Master of Arts in Special Education, Applied Behavior Analysis

School of Education & Human Development


Degree: MA

Classroom Type: Fully Online Online and on campus classes

The Special Education MA with a concentration in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) combines seven courses in our ABA certificate, two specific course electives and a practicum. Graduates will acquire the degree and supervision hours needed to sit for the BCBA exam.

Application​ deadlines

Summer: April 1
Fall: July 1
Spring: November 1

Program Details

Interest Categories: Education & Counseling

Campus: CU Denver Online

What you'll learn 

The demand for special education professionals certified in Applied Behavior Analysis is growing. Children with special needs require specific and optimized learning environments created by qualified professionals to aid in their growth and skill development. University of Colorado Denver’s strengths-based/assets-based approach to teaching special education prepares you to understand the strengths of every child in every family. 

Enhance your ability to work with individuals with special learning and behavior needs by earning a master’s degree in Special Education with a concentration in Applied Behavior Analysis from CU Denver.  

This program prepares professionals to follow best practices for ABA in a variety of settings. If you already have a bachelor’s degree, earning this degree will help you to advance or diversify in your field. You will build your competencies in psychology and advance your skills in working with individuals with special needs. 

This special education pathway will prepare you with knowledge of: 

  • Ethical and professional conduct considerations required for practicing ABA 
  • How to understand and accurately describe the behavior of individuals 
  • How to collect and interpret data and make decisions specifically for ABA, and  
  • How to implement recommended, evidence-based practices with young children with autism. 

It combines the seven courses in our ABA certificate, two specific course electives and a practicum. Graduates will acquire the MA degree plus the supervision hours and fieldwork needed to sit for the Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) or Board-Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA) exam as required by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board®. For more information on these requirements, please visit the Behavior Analyst Certification Board®’s website

Mode of study: This degree is designed to fit your busy lifestyle and may be completed in a hybrid or fully online format. 

Cost: All courses are three graduate credit hours. Tuition is available on the Student Finances website.

Meet the Faculty

Faculty at CU Denver match your passion for education and believe in giving all students equal access to an excellent education. Our published scholars and community-based advocates in special education are engaged at the local, state, national and international levels. These professionals bring with them a wide breadth of experience. Additionally, our faculty network and collaborate with local district leaders to ensure you are prepared for the current challenges that schools and districts face.

Choose CU Denver’s School of Education & Human Development 

You can trust CU Denver to provide an education that will prepare you for your career in special education. We take our leadership role seriously and are committed to graduating the most qualified ABA certified professionals. Additionally, CU Denver’s School of Education and Human Development is counted among U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Graduate Schools,” making us one of the top education schools in the country. 


Cohorts begin their ABA core courses every other semester. Completion timeline depends on course load.


This program combines the seven courses in our ABA certificate, two specific course electives and a practicum. Graduates will acquire the MA degree and meet the Behavior Analyst Certification Board's coursework requirements toward becoming a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst or Board-Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst. Completing the program’s practicum course will meet the fieldwork experience as required by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board®. For more information on these requirements, please visit the Behavior Analyst Certification Board’s website.

Sample Courses

  • SPED 5450 - Introduction to ABA and Terminology 3 credits
  • SPED 5480 - ABA Advanced Data and Behavioral Plans and Applications 3 credits
  • SPED 5440 - Ethics and Implementation ABA 3 credits
  • SPSY 7980 - Clinical Supervision & Admin of Psych Services 3 credits
Course Catalog

Recommended Completion Time:21 months

Required Credits for Completion:30

Admission Requirements


BACB Behavior-Analytic Coursework Pathway Eligibility: 

MA in Special Education ABA concentration applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree from a qualifying institution. 

Students enrolled in practicum will be required to find an approved practicum site that will allow them to meet the specified hour requirements with respect to both restricted and unrestricted activities. 

Needed to apply

  • Official Transcripts from all institutions attended
  • Resume/CV
  • 2 letters of recommendation
  • Written Statement: please outline the reasons why you would like to pursue the MA in Special Education with a concentration in Applied Behavior Analysis and any relevant experience
  • $50.00 application fee 

Additional Requirements

To complete the Master of Arts in Special Education, Applied Behavior Analysis, you will need reliable high-speed Internet access from home. Faculty and students use web-based applications like Instructure Canvas to complete coursework. For more information, visit CU Online's technical requirements page.

Application Deadlines 

Please note, space is limited, and our program works on rolling admission. Applications are reviewed on a first-come, first-served basis for students who meet the eligibility criteria for their respective programs.

The BACB has announced their 6th Task List, the exam for which will go live on January 1, 2025.

Students starting the program in Spring will be eligible to take their electives only. The CU Denver ABA faculty is currently developing our 6th task list courses and will be implementing our 6th list courses soon (summer 2023).

Please contact Beth Eagen at or call 303-315-5000 for application assistance or to learn more about this program.