Our dedication to Racial Equality and Social Justice (RESJ) spans decades. Learn more about our RESJ Initiative

time exposed photo of headlights in urban center

Autism / Behavior Analyst Degree (California)

  • Credits:
  • Degree:
    Master of Education

Program Description

Autism is becoming more prevalent in our society and the need for specialist dedicated to serving this population is growing rapidly. This program provides knowledge of the autism spectrum and the skills necessary to meet the needs of individuals with autism. By completing the Behavior Analyst program, students meet the course requirements to sit for the national BCBA examination, earning a credential that is in high demand. To sit for the BCBA examination, coursework completed in this program must be reviewed by the BACB for required content for the minimum amount of instructional hours. The BACB will only make determinations about the acceptability of non-verified coursework as either (a) part of a formal application for exam or (b) an independent application for coursework evaluation.

Autism and Applied Behavior Analyst Degree Program Learning Outcomes

Students will demonstrate knowledge of applied behavior analysis (ABA) and associated scientific principles that govern human behavior and the treatment of individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Students will demonstrate knowledge of clinical, educational and ethical issues pertaining to the application of ABA across a broad range of treatment contexts and behaviors.

Careers & BCBA Certification

Students who complete the ABA course sequence including supervised fieldwork and successfully pass the BCBA examination may apply for national certification. They will be able to work in a wide range of clinical and treatment settings as a BCBA in the treatment of individuals with autism and spectrum disorders and other behavior and learning challenges, There is currently significant demand for persons with the BCBA credential, so that it is highly portable and desired across the state, the country and internationally.

Related Programs at Cambridge College


Program and course schedule subject to change.

Autism & Special Education Courses

This course sequence is strongly recommended.

Autism: History, Prevalence, Diagnosis and Characteristics
ESP 610 3 credit(s)
This course examines current research and theoretical models that focus on typical and atypical development of children. Emphasis is on understanding the child with autism in terms of psychological, intellectual, social, and physical development. The historical problem of biological versus psychological causation of autism will be examined along with trends in autism research that continue to this day. This course will focus on autism as a neurological developmental disorder characterized by an impairment in social interaction, communication skills, and in behavior. Autism is acknowledged as a "spectrum" disorder meaning that children with autism may range from extremely low cognitively to highly intelligent with little or no language to communicate to being highly verbal. The cause(s) of autism is not known at this time, with 9 out of 10, for whom the cause is idiopathic. Autism Spectrum Disorder is the fastest growing developmental disability with 1 in 150 children now being diagnosed with autism. It is more common than Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome, and Childhood cancers combined.
Social and Psychological Perspectives in Autism Spectrum Disorders
ESP 630 3 credit(s)
Social deficits are one of the defining characteristics of autism, including Asperger’s syndrome, and most are almost always associated with other autism spectrum disorders and similar diagnoses. This course will introduce candidates to social skills intervention through a whole family approach focusing on both students with deficits associated with global delay as well as higher functioning students who demonstrate deficits primarily or exclusively in the area of social skills. This class will take into account the needs of not only the student, but also the siblings, parents, separated parents, extended family relationships, household economic needs, and culturally specific variables that make up the landscape of the dynamic American family.
Communication Disorders - ASD
ESP 616 3 credit(s)
Communication-based disabilities are a diagnosing criteria of Autism spectrum disorders, diagnoses with similar characteristics, and are commonly seen in severe levels of developmental delay. Not only do communication difficulties greatly impact life-long educational, social, and vocational opportunities, they are closely associated with the presence of challenging behaviors such as aggression and self-injury. Following a review of typical and atypical language development, physiological, environmental, and psychological theories of language development will be presented. This course will examine criterion-based and peer-normed communication assessments, effective language-based teaching strategies for children with severe disabilities, and alternative communication forms such as picture exchange communication system, sign language, and other non-vocal communication systems. In addition, students will be introduced to the following: Provision of family-centered services; impact of culture on work with individuals with disabilities and their families; and recommended practices/framework for assessment and facilitation of communication for individuals with ASD.
Assistive Technology: Modifying the Curriculum for Diverse Learners
ESP 615 3 credit(s)
How do we as educators implement the mandated requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act that calls for assistive technology to be considered in each Individualized Education Program (IEP)? Candidates examine assistive technologies and the federal laws impacting the education of students with disabilities and investigate assistive technologies addressing seating and positioning, access to the technology, augmentative and alternative communication (low-tech and high-tech). Candidates examine curriculum modifications using technology, and software that addresses these modifications and individual learning styles. The course provides a comprehensive understanding of the various augmentative and alternative communications (AAC) methodologies, including the appropriate use of aids and devices. Course assignments connect assistive technologies to classroom practice.
Collaboration and Consultation Techniques
ESP 594 2 credit(s)
The course explores the concept of school and community working together as partners to support each other in a strong coalition. A school district serves several smaller communities in one, and rarely does a community act as a single entity. To establish and sustain community and school linkage is critical to an effective partnership. The course explores the core mission of public schools and creates an environment that helps young people learn and achieve at high standards. The community school approach supports young people’s academic, social, and interpersonal goals by creating an effective learning atmosphere. Schools are a microcosm of societal values and community philosophy that daily affects students’ lives. The power structure of a community — its formal and informal networks and the people in them — that makes things happen is studied.
ABA Course Sequence

Course must be taken in order delineated here. 

Timely completion of ABA course sequence: ABA coursework, including supervision and fieldwork, are specifically aligned with current BACB standards and its corresponding edition of the BCBA exam. Standards and exam are subject to change, therefore timely completion is essential.

Introduction to Applied Behavior Analysis - ABA I
ESP 710 4 credit(s)

The course introduces the science of behavior analysis, and the basic concepts and principles of behavior analysis (e.g., reinforcement, punishment). It includes the philosophical underpinnings of the science of behavior analysis including goals, philosophical assumptions, dimensions of applied behavior analysis, radical behaviorism, experimental analysis of behavior, and professional practice guided by applied behavior analysis. This course is a prerequisite for all other ABA courses in the sequence. The course will provide credit hours towards eligibility for the behavior analysis certification examination.

Advanced Applied Behavior Analysis - ABA II
ESP 717 4 credit(s)

This course reviews the basic concepts and principles of applied behavior analysis (ABA) and expands upon the knowledge learned in Introduction to Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA I). The course will focus on important concepts and principles in applied behavior analysis; including defining and describing principles. Applied examples from existing research will be reviewed and assignments will be completed in which the students must apply concepts and principles to hypothetical case studies, scenarios, or individuals the student is currently serving and provides examples of the principle or concept. The course provides credit hours towards eligibility for the behavior analysis certification examination.

Ethics and Professionalism in Applied Behavior Analysis
ESP 718 3 credit(s)

This course prepares students for the ethical and professional practice of Applied Behavior Analysis. Students will learn the importance of ethical conduct as it relates to the professional practice of tasks identified in the Fifth Edition Task List. Students will learn about the foundations of ethical and professional behavior to endure a high quality of practice in both behavior analysis and education in general. The Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) Professional and Ethical Code for Behavior Analysts will be reviewed and discussed in detail. This course provides credit hours towards eligibility for the behavior analysis certification examination.

Research Design in Applied Behavior Analysis
ESP 706 3 credit(s)

This course focuses on single-subject experimental designs and human behavior. The students will learn about the characteristics of science and the rationale for having behavior as a focus. The student will be exposed to different issues related to measurement, specific research designs, and important issues, such as variability, associated with the designs. How to accurately interpret research data from a variety of research experiments will also be discussed. The student will also learn about the ethical standards and guidelines that professionals in the field of applied behavior analysis must follow when working with humans. This course provides credit hours toward education qualifications required to sit for the behavior analysis certification exam.

Applications of Applied Behavior Analysis in Multiple Settings
ESP 702 3 credit(s)

This course focuses on the application of applied behavior analysis in multiple settings. The applications of principles of applied behavior analysis in educational, clinical, and home-based settings will be examined and the unique issues presented in these contexts will be reviewed and discussed. These include functional behavior assessments, ethics of practice, and use of treatment methodologies, staff/parent training, and applied behavior analysis in the public school settings. Current developments in ABA, behavior change strategies and generalization are also addressed.

Behavior Assessment in ABA
ESP 716 3 credit(s)

This course focuses on assessment in Applied Behavior Analysis in a variety of settings. This course has a strong concentration on Functional Assessment (both informal and systemic manipulations - Functional Analyses) and the development of behavioral support plans based upon the results of assessment of function. Specific strategies for accelerating and decelerating behaviors as well as generalization will be reviewed. Discussion on preference assessments, assessments of relevant strengths and deficits, as well as determining the need for behavior analytic services will occur.

Systematic View of Supervision and Management in ABA
ESP 700 3 credit(s)

Fulfilling the need of BACB 5th Task List requirement, Personnel Supervision and Management, and partial Behavior Assessments, Behavior-Change Procedures, and Selecting and Implementing Interventions task items are as follows:

F-2 Determine the need for behavior-analytic service.

G-19 Use contingency contracting.

H-9 Collaborate with others who support and/or provide services to clients.

I-1 State the reasons for using behavior-analytic supervision and toe potential risks of ineffective supervision (e.g., poor client outcomes, poor supervisee performance).

I-2 Establish clear performance expectations for the supervisor and supervisee.

I-3 Select supervision goals based on an assessment of the supervisee's skills.

I-4 Train personnel to competently perform assessment and intervention procedures.

I-5 use performance monitoring, feedback, and reinforcement systems.

I-6 Use a functional assessment approach (e.g., performance diagnostics) to identify variables affecting personnel performance.

I-7 Use function-based strategies to improve personnel performance.

I-8 Evaluate the effects of supervision (e.g., on client outcomes, on supervisee repertoires).

Prerequisites/Co-requisites: ESP622, ESP704, ESP722, ESP723, ESP724, ESP726.

Applied Behavior Analysis Fluency Seminar
ESP 705 1 credit(s)
This one-credit course is designed to strengthen students’ ability to demonstrate key core knowledge competencies in the field of applied behavior analysis. During the course of the semester students will engage in a number of fluency based instructional activities that will enable them to demonstrate knowledge in all of the BCBA task list content areas. Students will be required to practice these skills both during class sessions and via software specifically designed to support fluency training and competence demonstration. Students must demonstrate proficiency in each of the task list content areas in order to successfully pass this course.

Adjunct Instructor



  • Admission Test:

    No standardized graduate school tests required for admission into non-licensure programs.

  • Admissions Office:
  • Application Form:
  • Application Fee:
    $50 ($100 for international students; $100 for EdD)

Program Requirements

The following are required to begin the ABA course sequence:

  • Master’s degree or higher in education, special education, behavior analysis or psychology in an area that meets the current BACB™ standards at time of enrollment, Please consult the BCBA program chair prior to enrollment.
  • Active employment in a relevant, related field with at least one year of experience in an ABA-based treatment setting.
  • Be working with or supervised by certified BCBA personnel (Supervisor name and contact information must be submitted and verified upon program entry).

Student responsibility: A high level of professional acumen and décorum is required. Students are expected to be fluent in the BACB ethics standards from the start and throughout the program. Students must have basic competence with technology-based academic applications.

Health Requirements for Massachusetts Students

The Massachusetts Health Department and Cambridge College require the following of students in Massachusetts:

Immunizations – All students in Massachusetts are required to get certain immunizations before you can register for your first term. See form

Health Insurance – In Massachusetts, undergraduate students taking nine or more credits/term and graduate students taking six or more credits/term must enroll in the College’s health insurance plan. Students who have insurance with comparable coverage may request a waiver. See information and enroll or waive.


School Requirements

See Admissions Requirements for School of Education

International Students 

International students need to provide supplemental documentation:

  • Official demonstration of English language proficiency
  • Supplemental documentation for issuance of I-20
  • International transcripts, evaluated by an accepted evaluation service

Transfer Credit

Graduate program applicants, please complete the transfer credit request form if you wish to have prior course work evaluated for transfer. Learn more.

Undergraduate program applicants, once you are accepted, your official transcripts are evaluated for transfer credit.



  • Credits:
  • Cost per credit hour:
  • Application Fee:
    $50 ($100 for international students; $100 for EdD)
  • Health Insurance Fee:
    $3,962 - Required for Massachusetts students only. See waiver details on Tuition & Fees page.

Note: Rates are as of July 2022, and are subject to change without notice. Rates apply to all students, unless otherwise noted.

Financial Aid

Cambridge College offers financial aid to students in our degree programs who are enrolled at least half time. Undergraduate students must be enrolled in at least 6 credits each term. Graduate and doctoral students must be enrolled in at least 4 credits each term. Learn more

Grants, Scholarships and Loans

Cambridge College welcomes the opportunity to support your efforts to pay for college.  Federal, state and local resources in the form of grants, scholarships, loans and work-study, including Cambridge College Scholarships, are available to help defray the cost of tuition. Learn more

Getting Your Company to Help

Many companies have tuition assistance programs, designed to help their employees with their professional development. Learn more