Behavior Analysis

Master's Degree Program

Graduate opportunities

In behavior analysis, change is good and often has a lasting, positive impact on a business, school or individual. The first step to a meaningful career in the field can be taken at the University of North Texas by pursuing a Master of Science degree in Behavior Analysis.

The Department of Behavior Analysis' innovative program provides:

  • Knowledge of principles, theory and research methods of applied behavior analysis and the experimental analysis of behavior
  • Procedures for systematic application of behavioral technology in natural environments
  • Practical experience in functional analysis and in designing, implementing and evaluating behavioral intervention programs

You can pursue one of two tracks depending on your career interest. The applied track prepares you to work as a behavior analyst upon graduation, while the research track prepares you to enroll in a doctoral program. We also offer courses that focus on autism or lead to certification in applied behavior analysis.

Our faculty members include professors who've been recognized by the American Psychological Association and the National Institutes of Health, among others. They also provide consultations regarding behavioral interventions and human performance in institutions, business and industry. Their current research includes:

  • Applied behavior analysis with animals
  • Behavioral pharmacology
  • Functional analysis and treatment of severe behavior disorders
  • Nature and causes of behavioral variability
  • Stimulus control
  • Treatment of children with autism

The department was instrumental in founding the Texas Association for Behavior Analysis and remains its headquarters. Our graduate program was also the nation's first to earn accreditation from the Association for Behavior Analysis International (550 West Centre Ave.; Portage, Mich. 49024; telephone 269-492-9310). This distinction means we meet or exceed strict standards for excellence in education. The department was also awarded the 2012 Enduring Programmatic Contributions Award from the Society for the Advancement of Behavior Analysis for establishing a tradition of leadership in teaching, service and scholarship.

Research opportunities

The Beatrice Barrett Neuro-Operant Lab employs students to run experiments using fMRI to measure neural events as learning occurs. All experiments are administered by Dr. Michael Schlund.

The Behavior Analysis Resource Center research and treatment team assesses and develops treatment for behavior disorders exhibited by persons with developmental disabilities. This project provides services to residents at the Denton State Supported Living Center, Denton County MHMR Center and the Child Study Center. Faculty supervisor: Dr. Richard Smith.

The Behavioral Pharmacology Laboratory focuses on understanding drug action in terms of basic behavioral processes. Past studies conducted by the lab include environmental determinants of drug tolerance, the role of reinforcement conditions in modulating drug-induced stereotypy, the effects of drugs on decision making (delay discounting) and conditioned taste aversion to drugs of abuse. Faculty supervisor: Dr. Jonathan Pinkston.

Direct Assessment, Teaching and Analysis research examines the effects of behavioral interventions on an individual's acquisition, fluency and generalization of academic or communication skills. An emphasis is placed on conceptual systematic interventions that enhance aspects of verbal behavior. Faculty supervisor: Dr. Traci Cihon.

The Human Operant Lab attempts to understand the processes that underlie complex human behavior such as abstraction, concept formation and remembering. Populations studied typically include developing and developmentally delayed persons of all ages. Areas of focus include stimulus equivalence, short-term remembering and attending. Faculty supervisor: Dr. Manish Vaidya.

The North Texas Autism Project provides services that apply behavioral approaches to treating autism. Training opportunities are available in the Family Connections Project, Teaching Partners in Early and Intensive Behavioral Interventions, Distance Education Program and Global Learning Community Project. Faculty supervisor: Dr. Shahla Ala'i-Rosales.

The Organization for Reinforcement Contingencies with Animals is a group interested in gaining experience in animal training. Faculty supervisor: Dr. Jesus Rosales-Ruiz.

The Pigeon Lab seeks to understand the limits of human-nonhuman similarities and differences by studying the development of complex performances in pigeons. Recent topics have included concept learning and short-term remembering. Faculty supervisor: Dr. Manish Vaidya.

Attending UNT

Admission requirements

You must meet the admission requirements for the Toulouse Graduate School® and the following program requirements. The graduate school admission requirements are outlined on their website. The program requirements are:

  • A GPA of 3.4 or better
  • Acceptable GRE scores
  • Commit to a career in behavior analysis
  • Two behavior analysis prerequisite courses
  • Three reference letters
  • Statement of interest

Degree requirements

  • 24 semester hours of core courses
  • 7 semester hours of practical training courses
  • 6 semester hours of master's thesis
  • 6 to 9 semester hours of electives

Financial assistance

Amounts vary each year, but the following financial assistance programs are available to help you pursue your education:

  • Donald L. Whaley Memorial Scholarship
  • Douglas P. Field Scholarship for Graduate Student Research
  • Part-time employment in faculty-supervised projects (10 to 20 hours per week)
  • Research assistantships (10 to 20 hours per week)
  • Teaching fellowships for select second-year students

Information about other financial assistance programs is available at the Financial Aid website.