The Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) program will train you to be an exceptional behavior analyst who has the skills to improve quality of life for people with behavioral challenges, including young children and adults with developmental needs. As advocates for diversity and social responsibility, we teach students to engage in culturally responsive service delivery and professional relationships. Through education, research, and community engagement, our mission is to elevate the standards of ABA practice and contribute to the betterment of society.

We are dedicated to fostering a collaborative and inclusive learning environment where students engage in cutting-edge research, evidence-based practices, and hands-on experiences. Our goal is to empower graduates to make meaningful contributions to the lives of individuals and communities through the application of ABA principles.

In our program, you’ll learn the conceptual foundations of ABA and how these behavioral principles are applied to improve behavior. The Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI©) has verified the course sequence offered in the University of Missouri’s Applied Behavior Analysis Graduate Program and you will be able to apply our coursework to the requirements for the Board Certified Behavior Analyst© examination. Courses are offered both in-person and online to provide flexibility and address the need for qualified ABA therapists across the state.

Degree Requirements

A minimum of 36 semester credit hours must be completed in fulfillment of Master’s Degree in Applied Behavior Analysis. Completion of this degree includes completion of a Thesis Research Project. In addition to the coursework requirement, you will need to meet experience standards. The BACB© has two categories of experience: (a) Supervised fieldwork (2000 hours) or Concentrated Supervised Fieldwork (1500 hours). To learn more about these requirements please visit BACB.com

We have three options for graduate students to obtain fieldwork experience that counts towards licensure.

Option 1. The Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopment serves as our main research facility and will provide an opportunity to work alongside other researchers as you to develop interventions to treat complex behaviors. At this site, highly qualified ABA providers will provide you with concentrated fieldwork experience, which includes increased supervision compared to other models.

Option 2. The University of Missouri’s Applied Behavior Analysis Graduate Program has partnerships with various school districts, clinics, hospitals, and other agencies across the state of Missouri, to provide you with opportunities to work/learn in various settings with a range of individuals from early childhood through adults. At each site, a highly qualified Applied Behavior Analysis provider has been identified and will provide you with supervised fieldwork experience.

Option 3. If you work or plan to work in a school district, alternative school, or care center that does not currently have access to an ABA provider, you are eligible to participate in our Remote Field Practicum. In this experience, you will be assigned to a qualified ABA provider from the University of Missouri. Through this one-on-one support, you will be supported virtually, and your program will be individualized to meet your needs.

Graduate students can complete the certificate program while pursuing a degree, and the certificate also complements the skills of recent graduates and experienced professionals who want to specialize in ABA. Currently the BACB requires master’s level BCBA applicants to have a minimum of a graduate degree (e.g., master’s or doctoral) in an acceptable field of study (behavior analysis, education or psychology). Click here for more information about acceptable fields.

A minimum of 24 semester credit hours must be completed in fulfillment of graduate certificate requirements.



  • First deadline: Due January 15th (For scholarships)
  • Second deadline: Due March 30th (For practicum placements)
  • Third deadline: June 30th – For admittance to the classes

Admission Requirements

Admission to this degree program is based on the following criteria:

  • A completed baccalaureate degree
  • At least a 3.0 GPA (on a 4.0 scale) in the last 60 hours of undergraduate course work
  • If English is not your native language, please submit a TOEFL score of at least 100 (internet-based test), an IELTS score of at least 7, a Pearson Test of English (PTE) score of at least 66 or a Cambridge C1 Advanced score of at least 190.
    • The exam should be taken six to nine months before to the term the student wishes to start their program.
    • International students who have completed one year of college-level full-time study in a country where English is the native language may waive this requirement if they meet all the conditions set by the Graduate School.
    • Get more information about testing from MU Testing Services.

How to Apply

Complete the following steps before your application deadline.

1. Complete the Graduate Studies application online.

  • If you’re a former MU degree-seeking student wishing to resume the same program/degree, use the Graduate Re-activation Form
  • Current MU graduate students changing or adding degrees should use the Change of Degree, Program Adviser Form.
  • Post-baccalaureate (non-degree seeking) graduate students who have applied in the past three semesters should contact Graduate Studies to request their application be made available to us.

2. Write a statement of purpose, usually around 500 words, in which you summarize your professional goals, including career objectives, research interests, your motivation for advanced graduate work and other pertinent information.

3. Resume/Curriculum Vitae: Please make sure to include the month/year for the start and end dates of all work experience (Upload to the Supplemental Information section of your application).

4. Submit at least two letters of recommendation.

  • The letters should attest to your professional competence, academic preparation and potential for graduate work.
  • Ideally, two letters should be from college or university professors who can discuss your academic abilities, and one should be from an administrator or colleague who can describe authoritatively your professional experience and potential.
  • Letters are submitted through the online application system.

5. English Proficiency test scores from the past two years (only required for students whose native language is not English.)

6. TOEFL or IELTS scores from the past two years (only required for students whose native language is not English).  Waivers will not be granted for this requirement.

7. Upon department acceptance, have official transcripts from all previous college work at institutions other than MU sent directly to: Office of Graduate Studies, 210 Jesse Hall, Columbia, MO 65211.

Conditional acceptance

Conditional acceptance into the program is not provided for those students who wish to pursue English language training in the U.S. prior to starting their graduate studies. Applications submitted will be reviewed for admission into the program as per the criteria noted below.

An interview may be required by the admissions committee. Please feel free to submit any other materials that you feel would give a clearer picture of your qualifications. If you have questions contact the Department of Special Education at umccoesped@missouri.edu.

Admission Decisions

Each applicant’s credentials are reviewed by a committee of faculty that is committed to using professional judgement to find applicants with great potential for success and contribution to the profession. The department cannot assure admission to all applicants who meet minimum admission requirements.

Graduate Certificate

For information on the Applied Behavior Analysis Graduate Certificate, click here.