Graduate Programs in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)

Do you feel passionate about improving the lives of individuals with autism? If you want to make a difference, acquire the skills of a Behavior Analyst.
The number of children diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder continues to rise, with the latest 2016 data estimating one in 68 school-aged children. There is research evidence that the use of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) can make a difference in the treatment of challenging behaviors and the education of individuals with autism.  Not surprisingly, job postings requiring ABA credentials have increased by over 150% in recent years.

In New York State, only Licensed Behavior Analysts can perform ABA.  In other states and internationally, Board Certified Behavior Analyst credentials are often the accepted standard of training.  Our ABA programs, offered by the Warner School in collaboration with the Division of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics of the University of Rochester, will prepare you for both credentials.
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Program Quickview

The programs described below prepare students for eligibility as a Licensed Behavior Analyst (LBA) in New York State and/or Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA).

If you are interested in other programs to prepare you to work with individuals with disabilities, check our Related Programs.
NOTE: Working as a behavior analyst within New York State requires the LBA credential and is restricted to working with the population of individuals with autism or a related disorder (with a few exceptions). The BCBA credential is recognized in most other states and internationally, and does not have the same restrictions.
Learn More About NYS Licensed Behavior Analyst (LBA) Credential
In 2014, New York State created a new professional credential, Licensed Behavior Analyst, in response to the Autism Insurance Reform Law enacted in 2011. The reform removed a regulatory requirement that had prevented families of individuals with autism being able to access Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) through their medical insurance.  With this change, ABA is now accessible to thousands of New Yorkers.

The NYS law has confined this new license to those who treat persons with autism and related disorders, and not any other form of behavior disorder (with the exception of a few exempt settings). The identification and treatment of other behavior disorders and conditions must be done by individuals licensed in the professions of psychology, medicine, social work, and other mental health professions. It could be considered a matter of illegal practice if LBAs were to do so.

In addition to coursework in a state registered ABA program, students seeking to become a LBA must complete 1,500 hours of supervised practicum experience utilizing applied behavior analysis with individuals with autism. Of these 1,500 hours, a minimum of 150 hours must be completed through a university-based, credit-bearing practicum that meets all state requirements.

Students are also required to take an online Child Abuse Prevention Workshop offered through the Genesee Valley BOCES or an equivalent program (meeting the requirement put forth in Chapter 544 of the Law of 1988).

Once students complete the coursework in an approved ABA program, the Child Abuse Prevention Workshop, and the 1,500 hours of supervised practicum experience, they will need to petition the state to sit for the licensing exam and another exam evaluating their knowledge and understanding of autism.  Once they pass these exams, students will be able to obtain their license.

The Warner programs described in this section were approved in 2017 by New York State to meet the coursework requirements and the minimum of 150 university-supervised practicum hours.  Additional practicum hours can be accrued by students in a number of different ways, including taking the credit-bearing practicum experience offered multiple times by Warner.
Learn More About the Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) Credential
As indicated on their webpage, the Behavior Analyst Certification Board® (BACB®) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation established in 1998 to meet professional credentialing needs identified by behavior analysts, governments, and consumers of behavior analysis services. The BACB’s certification requirements, exam content, and procedures undergo regular review according to international standards for organizations that grant professional credentials. All BACB requirements and exam content are established by content experts in the discipline. Across the United States and internationally, the Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) credential is often the required and accepted standard of training to provide ABA services.

While the BACB offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral level certifications, the Warner School has been approved to offer a course sequence for the Board Certified Behavior Analyst® (BCBA®) credential at the master’s level only.

Obtaining BCBA credentials requires individuals to: (a) have completed a master’s degree in an area approved by the BACB (i.e., behavior analysis, education, or psychology); (b) have completed a BACB-verified course sequence in ABA (as part of the master’s degree or in addition); (c) have completed a supervised ABA practicum meeting the board’s requirements (1,500 hours, or 750 if using the BACB Intensive Practicum model); and  (d) have passed the BCBA exam.   In order to sit for the BCBA exam, completion of the BACB-verified course sequence and supervised practicum hours is required.

Warner offers a verified course sequence, approved to meet the coursework requirements for the BCBA credential. The six ABA courses comprising this verified sequence are part of our newly approved master’s and advanced certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis preparing for licensure in New York State (LBA), so students enrolled in those license eligible programs will also be eligible to sit for the BCBA exam once they have acquired the required number of practicum hours.  Students who are not interested in the LBA credential can take the ABA course sequence as a "stand-alone," as part of another Warner degree program or as a non-matriculated student.

The supervised practicum requirement can be met most efficiently through the BACB Intensive Practicum model implemented for the practicum experience at the Warner School.  Based on a percentage system of practicum hours (10-30 hours per week) to supervision provided (10% equivalent of hours per week), a student can attain the required 1,500 units through the completion of 750 hours of practicum inclusive of supervision (that can be accomplished over multiple semesters).

Completing the verified ABA course sequence and required supervised practicum hours, when combined with a master’s degree in an approved area, qualifies the successful students to apply to sit for the BCBA.
  • For the Master’s Degree: Successful completion of a bachelor’s degree in one of following areas: human development, psychology, sociology, public health, education, gerontology, social work, art therapy, music therapy, or related fields.
  • For the Advanced Certificate: Completed master’s degree in psychology, education, or other approved subject areas that address learning and behavioral change (as required for LBA and BCBA).
  • For Both: Applicants must display the disposition needed to work as a clinician serving vulnerable populations.  Prior experience working with individuals with autism or developmental disabilities is highly desirable but not an entry requirement. 
Key Program Features:
  • BACB Verified Course Sequence: All options include a set of six ABA courses that have been verified as meeting the requirements of the BACB (when combined with appropriate degree and experience) to sit for the Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) exam.
  • Cutting-Edge Curriculum: Includes coursework on autism, behavioral principles and procedures, evidence-based interventions for teaching persons with developmental disabilities, the assessment and treatment of challenging behaviors, behavioral-analytic research methods, and performance management.
  • Supervised Practicum: All options include a semester-long, three-credit ABA practicum, which meets LBA’s requirement of a minimum of 150 hours of university-supervised practicum as well as BCBA guidelines.  Students can accrue the needed additional practicum hours on their own, or by taking the three-credit practicum for multiple semesters.
  • Choice of Practicum Placements: Practicum placements thus far have spanned public schools, community service agencies, developmental clinics, autism intervention research, early intervention services, residential services, therapeutic and educational day treatment, recreational services, and higher education autism services.
  • Required Workshop: All ABA students wishing to be considered for NYS licensure are required to take a state-approved online Child Abuse Prevention Workshop.
  • Exam Preparation: Includes a one-credit course to support students’ preparation for the BCBA and LBA exams.
  • Interdisciplinary Faculty: Courses are taught by a dynamic faculty of highly respected scholars and practitioners in Applied Behavior Analysis and human development from the Warner School of Education and the UR Medical Center.
  • Flexible: Program can be pursued part time or full time and can begin in any semester.

Warner Programs in Applied Behavior Analysis

Both of the following programs include all the coursework and at least 150 hours of university-supervised ABA practicum experience; the additional practicum hours needed to sit for the state licensing and BCBA exams can be accrued by students independently, or by taking our credit-bearing practicum multiple times: 

Licensure in other states. For information on whether completion of this program will qualify for licensure in another state, please consult with the Department of Education in that state.

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Interested in BCBA but not LBA?
Practice as a behavior analyst in New York State is possible only with the LBA credential, and is restricted to working with individuals diagnosed with autism or a related disorder.  However, if you are planning to practice in a different state and/or are only interested in the BCBA credential, you can choose to just take the six ABA courses approved by the BACB to sit for the BCBA exam, engage in an approved practicum experience, and take an optional one-credit course preparing for the exam (for a total of 18-28 credits).

The verified ABA course sequence comprises of:
  • ED453: Introduction to Applied Behavior Analysis
  • ED458: Methods and Applications in Applied Behavior Analysis
  • EDE454: Assessment and Treatment of Challenging Behaviors
  • EDE455: Research Methods in Applied Behavior Analysis
  • EDE457: Staff Training and Performance Management
  • EDE456: Ethical and Professional Conduct for Behavior Analysis
In order to sit for the BCBA exam, all applicants must have an approved master's degree and have completed the required number of experience units. (Visit for details on approved degrees, as well as categories of experience.)

Individuals who are planning on taking the BCBA exam are strongly advised to take EDE458, a 1 credit preparation course, prior to taking the exam.
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Our Approach

Creating a Positive Environment for Healthy Human Development.

The University of Rochester’s programs in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) will prepare you to be a skilled and innovative professional. ABA is the science of human behavior. The synthesis of the principles of ABA and the framework of human development are individually powerful and generate a strong synergy. The Warner School provides a unique opportunity for the study of both disciplines.

Our ABA program prepares students to design intervention programs and to practice effective and ethically sound behavior analysis. Further, it prepares students to work with individuals with autism in schools, community agencies, and in their homes, as part of an interdisciplinary team. Finally, students receive the educational foundation to seek admission to doctoral studies, should they choose to further their education.
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Learn More About Warner's Approach to ABA
The University of Rochester’s Warner School of Education is one of the nation’s elite graduate schools of education, and its Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and human development faculty members are leading scholars in their fields, both nationally and internationally.  The Warner School human development program, where our ABA programs are housed, has adopted a vision for human development that emphasizes the notion that healthy human development is heavily dependent on creating healthy environments, be they in schools, communities, or healthcare facilities.  

Some individuals have difficulty learning in their current setting, and/or engage in behaviors that do not allow the individual to make progress. Behavior analysts are trained to develop effective teaching strategies to enhance learning through instructional and environmental change. Behavior analysts are also trained in identifying the factors that present impediments to learning, as well as identifying the function (purpose) of challenging behaviors, and developing behavior change procedures to reduce those behaviors that present barriers to independence.

The evidence-based practice of ABA has been proven to improve socially significant adaptive behavior in individuals whose behavior limits their quality of life, prevents their access to educational and community programming across the life span, and influences their ability to live the most independent, inclusive, and fulfilling life possible. The use of ABA in the education of individuals with autism and for the treatment of challenging behaviors is readily apparent in research and continues to expand its vast applications.

Attention International Students
Our master’s degree program in ABA has provided a vehicle for international students interested in becoming experts in the field of ABA and introducing these skills to professionals in their country of origin.

The Warner Advantage

Preparing Graduates to Innovate, Advocate, and Elevate.

Warner will give you the highest-quality preparation as an effective and cutting-edge behavior analyst.
  • Maximize your job opportunities by gaining both LBA and BCBA credentials.
  • Learn from experts in human development and applied behavior analysis to become a dynamic specialist in promoting, through teaching, scholarship, and leadership, the well-being and success of individuals with autism spectrum disorders in settings ranging from preK-12 education, to urban and rural communities, to long-term care facilities and adult services.
  • Access scholars and coursework at one of the nation’s elite universities.
  • Draw from the research initiatives of a world-class medical research facility.
  • Gain exposure to cutting-edge knowledge and skills through a curriculum that keeps pace with emerging knowledge in the fields of human development and ABA.
  • Leverage the reputation of a leading research university and medical center to give your degree more recognition.
  • Shorten your path to a doctoral degree by earning transferable credits.
While rigorous, the flexible design of our ABA programs can accommodate the work–life obligations of today’s students.
  • Start the program in any semester.
  • Go at your own pace, by choosing either part-time or full-time options.
  • Take advantage of online courses to reduce your trips to campus.
  • Benefit from scholarships that can significantly reduce tuition costs.
  • Are you a University of Rochester employee? Make sure you make full use of your tuition benefits.

All About Experience

Your experience at Warner will be informed by the many research projects and community initiatives we are engaged in. In addition, you'll benefit from the experience of faculty that include nationally recognized researchers, award-winning authors and accomplished practitioners.


Improving the Quality of Life of Individuals with Severe Developmental Disabilities

Professor David McAdam is Program Director for the Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) program at the Warner School. He is committed to researching new and innovative strategies that bolster the quality of life for persons with severe developmental disabilities. Much of his work is focused on the challenging behaviors of individuals in this population.

Championing Systems Level Change

Championing Systems Level Change

Warner instructor Meghan McGee is well known in local schools and community service agencies as an expert in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). A practitioner with an eye for identifying systems-level changes that will improve service delivery, she brings her passion for practice to students in the ABA program who are engaged in their field experience requirement.

Leveraging the Expertise of the UR Community Consultation Program

Leveraging the Expertise of the UR Community Consultation Program

Several of the faculty teaching our ABA courses are affiliated with the Community Consultation Program – part of the University of Rochester Strong Center for Developmental Disabilities. This Center offers evidence-based technical assistance and training to school teams and community agencies working with children and adults with developmental disabilities or behavioral challenges.

Career Opportunities

Advancing Education and Your Career to the Next Level.

Licensed Behavior Analysts have the credentials required in New York State to practice Applied Behavior Analysis, and by law are restricted to working with the population of individuals diagnosed with autism or a related disorder.  This can occur in a number of different contexts and roles, including but not limited to:
  • Working on interdisciplinary intervention teams addressing autism and related disorders in public and private schools, community agencies, and treatment facilities.
  • Supervising the implementation of early, intensive behavior intervention programs.
  • Helping teachers to develop learning experiences for students with autism.
  • Providing parent training to parents of children with autism.
  • Assisting adults with autism to live more independently in their community.
  • Working as a research coordinator or as part of a research team.
  • Being part of a research team led by leading Applied Behavior Analysis researchers in an array of medical and educational settings.
BCBA credentials are recognized in most other states, and do not have the same restrictions outside of New York State.  Behavior analytic skills are also highly valued in business, general education settings, public safety, and other community-based agencies. As such, ABA skills can enhance many career trajectories, including, but not limited to, those of school counselors, mental health counselors, social workers, special education teachers, behavioral specialists, occupational therapists, those involved in elder care, and individuals working in public safety.

There are also increasing interests and demands for ABA skills across the world, where ABA skills and credentials will make you stand out.
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An Accessible, Supportive Faculty of Researchers and Accomplished Practitioners.


Making it Affordable to Make Warner Possible.

Many of our ABA students benefit from merit-based scholarships that significantly decrease tuition costs. 

We also have affiliation agreements with several institutions in the area that can lead to ever greater tuition waivers. Inquire with you employer to see if these may apply to you.

Contact admissions for more information about merit-based scholarships and other financial aid opportunities.

Are You a UR Employee? Inquire about your tuition benefits. If eligible, up to 95% of your tuition costs can be covered depending on your position. Contact the UR benefits office at

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Try Us Out

A Warner Degree Opens Doors. Open Ours to See Why.

Do you want to have a taste of what Warner can offer, before committing to one of our programs?

We invite you to come and observe one of our ABA or human development courses

Or even better, take the first course in our ABA sequence, ED453: Introduction to ABA, for a highly discounted price.  The skills you will learn will serve you well even if you decide you do not want to pursue the entire program.

Contact admissions to arrange for a visit or learn more about opportunities for non-matriculated students.
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Meliora means 'Ever Better.' To our graduates, it means making a world of difference.

  • Dawn Santiago-Marullo, Superintendent, Victor, NY

    "The most important thing I received there was the opportunity to be immersed in the study of education and leadership with very talented people, that think-tank mentality of being surrounded by the best of the best. The intellectual stimulation from both the staff and fellow classmates really did allow me to think about things differently."

    Dawn Santiago-Marullo, Superintendent, Victor, NY

  • Jody Goodman, Program Director, UMass Amherst

    “As educators, it’s our job to make sure we’re giving students the knowledge to be successful when they move on in their life….Warner was the best grad school experience I’ve ever had because it prepared me extremely well to jump into my career, and I will forever be grateful for that.”

    Jody Goodman, Program Director, UMass Amherst

  • Beatriz M. Folch-Torres, MD, Rochester, NY

    “It was more than I expected. Not only what I learned in the program, which I’ve been able to put into practice every day since, but also the connections I was able to make and the relationships I was able to form."

    Beatriz M. Folch-Torres, MD, Rochester, NY

  • Shannon Walton, Sports Performance Counselor, Rochester, NY

    “I had a very unique situation. I wasn’t going down the typical path of a Warner student, and the school was just so flexible and supportive.”

    Shannon Walton, Sports Performance Counselor, Rochester, NY

  • Jeremy Friedman, Research Associate, Harlem Children

    “When it came time to interview for jobs, it was very easy for me to talk about anything in the field, and that set me apart,” he says. “You name it, and I had at least one experience in it—largely due to Warner.”

    Jeremy Friedman, Research Associate, Harlem Children's Zone, New York, NY

  • Laura Van Laeken, Teacher, Midlakes, NY

    "The growth I’ve realized in myself is something I will be forever grateful for. I’ve learned to question, analyze, think and create in ways I never considered. I’ve changed as an educator and as a person."

    Laura Van Laeken, Teacher, Midlakes, NY

Contact Admissions

The admissions team looks forward to assisting you as you explore graduate education at the Warner School. Please feel free to use the form below to contact us with any questions. You can also email us at or call (585) 275-3950.

Application Deadlines

The next application deadline is March 01, 2023. View all  Admissions Deadlines.

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