The University of West Florida was opened in April 1965 as the sixth member of the State University System of Florida with an inaugural class of 58. By 1997, the Florida Legislature was expanding the UWF campus to 1,600 total acres on the Emerald Coast in Pensacola, Forbes’ 97th best city for job growth. Generating an economic impact of $1.1 billion, West Florida now educates 10,064 undergrad and 2,915 post-grad Argos in the Gulf South Conference. In Fall 2016, UWF’s online-only enrollment also reached a record high of 30 percent. The University of West Florida maintains five divisions, including the College of Education and Professional Studies, that affiliate with notable alums like James Buchli and Namrata Singh Gujral.

According to the U.S. News, West Florida is the 228th top high school counselor pick and 177th best social work school with the 156th best online education. On Niche, UWF stands as America’s 308th top public university, 218th most selective college, and 479th best Greek life school. Given the 2016 Insight into Diversity HEED Award, the University of West Florida was placed in the top 20 by Latino Leaders Magazine. College Factual ranked UWF the 294th most popular university for education degrees. In Washington Monthly, West Florida was declared the 126th best U.S. master’s college and 74th top Southeastern value. SR Education Group also applauded UWF for 17th best special education programming online.

Related resource: Top 15 Best Applied Behavior Analysis Online Programs

University of West Florida Accreditation Details

Headed by president Martha Dunagin Saunders, PhD, the University of West Florida had its 10-year regional accreditation renewed in 2015 by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). This accreditation recognized by the U.S. Department of Education covers all 48 bachelor’s and 25 master’s majors at each UWF campus from Pensacola to Fort Walton Beach. The College of Education and Professional Studies earned programmatic approval from the Council on Accreditation for Educator Preparation (CAEP). Every degree in the Professional Education Unit meets the Florida Department of Education’s guidelines for P-12 certification. Online ABA courses for Exceptional Student Education M.A. students are also verified by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB).

University of West Florida Application Requirements

With a Fall 2016 acceptance rate of 41 percent, the University of West Florida has “selective” admission criteria that hopeful post-grads must abide. Splashing into the Exceptional Student Education M.A. for Applied Behavior Analysis will require proving your graduation from an accredited college with a bachelor’s degree. Comparable credentials from foreign institutions must be recognized by the World Education Services. Non-native English speakers also need to score at least 550 on the TOEFL or 6.5 on the IELTS. Master of Arts applicants are expected to hold a 3.0 cumulative GPA for unconditional admission, but GPAs of 2.75-2.99 are considered provisionally. Though the Special & Alternative Education cognate requires valid K-12 teacher certification, ABA majors won’t. On average, admitted UWF post-grads achieve GRE scores of 145 quantitative and 150 verbal.

The UWF Professional Education Unit welcomes applications for the Exceptional Student Education M.A. Comprehensive until the June 1st, October 1st, and March 1st deadlines. The 30-minute Graduate School Application is completed online through the VZ CollegeApp platform. If necessary, extra materials could be emailed to gradadmissions@uwf.edu or sent by snail mail to Building 11 at 11000 University Parkway in Pensacola, FL 32514. Prospective ECE majors shouldn’t forget the following:

• $30 processing fee by check or credit card

• Official transcript requests for each college

• Graduate admission tests or score waivers

• Contact info for two professional references

• Subscription to the Tk20 assessment system

• Two-page, typed objective statement

• Copies of FL teacher certification if applicable

Tuition and Financial Aid

Traditional, full-time graduate education costs Florida residents $4,536 per year. Nonresidents pursuing the Exceptional Student Education M.A. on-campus pay $12,444 annually. Alabama natives are the exception, earning differential tuition of $5,796. Room and board in Pensacola adds $9,912 each year. UWF also suggests budgeting $1,100 for transportation and $2,600 for personal supplies. However, the Online M.A. Applied Behavior Analysis cognate lowers costs to $384 per credit for Floridians. Out-of-state graduates are charged $1,044, but nonresident tuition waivers lower online course costs to $478 per credit. Active-duty military stationed outside Florida pay the $384 rate.

The NCES shows that 63 percent of full-time UWF Argonauts share nearly $100 million worth of annual financial assistance for average packages of $5,798. Applied behavior analysis majors could earn the Graduate Grant for up to $2,000 yearly. Other institutional funds, including the Alpha Delta Kappa Scholarship, College of Education Memorial Scholarship, NDIA Teacher Scholarship, Pickens Foundation for Education Scholarship, Elizabeth Benedict Riehm Memorial Scholarship, and Beverly and Jennifer Acierno Scholarship, are available. Minority students in-state may qualify for the Florida Fund for Minority Teachers (FFMT). Graduate teaching assistantships provide $10.25/hour for 10 hours weekly. Filing the FAFSA by code 003955 by June 30th to unlock the Federal Direct Unsubsidized and Grad PLUS loans. Exceptional student education is also a high-need field recognized for the $4,000 TEACH Grant.

Studying Applied Behavior Analysis at the University of  West Florida

The University of West Florida’s Teacher Education and Educational Leadership Department is chaired by Dr. Guofang Wan with four master’s options, including the Exceptional Student Education M.A. Comprehensive. Reporting a 22:1 student-faculty ratio, the College of Education lets ECE majors concentrate 15 credits of the 36-42 credit degree in Special & Alternative Education or Applied Behavior Analysis. Fulfilling BCBA requirements, the latter focuses on preparing master teachers for designing and implementing behavioral interventions for children with disabilities. The curriculum is available in Pensacola or 100 percent online with weekly virtual meetings on MyUWF. Courses like case design, positive behavior supports, behavior outcomes, and experimental analysis lead to a capstone action research project.

Choosing West Florida will offer the flexibility of online study while still letting you gather real-world experience. The ABA cognate mandates six credits of supervised intensives at partnering agencies, such as Alternative Outcomes, Coastal Behavior Analysis, Walrus Services, Every Step, Abundant Abilities, and Nory’s Home Services, with BCBAs statewide. On campus, master’s students contribute research to the Center for Applied Psychology and Institute for Innovative Community Learning. Certified teachers can add the Reading Endorsement or ESOL/ELL Certificate anytime. Majors could network in the SAGA, Kappa Delta Pi, and Argos for Autism Program. The University of West Florida also helps future behavior analysts access the Professional Studies Library, attend the Annual Autism Society Conference, and teach abroad from Berlin to Bangkok.