Michigan State University

Michigan State University is also featured in our ranking 40 Best Online ABA Graduate Certificate Online Programs.

MSU Applied Behavior Analyst Certificate Program

The certificate program in applied behavior analysis is a graduate professional program at Michigan State University in their College of Education. Students admitted to the program must already have or be concurrently working on a master’s degree in psychology, education, or behavior studies. The program is approved by the BACB, or the Behavior Analyst Certification Board, and students who earn this certificate are eligible to sit for the BCBA exam to become certified analysts.

At Michigan State University, this program is offered entirely online and consists of 6 courses which generally take about two years to complete. In some cases, three of these classes can be waived depending on prior studies, especially if students are enrolled in MSU’s related master’s in education programs. Classes consist of a track of behavior analysis training which first teaches students the theories involved in objectively studying behavior. This is followed by practical training outlining the ways to measure and modify actions as well as case study reviews.

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The remaining classes focus on the learning and behavioral challenges associated with autism including Autism Spectrum Disorder: Assessment and Intervention. At MSU, the program is taught from a special education perspective, but graduates can use these skills with a variety of different populations. They will also be prepared for research positions in the field as well as jobs in business, counseling, social work, and public policy. As reported by the BACB, demand for these professionals has increased since 2012, a trend that is expected to continue.

About Michigan State University

Back in 1855, Michigan State first opened and received land-grant status which means that the federal government gave the university land, and in exchange, the school primarily focused on agriculture, science, and technology fields with less of an emphasis on the liberal arts. Today, the natural sciences and engineering are still prominent programs, but the college has added other areas of study and grants degrees in 17 different colleges including medical, law, art, and business degrees.

Located in Lansing, Michigan, the school has been awarded membership into the Association of American Universities which is made up of the 60 most prestigious research universities in the United States. In 2018, the U.S. News and World Report ranked MSU #81 in the global universities category.

As far as the programs in the College of Education, many of them are also world-renowned. In fact, the online master’s degrees were said to be in the top ten in 2017 according to U.S. News and World Report. They have also ranked MSU’s master’s and doctoral education programs #1 for over 20 years straight. The special education graduate program associated with the Applied Behavior Analysis certificate is 11th in the country for 2019 by America’s Best Graduate Schools magazine.

One reason the College of Education at Michigan State University is so successful is that faculty members are continually doing research in the field and encouraging their students to get involved as well. This helps students internalize the scientific method and start thinking objectively and critically about learning methods and solving problems in the classroom. Innovation and continual improvement are themes that resonate throughout the department.

Michigan State University Accreditation Details

The university as a whole is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), the organization responsible for evaluating colleges and universities in 19 states located in the north-central region of the United States. The HLC evaluates both the administrative and educational aspects of a school. This protects students by ensuring the school is properly organized, has the resources and planning necessary to operate, and provides a quality education. An emphasis is placed on continual improvement in all areas. Michigan State University is due for its next review during the 2025/2026 school year.

Michigan State University Application Requirements

The applied behavior analyst certificate program is offered at the graduate level, so all applicants must first gain admittance to the MSU Graduate School. This requires the completed University Graduate Certificate Application along with appropriate fees. Students who are currently enrolled as a Michigan State University grad student can skip this step but do need to fill out a less-extensive internal application.

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All applicants also must submit a personal statement which helps the admission board better understand their individual personalities, motivations, and career goals. This statement includes the following topics.

  • Personal experiences driving the student to enter this field
  • How the student will contribute to and succeed in the program
  • Ways this certificate will affect the student’s life moving forward

Current students already admitted to the College of Education who are studying graduate-level special education do not need to submit anything else. Other MSU grad students and individuals not currently enrolled are required to provide a resume, transcripts, and three letters of recommendation.

Tuition and Financial Aid

Michigan State University has a variety of tuition rates depending on the particular program. The certificate program in applied behavior analysis fits into the online graduate category which means that Michigan residents pay $726.50 per credit hour, while out-of-state students owe $931. This turns out to be $13,077 and $16,758, respectively, for the entire 6-course program. However, tuition could be less if students have a background in the field and can transfer classes.

Since this is not a complete degree program, there are fewer scholarships, grants, and subsidized loans available, but students are still advised to fill out a FAFSA. There are also a variety of scholarships offered by outside organizations, usually on the basis of merit, need, or both. Professional organizations like the Society for the Advancement of Behavioral Analysis offer awards for outstanding research papers, and special interests groups like the Autism Recovery Foundation help fund students with demonstrated interest and talent related to their specific causes.

The College of Education awards seven full-tuition scholarships to residents of Michigan entering the program. These individuals must already possess a master’s degree in a related field along with letters of recommendation and a targeted statement of purpose. Whether directly from Michigan State University, through government programs, or from outside organizations, there are many sources of assistance for students pursuing a graduate certificate in applied behavior analysis.