Texas State University Interview

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We recognized Texas State University for offering one of the 32 Best Master’s in Education Programs with an ABA Emphasis, adding them to our list of top recommendations for special education teachers.

We were excited to hear from Russell Lang BCBA-D, a faculty member at Texas State 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.

Texas State University Programs:

  • MEd in Special Education with a concentration in Autism and ABA

Professor/Faculty Name:      Russell Lang BCBA-D

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?

Russell:  The majority of our students are public school teachers and Registered Behavior Technicians.

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?

Russell:  Approximately 50% of our graduates go on to work for private ABA clinics serving individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities; 30% work in special education school settings; 15% continue their education in PhD programs and the remainder work for government agencies, nonprofits, and other related careers.

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?

Russell:  Our program has a university-based clinic (Clinic for Autism Research Evaluation and Support, CARES) that offers behavioral assessment, intervention, consulting, diagnostic assessment, and professional development. Graduate students complete at least one practicum course in CARES where they learn to connect coursework to actual practice under the close supervision of BCBA clinic staff. In addition to earning supervision toward certification, they acquire a range of experiences and have the opportunity to contribute to a robust research agenda. Students may repeat practicum for course credit and additional supervision hours.

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?

Russell: I believe the most important issue in the education and treatment of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities involves the prevalence of pseudoscientific and fad interventions that displace evidence-based practice. Behavior analysts in our program are taught to be scientist-practitioners. Specifically, our students acquire a strong foundation in the basic research findings that have informed the practice of behavior analysis while also learning to “think and act like a scientist” (i.e., collect accurate meaningful data, make data-based decisions, and approach problems with both compassion and logic).

Beyond the fact that it includes the VCS required for national BCBA certification, how does the M.Ed. in Special Education—Autism and ABA Concentration program help students prepare to become effective in the classroom?

Russell:  Students complete projects in applied settings. We directly discuss common obstacles and challenges to providing ABA services in school settings across the majority of our courses.

ABA students can earn BCBA supervision hours at the CARES clinic. Is the clinic on-campus? What type of activities and services will students be involved in providing during their practicum here?

Russell:  Our program has a university-based clinic (Clinic for Autism Research Evaluation and Support, CARES) that offers behavioral assessment, intervention, consulting, diagnostic assessment, and professional development. Graduate students complete at least one practicum course in CARES where they learn to connect coursework to actual practice under the close supervision of BCBA clinic staff. In addition to earning supervision toward certification, they acquire a range of experiences and have the opportunity to contribute to a robust research agenda. Students may repeat practicum for course credit and additional supervision hours.

Are night classes available for ABA students at Texas State?

Russell:  Yes, all of our classes are from 5:00 to 6:20 PM or from 6:30 to 9:20 PM.

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.

Russell:  Texas State University is a large research university with over 40,000 students and we pride ourselves on enrolling a diverse and highly capable student body. The large majority of the courses in the VCS are taught by tenured or tenure-track faculty with active and successful research agendas. We strongly encourage students to participate in research. Our students have published numerous peer-reviewed articles and regularly present at major conferences. Our graduates have been accepted to some of the most prestigious PhD programs in the world. We are not the place to come if you’re looking for an easy ride. We accept only those with a genuine emotional and intellectual investment in the field.


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