Programme description forPh.D. in Behavior Analysis


Behavior analysis as a discipline covers experimental, applied and conceptual behavior analysis, with varied and interesting research questions in all three areas. Experimental, applied and conceptual behavior analysis are distinct but closely interrelated fields. Behavior analysis is an academic scientific discipline with the advantage of built-in practical usefulness. It is of high societal importance to have a demonstrably effective technology for promoting behavioral change.

At the Ph.D. level, candidates are expected to demonstrate advanced knowledge of all the main fields of behavior analysis. These are central topics: ethical considerations; definition and characteristics of behavior analysis; principles, processes and concepts; behavioral assessment; experimental evaluation of interventions; measurement of behavior; displaying and interpreting behavioral data; selecting intervention outcomes and strategies; behavior change procedures; systems support.

Candidates must demonstrate that they can design, implement and manage a research project with the necessary conceptual rigor and experimental control, and discuss ethical, practical and social implications of their own research and that of others. They must write and otherwise communicate their findings and reflections in a scientific way, and enter into scientific discussions observing the ethics and etiquette governing such exchanges. Given the essentially inductive nature of behavior analysis, doctoral level work is expected to add to the existing body of knowledge, and ideally to generate new questions.

Target group

Candidates will conduct independent research that leads to a scientific dissertation of high international standard. The candidate will receive advanced training in theories and methods which will provide a foundation for independent and objective thinking suitable for research in the field of behavior analysis. The graduated candidate will be qualified for research activities and academic work with high scientific requirements.

Admission requirements

Admission to the program is processed in accordance with the Regulations Relating to the Degree of Philosophiae Doctor (Ph.D.) at Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences (hereinafter referred to as "the Ph.D. Regulations").

Applicants to the Ph.D. program must hold a master's degree (120 ECTS credits) or equivalent qualification. Admission to the program is regulated by the Ph.D. Regulations and the supplementary Guidelines for applications for admission to Ph.D. programs at Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences.

A graduate from the Ph.D. program in behavior analysis will be qualified for high level research and teaching positions in academic institutions. The program will give the graduates qualifications for applied and clinical work, but does not grant licenses or certification necessary to provide services where such provision of services is otherwise restricted through licenses or certification granted by national or local boards, agencies or authorities.

Graduates of the program will observe the rules of conduct described by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board.

Learning outcomes

The Dublin Descriptors that signify completion of third cycle higher education (Doctoral awards) demand that graduates:

  • have demonstrated a systematic understanding of a field of study and mastery of the skills and methods of research associated with that field;

  • have demonstrated the ability to conceive, design, implement and adapt a substantial process of research with scholarly integrity;

  • have made a contribution 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;

  • are capable of critical analysis, evaluation and synthesis of new and complex ideas; can communicate with their peers, the larger scholarly community and with society in general about their areas of expertise;

  • can be expected to be able to promote, within academic and professional contexts, technological, social or cultural advancement in a knowledge based society.

Graduates of the Ph.D. program in behavior analysis will be required to show that they can:

  • describe, discuss and use natural scientific research methods

  • describe and discuss classic scientific concepts, and show how these concepts form the basis of an experimental and applied science of behavior

  • distinguish description from explanation

  • describe and discuss the relationship between theoretical, experimental and applied scientific knowledge

  • analyze a practical problem with the theoretical knowledge from the relevant research literature

  • justify their analyses with references to scientific literature of a high standard

  • design, implement and manage a research project

  • apply different strategies for measuring and recording the effect of experimental manipulations

  • analyze the results of their research using relevant theory

  • share their knowledge with others in a way that meets the requirements of scientific communication

  • discuss ethical, practical and social implications of their own research and that of others

Content and structure

The Ph.D. program is a full time study. It runs for 3 years, or 4 years if academic duties are included. It includes a 30 ECTS educational component, and supervised research and doctoral dissertation work equaling 150 ECTS. The courses on philosophy of science and on research methods in the educational component are mandatory. One course is elective. 

The content of the program is partly educational, with mandatory and elective courses, and partly (mainly) research based, with students doing their own research under close supervision from faculty.

Educational component

The educational component consists of 30 ECTS from 3 courses. The program offers 8 courses, and two are mandatory:

(1) Research ethics and professional standards, and

(2) Research methods in behavior analysis.

The 6 elective courses are:

(1) The philosophical and conceptual basis of radical behaviorism and behavior analysis

(2) Learning and complex behavior: Advanced concepts - research and application,

(3) Complexity, science and society,

(4) Pervasive Developmental Disorders - diagnosis, aetiology, prevalence and intervention

(5) Complex stimulus control - research and application

(6) Empirically Supported Treatments - research, control and validation.

Research component

The students conduct an independent research project and report it in a doctoral dissertation for public defense, according to the regulations for the program. (Independent in this context does not exclude participation in ongoing projects, merely that the student's contribution can be separately identified.) This part of the program constitutes 150 ECTS. Students write a doctoral dissertation on the basis of their research.

The students submit their dissertation for evaluation, and defend it at a public defense. In advance of the defense, they hold two trial lectures, one on a topic decided by the evaluation committee, and one on a topic of their own choice. The procedures regarding dissertation submission and defense are described in the regulations for the Ph.D. program.

Teaching and learning methods

The educational component consists of literature studies, lectures, seminars, essays and reaction papers. Some courses may include laboratory exercises and / or simulations. The research component consists of finding and defining a research question, framing it in terms of investigative strategy and conducting the research with the tactics and tools that are signal features of behavior analysis: experimental design for demonstration of functional relations between variables, and conceptual rigor. Reports of the research are written according to the standards of the field, and observing the guidelines of the APA Publication Manual.

Ph.D. scholars, employed by the Department of Behavioral Science will supervise master students on their research projects and theses, and participate in the courses in the master program, under the supervision of core faculty. They will have encouragement and financial assistance in attending conferences to present papers, and in submitting research papers to scientific journals with peer review. Students financed by their external employer or otherwise are expected to have sufficient support so that they may attend relevant conferences.


The Ph.D. program is organized as an international collaborative degree. Students are encouraged to take educational courses and do research for their theses at University of North Texas and Pontificia Universdade Católica de São Paolo. The educational courses can be offered in all the partner institutions, depending on student demand. Research activities and supervision are offered at all the partner institutions. All partner institutions have faculty with the necessary qualifications to cover all three fields of behavior analysis.


Examinations are regulated by the Act Relating to Universities and University Colleges, Regulations Relating to Studies and Examinations at Akershus University College, Supplementary Provisions to Regulations Relating to Studies and Examinations at Akershus University College and Regulations for the degree of Philosophiae Doctor (Ph.d.) at Akershus University College.

Quality Assurance

The University educates professionals who in their studies have acquired skills, knowledge and attitudes which are important for their personal development and at the same time are relevant for the society and the professional area of which they will be part. The quality assurance system at OsloMet has the following functions:

  • to ensure high quality teaching and learning

  • to create a positive study and learning environment for the students

  • to ensure that students complete their studies with good results and within the normal length of the study.

  • to ensure a continuous quality improvement of the education the university offers

  • to ensure that students will achieve the qualifications that are needed in the labour market for competent practitioners

  • to ensure that demands and expectations from higher authorities are met.

Study programss are also evaluated in discussions and dialogue meetings between students, practice supervisors and teaching staff, as well as in written evaluations from students. At the end of every academic year an evaluation is carried out by means of a questionnaire based on

the defined aims of the study program. These evaluations may add valuable information for further developments of the program.

Principles for the quality management system.

Systems designed to document quality in the Ph.D. program ensure both the quality of the teaching, and the actual learning outcomes for the students.

Quality systems comprise:

  • the scientific profile of the program

  • the thematic and pedagogical coherence of the program

  • study quality and learning outcomes

  • procedures for tracking study progression and academic standing

  • procedures for supervision and tutoring - including supervision contracts

  • plans documenting the totality of the learning environment, including but not limited to core faculty with permanent positions at OsloMet, management procedures and chains of command, information systems and access, plans for the professional and scientific development of faculty, laboratory facilities and access, office space and lecture rooms.

Programme information

Programme name, Norwegian
Ph.D. in Behavior Analysis
Valid from
ECTS credits and duration
180 ECTS credits, 6 semesters
Programme History