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Research Practicum

As part of MSU’s MA-ABA program, students will complete a research practicum, conducted at the same time as the master’s thesis (described below). The research practicum will involve regularly scheduled meetings with faculty and peers to discuss research projects. This experience is designed to provide supervision to students in a range of professional behaviors essential to consuming and conducting research in ABA. Topics include:

  • ethical scientific behavior
  • critical analysis of published research
  • conducting research to inform practice in educational or clinical settings and
  • engaging in research after the master’s program is completed.
Students sitting and talking

Master’s Thesis

A master’s thesis is the culmination of graduate education and training in the MSU MA-ABA degree program. Students will propose, conduct, write up and orally defend an empirically-based master’s thesis. Students will decide on a topic and develop the research project with their advisor, ensuring the topic fits Baer, Wolf and Risley’s (1968; 1988) definition of applied behavior analysis and employs a single-case experimental design. While working on the thesis, students will enroll in three (3) credits of CEP 899: Master’s Thesis Research per term for two semesters during the second year of the program. The following table outlines the thesis timeline, with additional details following.


  • Fall Tasks
    • Discuss research questions with advisor
    • Finalize research topic and gain approval from advisor
  • Spring Tasks
    • Design research methodology in CEP 942
    • Working with advisor and 942 instructor, prepare an introduction and literature review of thesis
    • Identify and confirm committee members—schedule proposal for early fall of year 2
    • Confirm site for research
  • Summer Tasks
    • Finalize introduction and method section
    • Complete IRB application

Year 2

  • Fall Tasks
    • Enroll in CEP 899
    • Propose thesis early to committee
    • Obtain final IRB
    • Complete any revisions suggested by committee
    • Recruit participants and start project
  • Spring Tasks
    • Enroll in CEP 899
    • Complete research project
    • Write discussion and results
    • Schedule thesis defense: should be prior to May 15th

Above-average Alumni

From questions and research methods to published authors, MA-ABA graduates have shared results from their research practicum experience in leading journals. Learn about how our Spartan alumni are moving the field forward.