysts work in many applied fields including education, business, and clinical psychology and demand for BCBAs has increase 800% from 2010-2017. Currently, applied behavior analysis (ABA) has received a lot of attention for its effectiveness with children with autism. Researchers and clinicians recognize ABA as the treatment of choice for behavior problems and learning difficulties associated with autism spectrum disorder. Many BCBAs work in schools as teachers or school psychologists working with students enrolled in special education. Many also work as scientists and scholars in higher education. Some BCBAs provide in-home supervision of direct care providers or provide direct care for children with developmental disabilities and Autism. Others provide clinical services including functional analysis of behavior and treatment of serious behavior disorders such as self-injury and physical aggression. Still others work in business providing training for new employees and improving training programs.

However, not everyone who calls themselves behavior analyst, or a behavior therapist, is certified by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board®. A BCBA is a professional who has documented graduate training and supervised, hands-on experience in applying the principles and procedures of behavior analysis, and has passed an examination in ABA given by the BACB.

What will I learn?

Our coursework covers all the requirements of the most current Behavior Analysts Certification Board Edition Task List.  Students will learn key principles of learning, many different intervention strategies, the philosophy of behavior analysis, how to ethically operate as a professional, how to apply interventions in diverse settings, how to assess and analyze behavior to determine causes, to supervise and manage staff, and how to measure behavior to determine change. You will effectively learn all the skills necessary to effectively operate as a BCBA.

Which courses will I take as part of this program?

The MS program is a 36 credit hour program, operates on a cohort model, and begins in the Fall semester.  The coursework for the MS program includes the following. Many courses will have built in field placement options, starting as early as spring of your first semester, so that you can begin accruing practicum hours before the official practicum course begin!

  • 1st Fall
    • SPED 7514 ---- Introduction to ABA                                                   
    • SPED 7010 ---- Ethical Issues in ABA                                                       
  • 1st Spring
    • SPED 7518 ---- Evidence Based Practice in ABA                                      
    • SPED 7517 ---- Functional Analysis and Treatment of Problem Behavior 
  • 1st Summer
    • EDPR 7581 ---- Behavior Analysis and Single-Case Design                  
    • SPED 7519 ---- Practicum in ABA    
  • 2nd Fall
    • SPED 7519 ---- Practicum in ABA                       
    • SPED 7516 ---- Advanced Principles and Concepts in ABA
  • 2nd Spring
    • SPED 7519 ---- Practicum in ABA                       
    • SPED 7520 ---- Behaviorism Seminar
  • 2nd Summer
    • SPED 7521 – Facilitating Generalization and Maintenance of Learning                 
    • SPED 7900 ---- Advanced Practicum/Capstone                  

The EdD program generally includes all of the above classes plus additional coursework identified by both the student and advisor.

Graduate Autism Certificate

The Autism Studies Graduate Certificate is designed for those with an Undergraduate Degree that want to become a Registered Behavior Technician with an emphasis exclusively focused on Autism or just want to learn more about Autism!

Our Autism Studies certificate program offers an accelerated online UMGLOBAL CERTIFICATE for those with an interest in effective intervention for children with autism (e.g., parents, teachers, other professionals) or for those interested in becoming a Registered Behavior Technician (RBT). An RBT is a designation that can be obtained with a high school degree, appropriate coursework, and successful completion of a competency assessment and national test.  Most RBTs work under the supervision and guidance of a BCBA. Our courses certificate program four course sequence (SPED 7600, 7601, 7602, 7603), can be completed in one summer, and is entirely online. The coursework will cover the basics of autism spectrum disorders, as well as how to effectively measure, assess, and intervene with children, with autism. The coursework meets the standards set forth by the BACB but classes MUST be taken in ORDER and within 1 summer (June - August) for RBT or across multiple summers for the UofM certificate only. Importantly – this sequence does not lead towards becoming a Board Certified Behavior Analysts

More information about the online Autism Studies Certificate>.

Undergraduate ABA Minor

ICL offers a 100% online minor (18 hours) for Undergraduate students in Applied Behavior Analysis. This accelerated minor prepares students to apply for certification as a Registered Behavior Technician (RBT). This minor pairs well with majors in  Teaching All Learners, Psychology, Social Work and Child Development, as well as other majors that work with children and adults with autism, behavior delays, or social communication delays. Learn more here>.

ICL Department

The ABA program is contained within the Department of Instruction and Curriculum Leadership (ICL), in the College of Education. You may contact the ICL department using the following information.

  • ICL Office
    • 406 Ball Hall
    • Memphis, TN 38152
    • Phone: (901) 678-2365
    • Fax: (901) 678-3881 

Shelby Lynn Tate can answer your questions regarding the admissions and application process for all certificates and degrees. 

ABA Program

  • MS and EdD Program
  • Autism Certificate

Our Faculty

Dr. Thouraya Al-Nasser, BCBA-D

Dr. Al-Nasser received her Ph.D. and M.A ~ in Psychology with emphasis on Behavior Analysis from the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR). Her main area of research is staff training and looking into implicit and explicit bias attitudes utilizing MT-IRAP and IRAP. Published papers in different peer reviewed journals related to staff training, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy known as (ACT) as well as cultural issues as honor crimes, analyzing this long maintained behavior from an organizational behavioral management (OBM).  

Dr. Al-Nasser has more than 10 years of clinical experience, she was the Director of UNR on campus training clinic for adults diagnosed with Autism and/or intellectual disability for number of years and took on different roles prior as a clinical director, supervisor and behavior technician. She was an independent consultant to Washoe County School District (WCSD) at Reno, NV. for number of years. Also worked as a consultant for World Bank Washington DC. on a demographic report related to women issues in the Middle East. Dr. AL-Nasser is a BCBA-D and licensed behavior analyst (LBA) in the state of Nevada. She joined UofM Fall 2020 as a visiting clinical assistant professor at the Applied Behavior Analysis program (ABA) teaching graduate and undergraduate courses and assigned as the new Director to the Autism training clinic on campus UofM Autism Treatment, Training and Research Clinic. 

Dr. Laura Baylot Casey, BCBA

Laura Casey received her doctoral training from Mississippi State University. Following coursework, she completed a dual internship in behavior analysis at May South, inc. a subsidiary of the May Institute affiliated with Hughes Spaulding Children's healthcare in Atlanta and the Marcus Autism Institute, an affiliate of Emory University. Prior to joining the University of Memphis's ABA program, she was a visiting Assistant Professor in the psychology department. She has also worked as a behavior consultant in Georgia public schools, a behavior specialist in Mississippi public schools, and a children's behavior therapist for a community counseling agency in Mississippi. She has published many peer-reviewed articles in top outlets including: Education and Training for Autism and Developmental Disabilities, the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, Computers in Human Behavior, and  Beyond Behavior. Her research interests include assessment and early intervention for children diagnosed with Autism, working with parents and families of exceptional children, and merging applied behavior analysis with other disciplines, specifically athletics. She is also  a licensed professional counselor and a nationally certified school psychologist.

Dr. Diana Delgado, BCBA

Diana Delgado received her Masters and Doctoral degrees from the Behavior Analysis Program at the University of Nevada, Reno, in 2005, and 2008, respectively. After completing her coursework, she worked as an Associate professor in Bogota, Colombia. In that role, she directed a research group in Behavior Analysis and was director of the research laboratory on the Experimental Analysis of Human Behavior. She conducted research on stimulus equivalence, causal learning and resistance to change and published in national and international peer reviewed journals. In 2015 she moved to Pennsylvania to obtain her License as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, after meeting additional coursework and clinical experience requirements, from Penn State University. While doing so, she taught ABA courses in the online Satellite Masters Program at the University of Nevada, Reno, and worked as a behavior analyst at a specialized schools and centers for children with autism in Central Pennsylvania. She obtained her certification as an Applied Behavior Analyst in 2017. She joined the ABA program at the University of Memphis in 2018.

Dr. James Nicholson Meindl, BCBA

James Meindl is a professor of applied behavior analysis and special education at the University of Memphis.  He received his M.A. from Penn State – Harrisburg, and his Ph.D. in Applied Behavior Analysis and Special Education from The Ohio State University.  He has worked as a behavior analyst in both home and school settings on areas ranging from developing academic programming, to teaching independent living skills, to focusing on problem behavior—primarily self-injury and aggression.  In addition to his clinical work, he has written several book chapters as well as published in a variety of peer-reviewed journals on a broad range of topics in behavior analysis ranging from clinical intervention to conceptual analysis of behavioral phenomena. His research interests include choice and preference, interventions on problem behavior, and delayed consequences. He is a past-president of the Tennessee Association for Behavior Analysis.