Simmons University was established in 1899 for women’s liberal arts education using money bequeathed from ready-to-wear clothing designer John Simmons. Since acquiring Garland Junior College in 1976, Simmons has grown into a leading member of the Colleges of the Fenway with sister schools like Wheelock and Emmanuel. Included on the Boston Women’s Heritage Trail, Simmons holds a 12-acre, 18-building campus bordering Merck Research Lab in Back Bay Fens. Officially accepting transgender women since November 2014, Simmons University has 2,060 female undergrad and 2,873 coeducational post-grad Sharks. The private, nonprofit six-college institution confers 51 master’s and doctoral programs, including in applied behavior analysis. Students join leagues of accomplished alumni like Gwen Ifill, Allyson Schwartz, and Nathalie Handal.

According to the U.S. News & World Report, Simmons University is the North’s 14th best university with the fourth best children’s literature and 47th top social work programs nationally. Forbes ranked Simmons as America’s 256th best private college with the 299th most valuable tuition and 251st most satisfied alumni. On Niche, Simmons stands as the 10th best women’s college with the 73rd best location. The Peace Corps recognized Simmons University for the eighth highest number of volunteers. In 2016, the Princeton Review named Simmons the #1 “Greatest Opportunity for Women.” Washington Monthly declared Simmons the 109th best master’s institution countrywide. Simmons University was also placed 169th in the United States by Times Higher Education.

Simmons University Accreditation Details

Continuously since 1929, Simmons University has reaffirmed its institutional accreditation from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) Commission on Institutions of Higher Education (CIHE) without sanctions. Under president Helen G. Drinan, the regional approval renewed in March 2011 lasts until Fall 2020 to ensure Federal Title-IV eligibility from the U.S. Department of Education at all locations from Amherst to Natick and Southborough. The School of Social Work has discipline-specific recognition from the Council on Social Work Education’s (CSWE) Committee on Accreditation. The M.S. and Ed.S. programs are also accredited by the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) for certification.

Simmons University Application Requirements

Pursuing your BCBA credentialing at Simmons University means passing the “more selective” admission process that had a Fall 2016 acceptance rate of 64 percent. The Behavior Analysis (M.S. or Ed.S.) only admits post-grads who’ve completed baccalaureate study at regionally accredited U.S. institutions or recognized foreign universities. International students need to take English language testing for a minimum TOEFL score of 550 or IELTS score of 6.5. Curriculum prerequisites in psychology and education are preferred. Simmons doesn’t require taking the Graduate Record Exam, but GPAs should be above 3.0. The Doctor of Philosophy needs a relevant master’s degree, passing BACB exam scores, and 3.3 GPAs for admission. Three or more years of employment in special education with autistic children is suggested.

For the M.S. or Ed.S. program, the Simmons University School of Social Work has established priority deadlines of May 1st for Summer, August 1st for Fall, and December 15th for Spring starts. The Behavior Analysis Ph.D. considers applicants until February 1st, September 1st, and December 1st each year. Applications are filed online via the Office of Graduate Studies, but some extra materials could be mailed to 300 The Fenway in Boston, MA 02115. Applied behavior analysts shouldn’t forget the following:

• Non-refundable application fee of $80

• Official transcripts from every university

• Two of three recommendations from faculty

• Current résumé of intervention experience

• Statement of professional goals and purpose

• Analytical writing sample of 10 pages or less

• Board Certified Behavior Analyst exam (if applicable)

Tuition and Financial Aid

Ranked America’s 109th best value by Money Magazine, Simmons University empowers women with average graduate tuition of $20,556 per year though prices can fluctuate. For example, the School of Social Work bills master’s, specialist, and doctoral students $1,025 per credit in behavior analysis. For the 42-credit Master of Science, this equates total tuition of $43,050. Finishing the 68-credit Behavior Analysis PhD would cost a sum of $69,700. Extra costs include the $55 activity fee each semester and $5,406 health insurance premium annually. Residing on-campus in Boston would add $18,330 each year for room and board.

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) applauds Simmons for gifting $37.56 million in financial assistance annually for 94 percent of full-time Sharks. Scholarship aid provides $22,837 per student on average. Behavior analysis majors might qualify for the Merit Scholarships of $3,000 to $10,000 apiece. Teaching and research assistantships provide post-grads with a $2,000 taxable award each term. Educators could earn the TEACH Grant or Stafford Student Loan Forgiveness for Teachers. Simmons University partners with City Year for a 25 percent tuition discount for service. Those employed by Boston Public Schools or Cambridge Public Schools would earn two vouchers for four-credit graduate courses in the Urban Initiative. Carefully borrowing Grad PLUS, Direct Unsubsidized, and private loans could help. Military veterans also claim G.I. Bill benefits for graduate study.

Becoming a Behavior Analyst at Simmons

Chaired by Dr. Russell Maguire, the School of Social Work at Simmons University awards an inclusive Behavior Analysis (M.S. or Ed.S.) program with a high first-time BCBA exam pass rate of 81 percent. The 42-credit, ABAI-accredited curriculum is tiered to train graduates for implementing, evaluating, and supervising positive behavior change interventions. Master’s and specialist courses meet during evenings in the Main College Building or online via 2U. Required courses include behavioral assessment, single-subject research, legal ethics, and Skinner’s theory. Simmons Sharks accumulate 750+ practicum hours over two terms at placements like Bierman ABA Autism Center, Milestones Day School, New England Behavioral Services, and TILL Residential. Study culminates with a two-credit master’s thesis manuscript in APA format.

Exclusively on-campus, the Simmons School of Social Work houses the PhD Program in Behavior Analysis for ABA practitioners to deepen their scientific capacity to contribute to cutting-edge behavioral research. Directed by Dr. Noelle Neault, the 17-course curriculum emphasizes the measurement, data scrutiny, and interpretation of scientific study. Available full- or part-time, the BCBA-D curriculum integrates courses like behavioral medicine, quantitative methods, experimental analysis, and behavioral consultation. The Center for Applied and Community Research offers state-of-the-art labs for dissertation work on topics from teaching personal hygiene to dyslexia vocabulary development. Some might even join faculty in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis. Simmons University also has Advanced Study Certificates in Moderate Special Needs or Health Professions Education to add.

Related resource:

Top 15 Best Online Applied Behavior Analysis Programs