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  Jul 10, 2020
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Applied Behavior Analysis and Autism (M.S.)

Conceptual Framework

The mission of the 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 School of Education, this motto is extended to form the basis for our programs.  We expect Sage candidates:

I.  To be well-grounded in knowledge about schools/communities, learners and learning, the Sage candidates will:

  • Understand self in relation to learners, their families, and the local and global community -  particularly in terms of power, privilege and knowledge with regard to culture, class, language, ability and gender;
  • Use interpersonal skills and demonstrate collaborative attitudes which result in successful partnerships with colleagues, families, and other community members;
  • Improve society by modeling and using democratic practices in their settings;
  • Demonstrate a commitment to substantive self reflection, consideration of quantifiable and qualitative data, on-going learning and professional development;

II. To know curricular content and models of instruction, including technology and its application,  the Sage candidates will:

  • Demonstrate an ability to respond to the strengths and needs of all learners, using assessment data to inform instructional decisions;
  • Use knowledge in their designated fields to inspire learners to grow and to meet high standards;
  • Employ/promote pedagogical/counseling/leadership practices that engage learners in active ways;
  • Demonstrate knowledge in their content areas ensuring maximum achievement for all learners. 

III. To do what is necessary to ensure the success of all learners–and to collaborate with families/community members in respectful, culturally responsive ways, the Sage candidate will:

  • Engage in reflective practices;
  • Demonstrate a positive, respectful view of learners, their families, communities, and colleagues; listen deeply to the experiences and perspectives of all those within the community to ensure a healthy and safe learning environment;
  • Model ethical behavior and active citizenship; promote the success of all learners through advocacy, action, and the development of leadership throughout the community;
  • Build trust and garner support for a vision of inclusive schools that value diversity. 

© School of Education, The Sage Colleges, 2000, 2002, 2005, 2006a, 2006b, 2006c, 2009

Welcome to the 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. That means 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 clinical supervision delivered by geographically close adjunct supervisors or alternative supervision (e.g., webcam observation).

The goals of the MS program are: (1) to prepare students to work with persons with autism, (2) to give the students 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 often 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, plus supervised practice. 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. 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. The supervisors of your clinical practica are nationally Board certified and have broad experience 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
  • Phone interview
  • Current resume

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. Completion of clinical practica in community settings.
  3. Completion of a thesis research seminar (3 credit hours).

Total Credits: 38

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, and receive a recommendation to take the examination that leads to BCBA certification.

Eligibility for Board Certification

Those who complete the master’s program in Applied Behavior Analysis and Autism are eligible to take the national examination to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA).

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.

School of Education Attendance Policy

While individual instructors may approach attendance and participation in varied ways in their grading policies, students in the 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 School of Education courses.