Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.

Tiered Model of Education

Documents & Resources: Syllabus Submission and Review


Course syllabi are one component of a well-developed curriculum. Course syllabi document how the courses addresses program-level objectives and ABAI-required content areas. In each content area, the scope of training is expressed in terms of hours of contact with the instructor. Programs are allowed flexibility in terms of how they achieve the prescribed contact hours. The main program-related standards are included here for reference of each degree level and the purpose of each content area is included below.


Standards for the Degree Program


All Programs: 

Faculty provide descriptive syllabi including learning objectives, methods of assessment, and assignment of grades for all the components in the curriculum. Distance education components meet the same standards as conventionally delivered components. 

Doctoral Degree Programs: 9-101 Standards 

The students demonstrate a systematic understanding of a field of study and mastery of the skills and methods of research associated with that field. 
The students conceive, design, implement, and adapt a substantial process of research with scholarly integrity. 
The students contribute through original research that extends the frontier of knowledge by developing a substantial body of work, some of which merits national or international refereed publication. 
The students engage in critical analysis, evaluation, and synthesis of new and complex ideas, and can communicate with their peers, the larger scholarly community, and society in general about their areas of expertise. 

Master’s Degree and Graduate-Level Programs: 9-106 Standards 

The students demonstrate knowledge and understanding founded upon bachelor’s-level studies. 
Program extends and/or enhances knowledge typically associated with bachelor’s-level degree programs, and provides a basis or opportunity for originality in developing and/or applying ideas, often within a research context. 
The students apply their knowledge and understanding and problem-solving abilities in new or unfamiliar environments within broader (or multidisciplinary) contexts related to their field of study. 
The students communicate their conclusions, and the knowledge and rationale underpinning these, to specialist and non-specialist audiences clearly and unambiguously. 
The students study in a manner that may be largely self-directed or autonomous. 

Bachelor’s Degree and Undergradaute-Level Programs: 9-110 Standards 

The students demonstrate knowledge and understanding in a field of study that builds upon their general secondary education, supported by advanced readings.  
The students apply their knowledge and understanding in a manner that indicates a professional approach to their work or vocation, and have competencies typically demonstrated through devising and sustaining arguments and solving problems within their field of study. 
The students gather and interpret relevant data (usually within their field of study) to inform judgments that include reflection on relevant social, scientific, or ethical issues. 
The students communicate information, ideas, problems, and solutions to both specialist and non-specialist audiences. 
The students have learning skills necessary to continue further study with a high degree of autonomy. 



Syllabus Review

The goal of the syllabus review system is to provide programs with an opportunity to submit newly developed syllabi for review prior to implementation. Programs transitioning to the Tiered Model of Education may develop new course contents or revise current courses to better align with ABAI’s Tiered Model standards. Programs have an opportunity to submit their completed syllabi to ABAI for review prior to submitting for final approval by their institution (e.g., by the senate curriculum committee). Programs can review exemplary syllabi accepted by the ABAI Accreditation Board here.


Important notes about the syllabus review process:

  • This is a review process to confirm a syllabus meets the purpose of the selected content area(s).
  • Only syllabi that are fully developed may be submitted for review (it must have thoroughly developed readings, topics, scope, assignments, and assessments). Other business items, such as the dates of the course meetings or office hours, are not needed at this time.
    • Please know that the ABAI Accreditation Board cannot make judgments about the scope of the entire curriculum (that is done with a full self-study application and in conjunction with site visits or review meetings). Therefore, this system is not designed for the program to submit all its syllabi.
  • Institutions and departments have their own criteria and required items for course syllabi; this review process is not designed to request nor assess those items.


Syllabus Submission Form

Use the form to submit developed syllabi for review (by the Accreditation Board) to ensure the syllabi meet the purpose of the selected content area(s), prior to the program submitting it for final, institutional approval.

Submission Form


Programs can expect to receive feedback on their syllabi within a reasonable timeframe after submitting them for review. Four periods are established to collect syllabi and provide feedback to programs (please see the table below). Programs are encouraged to use this review system to ensure that their syllabi are on track to meet the required standards and align with the program's goals. If you have any questions about the syllabus review system or the submission process, please email us.


Syllabus Submitted By      Feedback Provided By
March 31 June 1
June 30 September 1
September 30 December 1
December 31 March 1


After the syllabus syllabus review process (which is optional), and as described in the ‘guidance for transitioning to the Tiered Model’ document, programs may apply for recognition (Tiers 2a-4b) with newly developed courses and curriculum elements. Applying programs must meet all of the other required standards. When applying for initial recognition, the following elements must be included in the curriculum and program section of the formal, self-study application:

  • Qualified instructor(s) for the course(s). 
  • A fully developed syllabus (content, schedule, readings, activities, modality, etc.) designed and approved by the institution. This means the course(s) received final approval (e.g., by the senate curriculum committee, university president, etc.) evident by an attestation or signed notification indicating the approved course(s) by someone outside of the department. 
  • Information as to when the course will be offered for the first time.




Modifed by Eddie Soh