Doctoral Program in Behavior Analysis

Developed in response to the increasing demand for scientists and practitioners of evidence-based methods for the education and treatment of individuals with autism and related disabilities, the PhD program in Behavior Analysis at Western New England University will give you the skills to fill this void and become a leading voice in the field.

Through a combination of coursework and supervised practical and research experiences, the aim of the Department of Psychology is to train researchers and scientist-practitioners in the discovery, translation, and application of knowledge toward solving human behavior problems of societal importance (e.g., autism and related disabilities).

Training Model

Knowledge  and skills are developed through an intensive, 3-year, full time curriculum of (a) formal course work encompassing conceptual, historical, translational, basic, and applied domains of behavior analysis, research and scholarship, professional communication, legal and ethical issues, and teaching;  (b) supervised practicum experiences integrating research, college teaching/advising, and professional practice; (c) a requirement to write, present, and defend a publication-quality, extensive, integrated, and critical review of basic, applied, or conceptual literature relevant to behavior analysis; and (d) a requirement to propose, conduct, write, present, and defend an empirical dissertation whose questions and methods are based on a behavior-analytic approach. All students must be engaged in behavior analytic activities at least 20 hours per week in addition to their formal coursework. 

Partnership with the New England Center for Children

Western New England University has partnered with the prestigious New England Center for Children to offer this new program. The Center, located in Southborough, MA, is home to a school for over 200 children with autism and includes a faculty of over 700 educators. The Center provides state-of-the-art education for children with autism, autism spectrum disorder, pervasive developmental disorder (PDD), and Asperger’s Syndrome.

Program Goals and Objectives

The program will allow students to successfully embark on academic and research careers, as well as careers in the delivery of behavior analysis services. Thus, the primary objectives of our program, which elucidate the core knowledge areas and skills all students are expected to know or be able to do prior to graduating, are:

  • To understand the assumptions, goals, and characteristics of behavior analysis
  • To understand the history of the field of behavior analysis and its relation to psychology and science in general
  • To understand the basic principles of learning and the past and current theoretical models which describe and attempt to explain behavior-environment relations
  • To be able to describe and apply effective behavior-analytic procedures for promoting behavior change
  • To be able to describe and apply single-subject and more traditional group designs
  • To be able to determine the influence of relevant independent variables or interventions
  • To be able to describe, depict, and analyze behavioral data and understand the current quantitative models which describe and attempt to explain behavior-environment relations
  • To be able to describe, distinguish, and apply evidence-based practices for a social problem (e.g., problems associated with autism and related developmental disabilities)
  • To understand a professional culture outside of behavior analysis that is united to better understand and improve conditions relevant to a particular social problem
  • To be able to identify, review, critically analyze, and contribute to the behavioral science and psychological literature
  • To be able to articulate and work within the ethical standards of the Behavior Analysis Certification Board and the American Psychological Association
  • To be able to effectively participate in professional behavioral science activities such as presenting, publishing, and reviewing original research
  • To be able to design and implement effective instruction at the college level

Admissions Requirements

Candidates interested in this program need to have earned a master’s degree in behavior analysis or be certified as a master’s-level behavior analyst by the Behavior Analysis Certification Board. Candidates must also have earned a minimum of a 3.6 grade point average (GPA) in their master’s degree program and a combined verbal and quantitative score of 300 on the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) with neither score falling below 150.

The program accepts students who have already earned a master’s degree in behavior analysis or a related discipline and who show strong potential as scholars and future leaders in the field of behavior analysis.

Additional Admissions Requirements


Students are expected to complete 54 credit hours with at least 27 of those hours being seminars (the remaining 27 may be dissertation credit, behavior analysis practica, and additional elective seminars). Courses will be offered in three of the four 11-week terms scheduled by the Western New England University Graduate Program (Fall, Winter, and Spring terms).

Students are expected to enroll in 7 total credits in three of the four terms in each of the initial two years of the program. Students are expected to enroll in a total of 4 credits in three of the four terms in the third year of the program. Students not finished with the program by the end of the third year register for 1 credit of dissertation continuance in up to three terms of their fourth year and all subsequent years until completion of all degree requirements. The program must be completed within seven years.

View the current catalogue for more details about the program and the courses offered.

Student Funding and Support

Accreditation by the Association of Behavior Analysis

The doctoral program was recently accredited by the Association of Behavior Analysis International (ABAI). Their guidelines require that doctoral programs seeking accreditation include an educational program with instruction in behavior-analytic approaches to one or more specialized areas of the non-human and/or human basic research literature, research methods, and the applied behavioral literature; and a dissertation of which questions and methods are based on a behavior-analytic approach to problems and issues. 

Program Faculty and Advisors

Data on Program Graduates

For More Information

To learn more about the admissions process, please contact the Admissions Office (study@wne.edu or 413-782-1517). To learn more about the program, contact Gregory Hanley (ghanley@wne.edu or 413-796-2367).


Explore the Program




Read about our Behavior Analysis programs in The Communicator magazine.