Applied Psychology

Program Overview

The Master of Arts in Applied Psychology: Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is intended to provide students with theoretical and practical knowledge in applied behavioral psychology while also providing general understanding of how psychology relates to ABA practice.

Applied behavioral psychology is the application of the science of motivation and learning to describing, explaining, predicting, and changing individual behavior.  ABA is used in educational settings, organizational settings (e.g., job training, performance assessment, task analysis and training), behavior change related to health outcomes (e.g., compliance with medication, addictions, feeding problems, exercise, etc.) and most often in interventions with individuals with developmental disabilities.

Mission Statement

The Master of Arts in Applied Psychology: Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) prepares students to excel in professional careers as scientist-practitioners.  By challenging students to use a scientific lens when creating and evaluating clinical interventions, and to use an applied lens when designing research, this program will ensure that students are prepared to achieve success in behavior analytic employment, or to pursue further education upon completion of the program. 

National Certification in Behavior Analysis

The Behavior Analyst Certification Board, Inc.® (BCBA) has approved Rider University’s ABA core course sequence as providing the content hours under the 4th Edition Task List and meeting the coursework requirements for eligibility to take the Board Certified Behavior Analyst Examination®. Applicants will have to meet additional requirements to qualify.

Admission Status

Upon completion of the steps in the application procedure, the applicant will be assigned to one of the following classifications once admitted:

  • Graduate Standing

The student is qualified to undertake graduate study and must apply for matriculated status when eligible;

  • Conditional Standing

The student either has not satisfied all of the admission requirements or has not completed all of the undergraduate preparatory requirements or both and may be permitted to engage in studies during a probationary period;

  • Special Standing

The student does not plan to matriculate in a Rider graduate degree.

Transfer of Credits

Upon acceptance to the Master of Arts in Applied Psychology: Applied Behavior Analysis program, students may request transfer of up to nine semester hours of graduate credits completed at an accredited institution. These credits must have been earned within six years of the date of credit transfer approval. All transfer credits must be approved by the Applied Psychology Steering Committee. Courses accepted for transfer must be similar to required or elective courses that are approved for the respective program, and a grade of at least “B” must have been earned in each of these courses.

Academic Standing

A minimum grade of "B" is required to obtain credit toward graduation. A grade of "B-" or lower will not count toward graduation credits. A GPA of 3.0 must be maintained to remain in good academic standing. Students whose GPA falls below 3.0 will be placed on Conditional Standing. 

Course Repeat Policy

Students may not repeat any graduate course for credit that they have already taken, except a course in which they have received a grade lower than “B” or one from which they withdrew. Any exceptions must be approved by the department chair.


Rider University reserves the right to dismiss any student when, in the judgment of the faculty or the officers of Rider, such action seems advisable. Any of the following situations will result in the automatic dismissal of a student working toward a graduate degree or certification program in Applied Psychology:

  • Receiving any grade of "B-" or lower in two graduate courses;
  • Not attaining a grade point average of 3.0 after taking 12 or more graduate credits at Rider University;
  • Failure to complete degree requirements in six years.

Graduation Requirements

To graduate, students must have completed all the requirements for the degree within 6 years of enrolling in the program, have a GPA of 3.00 or higher, and have submitted the degree application for graduation form to the Dean's office. 

Graduation with Distinction

Students who graduate with an overall grade point average of 3.85 or higher are designated as graduating with distinction.  This term appears on the student's official transcript, below the student's name in the commencement program, and on the diploma.


Frances Perrin English, Ph.D.
Program Coordinator, Adjunct Assistant Professor
Science 322A

Program Website: M.A. in Applied Psychology
Associated Department: Department of Psychology

Degree Requirements

The program requires 36 semester hours and includes 11 psychology courses and a required field placement experience. The supervised fieldwork must be at a pre-approved site.

Course Requirements for the MA in Applied Psychology: Applied Behavior Analysis

Core Curriculum Requirement
PSY 510Introduction to Applied Behavior Analysis3
PSY 511Principles of Learning3
PSY 513Observational Methods and Functional Assessment3
PSY 514Single Subject Research Design and Analysis3
PSY 516Creating Effective & Ethnical Interventions3
PSY 535Language Assessment and Intervention3
PSY 536Social Skills Assessment & Intervention3
Select four of the following:12
Psychological Tests
Cognitive Development
Interventions for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities
Interventions for Autism
Health Psychology
Drugs and Human Behavior
Psychology of the Family
Developmental Psychopathology
Aging, Brain, and Cognition
Independent Research and Study
Selected Topics in Applied Psychology 1
Field Placement Requirement
PSY 590Field Placement in Applied Behavior Analysis3
Total Credits36

 Topics change each semester.  Students may take up to 12 credits of Special Topics.

Academic Plans of Study

The following educational plan is provided as a sample only.  Educational plans will vary depending on whether students being the program in the fall or summer.  Each student, with guidance from the program coordinator, will develop a personalized educational plan.

Fall Cohort

Plan of Study Grid
Year 1
Fall SemesterSemester Credit Hours
PSY 510 Introduction to Applied Behavior Analysis 3
Elective 3
 Semester Credit Hours6
Spring Semester
PSY 511 Principles of Learning 3
PSY 516 Creating Effective & Ethnical Interventions 3
 Semester Credit Hours6
Summer Semester
PSY 536 Social Skills Assessment & Intervention 3
PSY 535 Language Assessment and Intervention 3
 Semester Credit Hours6
Year 2
Fall Semester
PSY 514 Single Subject Research Design and Analysis 3
Elective 3
 Semester Credit Hours6
Spring Semester
PSY 513 Observational Methods and Functional Assessment 3
Elective 3
 Semester Credit Hours6
Summer Semester
Elective 3
PSY 590 Field Placement in Applied Behavior Analysis 3
 Semester Credit Hours6
 Total Credit Hours for Graduation36


The 4+1 Masters in Applied Psychology, Applied Behavior Analysis concentration is designed for students who wish to combine undergraduate study in psychology leading to a Bachelor’s of Arts degree with graduate study leading to a Masters of Arts in Applied Psychology. 

The admission process for this program ensures that only capable students are enrolled.  Freshman students are encouraged to seek advice about the program from their advisor and the program coordinator.  The following courses must be completed if the student intends to apply to the program: PSY-212 Intro to Applied Behavior Analysis and PSY-299 Field Placement in Applied Behavior Analysis.  PSY-299 is intended to assist the student in determining if the program is a good match for them. During the first semester of the junior year, the student will formally apply to the Applied Psychology program through the Graduate Admissions Office.  The process involves the following:

  • A completed application form for admission to the Applied Psychology program, accompanied by a $50 nonrefundable application fee;
  • Receipt of official transcripts from every college or university attended (including Rider University);
  • A statement of objectives prepared by the student that presents the student’s reasons for wanting to enter the Applied Psychology program;
  • An interview with faculty from the Applied Psychology program; and
  • Completion of required 200 level courses.

Students accepted into the Applied Psychology program at the end of their junior year will complete one graduate level elective course during each semester of their senior year. 

Students will be awarded the BA degree when they complete the requirements for that degree in psychology.  The MA will be awarded upon completion of the Applied Psychology requirements.

PSY 510 Introduction to Applied Behavior Analysis 3 Credits

This course will provide an introduction to applied behavior analysis. Students will learn the history and defining features of the field. Due to the scientific nature of applied behavior analysis, students will also learn characteristics and processes associated with the scientific method. Furthermore, foundational concepts will be defined, along with relevant behavior change procedures.

PSY 511 Principles of Learning 3 Credits

This course will provide students with more in depth understanding of the philosophical assumptions, characteristics and basic principles of behavior analysis. Students will have the opportunity to review concepts learned during Introduction to Applied Behavior Analysis. This course will also provide and introduction to the basic research in behavior analysis. Students will become more fluent in definitions, characteristics, principles, processes, and concepts of behavior analysis.

Prerequisite(s): PSY 510.

PSY 513 Observational Methods and Functional Assessment 3 Credits

This course is designed to provide knowledge and skills of methodologies to conduct a thorough behavioral assessment, interpret the assessment data, and identify goals for treatment. Topics will include direct observation/data collection methods, data analysis, functional assessment, stimulus preference and reinforcer assessments, and ethical and professional issues. The second half of the course will deal specifically with functional analysis including the history of and variations to the methodology. The relationship between assessment techniques and the development of the least-restrictive but most effective behavioral intervention will also be discussed.

Prerequisite(s): PSY 510, PSY 511.

PSY 514 Single Subject Research Design and Analysis 3 Credits

Students will be introduced to the basic evaluative methods used in behavior analysis including various models of single subject design such as multiple baselines, reversal designs, and alternating treatment models. Students will design analyses, collect data, graphically display their data, and provide an analysis of findings. Students will read original behavior analytic research articles and practice analysis of findings.

Prerequisite(s): PSY 510, PSY 511, PSY 513.

PSY 515 Psychological Tests 3 Credits

Examines the history of psychological testing. Issues concerning the construction of psychological tests are discussed, including concepts concerning reliability, validity, and item analysis. The rationale and structure of the major tests of intelligence, aptitude, and personality are reviewed, including the Rorschach, WAIS, TAT, MMPI, and Bender- Gestalt. In the last section of the course, students are given hands-on experience in the administration, scoring, and interpretation of a standard test battery.

Prerequisite(s): any statistics course.

PSY 516 Creating Effective & Ethnical Interventions 3 Credits

This course will familiarize the student with ethical issues and responsibilities of behavior analysts working in applied settings. Informed consent, due process, protection of confidentiality, and selection of least intrusive, least restrictive behavior change procedures will be presented and discussed within the context of case method. Ethical decision making processes will be emphasized, and the relationship between ethics and law will be explored.

PSY 525 Cognitive Development 3 Credits

Compares and analyzes the major theories of cognitive development: Piaget, Information Processing, Vygotsky, Gardner, and Sternberg. The course describes cognitive growth from infancy to adulthood. Particular topics will include: concept formation, language acquisition, memory reading and writing, mathematical skills and sociocultural skills. Also of interest will be the use of cognitive theory in education, and understanding variations from the typical pattern of cognitive development as in mental retardation and prodigies.

PSY 530 Interventions for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities 3 Credits

The purpose of this course is to prepare students to work with individuals with a broad spectrum of developmental disabilities. The course will begin with a discussion of typical child development and milestones, address how development might differ from the norm, introduce subsequent assessment and diagnosis and ultimately, introduce appropriate interventions. The main focus of this course is applied behavior analysis [ABA] and common ABA strategies for intervention.

PSY 533 Interventions for Autism 3 Credits

The purpose of this course is to provide students with a general understanding of the clinical characteristics of autism spectrum disorders. The course will briefly address etiology and neurocognitive underpinnings of these disorders but will focus on psycho-educational interventions. The course will be taught from an applied behavior analytic perspective.

PSY 535 Language Assessment and Intervention 3 Credits

Students will be introduced to the classification of verbal responses, both vocal and non-vocal. Using videotaped examples, students will categorize observed verbal behavior. Students will be provided with practical tools for the assessment of verbal behavior, as well as an array of intervention strategies. A focus will include the design of teaching strategies to enhance language acquisition, as well as ongoing evaluation of intervention efficacy will be employed.

Prerequisite(s): PSY 510, PSY 511.

PSY 536 Social Skills Assessment & Intervention 3 Credits

Students will be introduced to the development of social skills and the identification social skills deficits. Using videotaped examples, students will categorize observed social behavior. Next, students will be provided with practical tools for the assessment of social and emotional behavior, as well as an array of intervention strategies. Tools for the collection of data and the evaluation of the success of target interventions will be stressed.

Prerequisite(s): PSY 510, PSY 511.

PSY 545 Health Psychology 3 Credits

his course focuses on the biopsychosocial model of health in which biological, psychological and social factors contribute to health and wellbeing, as well as illness and disease. After a brief introduction to systems of the body, i.e. nervous, endocrine, respiratory, cardiovascular, digestive, immune, this course will examine health enhancing behaviors such as exercise and nutrition, as well as health compromising behaviors such as drug abuse and other reckless behaviors, along with models that explain behavior maintenance and change. Additionally, attention is devoted to a discussion of how health psychology can function in shaping health care policy.

PSY 565 Drugs and Human Behavior 3 Credits

Presents the student with an in-depth analysis of the effects of alcohol and selected chemical substances on the behavior and body of the user. Commonly abused substances will be discussed in terms of their history, sources of production, routes of administration, distribution, metabolism and excretion, neurophysiology, tolerance, properties of addiction, withdrawal course and symptoms, and potential beneficial and harmful effects.

PSY 572 States of Consciousness 3 Credits

his course explores the variety of states that comprise normal and altered consciousness. It highlights how these states are deter-mined by complex interactions between conscious and unconscious mental functions. Key psychological concepts are applied in an investigation of various states of consciousness, especially meditative states and dreams. The course examines both the psychopathological aspects of altered states, as well as their potential beneficial effects on creativity and the development of the self.

PSY 574 Psychology of the Family 3 Credits

This course examines the significance of family in human development. Using prominent themes of developmental psychology, such as: the role of attachment in forming human relationships, the significance of context in understanding human development, and the resilience of development; this course will explore the existing research on the family. Students are asked to consider their own experiences as members of a family, as well as to understand the varieties of ways family impacts development across the lifespan.

PSY 577 Developmental Psychopathology 3 Credits

This course provides an in-depth view of developmental psychopathology as an applied and prevention science. Developmental psychopathology is concerned with the emergence and continuity or discontinuity of psychopathology, or maladaptive behaviors, across the lifespan. An emphasis is placed on exploring individual, environmental, social, and especially cultural influences in explaining normal and abnormal behavior.

PSY 582 Aging, Brain, and Cognition 3 Credits

This course covers the biological structures and processes underlying cognition in humans and explores modulating factors such as age, sex, disease, stress, and environment. The theoretical and methodological issues of developmental cognitive neuroscience research are addressed. Focus of the course is on brain structure and function in the largest growing segment of our population, persons over the age of 65, and the link between structure and cognitive abilities, both intact and declining. Special attention is paid to those factors related to successful aging and treatments with putative cognitive enhancers.

PSY 585 Independent Research and Study 1-4 Credits

Provides students with an opportunity to design and carry out original research in an area of their choice. Students designate a faculty supervisor and work closely with him/her during the semester. Permission of Instructor.

PSY 590 Field Placement in Applied Behavior Analysis 3 Credits

The applied behavior analysis practicum includes a required field placement of 15 hours per week and periodic on campus meetings. The practicum experience will allow students to experience the professional life of a behavior analyst in one of several preapproved sites. Sites approved include those for children, adolescents or adults with disabilities. Placements will be selected in consultation with the Practicum Coordinator and will require a written practicum plan from the cooperating field supervisor.

Prerequisite(s): PSY 510, PSY 511, PSY 513, PSY 514.

PSY 595 Selected Topics in Applied Psychology 3 Credits

Students will actively engage in an in-depth inquiry into a special topic area concerning applied psychology. Though the topics will change, students will be required to read and discuss current literature as well as considering the application of tools of the discipline to research questions of their own.