Lipscomb University Interview

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We recognized Lipscomb University for offering one of the 35 Best ABA Graduate Programs (Master’s and Doctorate), adding them to our list of top recommendations for ABA grad students.

We were excited to hear from M. Annette Little, a faculty member at Lipscomb University 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.

Lipscomb University Programs:

  • MS in Applied Behavior Analysis
  • Master’s in Psychology (with BCBA VCS)
  • M.Ed. in Special Education (with BCBA VCS)
  • Stand-alone BCBA VCS Certificate (for those with a qualifying master’s)

Professor/Faculty Name:      M. Annette Little

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?

When the program started 6 years ago, the majority of students coming into the program were special education teachers looking for a career change. Today, only about 30% of students are SPED career changers. The majority are coming from other fields such as speech/language or behavior therapy (students who are Registered Behavior Technicians). There is a slight increase in students coming directly from an undergraduate program (usually psychology majors).

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?

A few graduates are going into school systems but the majority join private practices.

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?

I love the personal connections students have with instructors. Our classes are small enough that students get the one-on-one attention they need.

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?

The most pressing issue in ABA today is the lack of providers. All business in my area have wait lists. I hate that there are people needing services that cannot receive them. Lipscomb offers a business course as part of the M. S. in ABA so that we can prepare our students to begin making a dent in the tremendous need in our area.

The school prides itself on providing small class sizes. Why is it important for ABA students to learn in a close-knit classroom environment?

ABA is therapy conducted in collaboration with other professionals (e.g. Speech/language pathologists, teachers, parents). Students need practice collaborating with others who may not have the same technical language they possess. The small class environment promotes collaborative learning with peers as well as collaborative opportunities with instructors.

What kind of capstone projects can students expect to find in the MS in Applied Behavioral Analysis program?

Students conduct a single-subject design function-based intervention during their second semester in Lipscomb’s ABA program. They conduct this study in collaboration with their ABA supervisors. Students are also required to pass a comprehensive exam during their last semester in Lipscomb’s Studies in Applied Behavior Analysis.

How does the Applied Behavioral Analysis Professional Certificate go beyond the required coursework needed to qualify for BCBA certification?

The certificate program goes beyond the required coursework in its focus on specific areas. For example, the Program Design class focuses specifically on the school setting and covers Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports as well as the task list specified by the BACB.

Please feel free to add anything else you would like potential students to know about your program; things that would be good for them to consider before choosing a program.

Our M.S. in ABA program is unique in that it offers a class specific to running a business in ABA. In addition, students are required to take a class in speech/language that is taught by a speech/language pathologist. Finally, students take a research seminar class that assists them in finding an outlet (e.g. journal, conference) for the research project they conducted in the second semester of the program.


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