Jul 25, 2024  
2022-2023 General/Graduate Catalog - Expires August 2028 
2022-2023 General/Graduate Catalog - Expires August 2028 [Archived Catalog]

Disability Studies: Applied Behavior Analysis (MA)

Affiliation: School of Health Sciences & Education 

The Disability Studies: Applied Behavior Analysis graduate program at Truman State University strives to prepare caring, committed, competent, and culturally aware individuals who possess an understanding of topics relevant to the lives of persons with disabilities, including social justice and civil rights issues, policy concerns, ethical debates, and cultural representation. The master’s embeds the coursework necessary to complete the educational requirements leading to certification as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). Completion of this degree, along with success on the exam required by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACBTM), will enable individuals to apply for licensure in their state of residency, where licensure is a requirement. 

The special blend of coursework in this program equips students working to become behavior analysts with the understanding that disability is a constant, pervasive, and deeply misunderstood element of human existence. While prevalence rates are unclear, at least 15-20% of all people have a disability. Students who complete this program will not only be prepared to practice behavior analysis, but will also understand development throughout the lifespan, increasing their ability to assess and develop interventions that are not only effective, but also socially significant to self-advocates and families. The program gives particular attention to mastering key skills required for licensure and putting those into practice through practicum and internship coursework. 


Students should consult the state licensing board in their state of residence to verify any additional requirements for their state. 


The Disability Studies graduate program at Truman State University has the following objectives: 

  • Students will apply behavior and disability theories, practices, and policies to working with individuals with disabilities. 
  • Students will understand and be able to complete single subject research design when implementing treatments to determine their effectiveness. 
  • Students will address behavioral deficits and concerns using applied behavior analytic concepts and principles. 
  • Students will understand development throughout the lifespan and apply this knowledge in their work with individuals and their families. 
  • Students will understand the lived experience of persons with disabilities. 
  • Students will examine disability as a cultural phenomenon. 
  • Students will use behavior analytic principles to address relevant topics to individuals with disabilities including social justice and civil rights issues, policy concerns, and cultural representation. 
  • Students will understand the specific ethical concerns and guidelines that guide the fields of behavior analysis and disabilities. 
  • Students will assess and interpret relevant behavior analysis and disability literature. 


Upon completing the Master of Arts in Disability Studies: Applied Behavior Analysis program, each graduate will: 

  • Possess and apply the knowledge base to interact with clients in their chosen area of specialization, where applicable; 
  • Advocate for persons with disabilities and their families, whether in the workplace, in public policy environments, or in the day-to-day practice of their chosen profession; 
  • Engage in self-reflective practice, including the ability to evaluate personal strengths and growth areas and to develop self-improvement and self-care plans;
  • Exhibit an understanding of and appreciation for inclusivity and cultural differences and strengths, particularly as they intersect with the disabled community; 
  • Understand and employ standards of ethical practice in their chosen profession; 
  • Embody a professional identity when working with individuals with disabilities and their families; and 
  • Make decisions balancing professional standards, common practice, current research, and family systems, and individual cultural values. 

The Disability Studies: Applied Behavior Analysis program is offered exclusively online following a cohort model and is designed to meet the most commonly accepted national standards for BCBA preparation: those of the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACBTM) and to meet the accreditation requirements of the Association of Behavior Analysis International (ABAI). In accordance with those standards, both the Master of Arts in Disability  Studies and the Graduate Certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis cover all required topics for certification and include field-based practicum and internship experiences under the supervision of university faculty and other qualified professionals. 

Qualified applicants are admitted for the fall semester of each year. Courses in the fall follow a half-semester format (8 weeks long) running continuously throughout the year, including the summer session. Students with recent credit from an ABAI program may request a transfer of up to 6 hours of graduate coursework. The Disability Studies program reserves the right to deny a transfer of credit for other courses from ABAI-accredited programs, particularly if, in the judgment of the faculty, the proposed transfer course does not adequately align with the Truman curriculum. Students must supply the course syllabus from the section and the semester the course was take. Undergraduate students may take up to 6 credits of graduate coursework from the programs and count it toward their graduate degree. 


To be considered for admission, a prospective student must submit: 

  • Official copies of all undergraduate and graduate transcripts, reflecting an earned baccalaureate degree from a college or university accredited by one of the six regional accrediting bodies recognized by the US Department of Education or the extra-national equivalent.
  • An undergraduate GPA of 2.75 or higher.
  • A personal statement, as described on the departmental website.
  • A completed criminal background check dated within 1 year of admission. 

An applicant with a bachelor’s degree granted by an institution outside the United States must include a transcript evaluation provided by a service listed on the admissions website. Please see the International Graduate Student Admission section of this catalog for other applicable information. 


  • Completion of all program coursework with a minimum GPA of 3.00.
  • No grade below a ‘C’ may count toward degree requirements. Regardless of GPA, no more than 2 grades of ‘C’ may count. 
  • Admission to and completion of all required practicum and internship experiences. 
  • Successful resolution of any ethical, professional, or dispositional concerns formally expressed by the program faculty. 


All students must pass an FBI background clearance before being placed in practicum or internship assignments. The background check must be current within one year. 


The Behavior Analyst Certification Board® (BACB®) grants a national certification; however, some states have specific licensure laws and regulations. Graduates seeking Board Certified Behavior Analyst status must first submit an application and sit for the Behavior Analyst Certifications exam offered by the BACB® before practicing independently. Upon certification, individuals may apply for licensure in their respective state. Students are encouraged to review their state’s licensure laws to ensure their practicum experiences are aligned with the requirements. Truman State University maintains a website with state licensure information, updated annually at http://consumerinformation.truman.edu/stateauthorization/. Additionally, specific information about which states require licensure prior to practice, their specific requirements, and instructions to apply can be found here: http://www.bacb.com/u-s-licensure-of-behavior-analysts/. Students are expected to update their permanent address each semester to help ensure they can be properly informed about changes in licensure rules in their home state. 


The department may dismiss students who do not meet the program’s standards for academic performance or for concerns related to the ethical, professional, or dispositional standards described in the American Counseling Association Code of Ethics and the Professional and Ethical Compliance Code for Behavior Analysts. The American Counseling Association Code of Ethics is introduced in foundational courses of the program and can be accessed at http://www.counseling.org/docs/default-source/default-document-library/2014-code-of-ethics-finaladdress.pdf?sfvrsn=96b532c_2. Students will also complete a course on the Professional and Ethical Compliance Code for Behavior Analysts (the “Code”) prior to graduation. The “Code” can be found here: http://www.bacb.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/BACB-Compliance-Code-english_190318.pdf.


Core Requirements (6 Hours)

Practicum and Internship (12 Hours)

The remaining 12 hours of coursework consists of: