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Department of Applied Behavioral Science

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Why study applied behavioral science?

Because rigorous science can solve relevant problems — individual and societal, local and global.

Undergraduate Programs

The department teaches undergraduates to understand behavior and solve societal problems through evidence-based practice and critical thinking in applied behavioral science. Areas of application include infancy and early childhood, developmental disabilities, delinquency and juvenile justice, independent living and rehabilitation, physical disabilities, health promotion and community development, and basic research and conceptual foundations.

Introductory and core courses provide a sequence of instruction in

  1. The basic principles of behavior;
  2. Applications of these principles for solving problems of individual and societal importance;
  3. Rules of evidence for data-based decision-making in solving these problems; and
  4. The conceptual, comparative, and historical foundations of modern behavioral science. Specialty courses instruct students further about the contexts of application at the individual, family, and community levels.

Recommended courses in other departments and schools provide students with an even broader appreciation for the diversity of society’s problems and an interdisciplinary perspective on their solutions (e.g., biology, psychology, sociology, political science, social welfare, special education). A practicum in the senior year integrates course requirements with supervised training or research experience.

Courses for Nonmajors

All 100-level ABSC courses are open to nonmajors. Each fulfills a College principal course distribution requirement in the social sciences for either individual behavior or public affairs; ABSC 310/ABSC 311 also fulfills the public affairs requirement. Courses numbered from ABSC 200 to ABSC 674 are open to nonmajors who have the prerequisites. Practicum courses numbered ABSC 675 and higher are restricted to majors unless students have the instructor’s permission.

Why study applied behavioral science?

Because rigorous science can solve relevant problems — individual and societal, local and global.

Graduate Programs

The department’s graduate programs train scientist-practitioners and researchers in the discovery and production, translation and application, and communication of knowledge in the behavioral sciences for understanding and solving problems of individual and social importance, locally and globally. For this, the department offers a Master of Arts degree in applied behavioral science and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in behavioral psychology. In both degree programs, the department requires a sequence of courses that integrates the basic principles of behavior, experimental methods and research design, and conceptual foundations with training in basic, applied and intervention, and prevention research. Among the areas of application are adolescence, autism, community health and development, developmental disabilities, early childhood, family enhancement, and independent living. Other areas are described in the graduate application materials available from the department and on the website.

Founded in 1964, the department has played a leading role in developing and advancing applications of behavioral science. In 1968, it founded the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis. In 2000, it received the award for Enduring Programmatic Contributions to Behavior Analysis from the Society for the Advancement of Behavior Analysis. Our graduate programs are accredited by the Association for Behavior Analysis International, and our graduate curriculum is approved by the Behavior Analysis Certification Board.

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