Special Education

Special Education Online Master of Education (M.Ed.) Applied Behavior Analysis - Autism

About Special Education Applied Behavior Analysis - Autism

Support and empower children with autism with this 100% online M.Ed.

Applied behavior analysis is widely recognized as a safe and effective best practice for helping students with autism reach their full potential. PennWest California's online master's degree program will simultaneously prepare you to become board certified in behavior analysis (BCBA) while earning a certificate in autism.

In this fully online degree program you will gain a comprehensive education that features:

  • Intensive practical training in applied behavior analysis from an introductory to an advanced level.
  • Comprehensive instruction in autism spectrum disorders, including communication, behavior, teaching strategies, transitions and more.
  • The theory, techniques and practice of applied behavior analysis assessments.


100% Online:

PennWest California's applied behavior analysis graduate degree courses are delivered asynchronously online so you can complete your classes from anywhere and at any time.

Hands-on Practicum:

PennWest California's applied behavior analysis program features an intensive practicum in public and private school and mental health settings throughout Pennsylvania. You'll have the opportunity to study under board-certified behavior analysts while applying the content you have covered during your courses. 

Learn more about applying.

BCBA Exam 
PennWest California is one of a few universities in Pennsylvania that is recognized to provide the course sequence required to sit for the Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) exam.
1 in 68 
children across the United States have been diagnosed with autism, and demand for board-certified behavior analysts is high.
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Degree Benefits

As a master's degree student in applied behavior analysis and autism you will:

  • Have the flexibility to complete your online master's degree on your schedule.
  • Qualify to apply for the Behavior Specialist license in Pennsylvania.
  • Get hands-on experience conducting behavioral assessments, designing education and behavioral programs, developing behavior support plans, and more.
  • Benefit from career support from faculty and PennWest California's Career and Professional Development Center.
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Graduate Outcomes

Legislation has been passed requiring insurers to provide coverage for the treatment of autism, creating the demand for BCBA-certified professionals in Pennsylvania and other states. PennWest California program graduates are qualified for careers working with autistic individuals in:

  • Public and private school settings.
  • Individualized home programming sites.
  • Mental health-related settings.

Curriculum, Admission Requirements and Related Programs

Applied behavior analysis and autism degree courses are delivered 100% online. This program consists of 33 credits without the intensive practicum or 39 credits with the intensive practicum.


The Association for Behavior Analysis International has verified the following courses toward the coursework requirements for eligibility to take the Board Certified Behavior Analyst® or Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst® examination. Applicants will need to meet additional requirements before they can be deemed eligible to take the examination.

Course Credits
Required Courses 12
ESP 740  Nature/Characteristics of Autism Spectrum Disorders 3
ESP 741  Communication, Behavior and Instruction: Autism Spectrum Disorders 3
ESP 742  Life Transitions and Partnerships: Autism Spectrum Disorders 3
ESP 743  Navigating the Social World: Autism Spectrum Disorders 3
Required Specialized Courses 18
ESP 700  Foundations of Measurement and Experimental Design in Applied Behavior Analysis 3
ESP 701  Introduction to Behavior Analysis 3
ESP 750  Concepts, Principles and Assessments 3
ESP 751  Applied Behavior Analysis Interventions 3
ESP 752  Behavioral Assessment, Intervention and Supervision in Applied Behavior Analysis 3
ESP 753  Professional Ethical Practice for the Behavior Analyst 3
Required Capstone Course 3
ESP 800  Seminar in Advanced Behavior Analysis and Research Design 3
Total 33

Course Options:

  • ESP 754 Applied Behavior Analysis Practicum Training (3 to 12 credits)

Individuals may choose to arrange for the accumulation of experience hours through enrollment in ESP 754. Students may only enroll in this course through department approval for 3 credits per semester. Individuals enrolled in ESP 754 must follow observation and supervision guidelines per the Behavior Analysis Certification Board (BACB). Individuals are not required to enroll in ESP 754 to meet graduation requirements.



Admission Requirements

Admission Requirements (Regular) 

  • Bachelor's degree with a GPA of 2.80 or a 3.00 in last 48 credits earned (Students with a GPA below 2.80 may apply for conditional admission)
  • Board Certified Behavior Analyst Prep Certificate Only: Master's degree in an area approved by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) with a GPA of 3.30 or higher (Students with a GPA below 3.30 may apply for conditional admission)
  • Official transcripts from an accredited undergraduate institution
Conditional Admission Requirements
  • Conditional Admission may be granted with the following modifications of the Regular Admissions Requirements:
    • Bachelor's degree with a GPA under 2.80 will be reviewed for a decision
    • Behavior Analyst Prep Certificate Only: Master's degree with a GPA under 3.30 will be reviewed for a decision

Provisional Admission:
Applicants who have provided unofficial documentation of test scores, prerequisite courses, transcripts or lack of letter(s) of recommendation may be admitted provisionally.

This policy also applies to undergraduate students who apply for graduate admission pending bachelor degree completion. Upon receipt of all official documents, a student will be changed from Provisional Admission to either Regular Admission or Conditional Admission. Provisional Admission students may take classes for one term but will not be eligible for Federal Financial Aid.

How to Apply:

School of Graduate Studies and Research
PennWest California
Box 91
250 University Ave. 
California, PA 15419

For additional information:
Email GradAdmissions@pennwest.edu
Phone: 1.866.595.6348

Program Requirements

Out of State Students:
All students who will be seeking certification outside of Pennsylvania are responsible for securing and following the certification requirements in the state in which they intend to apply for certification.

Related Programs
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Top Faculty

Each of PennWest California's faculty members has unique qualities that they are able to highlight within the graduate courses they teach. Your professors will have expertise in applied behavior analysis, the use of technology to teach students communication and behavioral self-monitoring, interventional strategies, working with students diagnosed with emotional disabilities, and more.

Professors stand in front of ABA classroom.

Full Accreditation

PennWest California's teacher education programs are approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. In addition, PennWest California education programs have been accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) since 1954, and we are continuing with the successor organization, the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).

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Long-standing Reputation

Special education at PennWest California has been based in applied behavior analysis for nearly 50 years. PennWest California was also founded as a teachers college and has a 160-year reputation for producing top-quality educators in Pennsylvania and beyond.


Special Education Faculty

Dr. James Burton
Associate Professor


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Dr. Peter Heh
Assistant Professor


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Dr. Jason Kight
Associate Professor and Chair


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Dr. Kalie Kossar
Associate Professor


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