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Applied Behavior Analysis: M.S.

Ouachita is pleased to offer the first full master’s degree in applied behavior analysis in the state of Arkansas, seeking to address the critical shortage of trained Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) in the nation. As a successful therapy option to treat autism, Alzheimer’s and dementia in addition to common behavioral problems, applied behavior analysis focuses on applying key principles to improve the learning and lives of students, the elderly and other at-risk populations. Ouachita’s low-residency program combines online and in-person instruction, carefully and efficiently aligning field experience with course curriculum to allow students to complete the program in just 15 months.

*We are in the process of determining licensing requirements in other states.

The priority application deadline is Jan. 15, and the final deadline is March 15. Application by the priority deadline is highly encouraged. Please contact Angie Schleiff at schleiffa@obu.edu if you have any questions.

Want to attend a virtual info session? Join us for a OuachiTalk on Zoom to learn more about our program and ask questions of our ABA faculty and staff.
Register to attend a OuachiTalk here.

  • Autism Therapy
    Developmental Preschools
    Special Education
    Skilled Nursing Facilities
    Hospice Care
  • Behavioral Health

  • Training, Supervision, and Consultation
    Behavior Assessment
    Legal, Ethical and Professional Issues
    Research Methods
  • Behavior Change Procedures

  • No particular undergraduate degree is required for this program. Common areas of study for BCBAs include psychology, education or speech pathology.

VCS LogoThis program offers two options: a Master of Science degree in applied behavior analysis and a certificate in applied behavior analysis. Both options are low-residency programs that include one on-campus intensive with the remainder of the curriculum delivered online. 


Only M.S. in ABA in Arkansas



Clinical Partners



Month Program



On-Campus Intensive (One Week)

In their words

learn more about our program & how ABA is making a difference

“Applied behavior analysis is the application of scientific principles of behavior like positive reinforcement to build useful skills and reduce problematic behaviors in a wide variety of settings. As the first Master of Science degree in ABA in Arkansas, Ouachita’s program will meet deeply-felt needs in our state and nation. We are proud to provide a program that prepares professionals for lives of meaningful work in a format that creates synergy between course and field work for deep and effective learning.” 

Sheila headshotSheila K. Barnes, Ph.D., BCBA-D, LBA
Director, Applied Behavior Analysis Program

Student and senior adult


One in 59 children in the nation is diagnosed with autism each year (CDC 2019), and the state’s senior population will increase an estimated 72% from 2000-2030. Therapists trained in applied behavior analysis are at the forefront of improving quality of life for these currently underserved populations and their families.

Student working with child


Ouachita’s innovative approach to ABA training pairs the knowledge learned in class to the practical work done in the field with clinical partners in real time. This allows students to apply theoretical concepts immediately, improving learning outcomes, and allows them to complete the program in just 15 months, 3 months shorter than typical ABA programs.

Student working on computer


Ouachita’s low-residency program allows you to complete the degree almost completely online so you can continue or begin your career from your own community while also making face-to-face connections with other students in your cohort. Plus the clinical work completed in the program is a great launching point for your future as an ABA therapist.



Meet Dr. Sheila Barnes:

In addition to learning from carefully vetted clinical partners in the field, you’ll study under the instruction of Dr. Sheila Barnes, program director. Dr. Barnes not only has the highest credentials offered in the field but also has extensive professional experience. She is a doctoral level Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA-D) and completed her doctorate in educational psychology. She has earned two master’s degrees – one in special education and one in counseling psychology. Dr. Barnes has extensive experience working directly with infants and young children with autism or other disabilities and has worked in a variety of settings, such as home-based infant intervention, public school early childhood special education, a residential treatment center for adjudicated youth and others. As a former president of ArkABA, Dr. Barnes led efforts to expand Medicaid coverage for BCBA therapy in Arkansas. She is highly regarded throughout the state and region for her expertise in ABA.

program details

Ouachita is a place of community and relationship. By coming to campus for a five-day intensive, you will connect with your classmates, professors and your future alma mater. This will enrich your academic experience as you complete the program remotely through online courses. After five days, you will have a jump start on the rest of your degree. And, research indicates that online students who engage with their campuses have much higher success rates.
 Dates: May 18-22, 2022

 Total Hours = 36

ABA 6113 Basic Concepts and Principles  May Term 3 hours
ABA 6123 Legal, Ethical, and Professional Issues Summer Term 3 hours
ABA 6133 Fieldwork Experience (1/4) Summer Term 3 hours
ABA 6213 Behavior Assessment Fall Term 1 3 hours
ABA 6223 Behavior Change Procedures I Fall Term 2 3 hours
ABA 6233 Fieldwork Experience (2/4) Fall  3 hours
ABA 6313 Behavior Change Procedures II Spring Term 1 3 hours
ABA 6323 Research Methods Spring Term 2 3 hours
ABA 6333 Fieldwork Experience (3/4) Spring 3 hours
ABA 6413 Training, Supervision, and Consultation May Term  3 hours
ABA 6423 Advanced Concepts and Principles Summer Term  3 hours
ABA 6433 Fieldwork Experience (4/4) Summer Term  3 hours


Tuition per graduate credit hour: $750
Estimated total tuition and fees for full 36-hour program: $27,505

Ouachita Baptist University General Graduate Admissions Requirements:

  • Conferred bachelor’s degree from a regionally-accredited institution
  • 2.5 minimum GPA on a 4.0 scale (individual programs will delineate more specifics)
  • Completed application, which includes a personal statement
  • Three references
  • Minimum English proficiency requirements for international students are as follows:
    • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL):
      At least 79 on the Internet-based TOEFL (iBT)
      At least 550 on the paper-based TOEFL
    • International English Language Testing System (IELTS):
      At least a 6.5 on the IELTS exam

Admissions Requirements for the M.S. in Applied Behavior Analysis:

  • Meet general university graduate admissions requirements
  • A minimum GPA of 3.000 on a 4.000 scale*

*Conditional admission is considered for applicants who meet all other admissions requirements and have a GPA below 3.000, but not lower than 2.500.

*Applications are evaluated based on the following criteria:  Personal Statement: Writing; Personal Statement: Goals/Program Fit; GPA; Letters of Reference; Related Experience; and Persistence/Motivation.

*A GRE score is not required for admission to the ABA program.

Applications are open annually from September 1 through January 15. Admissions decisions are made on a rolling basis. Notifications begin the first week of November and then occur once a month until the final round of notifications in early February. Each new cohort begins in May.

While fieldwork placement is not required for admission, fieldwork placement is required for enrollment in the master’s degree program. Fieldwork placement requires a significant time commitment of at least 25 hours per week. A letter of commitment from the fieldwork placement must be received by April 1. This letter must state that the clinical partner agrees to provide fieldwork experience (including restricted and unrestricted supervision). While Ouachita will assist with this process, the student is expected to take the lead in finding an appropriate placement. In some cases fieldwork placement may require relocation to an available fieldwork placement site.  

See the Behavior Analyst Certification Board's BCBA Fieldwork Requirements for additional information about the expectations for fieldwork. If you cannot devote this time to the program and your placement, you will not be able to complete the program requirements for the Master’s of Science degree in applied behavior analysis.

Fieldwork placement is not required for the certificate option. The certificate option is only available to applicants holding a master's degree. According to the BACB (2021), "Due to increased coursework and fieldwork requirements that more closely reflect the academic requirements of other reputable master’s programs, and for the added benefit of certifying individuals with diverse training backgrounds and connections to other professional communities, the previous field-of-study restriction has been removed" (as of January 1, 2022). 

Some of our clincinal partners: 

ABC Children’s Academy & Development Center

Autism In Motion (AIM)

Children’s ABA Team

Friendship Community Care


Hope 4 Autism

In-Sync Pediatric Services

Irby Psychological Services

Key Autism Services

Nash Therapeutic Service

Pediatrics Plus

Rose Street

Temple Memorial

The Learning Center

If you’re interested in applying to graduate programs but you’re not a U.S. citizen, contact Angie Schleiff (schleiffa@obu.edubefore submitting an application. Due to visa requirements, requests from non-U.S. citizens are handled on a case-by-case basis and take extra time. Please inquire early in the process.

The State of Arkansas and Ouachita Baptist University requires students to show proof of immunity for MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella). Ouachita Baptist University must receive an immunization record that includes the MMR vaccinations. For more information please click here.

Graduate professional studies


Graduate and Professional Studies at Ouachita seek to be a source of ongoing intellectual and spiritual growth for those pursuing lifelong learning or career advancement. Ouachita fosters community through relationships with classmates and professors in all learning environments. Through innovative modalities, fields and approaches, these programs combine the very best of Ouachita’s more than 130 years of Christ-centered learning with meeting the ongoing and changing needs of the work force.


Have a question about Ouachita? Want more information? Shoot our Graduate and Professional Studies team a message!



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