Doctor of Philosophy in Behavioral Psychology
The Department of Applied Behavioral Science offers a curriculum through which students learn how to examine and address problems of social importance across the lifespan. Students receive training in the application of behavioral science to improve the human condition through prevention and intervention. The department’s doctoral program in behavioral psychology satisfies coursework requirements for Board Certification in Behavior Analysis and, in most states, licensure as a behavior analyst. It does not satisfy requirements for licensure in psychology.
Admission to Graduate Studies
An applicant seeking to pursue graduate study in the College may be admitted as either a degree-seeking or non-degree seeking student. Policies and procedures of Graduate Studies govern the process of Graduate admission. These may be found in the Graduate Studies section of the online catalog.
Please consult the Departments & Programs section of the online catalog for information regarding program-specific admissions criteria and requirements. Special admissions requirements pertain to Interdisciplinary Studies degrees, which may be found in the Graduate Studies section of the online catalog.
Admission to the Ph.D. Program
For admission in the fall semester, please view the application deadline and all required application materials on the Graduate Admission page of our departmental website. Students may be admitted for the spring semester, but there is no filing deadline.
Eligibility criteria for admission to the Ph.D. program follow Graduate Studies’ admission policy. To be considered for admission to graduate status in the program, a student must hold a bachelor’s degree. Non-native speakers of English must meet English proficiency requirements.
For admission with full graduate standing, the department recommends that applicants complete 12 credit hours of undergraduate or graduate course work in behavior analysis, behavioral science, psychology, education, or related fields, and 6 hours in experimental methods, research design, or statistics.
Among the department’s application materials is a list of departmental faculty members. Students should review faculty members on the department's website and descriptions of their research, scholarly, and professional interests. Applicants should select any faculty members whose research interests match their own. These faculty members review the applicants’ materials. An applicant is accepted when one of the faculty members consent to admit the student. This faculty member becomes the advisor of record.
Ph.D. in Behavioral Psychology Degree Requirements
The doctoral program trains highly competent researchers in applied behavioral science (e.g., applied behavior analysis, applied psychology). Students are taught to discover and produce, translate and apply, and communicate knowledge in the behavioral sciences for understanding and solving problems of individual and societal importance, both local and global. The curriculum requires a sequence of instruction that integrates courses in the basic principles of behavior, experimental methods and research design, and conceptual foundations, but emphasizes course work and training in applied and intervention research (e.g., assessment, analysis, intervention, evaluation). Its objective is to discover and advance empirically based solutions to problems of individual and societal importance, both local and global.
The doctoral program follows a junior-colleague model. Students work closely with their advisors and join them in every aspect of professional development. This includes designing and conducting research, preparing manuscripts for presentation and publication, presenting and publishing those manuscripts, preparing editorial reviews of manuscripts, and engaging in all facets of the responsible conduct of research. Students typically work with 1 advisor, but may work with other faculty members or have co-advisors. If a student’s or advisor’s interests change, students are free to change advisors.
The doctoral degree program requires students to take 1 course in 10 areas, along with 2 practicum courses. The areas and the practicum courses are:
|ABSC 735||Within Subjects Research Methodology and Direct Observation||3|
|ABSC 746||Introduction to Behavioral Science||3|
|ABSC 799||Experimental Analysis of Behavior||3|
|ABSC 800||Conceptual Foundations of Applied Behavioral Science||3|
|ABSC 841||Ethical, Legal, and Professional Issues in Applied Behavioral Science||3|
|ABSC 861||Principles of Behavior Analysis||3|
|Conceptual Foundations II (Choose 1)|
|Analysis of Everyday Human Behavior|
|Behavioral Community Approaches to Addressing Social Issues|
|The Analysis of Verbal Behavior|
|History of Behavior Analysis|
|Research Methods II (Choose 1)|
|Community Health and Development|
|Functional Behavioral Assessment|
|Applied Behavior Analysis II (Choose 1)|
|Designing Early Education Environments|
|Behavior Analysis in Developmental Disabilities|
|Applied Behavior Analysis in Complex Organizations|
|Seminar in: _____|
|Advanced Seminar in Applied Behavior Analysis: _____|
|Experimental Analysis of Behavior II (Choose 1)|
|Quantitative Analysis of Behavior|
|Principles of Epidemiology|
|Principles of Statistics in Public Health|
|Fundamentals of Biostatistics I|
Also required is Research or Intervention Practicum I and II (6). 2 supervised practicum courses in (a) basic or applied research or (b) behavioral interventions.
|Research or Intervention Practicum I|
|Practicum I in Behavioral Psychology|
|Practicum I in Behavior Analysis: _____|
|Practicum I in: _____|
|Practicum in Educational Psychological/ Rehabilitative Services: _____|
|Practicum in Community Health Promotion|
|Practicum in Community Development|
|Research or Intervention Practicum II|
|Practicum II in: _____|
|Any course that provides students the opportunity to develop competence in specialized areas of behavioral investigation. Students should consult their advisors for elective options.|
Students complete an empirically based master’s thesis and pass an oral examination on it. With their advisor’s approval, empirically based theses from other programs may meet this requirement.
The Office of Graduate Studies requires students to have training in responsible scholarship and research skills pertinent to the field of research. This will be met by:
- Satisfactory completion of either ABSC 735 OR ABSC 770
- Satisfactory completion of either ABSC 841 OR ABSC 851
One of the following:
- At least one submission of a first-author manuscript for publication in a peer-reviewed journal, OR
- At least two scholarly presentations at regional, state, or national professional meetings.
- The work for these must have been entirely completed at KU
- No more than one may be a poster
- At least one must have been presented by the time of the comprehensive examination; if the other has not yet been presented by the time of the comprehensive examination, it must be accepted for presentation at an upcoming meeting
- At least one must list the student as either first or presenting author
Graduate students receive training in the teaching and supervision of undergraduates. The requirement may be met in 1 of 2 ways. In the first, students serve as a paid half-time teaching assistant for 1 semester or as a quarter-time assistant for 2 semesters, assuming proportionate responsibility for class organization, lecturing, grading, and office hours under a faculty member’s supervision. In the second, students take LA&S 792 or ABSC 941, attend 3 brown bag lectures at the Center for Teaching Excellence, and present a guest lecture to the department. In both cases, students must also write a statement of teaching philosophy and obtain numeric evaluations of their teaching in their guest lectures.
Professional Seminar Requirement
Graduate students are expected to attend pro-seminar sessions when they are scheduled throughout the Fall and Spring semesters. These are usually scheduled for Friday afternoons at 3:30. Pro-seminars are typically presentations given by graduate students (see next paragraph), faculty members, and visiting scholars.
Doctoral students are required to present the results of their research at a department professional seminar meeting. The presentation is comparable to what would be presented at a professional conference. Students answer questions from their peers and the faculty in attendance.
Students write 3 editorial reviews of published or unpublished journal articles, all of them empirical. The articles cover a range of topics and experimental designs. All 3 are graded pass-fail by the student’s advisor. Students may use editorial reviews from course assignments so long as the instructor and advisor approve doing so.
Students must complete the comprehensive examination by the end of the third year if entering the PhD program with a completed Master's obtained at another university, or within a year of defending their Master's in the Applied Behavioral Science MA program at KU. The examination has 2 components:
- Program of Study Written Document. Students will generate a program of study document, developed in concert with their mentor, that includes:
- A list of all graduate lecture/discussion courses completed in behavioral science and how the coursework fulfills ABAI accreditation standards
- Up to 10 representative readings from each completed graduate lecture/discussion course
- Research interest statement (2-3 pages)
- Career plans statement (2-3 pages)
- Up-to-date CV
In preparation for the oral examination, students provide their program of study document to the comprehensive examination committee. The examination committee will have the right to request additions/modifications to the reading list. The student will have a minimum of 2 weeks to prepare for the oral examination upon finalization of the program of study with the examination committee.
2. Oral Examination. The program of study will be used by the comprehensive examination committee to generate relevant and individualized questions to ask during the oral examinations. Questions will span all coursework and student-indicated research domains (those of personal interest to the student and relevant to their career trajectory). These questions will be posed during the oral examination. The oral examination will last two hours and is not open to the public. The defense is successful if a majority of the committee members vote to pass it.
In preparation for the dissertation, students will complete a departmental required written dissertation proposal and an oral discussion of the proposal. The proposal will include a) a thorough literature review and b) a research proposal. Students should follow specific instructions for these components as dictated in the student handbook. The dissertation proposal discussion will entail a one hour meeting with the dissertation committee and will be open to the public.
In consultation with their advisors, students conduct an empirically based dissertation, typically based on the comprehensive examination proposal, and pass an oral examination on it. The defense is successful if a majority of the committee members vote to pass it. If students do not pass the dissertation defense, they may not defend it again for a period of at least 90 days. If the oral defense is failed twice, students have 30 days to petition the department for a third attempt. Failure to petition, or a rejected petition, will result in students' dismissal from the program. The dissertation defense will be open to the public.