Applied Behavior Analysis EDU Excellence in Practice Scholarship is Now Closed

With a master’s degree being the standard requirement for board certification, becoming an ABA doesn’t come cheap. But if you’re dedicated enough to get into this field, you’re not going to let the cost of getting the education you need stand in the way. In fact, it’s that very attitude that brought you here looking for ways to make earning your master’s more affordable.

We’re honored to be able to make earning that master’s degree in ABA a little more affordable with our Excellence in Practice Scholarship.


Who is Eligible?

Any recently accepted or currently enrolled first or second year grad student in a qualifying master’s program in education, psychology, or ABA that includes the Verified Course Sequence required to be eligible for BCBA certification.

All current grad students must provide proof of having a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.5 in their graduate studies.

All recently accepted students looking forward to beginning their master’s program must provide proof of being accepted into a qualifying program, and proof of having a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.5 in their undergraduate studies.

Scholarship Application Requirements

You will need to submit just four things to meet the scholarship application requirements:

  • Complete application form with verifiably true and accurate information
  • 100% original essay that addresses the topic described below (2,500 words or less)
  • Proof of enrollment or acceptance in a qualifying master’s program (letter of acceptance or another verifiable document with university letterhead)
  • Proof of meeting minimum GPA requirements (transcript summary or another verifiable document with university letterhead)

The application form, required documentation, and essay must all be submitted at the same time.

Any false or inaccurate information on the application form or plagiarized content on the essay would be grounds for immediate disqualification.

Essay Topic

We want to know the story of what inspired you to start thinking about a career in applied behavior analysis. Perhaps you’ve seen the results of ABA in action, or maybe you came across it when researching therapy options for a loved one. Maybe you always knew you wanted a career in education or psychology, and just found ABA to be the perfect niche for you.

Whatever your reasons might be, we want to hear your story in 2,500 words or less.

We believe that whatever inspired you to pursue a graduate degree in ABA is something you will carry with you throughout your career. Be sure to share your thoughts on why you feel so strongly about applied behavior analysis that you decided to make it a major part of your life, and how your personal journey into the profession will influence your approach to practice.

We take your privacy seriously, so you can be sure the information you provide is safe and secure. We do not sell or share information to third party websites or companies, or make use of it internally for marketing or any other purpose. Contact information is used solely for the purpose of notifying the winner.


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Scholarship Winner Spring 2020


Scholarship Winner – Spring 2020

Carissa Serbousek

Drake University
MS in Applied Behavior Analysis

“Thank you so much to for awarding me the Excellence in Practice Scholarship! I jump at any opportunity to talk about my passion for Applied Behavior Analysis and disseminate information to help the field continue to grow. This award has helped me finish my education at Drake University and I am excited to start my career as a BCBA this summer. Thank you again!”

What inspired Carissa to want to become a BCBA?

When I think back on what initially sparked my interest in behavior analysis I suppose it started long before I even knew what ABA was. Specifically, I can remember a time when I was only 17. I volunteered at a summer camp for children with developmental disabilities at my high school. It was a new experience for me and I had no idea what I was doing. I was and still am somewhat shy at first and like to watch and learn before jumping in to something. During one of my early observations, there was a boy diagnosed with Down Syndrome who was determined to take home a DVD that belonged to the summer camp program. The classroom teacher argued with him for 20 minutes telling him to leave it at camp while the rest of the students packed their bags and staff filled out their daily report logs. Eventually, the teacher grew tired of arguing with him and exasperatedly stated, “Fine, we will just have to tell your mom that you weren’t listening today.” This reprimand seemed to have very little impact on the boy as he walked to the door triumphantly wearing a huge grin on his face. I thought to myself, there has to be a better way to do this. The boy then pulled out a water bottle and struggled to open it. He looked up at me, frowned and threw the water bottle in my face as if to say “open it!”. I viewed this as my opportunity to handle things differently. I said “When you put the DVD back, I’ll open the water bottle for you.” He looked at me, looked at the spot on the shelf where the DVD was supposed to go and grumpily walked over to place the DVD back on the shelf where it belonged. When he returned I gladly opened his water bottle and said “I like that you listened to directions and put the DVD back!”. There was something completely satisfying about this moment because I felt like I could make a difference. I was able to help this boy without arguing back and forth and giving up the original demand that I had just witnessed. I would later find this same satisfaction while implementing behavior interventions working as an ABA Therapist at Balance Autism. It was within this position where I learned how ABA can really impact the lives of individuals and that ABA could be the way I could make a difference.

Throughout high school and beyond I always gravitated towards volunteer opportunities working with individuals with special needs. My High school had a program called “Best Buddies” which was a social club that hosted events for students in the special education programs and typically developing students to come together and socialize. In fact, my best friend in fifth grade was on the autism spectrum, and I loved listening to him talk about dinosaurs and manatees. Both topics on which he was an expert. Where some people shy away from people of varying abilities such as those on the autism spectrum or developmental disabilities, I have always felt the most comfortable around them, so it wasn’t a huge surprise to anyone when I showed an interest in a professional career in this field.

The summer before I went to college and periodically the summer’s in between, I worked as a direct support professional for the ARC of East Central Iowa in a daycare facility for adults with developmental disabilities. We played games, provided activities, and snacks while working on supported community living goals. I also worked at the Summer Day program for the ARC with individuals from 5 to 21year olds with developmental disabilities, mental disabilities and physical disabilities and provided private respite care to families who had children on the autism spectrum. I believe the reason I thrived in these environments was because none of these positions ever felt like “jobs” to me. I took clients to the YMCA to work on gross motor goals, accompanied them on field trips that I too found entertaining, it hardly seemed like work. Most days it felt as if I basically got paid to socialize. It was so rewarding to be able to provide the support needed for these individuals to participate in something they would not have been able to do independently. I’ve always said, the perfect career for me is one that will be different from day to day, will make a difference in the world and is fun.

Soon enough I stumbled upon “The Homestead” booth at the Iowa State career fair and they described a position to me that checked all of those boxes. “ABA Therapist: provide one on one ABA therapy to children on the autism spectrum. Use Applied Behavior Analysis techniques to teach skills related to hygiene, personal care, building social relationships and networks, communication, vocational and community involvement as needed”. Building social relationships and communication? This sounded like a perfect fit for me. The Homestead (now Balance Autism) is an ABA clinic for children diagnosed with autism. I worked as an ABA Therapist implementing programs written by a BCBA that targeted social skills, communication skills, behavioral goals and cognitive goals. I loved my job but the first week I was there, I learned a valuable lesson. One of the first client’s I worked with engaged in aggressive behaviors to escape demands. One day while prompting him to use the restroom, he was aggressing towards me and I accidentally shut his finger in the door that resulted in him needing stitches. I was mortified. I just sent a child to the emergency room after my first week. I have never been one to quit anything but I wanted to quit that job so badly. I was convinced that this was the wrong field for me. Although I wanted to quit; I didn’t. In fact, I continued working with this client just 24 hours after he returned from the emergency room. We quickly created a strong rapport with each other and he made amazing strides with me during my time there. Several years after leaving The Homestead, I returned for a visit and was greeted with enthusiastic hugs from a once aggressive, non-social child. This experience made me realize that this field, although fun and exciting is not always going to be easy, but it will always be worth it.

Making a difference is important to me but I’ve come to realize that this is a very subjective term. How successful you are at making an impact on the lives of your clients can vary from person to person. You can provide all types of “therapy” to a child indefinitely without making any real progress. How do you know what will work and what won’t or if the therapy you are providing is actually working? That’s why Behavior Analysis has stood out to me. Applied Behavior Analysis is driven by data! It uses a systematic science to make real behavior change in individuals that you can see and measure. It is exciting to see in black and white the positive outcomes of my work. I love that I can use empirically based evidence to back up what treatments are being provided and that I can use the data to show the difference that is occurring in a child’s behavior. That is what sets this field apart from others and what really pushed me to continue my education. The analytical nature of this field fuels my desire to continue learning while allowing me to make a meaningful difference in the lives of other’s.

Applied Behavior Analysis has become so much more to me than a field of study. It has led me to meet colleagues who I now call some of my closest friends. I have seen families overcome struggles they didn’t think possible before they found Behavior Analysis and support staff that could successfully help them. I have guided once non-verbal children down the long, challenging path of learning to communicate using full sentences and have seen their whole world open up because of it. I helped individuals with severe challenging behaviors learn socially appropriate replacement behaviors so they can now be part of their communities. I can’t say for sure what specifically made me decide to go into this field. In fact, I suppose one could say that the field c me. Given my experience however, I can now name a million reasons why I’m continuing my career in Applied Behavior Analysis.


Scholarship Winner Spring 2019


Scholarship Winner – Spring 2019

Emily Rodman

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology
Dual Enrollment: MA Counseling Psychology and MS Applied Behavior Analysis

“I would like to thank Applied Behavior Analysis EDU for offering me the scholarship essay reward for the 2019 year. I am ecstatic at the opportunity they have provided me, by giving me this wonderful gift! Because of them, I am one step closer to achieving my goal of becoming a BCBA. Thank you!”

What inspired Emily to want to become a BCBA?

When I tell others that I am pursuing a graduate degree in Applied Behavior Analysis, I am often met with a puzzling look. I may get asked, “What is that?” “What can you do with that?” or “How did you end up there?” Truthfully, the first question is simple, usually accompanied by a watered down definition similar to that found in a simple Google search. The second question comes with a little more of a challenge because, quite honestly, I can “do” many things. However, the third question typically results in an answer that requires more time than what the inquirer bargained for–an answer that I am still trying to piece together.

My background, like several degree pursuants before me, is in the vast world of education. If there is anything I have learned in my three years in special education, it is that the term “teacher” is simply a blanket term for a position that holds many responsibilities. I am not just a teacher of academic knowledge, I am a surrogate mother to a group of students I so lovingly refer to as my kids. I am a counselor, guiding our next generation through issues that seem so trivial, but mean the world to their innocent minds. I teach them skills ranging from how to add and read, to how to tie their shoes, or fill out a job application. It is my desire, as it should be for all educators, to inspire them to achieve their dreams, show them what it means to be empathetic, and to be their unwavering encourager.

In learning how to juggle my many hats as an educator, I found that my favorite hat to wear is the hat that focuses on the student as a person. The hat that truly listens when the student speaks about their weekend, the hat that observes a student’s body language as soon as he or she enters the room. The hat that looks beyond troubled behaviors to ask the question, “What is the antecedent?” The hat that is not afraid to ask, “Did you have breakfast today?” or question whether a routine at home has changed.

In saying this, two students immediately come to mind: DW and Jay. DW was a student that came to me in the sixth grade, wide-eyed at the behemoth that was junior high. He was classified from a young age as student with an intellectual disability and had spent his entire elementary career working diligently in the areas of reading and mathematics with his special education teacher (who is phenomenal), but saw the general education classroom as a chance to take a breather–receiving a passing grade as long as he sat still and appeared to be following along. Upon entering junior high, his expectations naturally rose, requiring him to work diligently in all subjects (modified to meet his learning needs), which quickly led to academic exhaustion. His disability affected both his academic and social skills, therefore when met with academic frustrations he was unable to express, he quickly began to engage in the only behaviors he knew. He would terrorize my room and disrupt the lesson in whatever way he knew how. I would consider him my success case, because I was able to quickly identify the antecedent to his behavior, develop a break system, and teach him how to use it when he felt academically exhausted. He of course still had his off days, but he was once again on a level playing field, because we all have our off days.

Jay I met when doing my student teaching. He was in second grade at the time, and what teachers would call a classic case of Oppositional Defiant Disorder. I had never met a student who made me want to laugh and pull my hair out in the same breath. It broke my heart when he asked if he would ever see me again while giving me the biggest hug on my last day. Two years later, I entered the cafeteria for another morning breakfast duty at a different school, when in walked Jay through the opposite door. I could not believe it! He was now in fourth grade and wide-eyed just like DW, but this time at the behemoth of a new school. Sadly, he quickly got off on the wrong foot with his teachers and was placed into our mentorship program. I jumped at the chance to be his mentor, cherishing the opportunity to have genuine conversations with him every morning, getting to know him better as a person. We talked about what kind of cars he hoped to own when he was older, how he wanted to rap when he grew up, and over time, we talked about some of the struggles he faced at home–struggles I brought up to his education team in the hopes of them being able to meet him where he was at.

Unfortunately I was not equipped beyond alerting them of his home life. Therefore when asked the question, “What inspired you to pursue a career in Applied Behavior Analysis?” the answer isn’t because of the DW’s in my career. It is because of the Jay’s. I do not want to further my education to relish in my success stories, I want to further my education to create more. There is not a day that goes by that I do not think about Jay and wish that I was better equipped with the tools to help him succeed. To me, pursuing Applied Behavior Analysis is a no brainer. I want to be the individual in a client’s life that looks beyond the behavior and instead finds the root. I want to be the individual that provides therapeutic help to improve and change behaviors, but also teaches supportive figures in the client’s life how they can help. I want to be individual that walks through the doors of schools like mine, where teachers feel helpless and students feel misunderstood and instill a sense of hope and understanding. I want to be the individual that seeks out teachers, like me, who want to help, but do not know how and equip their tool belts with methods that work. I want to be the person Jay deserves to encounter in his life and it is my hope that studying Applied Behavior Analysis will give me the capability to do just that.

Selecting the Winner

Our staff will review all applications and essays that meet the basic requirements and select a winner based strictly on the strength of the essay.

The essay topic is all about your personal experience and your own subjective thoughts and opinions. So naturally, there is some subjectivity to our selection process. This means that everyone with a qualifying GPA who is enrolled in or has been accepted to a qualifying master’s program has an equal shot at winning, regardless of background, employment history, or extracurriculars. We feel this is the most equitable way to approach the selection process.

We know that all applicants are worthy of the award, but we’re limited to choosing just one winner per year.

Announcing the Winner

We will start by contacting the winner by phone or email to deliver the good news. At that time, we will ask for proof of current enrollment and transcripts covering the period of time that passed since submitting the application. No further documentation would be required for students who submit their essay and application within the spring quarter/semester.

If the selected recipient is unable to supply the required documentation, or if the GPA has dropped below 3.5 since submitting the application, we reserve the right to rescind the award and give it to another applicant.

We will ask the winner to provide a picture of themselves along with a few words that we will publish right here on

We will then make our official announcement to share the good news with our readers.

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Paying Out the Award

We will make out a check for the full $1,000 award and send it directly to the winner in one lump payment immediately upon making our official announcement.

The winner is free to use the proceeds at their discretion to apply toward tuition, books, housing or any other expenses they need to cover during their graduate program.

Non-Discrimination Policy does not discriminate based on age, race, sex, religion, disability status or sexual orientation. All qualified applicants are given equal consideration and are assessed strictly based on the strength of their essay. It is at the sole discretion of our staff to select the applicant we feel best exemplifies the traits and values of a great ABA.

Official Rules

PARTICIPANT ELIGIBILITY: The Contest is open to (1) any college student pursuing a qualifying degree anywhere in the world (2) who is at least 18 years of age, (3) currently enrolled in an accredited college or university, as listed on the U.S. Department of Education website, available at or its equivalent in countries outside the U.S., (4) with a minimum GPA of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale, and (4) who completes the entry form on The contest is void where prohibited by law. Entries must be from individuals only; groups, organizations, and multiple-party entries are not eligible. The Contest is governed by United States law and is subject to all applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations. Employees of, its affiliates, subsidiaries, advertising, promotion and fulfillment agencies, judges, and members of the immediate family or household of each are not eligible. Immediate family members include parents, siblings or any person residing in the same household as employee.

ENTRY: Entrants must complete the entry form and answer the question in the space allotted. The essay must be original and must have been created by the entrant; entries that plagiarize the work of others will be disqualified. may verify the eligibility of each applicant; if an applicant is found to be ineligible to enter the contest, their entry will be considered invalid. Entrants must fill out all required portions of the entry form to be eligible for consideration. Limit one entry per person per contest; if an applicant enters more than one time they will be disqualified. reserves the right to verify an applicant’s information, the originality of the answer, or any other facet of an applicant’s entry if further investigation is deemed necessary. By entering you agree to accept and be bound by these rules. Odds of winning depend on the number of entries.

CLAIMING YOUR AWARD: The winner(s) will be notified by email and/or phone; failure to provide accurate contact information may result in disqualification and if unable to reach a winner within 72 hours, may in its discretion award any scholarship to any other contestant. No guarantee of notification is made to applicants who do not win the Scholarship Contest. This scholarship will be awarded to the winner(s) directly.

No payment will be granted until is able to verify with the winner’s institution that all college/university enrollment information (including GPA) is accurate. Winner will be required to submit an official transcript to may, in its sole discretion, decline to award payment of the scholarship in the case of a winner’s failure to provide information in a timely fashion if requested by or the institution, or if the student’s enrollment lapses for any reason.

SCHOLARSHIP AWARD; ODDS: Your chances of winning the scholarship competition depend on the number of total entries, the quality of your answer, and how your answer is viewed by the judges from ALL FEDERAL, STATE AND LOCAL TAXES, AND ANY OTHER COSTS AND EXPENSES, ASSOCIATED WITH THE RECEIPT OR USE OF SCHOLARSHIP AWARD ARE THE SOLE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE WINNER. Awards are provided WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, express or implied, without limitation. ALL SCHOLARSHIPS ARE AWARDED SUBJECT TO THE TERMS, RESTRICTIONS, AND LIMITATIONS. Except as determined by the Sponsor in its sole discretion, no substitution of the scholarship shall be offered and no transfer of the scholarship to a third party is permitted.

PAYMENT DIRECTIONS: will pay the Scholarship Award directly to winner in one lump sum. has the sole discretion and final word over the timing and manner of any scholarship payments. Winners will be responsible for providing a letter of acceptance or enrollment from the college or university where the Scholarship Award will be directed, and a signed statement that funds will be used to offset the cost of their eligible college education (tuition, fees, books, supplies, equipment, and/or room & board). has the sole discretion and final word on any issues that may arise around a winner’s eligibility.

CONDUCT: By registering for this Contest, entrants agree to be bound by these Official Rules and the decisions of and the judges that shall be final and binding in all respects. These Official Rules are accessible throughout the Contest Period. Failure to comply with these Official Rules may result in disqualification. reserves the right at its sole discretion to disqualify any individual suspected of tampering with the entry process or the operation of the Contest; or to be acting in any manner deemed by to be in violation of the Official Rules; or to be acting in any manner deemed by to be unsportsmanlike or disruptive, or with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any other person. CAUTION: ANY ATTEMPT BY A USER OR ENTRANT OR ANY OTHER INDIVIDUAL TO DELIBERATELY DAMAGE ANY WEB SITE OR UNDERMINE THE LEGITIMATE OPERATION OF THE CONTEST IS A VIOLATION OF CRIMINAL AND CIVIL LAWS AND SHOULD SUCH AN ATTEMPT BE MADE, APPLIEDBEHAVIORANALYSISEDU.ORG RESERVES THE RIGHT TO SEEK DAMAGES AND COSTS (INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION, ATTORNEYS’ FEES) FROM ANY SUCH PERSON TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW.

LIMITATIONS OF LIABILITY: assumes no responsibility or liability for (a) any incorrect or inaccurate entry information, or for any faulty, failed, garbled or jumbled electronic data transmissions; (b) any unauthorized access to, or theft, destruction or alteration of entries at any point in the operation of this Contest; (c) any technical malfunction, failure, error, omission, interruption, deletion, defect, delay in operation or communications line failure, regardless of cause, with regard to any equipment, systems, networks, lines, satellites, servers, computers or providers utilized in any aspect of the operation of the Contest; (d) inaccessibility or unavailability of the Internet or any combination thereof, or; (e) any injury or damage to participant’s or to any other person’s computer which may be related to or resulting from any attempt to participate in the Contest or download any materials in the Contest. If, for any reason, the Contest is not capable of running as planned for reasons which may include without limitation, infection by computer virus, bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical failures, or any other causes which may corrupt or affect the administration, security, fairness, integrity or proper conduct of this Contest, then reserves the right at its sole discretion to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend the Sweepstakes in whole or in part. In the event of cancellation, will randomly award the prizes from among all eligible, non-suspect entries received prior to cancellation.

PRIVACY: Personal information collected through this promotion is subject to’s Privacy Policy. In addition, as a condition of entering the Contest, each entrant gives consent for to make his or her profile publicly available, to obtain and deliver his or her name, address and other information to third parties for the purpose of administering this and complying with applicable laws, regulations and rules and to announce the winners online and via other media, and to use the winner’s name and photograph in such announcements without restriction.

PUBLICITY RIGHTS: By entering the Contest (except where prohibited by law), entrants consent to the use of their names, pictures, likenesses, in advertising, promotion and marketing materials throughout the world, including on the Internet, by, without additional compensation, notice, review, or approval. Nothing contained in these Official Rules obligates to make use of any of the rights granted herein and winner waives any right to inspect or approve any such use.

GOVERNING LAW/DISPUTES: This Contest, these Official Rules, and any dispute related thereto (whether for breach of contract, tortious conduct or otherwise) are governed by the laws of the United States without regard to conflicts of laws principles. Any legal action, suit, proceeding or dispute in connection with this Contest (whether for breach of contract, tortious conduct or otherwise) will be brought and resolved exclusively in the state or federal courts of the United States and each entrant accepts and submits to the personal jurisdiction of these courts with respect to any legal actions, suits, proceedings, or disputes arising out of or related to this Sweepstakes. If any provision(s) of these Rules are held to be invalid or unenforceable, all remaining provisions hereof will remain in full force and effect.

Except where prohibited, as a condition of participating in this Contest, each entrant agrees that any and all disputes that cannot be resolved between the entrant and any Released Party, claims and causes of action arising out of or connected with this Contest, the prize awarded, or the determination of the winner must be resolved individually, without resort to any form of class action. Further, in any such dispute, under no circumstances will an entrant be permitted or entitled to obtain an award for, and hereby waives all rights to claim punitive, incidental, or consequential damages, or any other damages, including attorneys’ fees.

In the event of a dispute concerning the identity of a participant, the participant will be declared to be the authorized account holder of the e-mail address provided to at the time of initial participation (i.e., registration for the Contest), but only if that person meets all other eligibility criteria, otherwise the entry may be disqualified and any potential prize won will be forfeited in’s sole discretion. An authorized account holder is defined as the natural person who is assigned to an e-mail address by an Internet access provider, online service provider, or other organization (e.g., business, educational institution, etc.) that is responsible for assigning e-mail addresses for the domain associated with the submitted e-mail address. The potential winner may be required to provide with proof that he or she is the authorized account holder of the applicable e-mail address. If a dispute cannot be resolved to’s satisfaction, the entry and individual or individuals may be deemed ineligible at’s sole discretion.

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