M.A. Behavior Analysis

ABAI Accreditation Master's SealABAI VCS program sealABAI VCS Virtual Course Sequence program seal

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.

University of Nevada, Reno's mission statement: Inspired by its land-grant foundation, the University of Nevada, Reno provides outstanding learning, discovery, and engagement programs that serve the economic, social, environmental, and cultural needs of the citizens of Nevada, the nation, and the world.  The University recognizes and embraces the critical importance of diversity in preparing students for global citizenship and is committed to a culture of excellence, inclusion, and accessibility.

An understanding of human behavior

The Master of Arts degree in behavior analysis psychology  builds upon foundational undergraduate knowledge — and helps prepare students for doctoral studies or careers in government and the public and private sectors. The psychology program provides master's degree education and research training in behavior analysis.

The Behavior Analysis Program is accredited by the Association for Behavior Analysis International Accreditation Board. See our annual report data.

Area of Specialization

Accredited by the Association for Behavior Analysis, training in behavior analysis at the University of Nevada, Reno is conducted via a junior-colleague model and includes supervised experience and instruction leading to the master's and/or doctoral degrees. The behavior analysis program focuses on the philosophies of behaviorism, the theory and methodology of behavior analysis, basic and applied research in human behavior, basic research in animal behavior, application of behavioral principles to organizational administration and consultation, instructional design and technology, parent and teacher training, and clinical populations, participatory governance and fiscal management. Admission materials are due Jan. 1.

Degree programs

The University of Nevada, Reno Behavior Analysis program offers some of the best behavior analytic training in the world. In addition to our Association for Behavior Analysis International accredited doctoral on-campus/master's degree program and off-campus master's degree program, the department also offer Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BCBA), Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) and Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCABA) Approved Course Sequences through our off-campus satellite programs. We take pride in the breadth of our research, the depth of our coursework, and in the expertise of our faculty and students.

Master’s Handbook (2020-21)

Master's program sample syllabi

Master's Degree Program in Behavior Analysis

The University of Nevada, Reno master's degree program in behavior analysis trains graduates for employment as senior service providers in such fields as developmental disabilities, education, mental health or business and industry. This degree requires 36 graduate credits, is accredited by the Association for Behavior Analysis International and has a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) Approved Course Sequence through the Behavior Analyst Certification Board.

For information on Graduation Requirements, Curriculum, Administrative Policies & Procedures, Education & Training Outcomes, and Training of Professional Behavior Analysts please see our Master’s Handbook (2019-20).

Courses:

  • PSY 609 - Principles of Behavior (3 credits)
  • PSY 695 - Ethics in Psychology (3 credits)
  • PSY 673 - Radical Behaviorism (3 credits) OR PSY 747: Behavioral Analysis of Language and Cognition (3 credits)
  • PSY 711 - Experimental Analysis of Behavior (3 credits)
  • PSY 783 - Behavioral Interventions (3 credits)
  • PSY 713 - Behavioral & Systems Assessments (3 credits) OR PSY 769: Behavioral Systems Analysis (3 credits)
  • PSY 767 - Behavior Management and Consultation (3 credits)
  • PSY 699 - Research Methods in Applied Behavior Analysis (3 credits)
  • PSY 766 - Behavior Analysis Practicum (6 credits)
  • PSY 797 - Thesis (6 credits)

List of Practicum Experiences

  • FIT Learning
  • SPIN: Psychology 101
  • University of Nevada, Reno Medical School
  • Applied Behavior Science in Organizations
  • Behavioral and Education Consultation Services with Washoe County School District
  • NV Sierra Regional Center and Rural Regional Center
  • Animal Behavior Laboratory
  • Human Operant Laboratory

Learning Outcome Achievements

  • Annual reporting period: 2018-19
  • Number of students whose degrees were conferred by the program: 8
  • Median years until graduation for students whose degrees were conferred by the program: 5
    • The number depicts the averages years across the last 5 years of our master's training across different faculty members' labs. The master's degree is ordinarily achieved in three years (post Bachelor degree).
  • Number of students enrolled in the program: 21
  • Number of students no longer enrolled for any reason other than conferral of degree: 0
  • Number of completed applications received: 19
  • Number of students admitted:  1
  • Number of first-time candidates sitting for their Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) examination: N/A * there were fewer than 6 first-time candidates taking the exam this calendar year
  • Percentage of first time candidates passing the BCBA certification examination: N/A
  • Number of graduates obtaining a master-level state license as a behavior analyst: 4
  • Median undergraduate grade point average (GPA) for applicants admitted (reported on a 4-point scale): 2.91
  • Median standardized test scores: GRE Verbal 150; GRE Quan 146; GRE Writing 4
  • Number of years to completion: Mean: 5 years; Median 4 years; Range: 6 years

Academic Advising

When students enter the program, they are assigned to one of the core behavior analysis faculty who serves as their academic advisor for the first semester of study or until such time as a research advisor is arranged. Student and advisor should work out a tentative program of study, including the transfer of previous graduate courses. The academic advisor also serves as the liaison between the student and the BATC, and source of support for counseling, tutoring, or other assistance.

Research Advising

Advisory responsibilities are assumed by the student's primary research advisor as soon as their interests develop. Students will be required to approach the faculty member with whom they wish to conduct their research prior to the beginning of the second semester. Upon receiving the permission of the faculty member, they will join their research laboratory.

Research experiences

Basic, Translational, and Interdisciplinary Research: Matthew Lewon

The work in this lab largely occurs in three interrelated research domains. The first is basic research pertaining to fundamental Pavlovian and operant learning processes, particularly in the areas of antecedent and contextual control of behavior. The second is translational, i.e., basic research that is relevant to application and applied research that informs our understanding of the basic principles of behavior. The third is interdisciplinary collaboration with investigators outside of behavior science, with a particular interest in studying how physiological variables interact with environmental variables during learning.

Complex Human Behavior; Interdisciplinary Animal Research: Linda Hayes

The scholarly work in our lab is focused on the philosophy of behavior science, its implications for the interpretation of complex human behavior, and investigative work on basic processes in human and animal behavior. Our human research covers a wide range of topics though usually has something to do with verbal behavior, or substitutional processes more generally. Our animal research pertains to basic operant and respondent processes, including motivating operations and stimulus control. Some of our animal work is interdisciplinary.

Contextual Psychology and Verbal Relations:  Steve Hayes

The primary focus of this lab is on the development of a functional contextual account of human language and cognition, Relational Frame Theory, and its extension into behavioral, clinical, and evolution science. The lab is a vertically integrated scholarly team composed of undergraduates, graduate students, both junior and senior, and myself. At times postdoctoral trainees and sabbaticants join us as well.

Behavioral Systems Analysis, Organizational Behavior Management, & Cultural Behavior Analysis:  Ramona A. Houmanfar / Performance System Technologies Lab

The primary focus of our collaborative team is on the interdisciplinary developments and applications of behavioral systems analysis with an emphasis on verbal and communication networks in organizations. This focus has guided our conceptual and experimental work on implicit bias, cooperation, situational awareness, decision making, and value-based governance. The outcomes associated with these areas of scholarly work have contributed to our development instructional design technologies and broad-scale training programs in private and public sectors. 

Experimental Analysis of Behavior: Matthew Locey

The focus of this lab is on the experimental analysis of choice - particularly between alternatives that differ in reinforcement type, delay, magnitude, and/or probability. Current projects include both basic human operant and questionnaire-based studies. Planned expansions over the next three years include behavioral pharmacology with rodents and contingency management of gambling and drug use.

Admissions

The Behavior Analysis program seeks students committed to a behavioral orientation in psychology, who show research and scholarly potential, and who show potential as teachers, scientists and practitioners. Faculty members value ability and accomplishment in the selection process. Students learn a great deal from each other. Consequently, the program seeks a heterogeneous student population. Based on these values, all students are accepted to the program (see section titled "Program Advising"). Therefore, the applicants do not rank order or specify their preferred lab groups, and prepare their application letter and reference accordingly.

To be considered for admission to the University of Nevada, Reno Behavior Analysis Program, interested applicants must meet the requirements and apply to The Graduate School.

Please see below information on how to apply.

Application deadline: December 1st

Graduate School Admissions Requirements

  • Completed application for Graduate School Admission
  • Nonrefundable application fee
  • One copy of official transcripts from all universities and/or colleges attended
  • Official GRE scores (GENERAL SCORES ONLY)
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • A curriculum vitae (CV)
  • A brief statement of purpose

The Graduate School application process is entirely online. They organize and screen your application, along with obtaining any additional required information they might need from you. The Graduate School is your best source of information regarding the application process.

If you have questions about graduate admissions process and associated requirements, please contact the Chair of Admissions Committee. Dr. Matthew Lewon at mlewon@unr.edu

If you have questions regarding the application material, please contact the Behavior Analysis Program’s administrative assistant, Beth Jacobsen at jacobsenb@unr.edu

International Student Admissions

The University of Nevada, Reno Behavior Analysis Program has a strong commitment to the international dissemination of behavior analysis and currently has several international students from various countries around the world seeking advanced degrees in behavior analysis. Qualified international applicants are required to submit extra admissions materials depending on their country of origin in addition to the materials listed above. For up to date information and resources for foreign student admission, interested international applicants should visit the website and contact The University of Nevada, Reno Office of International Students and Scholars.