MSU offers new program in applied behavior analysis with autism focus

March 2, 2021

Beginning in fall 2021, Michigan State University will offer a fully online degree program for those interested in supporting individuals with autism spectrum disorder through applied behavior analysis.

“The Master of Arts in Applied Behavior Analysis and Autism Spectrum Disorder is ideal for people who are practitioner-focused,” said Assistant Professor Matt Brodhead, director of the program. “The program is geared to give practitioners the tools they need to be successful leaders, both today and in the future.”

A behavior analyst helps a young child walk on stairs (November 2015 photo).

Applied behavior analysis uses various evidence-based techniques and strategies to improve social and educational outcomes for individuals with intellectual disorders. MSU is already an academic leader in the field, with faculty and alumni producing books and research to assist practitioners.

Like the hybrid Master of Arts in Applied Behavior Analysis already being offered at MSU, the new program prepares students to be highly competent behavior analysts. The program faculty are currently in the process of seeking approval to meet coursework requirements for students pursuing the Board Certified Behavior Analyst® credential.

Without having in-person classes, the new, fully online program provides convenience and flexibility for students to maintain their job and earn their degree at the same time.

“The new program has coursework centered around autism spectrum disorder and applied behavior analysis,” explained Brodhead. It is ideal for individuals who want to specialize their education in both fields and who aim to be practitioners in the field.

“The demand for BCBAs is incredibly high, both in Michigan and across the nation,” Brodhead continued, noting graduates could find positions in public schools, clinics and other settings. “This degree is another pathway being offered at MSU to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst®.”

Matthew Brodhead
Matt Brodhead

While the program—featuring the expertise and guidance of faculty such as Joshua Plavnick, Marisa Fisher, Charis Lauren Wahman, Tiffany Staunch and master’s program coordinator Erin Hamilton—is still waiting for university approval, interested applicants should complete this form to learn more about the program and how to apply when able.

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How should behavior analysts respond to COVID-19? Read MSU research (April 2020).

In 2018, the first cohort of M.A. in Applied Behavior Analysis graduates exceeded national averages in the national examination to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst®.