Program Options

Students have the option of applying for two types of Master’s degrees or a Graduate Diploma. Learn more about the difference between the M.ADS and MA programs here.

Degree Programs

Master of Arts (MA) in Applied Disability Studies

Students can choose to specialize in Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) or have no field of specialization. In addition to course work and practicum placements, the MA program requires the student to complete an original research study and write an MA thesis under the supervision of a key faculty member and a thesis committee.

The MA program is highly competitive with enrolment in the MA program currently limited to 10-12 new students per year. It is geared towards students who are interested in research careers and perhaps pursuing a Ph.D. The MA is a full-time program. Full-time students who are accepted into this program will be entitled to the stipends and bursaries typically awarded to Brock full-time graduate students.

MA students may choose to specialize in ABA, and take our ABAI Verified Course Sequence that is needed in order to become eligible to write the exam for certification as a BCBA after completing their degree and other requirements.

Master of Applied Disability Studies (MADS)

The MADS is a professional Master’s degree. This option differs from the MA in that no research thesis is required, and the student would not likely be eligible for Brock graduate student stipends and bursaries.

MADS students may choose to specialize in ABA, and take our BACB approved ABA courses in order to become eligible for certification as a BCBA after completing their degree and experience hours.

The MADS program is designed to be completed in three years on a part-time basis (or two years on a full-time basis).

The program is geared to current and future professionals and offers courses on weekends in different locations in Ontario.

Students may potentially gain employment as Instructional Therapists in IBI programs, Behaviour consultants/Therapists in Community Behavioural Programs, Teachers and Educators, and more.

Graduate Diploma in Applied Disability Studies

The Graduate Diploma in Applied Disability Studies is meant for persons who already have a Master’s degree.

Students who already have a Master’s degree in a related field (ABA, Psychology, Education) may choose the Diploma program to take the verified ABA courses needed to become BCBA.

The admissions requirements for the Grad Diploma are similar to the MADS (i.e., Honours degree, 75 average and relevant experience).

Diploma students take the same courses as the MADS students. The course sequence will include ABA courses.


Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) Program

Students in our MA, MADS and Diploma programs may choose to specialize in ABA. Our ABA course sequence is approved by the Behaviour Analyst Certification Board.

Students who complete our ABA course sequence meet the course requirements to become Board Certified Behaviour Analysts (BCBAs).

As part of the coursework, ABA students have to opportunity to gain practical experience through a 300-hour practicum placement.

There are many jobs for BCBAs, particularly, but not exclusively in Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Our Department was the first grad program in Ontario to offer an approved course sequence and our pass rate on the BCBA examination is significantly above average.

General program

Students with interests in teaching, community–based programming, health care, therapeutic and other services and support across the lifespan and a variety of disabilities, inclusive and accessible environments, and advocacy and social justice will enjoy the professional, personal and scholarly challenges offered by the critical disabilities orientation within the general program option of the Applied Disability Studies degree.

This option provides interdisciplinary, socio-political, cultural, and foundational scholarship written by scholars with disabilities about issues of relevance for persons with disabilities.

The course bank also includes opportunities for qualitative and blended research methods, writing conventions, internships and a Major Research Paper (MRP).

This program option provides students with both theoretical and applied experiences in a variety of online, hybrid and face to face contexts and allows students to develop skills in research, leadership, writing, analysis, multi-media literacy, networking and advocacy.


All ABA students are required to take two practicum courses, ADST 5P74 and 76, in Fall and Winter, respectively, of their final year (year 2 for full-time students and year 3 for part-time students. Each required practicum course involves 150 hours of hands-on experience in ABA. ABA students must be doing ABA work in their practicum and be supervised by a qualified BCBA supervisor (see In addition to the 150 hours (on-site), the practicum course includes in class and online instructional hours and assignments.

Extra ABA Practicum (ADST 5P2X)

Extra Practicum courses (ADST 5P20, 21, etc.) can be completed by full and part-time M.ADS students. These courses are not required and incur extra tuition fees. It is possible for ABA students to independently earn BACB experience hours without taking extra practicum courses. See for details on how to earn experience hours towards BCBA.

If you are working in the field of disabilities, then you may be able to complete the practicum hours as part of your normal work. For their practicum, ABA students must be doing ABA work (per 4th Edition Task List) under the supervision of a BCBA. Non-ABA work experience is not permitted to be used as a practicum placement.

A student in an ABA placement with a supervisor who is not qualified, but who is approved by the clinical coordinator for ADS may complete the practicum requirements under a special written agreement stating that they would not be able to count those practicum hours towards their Supervised Field Experience for their BCBA application.

Note that ABA students can start earning BCBA experience hours (with qualified supervision) as soon as they start the Master’s program. Please see BACB for information on obtaining approved experience hours. BCBA experience hours are independent of the practicum course, although students can continue to earn experience hours while completing the practicum course.


Please note the following are location guidelines only and the information below is subject to change.

  • Primary location: St. Catharines Campus
  • Courses during the week: Fall, Winter, Spring
  • Over the course of study: One course/one weekend per month at Hamilton Campus
  • Approximately 50% will have primary location at St. Catharines Campus (mainly)
  • Courses during the week
  • Over the course of study: One course/one weekend per month at Hamilton Campus. Another course is online
  • Hamilton Campus
  • Courses on weekends, Fall, Winter, Spring
  • One course is online
  • Hamilton Campus, Toronto, and Ottawa
  • Courses on weekends; on weekend a month, Fall, Winter, Spring
  • Ottawa is offered once every 3 years and is dependent on enrolment
  1. Every effort is made to ensure students are assigned to cohort locations most convenient for them; however, it is not guaranteed.
  2. If you are considering moving to complete your degree, please contact the Academic Administrator for advising before securing accommodations.
  3. All MADS ABA (FT/PT in St. Catharines, Hamilton, Toronto and Ottawa) will be required to attend at the St. Catharines campus on a Saturday at the end of April for the final class of the final course.