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Ph.D. in Psychology – Behavior Analysis

ABAI Accreditation Seal

The PhD program in Behavior Analysis is accredited by the ABAI Accreditation Board through 2025.

Learn more about our accreditation status here .
See the education and training outcomes of our program here .

Mission: The mission of the PhD program area in Behavior Analysis at West Virginia University is to produce an individual who can function effectively in various academic or applied settings, advance our understanding of the principles of behavior, and apply those principles to socially significant problems.

Training Model:  The behavior analysis program area trains students in basic research, theory, and applications of behavior principles. Through research, course work, and practica, students develop skills in the experimental and applied analysis of behavior, including a strong conceptual background and methods appropriate for developing behavioral technologies. The basic, conceptual, and applied areas are integrated in the curriculum; however, a student may emphasize either basic or applied research.

Admissions Procedures are described here .

Degree Requirements & Learning Outcomes are here and here . Note that students who enter the program with a bachelor’s degree must complete a master’s degree and a master’s thesis en route to the doctoral degree. They have two options: an MS in Psychology or an MS in Behavior Analysis. Information about these options are here and here . The MS requirement normally is waived for students who enter the PhD program with a master’s degree, if their thesis is judged to be equivalent to WVU theses by the Behavior Analysis faculty.

Learn about research opportunities with the Behavior Analysis graduate faculty:
Karen Anderson
Ray Joslyn
Kathryn Kestner
Kennon A. Lattal
Michael Perone
Claire St. Peter

Facilities & Financial Support:
Our basic research laboratories are located in the Life Sciences Building. Each lab is outfitted with operant-conditioning chambers for pigeons or rats or both. Applied researchers also have laboratory spaces within the Life Sciences Building equipped with one-way mirrors from observation bays to therapy rooms and equipment for real-time data collection of behavior. Additionally, applied researchers conduct studies in the community, including local public schools.

We have been able to provide funding for each student in good standing in our program. Doctoral students gain teaching experience, including opportunities for senior students to design and teach their own courses. Teaching serves as one source of funding for students. Students may also be funded through practicum placements in which they conduct clinical work to support children in the local community. Graduate students may also be hired as research assistants to work on grant-funded studies. In addition to a nine-month stipend, each student in good standing receives a university tuition waiver.

Becoming a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst:
The program includes the coursework and experiences necessary for graduates to become Board Certified Behavior Analysts. These courses are not mandatory, and completing the requirements is optional.   Pass-rate data are not available for our program because such data are not published for sequences with fewer than six first-time candidates in a single year  (our cohorts include four students per year on average, and not all students choose to pursue the BCBA credential).

Academic Policies & Procedures:
WVU Graduate Catalog
Psychology Graduate Student Handbook (includes information on credit for previous graduate work)

Program History: The Behavior Analysis program area at West Virginia University was created in 1976. Don Hake was recruited to WVU to be the program area coordinator, a position that he held until his untimely death in 1982. 

The founding faculty members of the Behavior Analysis program were Don Hake, Andy Lattal, Kent Parker, and Jim Shafer. Andy Lattal served as area coordinator from 1982-2012. Mike Perone served as area coordinator from 2012-2013 and is the current coordinator. Claire St. Peter served as coordinator from 2013-2023. Of the present faculty, Andy Lattal arrived in 1972, Mike Perone in 1984, Karen Anderson in 2003, Claire St. Peter in 2006, Kathryn Kestner in 2015, Brennan Armshaw in 2022, and Ray Joslyn in 2023. Since its inception, the program area has awarded nearly a hundred doctoral degrees to students who have come from all parts of the United States and from many other countries. 

The Department of Psychology is a recipient of the Society for the Advancement of Behavior Analysis Award for Enduring Programmatic Contributions to Behavior Analysis. This award is given to an agency, department or facility of an organization that contributes to the ongoing and enduring development of behavior analysis.

Over the years, our faculty members have been recognized through major teaching and research awards given by both the university and by professional societies. Faculty also further behavior-analytic science by serving on as editors and associate editors of major behavior-analytic journals and receiving and managing extramural research grants.