Program Description

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a discipline devoted to understanding human behavior and improving quality of life. The field has applications in business and industry; autism and intellectual disabilities; education; treatment of psychiatric disorders and family relationships; geriatrics; and general or specialized medicine. Coursework is based upon national Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) guidelines, preparing students as competent practitioners and contributors to the discipline. Successful program completion meets requirements to take the Behavior Analyst Certification Examination.

What it costs

The cost is $595.00 per credit hour for VA state residents or $505.75 per credit hour for VA state residents who are eligible and apply for the 15% PreK-12 VA Educators Discount. All out of state students qualify for an automatic 40% discount and a cost of $795.00 per credit hour. Fees include a $35 per credit hour Distance Education fee. Education Resource, New Student, and other mandatory university and course fees may apply.

Application Deadline

This program has rolling admissions, meaning that students can apply at any time. It is recommended that students apply by March 1 for Fall and November 1 for Spring.

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Program Summary

100 Percent Online

Program: Special Education

Concentration: Applied Behavior Analysis Emphasis

Degree: MEd

College/School: College of Education and Human Development

Credits: 30 total

42 credits total for MEd plus practicum

Who should apply?

In order to complete the Master’s in Special Education (ABA Emphasis), students must be concurrently enrolled in the Applied Behavior Analysis Graduate Certificate program.

This 30-credit program is designed to prepare both educators for the classroom as well as individuals working in a special education context outside of the classroom to support the needs of individuals with disabilities. Paired with the 18-credit Applied Behavior Analysis graduate certificate program, the Master’s in Special Education will augment the professional training of individuals who design, implement, and monitor behavioral treatment and verbal behavior training programs in schools, private practices, and agencies. Please note that this program does not lead to teacher licensure.

Why choose George Mason?

  • The sequence of courses leading to a Graduate Certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis is a Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) Approved Program of Study, and the optional internship is a BACB Approved Experience.
  • Offered completely online, this program can be completed in as little as 18 months.
  • Course content is up-to-date and relevant to the field, derived directly from BACB’s Task List and Professional and Ethical Compliance Code for Behavior Analysts.
  • Successful completion of this program, including the optional practicum component, meets the coursework requirements to sit for the Behavior Analyst Certification Examination.

If you already have a BACB approved Master’s degree and are only interested in completing the Applied Behavior Analysis component, please see the ABA Graduate Certificate program profile for a complete list of requirements.

Program requirements are subject to change; please refer to the Mason Course Catalog for the most up-to-date requirements.

Requirements: 30-42 credits total

  • 18 credits ABA courses
  • 12 credits MEd courses
  • 15 credits optional practicum

Students completing the full 15 credits of university practicum in conjunction with the MEd and ABA certificate will complete a total of 42 credits.

Sufficient courses are offered to complete the entire program online. Most online courses are delivered asynchronously, usually during the semesters listed below.

ABA Courses (18 credits)

  • EDSE 619 Applied Behavior Analysis: Principles, Procedures, and Philosophy | 3 credits
  • EDSE 621 Applied Behavior Analysis: Empirical Bases | 3 credits
  • EDSE 623 Applied Behavior Analysis: Assessments and Interventions | 3 credits
  • EDSE 624 Applied Behavior Analysis: Applications | 3 credits
  • EDSE 625 Applied Behavior Analysis: Verbal Behavior | 3 credits
  • EDSE 664 Ethical and Professional Conduct for Behavior Analysis | 3 credits

MEd Courses (12 credits)

The MEd courses can be taken at any point in a student’s program. See this chart for overlapping coursework. Students completing the ABA practicum may use their practicum to fulfill the required MEd elective.

  • EDSE 501 Introduction to Special Education | 3 credits
  • EDSE 517 Computer Applications for Special Populations | 3 credits
  • EDSE 590 Special Education Research | 3 Credits
  • 3 credits EDSE or EDAT elective

Optional Practicum (15 credits)

Students must apply in advance for practicum. Consult the Special Education program office at (703) 993-3670 for details.

Eligibility to sit for the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) certification examination requires completion of coursework and experience requirements. Once enrolled in the certificate program, students who intend to sit for the national certification exam can opt for one of the following:

  • Standard practicum track
  • Intensive practicum track
  • Supervised independent fieldwork track

Students may complete all of the hours needed to satisfy the BACB supervised experience requirement through 15 credits of standard or intensive university practicum track. This may be done either in conjunction with ABA certificate coursework or upon completion of ABA certificate coursework. Practicum experiences offered by George Mason University have been granted Approved Experience status by BACB. Individuals may be supervised on-the-job if the employment setting meets BACB requirements or the university can identify placement.

Mason also provides paid and unpaid practicum placement options. Individuals completing practicum through Mason must obtain professional liability insurance (ranging from $10-$59 for the year) and provide proof of coverage to their practicum supervisor and site personnel prior to starting the practicum.

Supervised Independent Fieldwork is for students who have appropriate employment settings. This option is not taken with George Mason University; instead, the student will work with a qualified BCBA certified supervisor and will report directly to BACB.

Tuition (2017-2018)

Virginia Resident$595.00 plus fees
Virginia Resident and Prek-12 VA Educator
enrolled in a CEHD graduate program
Non-Virginia Resident$1,416.00 plus fees
Non-Virginia Resident enrolled in a CEHD
graduate program
$795.00** plus fees
Distance Education Fee$35
Education Resource Fee$60 - $100 (per semester)

*For Virginia Educators: Starting in Fall 2014, PreK-12 educators in Virginia may receive a 15% discount off of the university’s approved tuition rate for in-state CEHD graduate students. For application deadlines and requirements, see

**For Out-of-State Students: Starting in Fall 2014, out-of-state CEHD students may receive an automatic discount of approximately 40% off of the university’s approved tuition rate for out-of-state graduate students. For further details, see

Please refer to the Students Accounts Office website for more information on tuition and fees.

Financial Aid

For information on loans and scholarships, visit the Office of Student Financial Aid. For information regarding grants, tuition waivers and other merit aid, please inquire with your graduate department. Also, many school districts offer tuition reimbursement options. Speak to your employer for more information.

Career Opportunities

This program increases the professional training of individuals responsible for designing, implementing, and monitoring behavioral treatment and verbal behavior training programs in schools, private practices, and agencies such as psychiatric hospitals and training centers. You’ll learn how to bring about improvements in human behavior and quality of life, particularly in the areas of autism, intellectual disabilities, psychiatric disorders, geriatrics, and more.

Graduates of this program often find positions as teachers, behavior analysts, behavior specialists, and various administrative roles. Key employers of program graduates include the following:

  • Public schools in Fairfax, Prince William, Arlington, Alexandria, and DC
  • Private schools such as Aurora in Leesburg, Sarah Dooley in Richmond, and Ivymount in Rockville, Maryland
  • Numerous private practices

As a Mason student, you may contact Mason Career Services for more career information and counseling.

Program Advisor
(Last names A-M)
Danielle Walker
Advisor, Special Education
Phone: (703) 993-4361
Program Advisor
(Last names N-Z)
Jancy Templeton
Advisor, Special Education
Phone: (703) 993-2387
Program Website
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All applicants should review the College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) Admissions page. For international applicants, see guidelines for International Graduate Requirements and English Proficiency Exams.


  • Hold a Bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution
  • Maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or GPA of 3.0 in the last 60 hours of study

Some applicants with a lower GPA may be admitted provisionally if there is sufficient evidence of potential success. Those who do not meet the GPA requirement are encouraged to include Praxis Core, SAT, ACT, and/or VCLA scores with the application.

Application Materials

  • Graduate application
  • Application fee
  • Goals statement (750-1000 words) addressing the reasons for choosing to become a special education teacher
  • Two sealed official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended (applicants do not need to send in transcripts for courses taken at George Mason University)
  • Three letters of recommendation from former or current employers and/or university professors targeting work experiences and academic abilities (use Letters of Recommendation Form)

If you have any questions during the application process, please contact the CEHD Admissions Office at or (703) 993-2010.