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

The program requires a minimum of 60 semester hours and is designed to be completed in a minimum of four years.  Applicants must have completed a Master’s degree in Applied Behavior Analysis or the equivalent, and 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.  The program includes a residency requirement of any two semesters (Fall, Spring, or Summer), over the four years of study, in which the student studies on-campus prior to the completion of the their core and elective courses.  This requirement may be met by spending two-summer terms on-campus. 


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.  

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