Augustana University Launches Online Master of Education Program in Applied Behavior Analysis

By Jill Wilson | March 22, 2022
ABA Program

Augustana University’s Sharon Lust School of Education is proud to announce that it is offering a new area of specialization within the Master of Education in Special Education program that was launched in 2019. A concentration in applied behavior analysis (M.Ed. SPED — ABA) will be offered online beginning in the fall of 2022.

Upon completion of Augustana’s online ABA degree program and 1,500 hours of supervised field work, graduates will be prepared to apply for the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BCBA) exam. Graduates who become credentialed by the BCBA will be sought after for employment in settings such as schools, clinics, hospitals and early intervention settings.

“Our goal is to offer a high-quality graduate program that provides an efficient, effective route to BCBA certification and produces competent, caring practitioners of applied behavior analysis,” said Augustana’s ABA Program Director Dr. Kathleen Cook, BCBA-D.

Augustana’s ABA degree program is the first in South Dakota to have been verified by the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) as meeting specific coursework requirements, content hours and faculty standards. 

As part of the degree program, students will complete seven online courses (three credit hours each) in applied behavior analysis within 16 months. The most distinctive component of the program will be three 5-month practicum experiences that are offered concurrently with and aligned to the curriculum sequence in the seven courses — allowing students to accrue the required supervised fieldwork hours to apply for certification as a BCBA. Augustana has partnered with HOPE Group Clinical of Arizona to provide the supervised fieldwork experience. 

“Our supervision experience ensures that there is an immaculate alignment of experience and online coursework through Augustana. It is my belief that this is a truly unique opportunity for students to receive the type of education that allows them to change the lives of countless individuals,” said Executive Clinical Director of HOPE Group Clinical Tisha Denton, BCBA.

AU’s ABA program is designed for students who are already working in a behavior-related position. For example, a student may be a Registered Behavior Technician (RBT), Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA) or special education teacher and has an interest in earning their BCBA credentials. The student’s work setting will also serve as the fieldwork setting. Students will earn their master’s degree while meeting the coursework and supervised field experience requirements to test for the BCBA exam upon degree completion. 

According to the Behavior Analyst Certification Board, demand for behavior analysts is increasing. Over the past 11 years, demand for behavior analysts holding BCBA or BCBA-D certification has increased by more than 4,000%.

“We developed the courses for this option within the M.Ed in Special Education program in 2017-18; however, we were reluctant to move it forward without being able to simultaneously offer students an opportunity to complete a high quality supervised fieldwork experience. We had been waiting for just the right strategic partner to be able to do this, and were so fortunate to have connected with Hope Group Clinical in Arizona to offer this program to students, not only throughout the United States, but potentially to an international audience. I am thrilled that Augustana is now able to offer the coursework and clinical experiences so that students simultaneously complete the requirements for a master’s degree and are prepared to sit for the BCBA exam in only 16 months,” Dean of the Sharon Lust School of Education Dr. Laurie Daily said.

For more information about the program or to apply to be a part of the first cohort, visit

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