Endicott students and faculty in class

Doctor of Philosophy in Applied Behavior Analysis

The Ph.D. in Applied Behavior Analysis is a research-based program of study designed to prepare students for teaching at the university level and/or for work as scientist-practitioners involving business and industry, developmental disabilities (including autism), education, and public policy.

Links and Contacts
Join the upcoming Virtual Information Session on Tuesday October 18 at 4 p.m.  Please join my meeting from your computer  https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/831271373 
You can also dial in using your phone. United States (Toll-free) 1 866 899 4679 Access Code: 831-271-373 

"This Ph.D. program is innovative and very rigorous. I really enjoy being able to reach via video conference all the way from California. Student can interrupt me to ask questions, work in groups, participate in inter-teach, and I can even give in-class exams. The only drawback is not being able to enjoy the beautiful, ocean-front campus."

~ Caio Miguel, Ph.D., BCBA-D 


The mission of the Ph.D. program in Applied Behavior Analysis at Endicott College is to train researchers, scientist-practitioners, and university faculty in the discovery, translation, and application of newly acquired knowledge regarding the science of human behavior toward solving socially-significant problems of human behavior and to demonstrate that the interventions employed are responsible for the improvement in behavior (Baer, Wolf, & Risley, 1968; Sulzer-Azaroff & Mayer, 1991).

Applied Behavior Analysis is a profession devoted to the understanding and improvement of human behavior.  What sets Applied Behavior Analysis apart from many other professions is a focus on objectively defining and measuring the behavior under question, while demonstrating a reliable relationship between the procedures employed and the behavioral improvements gained, utilizing methods of science, including description, quantification, and analysis.   The “attitudes of science” upon which Applied Behavior Analysis is based include:

  • Determinism,
  • Empiricism,
  • Parsimony,
  • Scientific manipulation, and
  • Philosophical Doubt

The program requires a minimum of 60 semester hours and is designed to be completed in a minimum of three years.  Applicants must have completed a master’s degree in Applied Behavior Analysis or the equivalent. It is recommended that applicants be a Licensed Behavior Analyst or an active BCBA certificant of the Behavior Analysis Certification Board ©.  A minimum of 39 hours of coursework and a minimum of 21 hours of research and dissertation credit hours are required for graduation.

The Ph.D. program will be offered simultaneously in both classroom-based as well as a synchronous online format, affording students living outside of the Greater Boston area the opportunity to complete the program from their home countries without the need to relocate. 

Distinguished Faculty

Michael F. Dorsey, Ph.D., CABA, BCBA-D, Program Director 

Michael F. Dorsey earned his Ph.D. in psychology, with a specialization in applied behavior analysis, from Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan in 1979. Dr. Dorsey is a licensed Psychologist and Board Certified Behavior Analyst. He a Professor of Education and the Director of the Institute for Behavioral Studies at the The Van Loan School of Graduate and Professional Studies, Endicott College. Dr. Dorsey is the Chair of the Practice Board of the Association for Behavior Analysis International. During his career, Dr. Dorsey has had the unique privilege to serve on the faculty of several prestigious universities and colleges including The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He is an author/co-author of many professional publications, including participating in the development of the Functional Analysis/Assessment methodology. Dr. Dorsey has been a Gubernatorial appointed member of the Developmental Disabilities Councils (MDDC) of both Florida and Massachusetts, and chaired the Massachusetts MDDC Governmental Affairs Committee for over six years.  Dr. Dorsey has authored several bills relative to the practice of Applied Behavior Analysis and testified on numerous occasions both at the federal and state level concerning proposed legislation, policies and budgets.  Currently Dr. Dorsey spends much of his professional time conducting Independent Educational Evaluations for parents and school districts. He has testified as an expert witness in numerous Bureau of Special Education Appeals (BSEA) cases, as well as an expert witness in various Probate, Superior, and Federal Court cases involving the education and treatment of individuals diagnosed with developmental disabilities.

Mary Jane WeissMary Jane Weiss, Ph.D., BCBA-D, Professor of Education and Director of Autism and Applied Behavior Analysis Program 

Mary Jane Weiss, Ph.D., BCBA-D has been working as a behavior analyst serving people with autism for over 25 years. She received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Rutgers University in 1990, and became a Board Certified Behavior Analyst in 2000. She is currently a Professor of Education at Endicott College, where she directs the graduate programs in ABA and Autism. She previously served as an Associate Professor at the Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology at Rutgers University, and as Director of Research and Training and as Clinical Director of the Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center at Rutgers University for 16 years. Her clinical and research interests center on defining best practice ABA techniques, on evaluating the impact of ABA in learners with autism spectrum disorders, and in maximizing family members’ expertise and adaptation. She is a regular presenter at regional and national conferences on topics relevant to ABA and autism.  She is a past president of the Autism Special Interest Group of the Association for Behavior Analysis, a former member of the Association of Professional Behavior Analysts Board of Directors, and she currently serves on the ethics review committee of the Behavior Analyst Certification Board, on the Scientific Council of the Organization for Autism Research, on the Legislative Affairs Committee of the New Jersey Association for Behavior Analysis, and on the Board of Trustees of Autism NJ. 

Rodney D. Clark, Ph.D.

Dr. Clark obtained his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in the Experimental Analysis of Behavior specializing in Behavioral Pharmacology at Western Michigan University. He is currently professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Allegheny College. He also holds adjunct appointment at Mercyhurst University. Dr. Clark has published papers on basic behavioral pharmacology research. He is currently  member of the editorial board of Behavior Analysis and Research (BAR).  Dr. Clark’s primary focus is the teaching of Behavior Analysis to undergraduates.  He and his students are regular presenters at the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) and the Society for the Quantitative Analysis of Behavior (SQAB).

Jill HarperJill Harper, Ph.D., BCBA-D

Dr. Harper received her Ph.D (2012) in Psychology with a concentration in Behavior Analysis from the University of Florida, an M.S. (2006) in Behavior Analysis from Northeastern University, and a B.S. (2003) in Family Studies and Psychology from the University of New Hampshire. She is currently the Director of Professional Development, Clinical Training, and Research at Melmark New England. Dr. Harper also holds adjunct positions with the University of Massachusetts-Boston and Endicott College.  Dr. Harper is a Board Certified Behavior Analysts. She received the 2013 Jerry Shook Practitioner Award from the Berkshire Association for Behavior Analysis and Therapy (BABAT) for excellence in clinical practice. Her research interests include the assessment and treatment of severe behavior disorders, mechanisms responsible for behavior change, and maintenance and generalization of treatment effects. Dr. Harper has published work in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis and regularly presents at regional and national conferences.

JustinJustin Leaf, Ph.D.

Dr. Leaf is the Director of Research for the Autism Partnership Foundation. Justin received his doctorate degree in Behavioral Psychology from the Department of Applied Behavioral Science at the University of Kansas. Currently, Justin leads the research team at Autism Partnership Foundation, which conducts research nationally and internationally. His research interests include examining methods to improve social behaviors for children and adolescents with autism and developing friendships, comparing different teaching methodologies, evaluating parameters of reinforcement, and evaluating long term outcomes for individuals diagnosed with autism. Justin has over 40 publications in either peer reviewed journals or book chapters and has presented at both national and international professional conferences and invited events. Justin serves on the editorial board for the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, Education and Training in Autism and Developmental Disabilities, and the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.

Ciao MiguelCaio Miguel. M.A., Ph.D.

Dr. Miguel obtained his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Applied Behavior Analysis at Western Michigan University. He is currently an associate professor of Psychology at California State University, Sacramento. He also holds adjunct appointment at the University of Sao Paulo and Endicott College. Dr. Miguel has published over 50 papers on basic and applied research related to verbal behavior, stimulus equivalence, and autism treatment. He is the past-editor of The Analysis of Verbal Behavior (TAVB) and currently serves as an Associate Editor for the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis (JABA). Dr. Miguel is a regular speaker at conferences all over the world.

AdeleAdel Najdowski, Ph.D., BCBA-D

Dr. Najdowski is the Clinical Director of Southern California services for The ABRITE Organization. Dr. Najdowski has provided ABA-based services to children with autism for 20 years. Between 2005 and 2010, she led the development of Skills®, an online curriculum for children with autism. In 2014, Dr. Najdowski co-authored, Evidence-Based Treatment for Children with Autism: The CARD Model. She has over 40 publications and has served on the editorial boards of the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis and Behavior Analysis in Practice and as a Guest Editor for a special issue in Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders. She is currently adjunct faculty for California State University, Los Angeles and Endicott College.

tarboxJonathan Tarbox Ph.D., BCBA-D

Dr. Jonathan Tarbox is the Director of Research and a Regional Clinic Director at FirstSteps for Kids, as well as an Associate Editor of the journal Behavior Analysis in Practice.  He has published two books on autism treatment and well over 60 peer-reviewed journal articles and chapters in scientific texts.  He has served on editorial boards for five major scientific journals related to autism and behavior analysis.  His research focuses on behavioral interventions for teaching complex skills to individuals with autism.  He is a frequent presenter at autism and ABA conferences worldwide, and a regular guest on television and radio.

Dr. Thomas Zane, Professor of Education 

Dr. Thomas Zane is a Professor of Education for the Applied Behavior Analysis Online Program at the Institute for Behavioral Studies, Van Loan Graduate School, Endicott College. Dr. Zane earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in psychology at Western Michigan University and his doctorate in Applied Behavior Analysis at West Virginia University. He has served as a Post-Doctorate Research Associate at the University of Massachusetts, Professor at Mount Holyoke College, and Johns Hopkins University Department of Psychiatry. He is a licensed psychologist in New York and Massachusetts. Dr. Zane has published in various journals and books, presented at regional, national, and international conferences, and been an invited lecturer in Ireland and the Republic of China. His research interests include teacher training, staff development, and evidenced-based practice in autism. As part of his duties at Endicott College, he offers a BCBA certificate program through distance learning.

B Putnam  Robert F. Putnam Ph.D., BCBA-D

Robert F. Putnam Ph.D., BCBA-D is Executive Vice President of Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports & Consultation at the May Institute and was on the faculty of the Harvard Medical School.  Dr. Putnam oversees one of eight national collaboration sites in conjunction with the University of Oregon and Connecticut comprising the National Technical Assistance Center for Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports funded by the Office of Special Education Programs, U.S. Department of Education.  He also serves as Senior Vice President of Research and Consultation at the National Autism Center (NAC) and was an Expert Panelist on the first National Standards Project of the NAC. His research interests are in the use of function based interventions to improve prosocial skills as well as behavioral support strategies with individuals with autism spectrum disorder. Additionally, he has a strong interest in school-wide behavior support interventions.  He has published extensively and presents regularly at national, regional and local conferences on these topics.  

Program Format

Courses are offered during three semesters (fall, spring and summer) each academic year.  Students are required to enroll in a minimum of two courses in fall, and summer semesters, and three courses in the spring semester.  During the fall, spring and summer terms, one course will be taught one evening per week for 11 weeks, and the second Friday evening and all day Saturday for four weekends.  Students will enroll in Dissertation Credit Courses during the Fall and Spring term of their third year.  Students who have not completed the program by the summer of their third year, must register for dissertation credit continuance during the summer of their third year and in up to three terms of their fifth year and all subsequent years until completion of all degree requirements.

Course of Study

The course of study will focus on educating students as researchers, applying the Scientist-Practitioner Model, also called the Boulder Model (Davison, 1998), in the discovery, translation, and application of newly acquired knowledge toward solving socially significant problems of human behavior.   The Scientist–Practitioner Model is a training model for graduate programs that aspires to prepare students within a foundation of research and scientific practice. 

Following the lead of the mission of Endicott College, the Ph.D. program in Applied Behavior Analysis adopts the college’s philosophy of a “concept of applied learning, which has been the hallmark of Endicott.  Linking classroom and off-campus work experience through required internships remains the most distinguishing feature of the College.”  The Institute has developed a rich resource of eight “partner programs” serving individuals diagnosed with Autism and Developmental Disabilities that are available to the doctoral students as research settings in which such problem-oriented investigations can be conducted.  The Institute, like that of Endicott, “has a vision for the total development of the individual within a community that fosters an appreciation of diversity, international awareness, community service, and moral and ethical values.” Also, like Endicott, the Institute programs value the need for “common threads to run through the fabric of the Endicott experience: increased self-confidence, stronger professional skills and technological competencies, and perhaps the most valued of all, lives open to change.”  The goal is for the Institute Doctoral students to serve as a resource to the individuals served in these settings by systematically identifying and solving the problems faced by their caregivers in an empirical/research based approach.

Program of Study

The curriculum is divided into three major sections – Core Courses, Electives and Research & Practical Experience.  During the first two years, students must complete all Core and Elective requirements.  As noted below, at the end of their first two years, or after the completion of 39 credit hours of Core and Elective course work, students are required to sit for three Qualifying Examinations.  Upon successful completion of these examinations, students will attain the status of Doctoral Candidate and will be allowed to proceed with the completion of the Research & Practical Experience Requirements of the program.  Students who fail to successfully complete the Qualifying examination requirement will not be able to continue in the program. 

I. CORE COURSES (30 crs.)

ABA          735      Advanced Seminar in ABA Research

ABA          740     Analysis & Intervention in Developmental Disabilities         

ABA          710      Conditioning and Learning

ABA          705      Behaviorism and the Philosophy of Science

ABA          715      Verbal Behavior

ABA          701      History of Behavior Analysis

ABA          730     Research Methods in ABA

ABA          745      Experimental Design & Analysis

ABA          720     Professional & Ethical Issues in Applied Behavior Analysis

ABA          750      Technology of Teaching Seminar

II. ELECTIVE COURSES (examples) (9 crs.)

ABA          842     Behavioral Approaches to Treatment    

ABA          800     Skinner's Behaviorism

ABA          805     Behavioral Approaches to Treatment

ABA          814      American Politics and Governmental Organizations

ABA          812      Analysis of Legislature Behavior

ABA          820     Personnel Training and Development

ABA          825     Effective Consultation and Collaboration

ABA          830     Understanding the Tenets of Positive Behavioral Support

ABA          835     ABA and PBS – Derived, Related or Independent

ABA          840     Behavior Analysis in Developmental Disabilities

ABA          810     Principles of Public Policy


ABA          860     College Teaching Practicum

ABA          885     Qualification Examination

ABA          865     Research Tool Demonstration

ABA          870     Research Project

ABA          890     Doctoral Dissertation and Review Paper

Research Presentation

Prior to submitting a Dissertation Proposal or enrolling for Dissertation credit, students are required to enroll in and complete an ABA Research Project under the supervision of their Doctoral Advisor.  Satisfactory completion of this requirement will include the acceptance of the manuscript for publication, or presentation of the project at a professional conference in Applied Behavior Analysis.

Research Tools

The student will demonstrate a working knowledge of two research tools. This knowledge will be demonstrated through satisfactory completion of course work and/or a clear demonstration of competence in the use of the tool in the preparation, implementation, and dissemination of research data. Research tools should be selected in conference with the student's dissertation committee.  Examples include: computer-based data management systems, computer programming, advanced classroom teaching technology programs, Graphing Data-Base systems, etc.

Qualifying Examinations

Prior to the end of the student’s second year (or the completion of 39 credits), the student will complete three two-hour qualifying examinations prepared by his or her doctoral committee.  One of the three examinations must focus on the topic of Research Methodology.  The student, in consultation with his or her advisor and dissertation committee, will define the other two areas of study. As an alternative for one exam, the student can publish, in a peer-reviewed journal, a first-authored research article.

Independent Work, Internship, or Clinical Placement Arrangements

The Institute for Behavioral Studies currently offers programs in both a traditional Face-to-Face (F2F) didactic lecture format, as well as through online distance learning and blended courses that combine both approaches.  In addition to providing F2F courses on the Endicott College campus in Beverly, MA and through our International Study Abroad campus in Madrid, Spain, the IBS has long-standing relationship with several additional local Partner Sites around the greater Boston area and beyond, including:

  1. Melmark New England, Andover, MA
  2.  Nashoba Learning Group, Bedford, MA
  3.  Futures Behavior Therapy, Beverly, MA
  4.  Amego Inc., Attleboro, MA
  5.  Crossroads School, Natick, MA
  6. Road to Responsibility, Hingham, MA
  7. Cape Abilities, Hyannis, MA
  8. Center for Children With Special Needs, Glastonbury, CT
  9. The May Institute, Randolph, MA

Each of these programs has expressed interest in making themselves available to the students enrolled in our Ph.D. program as sites for research, teaching, and clinical practice experiences.  

Admissions Process

Applications to the Institute for Behavioral Studies Ph.D. program in Applied Behavior Analysis will be considered on a rolling-basis.  Those completed applications received prior to December 15th of each year for the following September cohort will be reviewed and notified of admission decisions by February 15th.   Applications received after December 15th will be considered on a space-available basis and notified as soon as possible.  To determine of any positions are still available after February 15th, please contact the Doctoral Advisor under whom you wish to study.  

Admission to the program is based upon a two-step process.  Students must first apply to and be accepted as qualified applicants by the Endicott College Van Loan School of Graduate and Professional Studies and the Institute for Behavioral Studies.  The second step requires applicants to indicate their first, second and third choices for their Doctoral Advisor, based in part, on the teaching and research interests of the individual faculty.  For those students accepted as qualified applicants to the Doctoral program, faculty will review their dossier in order of the applicants stated preferences.  The three current full-time doctoral level faculty may choose to admit up to three new doctoral students per year, to a maximum of nine new students per year.  Additional students will only be admitted once current students either graduates withdraw from the program, or their tenure has expired.  Information regarding the number of expected openings in the program for the upcoming year, the area of academic focus of the individual faculty, etc., will be posted annually on the Institute for Behavioral Studies website.

Individuals wishing to be considered for admission to the Doctoral Program in Behavior Analysis offered through the Institute for Behavioral Studies at Endicott College should begin the process by completing the on-line application.

Once this process has been completed, the prospective student should submit the following:

  1. Complete, official transcripts from all previous, accredited post-secondary education.
  2. Three letters of recommendation. An academic respondent holding an earned Ph.D. in Behavior Analysis or related field, who can attest to the applicant’s ability to complete doctoral study successfully must author at least one letter of recommendation.
  3. An original 6-10 page Personal Statement, that responds to these questions:
    1. What relevant knowledge, skills, experiences bring you to this point of considering doctoral study? 
    2. In what ways will doctoral study support your academic, professional and/or personal goals? 
    3. What would be your ideal apprenticeship and why?
  4. Official copy of scores from the Graduate Record Exam (GRE).
  5. Official copy of scores from the Miller Analogies Test (MAT). 
  6. All students for whom English is not a first language must submit scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).
  7. A copy of the applicant’s curriculum vitae with evidence of at least three years of related, post-Master’s/BCBA professional experience.
  8. A Writing Sample. In addition to the Personal Statement, doctoral applicants are asked to submit a short paper (limit 10 pages), double-spaced, in APA format responding to a particular question: What are the most critical challenges facing Behavior Analysts today? The writing sample will be evaluated for evidence of:  thoughtful analysis, ability to develop main points and support claims, focus and organization, academic style, use of sentence variety and vocabulary to convey meaning clearly, control of sentence structure, language, grammar and punctuation.

    Finally, an admission interview is required of all candidates.  Applicants will be contacted by the Director of the Institute Doctoral Program in Behavior Analysis to schedule the interview.

Learning Outcomes

  • Organizes the knowledge, principals, and skills of Applied Behavior Analysis in the conduct of problem-oriented research.
  • Formulate research questions that are in keeping with a problem-oriented model.
  • Design problem-oriented research projects to provide evidence-based solutions to socially significant problems.
  • Demonstrate skill in planning curriculum and instruction, delivering effective instruction, managing classroom climate, promoting equality and meeting professional standards.
  • Analyze and compare previous research solutions to topics within the scope of Applied Behavior Analysis.

BCBA Supervision

An integral part of the BCBA® experience is the practice of those skills learned in the academic component of the program, under the supervision of a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. As per the Behavior Analysis Certification Board: the student's primary focus should be on learning new behavior analytic skills related to the BCBA® Fourth Edition Task List.  Activities must adhere to the dimensions of applied behavior analysis identified by Baer, Wolf, and Risley (1968) in their seminal article Some Current Dimensions of Applied Behavior Analysis published in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis.  Students are encouraged to have experiences in multiple sites and with multiple supervisors. 

Appropriate experience activities include: 
1. Conducting assessment activities related to the need for behavioral interventions, 
2. Designing, implementing, and monitoring behavior analysis programs for clients, 
3. Overseeing the implementation of behavior analysis programs by others, 
4. Other activities normally performed by a behavior analyst that are directly related to behavior analysis such as attending planning meetings regarding the behavior analysis program, researching the literature related to the program, talking to individuals about the program; plus any additional activities related to oversight of behavioral programming such as behavior analyst supervision issues, or evaluation of behavior analysts' performance.  The supervisor will determine if activities qualify.

Categories of Supervised Experience:  While the BACB recognizes several categories of Supervision; The Institute for Behavioral Studies supports only Supervised Independent Fieldwork.  Supervision may be face-to-face or a combination of face-to-face and distance.

Supervised Independent Fieldwork

Students must complete 1500 hours of Supervised Independent Fieldwork in behavior analysis.  The distribution of Supervised Independent Fieldwork hours must be at least 10 hours per week, but not more than 30 hours per week, for a minimum of 3 weeks per month. 

Amount of Supervision Required:  Applicants must be supervised at least once every 2 weeks for 5% of the total hours they spend in Supervised Independent Fieldwork.  Total supervision must be at least 75 hours.  A supervisory period is two weeks.


Supervised IndependentFieldwork

Total hours required


Supervised hours: % of total hours


Total number of supervised hours


Frequency of supervisor contacts

1 every 2 weeks


Onset of Experience: Applicants may not start accumulating experience until they have begun the coursework required to meet the BACB® coursework requirements.

Appropriate Clients: Clients may be any persons for whom behavior analysis services are appropriate.  However, the applicant may not be related to the client or the client's primary caretaker.  Applicants must work with multiple clients during the experience period.

Supervisor Qualifications

During the experience period, the supervisor must be a Board Certified Behavior Analyst in good standing.  The supervisor may not be the applicant's relative, subordinate or employee during the experience period. The supervisor will not be considered an employee of the applicant if the only compensation received by the supervisor from the applicant consists of payment for supervision.

Contractual and Ethical Considerations 

The supervisor and applicant should execute a contract prior to the onset of the experience that states the responsibilities of both parties, delineates the consequences should the parties not adhere to their responsibilities (including proper termination of the relationship), and includes an attestation that both parties will adhere to the BACB® Guidelines for Responsible Conduct.  The parties should pay particular attention to Sections 1, 2, and three of the Guidelines and consider the supervisor to be the client of the applicant except as noted above.

Nature of Supervision

The supervisor must observe the applicant engaging in behavior analytic activities in the natural environment at least once every two weeks.  The supervisor must provide specific feedback to applicants on their performance.  During the initial half of the total experience hours, observation should concentrate on applicant-client interactions.  This observation may be conducted via web-cameras, videotape, videoconferencing, or similar means in lieu of the supervisor being physically present.  Supervision may be conducted in small groups of 10 or fewer participants for no more than half of the total supervised hours in each supervisory period.  The remainder of the total supervision hours in each supervisory period must consist of direct one-to-one contact.  Supervision hours may be counted toward the total number of experience hours required.

Documentation of Supervision 

Supervisors are responsible for providing documentation for each supervisory period on a feedback form provided by the BACB®.  The feedback form will require documentation of number of hours of experience, number of supervised hours, feedback on the applicant's performance, the supervisor for each supervisory period, and signatures of the applicant and supervisor.  The supervisor must review the completed feedback forms with the applicant and provide a copy for the applicant each supervisory period.  The supervisor and the applicant are responsible for retaining their copies of the forms (in the event of a disagreement regarding experience, the BACB® will need documentation from each party).  The BACB® reserves the right to request this documentation at any time following an individual's application to take the certification exam.  In addition, the supervisor will be required to verify the applicant's supervision on the Experience Verification Form that is provided within the application for examination.


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