Endicott College Interview

We recognized Endicott College on no less than four lists featuring top recommended programs for ABA grad students:

We were excited to hear from Mary Jane Weiss, a faculty member at Endicott College who took the time to answer a few questions about how the school works to create a great student experience that helps prepare graduates for a career in applied behavior analysis.

Endicott College Programs:

    • Certificate in Autism
    • Certificate in ABA (post-graduate)
    • MEd in Non-Licensure Special Education
    • MEd in Special Education and ABA
    • MEd in Autism and ABA
    • MEd in ABA
    • PhD in ABA

Professor/Faculty Name:      Mary Jane Weiss

Tell us about the types of students you see come through your program. Are you seeing more non-traditional students and career changers coming from other fields?

Mary:  We have a wide variety of students come into our master’s degree programs.  Many of them are career changers or individuals who are in the field, looking to advance from a direct care role into management roles.

The online nature of the classes attracts individuals who would have difficulty with traditional graduate school expectations.  They may not be able to go to class several nights a week, for instance. Their work schedules may necessitate evening hours.  Many are juggling parenting and working.  For these students, being able to decide when they will focus on their school work is immensely important, and empowering.

One of the greatest joys we have is seeing someone who previously thought that graduate school was not possible be able to join the program and begin to realize their dreams.

What areas of practice are you seeing graduates going into? Do they tend to find jobs in the local school districts or more often join private practices?

Mary:  Our graduates work in many settings.  For those who focus on providing services to individuals with autism, many work in schools. Ample opportunities exist in both public and private schools.  Others work in hospitals, day programs, and residential programs. We also have many graduates who work with children and adults with other challenges, and they may work in a variety of educational, residential, and treatment facilities.

What are some of the things you love most about the ABA program at your university – the kind of things you’d like future students to know about as they consider their options?

Mary:  I think I am most proud of the personalized touch at Endicott. Our class sizes are small, our faculty have been with us for a long time and are assigned to courses they are truly expert in, and our advisors know their students personally.  We value a personalized approach to education, and we take that very seriously.

What do you feel are the most pressing issues in ABA today, and how does the program at your school prepare graduates to address these issues?

Mary:  I think the hardest issues have to do with understanding the complexity of the skills needed to be a professional behavior analyst.  I often tell students that it is more important to know what you do not know, than what you do know well.  We need to emphasize when more expertise or training is needed to manage difficult clinical challenges.   We help students to develop a sense of their scope of competence, to navigate these professional challenges.

We also are in an era of specialization, so it is important to identify the things one wants to be able to do well, and to focus on those in coursework and in supervision.  Our multiple degree programs and specialization tracks help us to prepare students well for the clinical challenges they are likely to encounter.

Would you tell us a little bit about the difference between the Certificate in ABA and the Certificate in Autism at Endicott? What kinds of different students would each be geared toward?

Mary:  The certificate in Autism is best for students who seek in-depth knowledge about autism, and who wish to take entire courses in particular areas of intervention.  For example, students can take an entire course in social skills, or an entire course in communication challenges and interventions.  Given the diversity of the population of individuals with ASD, it is important to be fully prepared to meet the array of needs they present.  This program is great for those who are already BCBAs but who did not get in-depth educational exposure to how ABA can be best used to meet the needs of those with ASD.

The Certificate in ABA is best for students who already possess a master’s degree, but who need to take the educational coursework required for certification as a behavior analyst.

There are four different M.Ed. programs in ABA offered at Endicott, what are the major distinctions between them?

Mary:  M.Ed. in ABA

This program is for individuals who wish to become behavior analysts who work with a broad range of individuals, and who do not wish to be autism specialists.  Three specialized tracks exist, and allow students to select electives with a specialized focus.

Mental Health- with a focus on applying ABA to a variety of mental health challenges

Child Clinical- with a focus on applying ABA to a variety of childhood clinical challenges (aside from ASD) in school and other clinical settings

Organizational Behavior Management-with a focus on how ABA is used to infuse evidence-based practices into supervision, training, and organizational management

It is also possible to earn this degree without a specialization, allowing the student to select electives across these areas.

M.Ed. in Autism and ABA

This program is best for those students of ABA who know they want to be behavior analysts who are autism specialists.  The program prepares students with an in-depth understanding of how ABA is applied to the needs of this population of learners, and includes entire courses in core issues specific to autism, such as social skills and communication challenges.

M.Ed. in Special Education and ABA

This program is best for those students who wish to be licensed special educators in the state of Massachusetts, and who wish to also become Board Certified in Behavior Analysis.

Many ABA students are also working professionals. Are any of the ABA programs available online?

Mary:  All of our ABA programs are available entirely online.  In fact, students do not need to come to campus to earn a degree.  All of the programs require some synchronous learning, but most courses can be taken either synchronously or asynchronously. Hence, students can select the course formats that work best for their learning style and their lifestyle.

Please feel free to add anything else you would like potential students to know about your program; things that make your school stand out in the field that are worth considering before choosing a program. 

Our programs include a no-tuition class that is focused on exam prep, to help prepare students for certification.

Our programs include a thesis or capstone project, which students are supported in accomplishing, which places them apart from other job applicants.  It demonstrates that they are capable of a large project, start to finish, that makes a difference in our understanding of the science or in clinical service provision.


Check out our full interview series here to see what other professors and faculty are saying about their ABA programs.