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  Nov 30, 2020
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Applied Behavior Analysis and Autism (M.S.)

The mission of the Esteves School of Education is to prepare highly effective educators, school counselors, and school leaders who believe in full inclusion, who value diversity, who are reflective, and who are knowledgeable about best practices. Therefore, we ask Sage educators, counselors, and leaders to consider two essential questions throughout their studies and field experiences: Who am I in the lives of those with whom I work? Who am I in the life of my educational community?  We expect all Sage candidates to demonstrate leadership and create optimal educational outcomes for all learners.

The motto of Russell Sage College, “To Be, To Know, To Do,” informs the educational purpose of The Sage Colleges, where the common effort is to translate learning into action and application, within a framework that recognizes the obligation of educated persons to lead and serve their communities.  In the Esteves School of Education, this motto is extended to form the basis for our programs.

Conceptual Framework - an underlying structure in a professional education unit that gives conceptual meanings through an articulated rationale to the unit’s operation, and prvoides direction for programs, courses, teaching, candidate performance, faculty scholarship and service, and unit accountability.  T-BIRDS - the key concepts of the conceptual framework:

  • Technology: a vehicle for learners to acquire information, practice skills, use higher order thinking skills, and participate in collaborative projects.
  • Best Practices: the pedagogical knowledge, skills and practices that have been shown through reserach and evaluation to be effective and/or efficient and that candidates use to teach all learners.
  • Inclusion and Diversity: the ability to collaborate and team with other professionals in developing and imlementing strategies to accommodate diverse learners; the ability to develop solutions that will enhance the learning experiences of all children; and, the ability of candidates to be aware of and sensitive to diversity issues and to use culturally and socially responsive pedagogy.
  • Reflection: the ability to reflect and assess one’s own effectiveness, and to systematically make adjustments to improve and strengthen areas needing attention.
  • Dispositions: the demonstration of respect for learner differences, commitment to own personal growth, and engagement in short and long-term planning.
  • Service Learning: the strategies that integrate meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich children’s learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities.

These elements are interrelated and integrated to prepare teacher candidates to assume roles as reflective facilitators of learning, combining knowledge and skills to exemplify those qualities and dispositions that characterize effective teachers.

Center for Applied Behavior Analysis (CABA) and the M.S. Degree in Applied Behavior Analysis and Autism

Are you interested in working with people diagnosed with autism?  Do you want to learn effective strategies that will make a difference to children and adults with this disorder?  Then the Sage Graduate Schools’ Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis and Autism is for you.

The program follows a “scientist-practitioner” model of training. This means that all instruction is grounded in the scientific approach towards studying behavior, as espoused by B. F. Skinner. You will learn about research design, the importance of empirical evidence, and the focus on experimentation to discern causes of behavior. This knowledge will be coupled with a thorough training in the only therapeutic approach to the treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorders that has empirical research to support its effectiveness with this population.

This program is delivered completely via distance learning, utilizing online delivery of classes, as well as optional clinical supervision delivered by geographically close BCBA supervisors or through distance supervision (e.g., webcam observation).

The goals of the MS program are: (1) to prepare students to work with persons with autism, (2) to provide each student with the educational and skill competence necessary to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, and (3) to increase the number of professionals who have behavioral skills.

Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) is rapidly becoming the most frequently diagnosed childhood disorder. Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), a branch of psychology rooted in the application of science to the study of human behavior, is a special therapy that has been shown to be effective in reducing the impact of autism spectrum disorders.

Your studies will combine two tracks. You will thoroughly study Applied Behavior Analysis, both the conceptual underpinnings as well as the skills necessary to effect behavioral change. You will learn strategies for defining and assessing behaviors, development of instructional goals that are measurable, antecedent strategies to promote learning, use of consequences to effect positive change, and rules for determining success and mastery. You will learn the procedures and strategies for dealing with language development, abnormal behavioral patterns, and socialization issues. If you choose to complete the practicum coursework, your application of these skills will be evaluated in clinical settings where you will be working with persons with autism and other disorders.

The second major focus of the program involves a deeper understanding of autism. You will learn about the etiology of the disorder and assessment strategies. You will understand how persons with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are affected in all areas of development, including language, learning, socialization, and personal behaviors. Different theoretical explanations of ASD will be covered, as well as different therapeutic approaches towards solving language, learning, and behavioral issues.

The on-line format of our coursework allows for a multi-media presentation of material. In each course, students are given varied access to proven learning tools for their own growth and improved comprehension: audio-visual presentations by professors, written tools, and active learning experiences such as fluency drills and practice in data collection. In one course, students may read and discuss articles on the treatment of autism from many different perspectives; in another course, students may watch video clips of children with autism engaged in different learning activities and apply different data analysis procedures. There is also an emphasis on research and evidence-based practice. Consistent with Sage’s approach that experience is the best teacher, students also practice designing and applying research principles. Applied behavior analysis is not only a treatment for autism, but an effective framework for teaching in general. Our professors and adjuncts are all behavior analysts who enjoy using our technology to teach students at every level. Our programs are broadly focused on training professionals in the best, evidence-based practices in the treatment of autism, while individualizing each students’ educational experience to maximize his/her experience of the program.


Your faculty for the ABA courses are all Board Certified Behavior Analysts who have experience working with children and adults who are affected by autism spectrum disorders and will bring to your education the reality of working with this population. Clinical practicum supervisors are also Board Certified Behavior Analysts with broad experience in dealing with myriad challenges that afflict persons with autism.


Applicants for admission to the Applied Behavior Analysis and Autism program must meet the Sage Graduate School admission requirements:

  • Official transcripts of ALL previous undergraduate and/or graduate study
  • Two letters of reference (academic or professional)
  • Undergraduate courses in statistics, history and systems of psychology (not required of psychology majors), and at least three other behavioral sciences courses
  • Satisfactory “Personal Prospectus” statement regarding rationale for interest in the program
  • Current resume
  • International students must submit a WES report if previous degrees were obtained outside the United States.  This requirement is in additional to official transcripts.

Those who do not fully meet the requirements may be admitted on a provisional basis if they show promise for success in the program.

Degree Requirements

  1. Completion of all required courses.
  2. Students who choose to complete the clinical practicum sequence will meet al lrequirements for application for the BACB certification exam.

Total Credits: 42 (34 without practicum sequence)

Optional Thesis Sequence

Students Who Already Possess a Master's Degree

Students who already possess a masters degree in a related area (such as special education or psychology) and are interested in board certification as a Behavior Analyst (BCBA), may choose to complete The Sage Colleges Applied Behavior Analysis Certificate Program, which provides the necessary coursework and optinal practicum experience to take the BACB examination.

Eligibility for Board Certification

Those who complete the master’s program in Applied Behavior Analysis and Autism with practica are eligible to take the national examination to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA).  Those who complete the master’s program without taking the practicum courses will meet the coursework requirement for the examination, but will need to arrange to complete Independent Fieldwork as per the BACB’s standards to meet the experience requirement. 

Notice to Applicants & Candidates

Services restricted to New York State licensed professionals, including licensed psychologists, cannot be rendered by program students or graduates unless: (a) they are licensed in New York State to provide such services, or (b) they provide those services in an exempt setting as salaried employees.

Esteves School of Education Attendance Policy

While individual instructors may approach attendance and participation in varied ways in their grading policies, students in the Esteves School of Education should be aware that missing 1/4 or more of class sessions MAY result in AUTOMATIC class failure. Class content and participation are vital to meeting the objectives of Esteves School of Education courses.