Master's Program in Applied Behavior Analysis & Autism Studies

Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis & Autism Studies

Admission Requirements

The Applied Behavior Analysis & Autism Studies graduate program at the University of Massachusetts Lowell is designed not only for recent college graduates, but also for students with experience in a variety of educational and work settings.

In addition to the requirements for graduate admission, requirements for the Applied Behavior Analysis & Autism Studies graduate program include these factors:

  1. A bachelor’s degree or its equivalent from an accredited college or university.
  2. A strong undergraduate academic record (a GPA of 3.0 or better is desirable).
  3. A minimum of 4 courses in psychology and one course in statistics in your undergraduate coursework. Students should have some background in the psychology of child development, and we are especially interested in students with coursework in some of the foundational areas of psychology (e.g., developmental, learning, behavior analysis, biological bases of behavior, research methods, etc.).
  4. Relevant experience and other activities outside of the classroom.
  5. Three letters of recommendation. At least one, and preferably more than one, from recent or current instructors.
  6. A personal statement. This detailed statement should describe your background, explain your interests in our program, and tell us how you believe our program will help you meet your own career goals.
  7. International students should review additional application requirements.

These criteria may be applied or weighted differently for different students. For example, for students just receiving a bachelor's degree, greater attention will be paid to recent grades. For students out of school for some time, work background and experience will count relatively more. Please follow the procedures for application established by the Graduate Admissions Office.

Transfer Credit

Matriculated students in Applied Behavior Analysis & Autism Studies who come to UMass Lowell with prior graduate work at other schools may request a transfer of a maximum of 12 credit hours. An assessment will be conducted to determine how courses proposed for transfer map onto our courses with respect to BACB requirements. Such transfer credit is subject to the approval of the Graduate Coordinator and the Registrar's Office and must meet the university's Graduate Transfer Credit requirements. For students who have completed courses from the  Applied Behavior Analysis Certificate Program (courses listed below) up to 21 credits of those courses may count towards the Master's.

Part-time Study and Non-Degree Status

While most Applied Behavior Analysis & Autism Studies students attend UMass Lowell for full-time study, part-time students are encouraged to apply. Many courses are offered online, while on-campus courses are usually offered at late afternoon and evening hours to accommodate students who are employed. Students not pursuing an advanced degree or who wish to begin their graduate study without first applying for matriculated status are invited to register as non-degree students for specific graduate courses on a space-available basis. Such students only need to meet the first two of the admissions requirements listed above.

If a non-degree student later applies for acceptance into the master’s program, the application will be treated equally with those of other new applicants, though performance in graduate courses taken on campus will be used as an additional admissions criterion. Non-degree students accepted as matriculated students may apply to transfer a maximum of 6 graduate credits earned at the University of Massachusetts Lowell with a grade of "B" or better toward the master’s degree. Students who are enrolled in a UMass Lowell certificate program may be able to transfer more than 6 credits.

Graduate Advisor

Each newly matriculated student in the program will be assigned a faculty advisor. The student will meet with his or her advisor on a regular basis to discuss course selection, planning for practicum, and the development of an optional thesis or project. Once a student selects a faculty supervisor for his or/her thesis or project, that faculty member takes over as graduate academic advisor.

Degree Requirements

A total of 39 academic credits, is required for the completion of the degree. At least 30 of these credits must be taken at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. No more than two courses (6 credits) may have an earned grade of less than B (3.0).

The 39 credits for the Master’s degree are divided as follows:

Applied Behavior Analysis Option:

Course Requirements - 27 credits
Supervised Practicum - 6 credits
Electives or Thesis - 6 credits

Students may select from any the approved elective courses in Psychology, almost all of which are offered once every two years. Students may also, when appropriate, request permission to take related courses from other graduate programs at UMass Lowell. In their choice of electives, students in the ABA option can choose to complete a Master's Thesis, which involves original empirical research (the Master's Thesis is required for the Autism Studies option).

Foundations (9 credits):

  • PSYC.5810 Behavior Concepts & Principles of Behavior Analysis
  • PSYC.5830 Philosophical Underpinnings of Behavior Analysis
  • PSYC.6630 Experimental Analysis of Behavior

Methods (6 credits):

Behavioral Assessment, Intervention, and Ethics (12 credits):

  • PSYC.5840 Behavioral Assessment
  • PSYC.5850 Professional & Ethical Issues in Behavior Analysis
  • PSYC.5870 Behavior Change Procedures
  • PSYC.5890 Implementation & Supervision Practices in Behavior Analysis

Supervised Practicum (6 credits total):

Electives or Thesis Option (6 credits total):

Electives Option (6 credits total; choose any two of the following):

Thesis Option(6 credits):


Autism Studies Option:

Core Requirements - 24 credits
Supervised Practicum - 3 credits
Thesis - 6 credits
Electives - 9 credits

Students may select from any of the approved elective courses in Psychology, almost all of which are offered once every two years. Students may also, when appropriate request permission to take related courses from other graduate programs at UMass Lowell. At least one elective in the Research Intensive option must be an approved Methods Course.

Foundations (6 credits):

  • PSYC.5710 Autism and Developmental Psychopathology
  • PSYC.5740 Social & Community Interventions
  • PSYC.5810 Behavior Concepts & Principles of Behavior Analysis

Methods (6 credits):

Supervised Practicum (3 credits total):

Directed Study or Thesis (9 credits total):

  • PSYC.5920 Directed Study in Autism Studies (3 credits)
  • PSYC.7440 Master's Thesis in Autism Studies (6 credits)

Elective Option (9 credits total; 3 credits must be a methods course):

Thesis Requirements

To earn the 39 credits needed for the master's degree, all matriculated students in Autism Studies have the option of completing a thesis. The thesis will always be a piece of quantitative and/or qualitative research, involving a review of literature, a clear statement of a research question, the design of an appropriate method for collecting data, and the analysis of results as the basis for drawing conclusions. The thesis must:

  • be completed over the course of two semesters (usually consecutive), counting for 6 credits toward the degree,
  • involve a Thesis Committee of three faculty,
  • be written in accordance with University guidelines, and
  • be defended by the student in front of the Thesis Committee at a public meeting.

Bachelor's to Master's Program

Undergraduate psychology majors at the University of Massachusetts Lowell who have a GPA of 3.0 or better are invited to apply to the Bachelor's-Master's program. This program allows students to begin graduate level coursework in our Applied Behavior Analysis & Autism Studies Master’s program while still pursuing their bachelor's degree. Up to 6 credits of graduate (500 level or higher) courses completed with a B grade (3.0) or better may be used by the student to count toward both the Bachelor’s and Master's degrees.

Application to the Bachelor's to Master's Program

Application is typically summit during the student's second semester of their junior year to allow adequate time for the student to take maximum advantage of the opportunity to take graduate courses and double-count these graduate credits, while still staying within the maximum of 45 psychology credits allowable for the undergraduate degree in psychology. Although it is highly recommended that students submit their application during their junior year, application materials can be submitted at any time prior to graduation. However, applications for the Bachelor's to Master's program will be reviewed along with all other applications during the review cycle each semester. Application forms and details on applying to graduate school can be accessed from the Graduate Admissions website.

As additional advantages, students applying under the Bachelor's-Master's option do not have to pay the standard application fee. The decision to accept aBachelor's-Master'sapplicant is based on three factors:

  1. A solid undergraduate record, with an overall GPA of 3.0 or better.
  2. Strong letters of recommendation: two are required and at least one should be from psychology faculty at UMass Lowell.
  3. A statement of purpose that clearly describes the student's interest in the Applied Behavior Analysis & Autism Studies program and how it fits with the students educational and professional goals.