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At University of Galway, we believe that the best learning takes place when you apply what you learn in a real world context. That's why many of our courses include work placements or community projects.
Applied Behaviour Analysis (MSc)
This Master of Science (MSc) programme provides you with the theoretical and practical knowledge to kick-start your career as a practitioner. The MSc in Applied Behaviour Analysis was established in 2006 in the School of Psychology and is designed to meet the demand for graduates with expertise in behavioural psychology. It is a two year full-time programme of academic study with an intake of 20 students annually and is one of only two Masters programmes in the Republic of Ireland.
Students on this MSc will learn about the principles of behaviour analysis and how these are applied in the real world to support learning and improve quality of life for a range of people including children and adults with developmental disabilities, students who may be struggling in mainstream education, older adults, those who have an acquired brain injury. The science of ABA has broad applications and this is reflected in the MSc programme and in the diverse career paths of our graduates.
The course meets international standards with regard to coursework requirements, content hours, and faculty standards necessary to become a Behaviour Analyst. The MSc is a Verified Course Sequence (VCS) approved by the Association of Behaviour Analysis International, a standard recognised in the field of behaviour analysis around the world: https://www.abainternational.org/vcs.aspx
The course is accredited by the Psychological Society of Ireland as a postgraduate professional programme in behavioural psychology fulfilling the postgraduate course requirements to become a Chartered Behavioural Psychologist: https://www.psychologicalsociety.ie/accredited-courses/PSI-Accredited-Postgraduate-Courses
Our graduates work as Behaviour Analysts in practice once they have met the necessary training requirements. Graduates can register as a Behaviour Analyst with the Irish Society for Behaviour Analysis: https://isba.ie/membership-account-2/membership-levels/
The course also meets the requirements to allow graduates to apply to the Behaviour Analyst Certification Board in the United States to become a Board Certified Behaviour Analyst. This only applies to applicants residing and working in North America.
Course Affiliated Placements
The MSc in ABA provides course affiliated clinical placements to students offering the opportunity to apply theory to practice under supervision in services and schools across Ireland. Intensive supervision is provided by the programme team as well as Behaviour Analysts in course affiliated placement settings. The programme team work in partnership with schools and services in the community to support a high standard of supervised experience for trainees on the programme. Throughout the two year programme, an emphasis is placed on linking the course content to its relevant applications in practice ensuring that graduates acquire the practical skills necessary to work as a Behaviour Analyst in practice.
The MSc also offers an excellent foundation for those pursuing further clinical training or for those who wish to pursue a PhD in a related area. Graduates are equipped with a skill set which can be applied in most clinical settings to enhance quality of life for the people they work alongside (for example within a Positive Behaviour Support framework), as well as a set of research competencies developed throughout the course.
Please watch course video here.
Behaviour Analysis students
Applications and Selections
Applications are made online via the University of Galway Postgraduate Applications System.
Who Teaches this Course
Our staff team has extensive clinical and research expertise. In addition, we have a pool of high-quality guest lecturers who share the wealth of their experience in their specialist area(s) with our students.
School of Psychology
School of Psychology
Arts Millennium Building
National University of Ireland, Galway
Requirements and Assessment
Participants will be assessed throughout the programme by a combination of project assignments, case study reports, thesis research, and written examinations.
Applications are invited from candidates who hold a Second Class Honours degree (typically an upper second class honour [2.1] or equivalent). Evidence of relevant experience and motivation will be taken into account in offering places on the course.
Scholarships available Find out about our Postgraduate Scholarships here.
Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)
2 years, full-time
Next start date
A Level Grades ()
QQI/FET FETAC Entry Routes
Please see offer rounds information here.
Mode of study
Programme aims and objectives:
- To provide professional post-graduate training in behavioural psychology which will prepare students to provide effective services in a professional and ethical manner.
- To teach specialist knowledge in behavioural psychology, from history and basic concepts to specific behavioural assessment and intervention strategies.
- To train students as scientist-practitioners, competent in applied research methods and whose practice is guided by scientific knowledge and the scientific underpinnings of their practice.
- To equip students with competencies to practice effectively, competent in behavioural assessment and intervention strategies, data-based decision-making, and behaviour change systems.
- To equip students with the skills required to work successfully within both autonomous and collaborative roles, and with professionals from other disciplines.
- To train students to appraise the quality of scientific evidence and apply this understanding and critical thinking within both research and practice.
- To teach students to conduct high quality empirical behavioural psychology research.
Philosophy and Orientation of the Programme
Within psychology, the field of behavioural psychology or behaviour analysis focuses on the application of the principles of behaviour and learning to support success, alleviate behavioural difficulties, and enhance quality of life across a variety of contexts. The MSc in ABA programme instils in trainees the values and skills necessary to do so. Core values outlined by Baer, Wolf, and Risley (1968; 1987) in defining the field of applied behaviour analysis are upheld.
The central foundation of this programme is the scientist-practitioner model, the concept and application of which is weaved through academic content and supervised experience. Trainees learn about the core principles of behaviour, the science of behaviour, experimentation and evidence-based practice, as well as attain competence in the implementation and evaluation of specific assessment methods and intervention strategies. Reliance on evidence and scientific knowledge is a core value of the programme.
Also a core value emphasised throughout the programme, is the provision of only those services which are socially significant to each individual that we work alongside. The selection of goals and assessment and intervention strategies must be in accordance with our charge as a field to only provide services that are ethical, contextually appropriate, have high acceptability, represent the least-intrusive approach, and are worthwhile for each individual. Students will graduate from this programme with extensive knowledge and experience of ethical and appropriate professional.
- PS6155 Behaviour Assessment (10 ECTs)
- PS512 Principles of Applied Behaviour Analysis (10 ECTs)
- PS511 Behaviour Change Procedures (10 ECTs)
- PS513 Research Methods (10 ECTs)
- PS508 Applied Project I (10 ECTs)
- PS6121 Ethics and Professional Practice (10 ECTs)
*Note: Clinical placements begin in January until the end of May in Year 1.
- PS6123 Advanced Behavior Systems (10 ECTs)
- PS518 Advanced Research Methods (10 ECTs)
- PS 519 Developmental Disabilities (10 ECTs)
- PS516 Clinical Behaviour Interventions (10 ECTs)
- PS520 Research Dissertation (30 ECTs)
- PS509 Applied Project II (10 ECTs)
- PS6154 Personnel Supervision and Management (10 ECTs)
*Note: Clinical placements begin in September until the end of May in Year 2.
Students can apply for the Structured PhD in ABA
Why Choose This Course?
The MSc in Applied Behaviour Analysis prepares graduates for the role of a Behavioural Psychologist/Behaviour Analyst, with extensive opportunities for employment, research, and further training. Through the emphasis on the scientist-practitioner model, students receive thorough and integrated training in the academic, practical, and research aspects of behavioural science. The skills and competencies in behavioural psychology acquired through the programme prepare graduates for a range of autonomous and collaborative professional goals both nationally and internationally.
Given the evidence base and support for behavioural psychology in the fields of intellectual and developmental disability, education, and rehabilitation, graduates of the course predominantly obtain employment in disability services, education, and early intervention services. Within Ireland, graduates are employed by the HSE, HSE funded charities, the Department of Education and Skills, or work in private consultancy. Graduates of this course have been highly successful in the roles that they have achieved internationally (e.g., Canada, Australia, and the UK) with such roles as Clinical Director of Education, Senior Centre Clinicians, and Programme Supervisors being obtained by graduates of the MSc ABA at UoG in early intervention and behaviour support services.
Increasingly, the utility and value of behavioural psychology in broader contexts is recognised and graduates can seek opportunities for roles, for example, within mental health services, gerontology, sports psychology and organisational behaviour management. Both nationally and internationally, demand for competent Behavioural Psychologists / Behaviour Analysts exceeds current supply and employment opportunities for graduates continue to grow.
The advanced research skills and experience acquired on the programme also provide opportunities for graduates to work in research posts or to continue with further postgraduate study such as the Doctor of Philosophy in Applied Behaviour Analysis (PhD) https://www.universityofgalway.ie/colleges-and-schools/arts-social-sciences-and-celtic-studies/psychology/postgraduate-programmes/phd/phd-apb/.
The Doctor of Philosophy in Applied Behaviour Analysis is a structured four-year (full time) PhD programme of study and provides graduates with high level research skills and competencies in applications of behavioural psychology, as well as a range of transferable skills. Students are assisted to design research that will make valuable contributions behavioural psychology. They conduct research that further advances an integrated, scientific understanding of the complexities of human behaviour.
Who’s Suited to This Course
Transferable Skills Employers Value
Related Student Organisations
Fees: Student levy
Fees: Non EU
Postgraduate students in receipt of a SUSI grant – please note an F4 grant is where SUSI will pay €4,000 towards your tuition (2024/25). You will be liable for the remainder of the total fee. A P1 grant is where SUSI will pay tuition up to a maximum of €6,270. SUSI will not cover the student levy of €140.
Postgraduate fee breakdown = Tuition (EU or NON EU) + Student levy as outlined above.
Note to non-EU students: learn about the 24-month Stayback Visa here.
What Employers Say
Trish Carolan | Behaviour Analyst ABACAS School Kilbarrack
ABACAS is a school catering to the needs of Autistic students with complex learning needs. The school has a long history of welcoming NUI Galway students who are completing the Master of Science in ABA. ABACAS provides a supportive environment for these students to apply their theoretical knowledge in a practical way with a population who benefit hugely from their commitment and expertise. The school provides opportunities for internships with progression to paid contracts, a common feature for these students. Whilst working at ABACAS, NUI Galway students receive professional supervision from one of ABACAS’ fully qualified behaviour analysts. This is provided during 1:1 and group supervision sessions. ABACAS is also very supportive of students completing their Master’s thesis research at the school. The course director is very easy to contact and provides quality communication about the expectations attached to the placement and ongoing support throughout. Over the years, we have been very impressed with the dedication and commitment of NUIG ABA students. They enrich our school community and the lives of the students they are supporting at ABACAS.
What Graduates Say
Shauna Diffley | Graduate
I completed my MSc in Applied Behaviour Analysis between 2019-2021. Over the two years, I developed the skill set of a practitioner and researcher alike. The course provided expert training in instructional design, behavioural assessment, developmental disorders, organisational behavioural management, and clinical behavioural interventions, to name but a few components. I found the affiliated course placement very useful, as it allowed me to put the theory I had learned into practice under expert supervision. The lecturers on the course are so approachable and are expert practitioners and researchers in the field. As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, our course moved online in semester 2 of year one. The situation was handled impeccably by the teaching staff, and they were so supportive and reassuring during a really difficult time and ensured that the pandemic did not impact our learning experience. I enjoyed the course so much that I decided I wasn’t ready to leave, and I am currently pursuing the Structured PhD in Applied Behaviour Analysis here at NUI Galway, for which the MSc in Applied Behaviour Analysis has prepared me perfectly.