University Series 005 | Georgia State University

Join Operant Innovations for their interview with Georgia State University. This week we will be speaking with Dr. Christopher Tullis about Georgia State University in the heart of Atlanta.

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Dr. Christopher Tullis -

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GSU College of Education & Human Development M.S. in ABA -


Shauna Costello (00:01):

You're listening to operant innovations, a podcast from ABA technologies this week on the university series, we'll be talking to Georgia state university and dr. Christopher Tullis, a board certified behavior analyst and assistant professor of educational, psychology and special education. He is also the current VCS coordinator of GSU's ABA program, which is housed in the learning sciences department of the college of education and human development. Dr. Tullis received his bachelor's degree in psychology from the university of Georgia. His master's degree in educational psychology from Georgia state university and his doctorate in special education and applied behavior analysis from the Ohio state university. He has published in a number of scholarly journals and sits on the editorial board of three and it frequently asked to guest review for others. So please welcome dr. Christopher Tullis talking about Georgia state university's ABA program. We're here with dr. Christopher Tullis from Georgia state university to talk about their on-campus behavior analysis program. So welcome.

Dr. Christopher Tullis (01:06):

Thanks for having me. This is pretty exciting.

Shauna Costello (01:08):

It is. And I'm very excited that you are so excited to talk with me today about your program. So tell us a little bit of a general overview

Dr. Christopher Tullis (01:17):

Georgia state university is as, as an entity, as a, as a large urban public university in downtown Atlanta, I can actually look out my window and see the Capitol dome, the big, the big gold dome. Um, we are the first standalone applied behavior analysis program in the state of Georgia. So we get to, we get to give our number one stamp on that. We can't say that we're the only anymore, cause there is at least one more. Um, but, uh, I'll let other people go and find them. I'm not going to give them any extra pub as much as I like them. We, uh, are a four semester, uh, consecutive on campus program. So students come in in a cohort model. So for example, today I'm teaching my first class for my 2019 2020 cohorts. So they go fall to fall and that includes the summers in their second semester. They start their, uh, their practicum. So we do the thousand hour practicum, um, through our program and you've progressed all the way through and uh, and then make it out in the following December. Cause we don't like to graduate, um, anybody outside of December because it's hot and nobody needs to have the faculty or themselves in those incredibly hot gowns in Turner field. So nobody wants to be that hot.

Shauna Costello (02:32):

And so when you say four semesters and from fall, so probably I'm trying to think of a month is August almost September, August to December. That's about a year and a half.

Dr. Christopher Tullis (02:44):

So it's, it's an academic year and a half, right. It's almost a full, so it would be kind of like a full calendar year, air quote kind of thing. Um, so it's an academic year and a half and I think, I can't remember exactly what the exact numbers were on our graduation rate, but around 90 to 95% of our students are graduating in four semesters. They may or may not have all their supervision done in that time period because you are taking, you are taking nine credit hours per semester, so it's a fair amount at stake. Um, but we've, we've been pretty successful at getting people out in those four semesters and they're pretty close to being done with their supervision as well.

Shauna Costello (03:24):

Well, and I mean, some people might even wonder cause you know, most programs that we're going to talk to. Um, some of them coming up to are the standard two years, some of them have three year programs. And so it sounds like you guys probably have a lot of support for your students if they're taking, you know, a quicker course sequence than some other students might be used.

Dr. Christopher Tullis (03:46):

Yeah. So as far as support, um, our faculty are the support, so we're not really farming out a whole lot to anybody else. Um, we take a mentorship model at GSU and that's really a big deal for me and we have a brand new faculty member, his name's Danny Conein. Um, and that's a really big thing for dr. Conan as well, is that we're taking a mentorship model. So I don't want to just say, here are some things go and do it on your own. And so mastery, I'm going to recommend that you do those things for practice, but I also want you to talk to us as well. Like that's a big deal for me. I have recommended to students that they take an extra semester to study before taking the BCBA exam. I have told students that they probably need to work a little bit longer before taking the exam mostly because I know where you're at and I know where they're at almost all at all times.

Dr. Christopher Tullis (04:36):

And that kind of gives us the leverage to be able to support them really well. We also have these incredible community partnerships, um, ABA or an ABA service provision is probably more accurate to say is really, really, really growing in the state of Georgia. We have a large number of national organizations that are moving into the state and we also have some of our local folks that have decided that they want to expand. And that has partnered with other bigger organizations to expand. And our students are really well liked by all of those companies. Um, I can't guarantee you that many people jobs, but I do, we do have a really good reputation with all of the companies that we can at least help people get their foot in the door.

Shauna Costello (05:18):

Yeah. And I know that on your website, it's very well laid out. I'm looking at it right now. Um, it's very, it's very, yeah, it's very nicely laid out. It's very clear and concise and I know that some of the places on there you have your, your partners. And so when you're talking about this, just like you said, what does this partnership entail? Is this where they're getting a lot of their practicum experience? What types of experiences could your students or potential students look at getting?

Dr. Christopher Tullis (05:48):

Yeah, so right now all of the experiences that students are getting her off campus, um, we're, we should be starting an on campus, very tiny, tiny, tiny clinical program. That's mostly going to serve as a research site. We're still gonna do some service provision. Cause I think if kids are coming in, you should also give them things in return too. Um, but it's going to be really small. So the supervision opportunities, there are going to be restricted to probably only to only our graduate assistants, which we, we don't have a ton of funding at this point for them, we've put in some grants and all that kind of stuff to fund students recently. So all of those community partners are going to be where people are getting their experience and they go all the way from there's a clinic on there that, uh, only does super early intervention.

Dr. Christopher Tullis (06:34):

Um, so at zero to three and that's it so itty, itty biddies all the way up to kind of like your full service, 360, you know, everybody from the little kids all the way up to adults. So it's highly dependent on where you're at all of our partners understand that the students potentially are gonna say that they want to go get more experienced somewhere else and, um, are very comfortable with that arrangement. You just have to make it kind of upfront to them. Uh, some folks have an internship program, some folks that are hiring people in as employees, so that lets that person know where, where you're gonna move, you know, with those partnerships, um, we leave a lot of things up to, to the entities. They, we have a really good relationship. I, I know a lot about the companies. They share a lot of information with us and how they, how they are supervising students.

Dr. Christopher Tullis (07:26):

As long as it's in line with the BACB guidelines, I'm fine with it. We give them resources, we provide support to the companies, but I'm, I'm an academic now officially I'm not a clinician anymore, unfortunately. Um, as much as I love hanging out with little kids, um, my current supervisee has almost walked out of her classroom because I'm like, let me show you something. And then I show her some things and she's like, you're enjoying this way too much. Like I just, I know you don't need anybody to see it, but so we leave a lot up to the organizations and, and almost all of them have a very clear scope and sequence for how they supervise that we're aware of. And that, that we are, that we are okay with with, um, happening.

Shauna Costello (08:10):

Yeah, so you're vetting all of the partnerships that you have.

Dr. Christopher Tullis (08:12):

And I have been in Atlanta often on 16 years, um, and I've worked with a lot of the people either that are the clinical directors or that own those companies. Um, so they're known entities at least to me. And there's a fair amount of rapport that we have. So I'm not, I'm not really worried that something wonky is going on because I, I see them, I talk to them, I can send them emails. I have cell phone numbers, all that kind of stuff. So if I hear something I can immediately call and say, hey, what's going on? Do you want, do you need any extra support? Do we need to back away from this partnership for a semester? So you can retool, what do we need to do next?

Shauna Costello (08:48):

Yes. And the close. And I know you like to, I know you said that you're just an academic now and you're not in the clinical world, but you're still supervising and I know you still know what good quality supervision is. Yeah.

Dr. Christopher Tullis (09:02):

I'd like to, I'd like to hope I'm doing it right. I haven't lost anyone yet. So I think I'm doing okay.

Shauna Costello (09:10):

Good, so what about the course sequence? What are the types of courses that your students are getting into and what projects are they working on? And

Dr. Christopher Tullis (09:19):

So core sequence wise. Um, so somebody inherited the core sequence from our previous coordinator slash department chair. So it's, it's not quite, it's not the, it's not totally the Chris Tulis and Danny Conein show yet. The fifth edition will totally be our, our course sequence. The fourth edition has a lot of well Danny just got here, so he really didn't have a whole lot of say, if Danny listens to this, I hope he doesn't get irritated, but I know that he's a smart guy he's just brand new, so it's still kind of the show that I am running right now. So it's got a fair amount of intellectual developmental disabilities or autism or education flavor, but we try to make sure that the course sequence stays as agnostic as possible. I've personally found that if you understand behavioral principles and you go and get other content knowledge, then you're probably better behavior analyst in the area that you're in.

Dr. Christopher Tullis (10:12):

So I have a PhD in education. I was trained by amazing folks in the Marcus autism center. I think I'm a really good behavioral analyst because I understand behavioral principles. And then I went out and I learned all kinds of funky stuff about special education. And now it makes me better at my practice. So what we do is we try to keep our core sequence, very focused on the science and on the things that are important and then encourage everyone in their electives or potentially after they're finished to get more content information. So if you're super interested in literacy, I'm not teaching you about reading. I know about reading and I can do it, but I'm not the person that you should get that content from. I'm going to teach you about behavior analysis. And then you should probably take two or three reading courses or a reading course or two to understand what reading is outside of ABA, and then take those behavioral principles and map them on.

Shauna Costello (11:05):

And is that something that, you know, within the core sequence, you know, to getting the masters, are those electives an option?

Dr. Christopher Tullis (11:12):

Yeah. Yeah.

Shauna Costello (11:12):

So where are some of your students maybe taking some of those electives?

Dr. Christopher Tullis (11:18):

Yeah, a lot of our students are super interested in autism and intellectual developmental disabilities. And so a lot of our students are taking core sequences course sequence or courses in the adapted curriculum course sequence, which is in special education. So they're taking a lot of those. I do have a couple of students that are really interested in, um, neuroscience. So I have a student right now, that's taking a little bit of time off, but when she comes back is going to be taking some neuroscience classes, that's where she wants to take her career, which she, she wants to go get a PhD in neuroscience. And I think that's amazing, I have some other students that have taken courses in our, um, high incidence disabilities or our, um, general education curriculum is what we call in special ed, the general education or general ed. I think that's what it's called.

Dr. Christopher Tullis (12:06):

I've been out of special ed for a few years now. So I'm, I'm still kind of a little, a little iffy on my terms. So in that kind of more mild disabilities, um, sequence, so, and the options there are really wide open their electives. I'm not policing anyone's electives, as long as they don't take basket weaving or basketball or like welding or glassblowing. I'm not really, I'm not, I don't really care what they take as long as it benefits their career. So I know we have great kinesiology. We have a great kinesiology department. I had, um, I actually have a former student that is going to Wayne state in kinesiology, um, because she's really interested in, in health and fitness. And so she, she took, she took some time to take her behavior analysis, newfound behavior analysis, content knowledge into that K H program, which I think is incredible.

Shauna Costello (12:55):

It sounds like you guys are really bridging some gaps with your students and pushing them to really explore what they can do with behavior analysis. Like here are the concepts, you can apply them in a lot of different ways and a lot of different fields go find which field that you want to infiltrate and behavior analysts have been trying to infiltrate education for for decades. And so as much as we say, you know, surprise, surprise, they're interested in autism and developmental disabilities. There's still the education component that we haven't fully been able to infiltrate. So it's a good thing that they're getting into the school systems in general and even branching out even more into neuroscience like that's so that's wonderful. And I know that, um, you know, on some previous episodes of other schools that like that type of research is happening in some behavior analytic programs as well, which is really neat.

Dr. Christopher Tullis (13:52):

Yeah. And I think one of the nice parts about, about not having everything that they take being behavior analysis this is maybe controversial to other faculty, is that you've got to be able to talk their lingo and understand what their, what their kind of perspective is. If you're going to be able to infiltrate it. So if you're going to be able to influence it or be able to participate. Then you've got to be able to understand where they're coming from without expecting them to understand where you're coming from. You know, you gotta be able to get a seat at the table first. You don't have a seat. You should just pull it up and figure out what they're talking about, which is, you know, for me, when I was a student was something that was, was talked about by my own graduate mentor when I was at Ohio state.

Dr. Christopher Tullis (14:35):

Uh, but also by my undergraduate mentor, Richard, who is a cognitive psychologist. And he pretty much just like, if you want to go do it, do you need to make sure that you make the right friends and the right friends are going to be the ones that you collaborate with and you should make sure that you understand what they're talking about. They don't have understand anything about you. You need to understand them first and then you'll figure the rest out. And it is actually very true. So that's something that I think we try to teach our students as much as possible. And, you know, also just about being nice people and all that kind of stuff, our program, I joke around isn't for the weak at heart, but it's mostly because we have really high expectations for everybody, both content wise and professionally. So I want you to be a good person and I want you to be well-liked, but I also want you to be very precise in your own practice. So, and like I said, I haven't lost too many so far, so I'm doing something right.

Shauna Costello (15:26):

Yes, good. And so where are some of your students going after they graduate with their masters? I know that from the website, you guys are newer in the scope of things program.

Dr. Christopher Tullis (15:38):

Yeah. So the program itself is newer, behavior analysis at Georgia state is not, we've been

Shauna Costello (15:43):

What's the history there? Cause I know everybody probably doesn't know it.

Dr. Christopher Tullis (15:47):

So at Georgia State, we actually had a very strong behavioral core of faculty, both in psychology and in ed psych. Um, so Ted Uyeno for anybody that listens, that knows that Uyeno and, and, and Fox and all that other good stuff, Ted Ion retired from Georgia state university. And there were a number of other behaviorists that were in psychology with dr. ion. I can't remember what their names are. They they're kind of lost to the annals of, of, you know, psychology behavior analysis, uh, but in the college of education, um, we had some very well known behavior analysts, um, for people that are taking any intro courses as undergraduates, uh, Paul Alberto, they were Alberto and Troutman behavior analysis for teachers, for teachers textbook is our Dean, um, in Samuel Dietz, uh, dr. Deitz also worked with, uh, dr. ion and dr. Fox and Azure and all that kind of stuff.

Dr. Christopher Tullis (16:38):

Sam was also our college Dean as well. Um, so we've had behavior analysis here for a long time. Our formal kind of foray into having our own behavior analysis master's program is only about four or five years old. So we've been around and I got my degree here at Georgia's my master's degree at Georgia state in ed psych. So we've, we've had behavior analysis here. It just, hasn't been kind of codified and by itself and its own its own ship for someone to drive. But in that time we have students that work all over the United States. As far as I know, we have students that are working in two foreign countries. Um, there may be more GSU students that are previous to me that I don't know if they're working all over the place, but we have students that are as far West in the United States, uh, California, um, as far East, as, um, Massachusetts in the Northeast, we have a former student in Iceland. We have three former students, I think maybe four in Australia. We have a bunch of people that have graduated with, that have gone on to get PhDs. I think that that, that alone shows that, you know, the GSU program can have a really big impact or has happened. So we're all over the place and, yeah, it's wonderful.

Shauna Costello (17:49):

I know that you said you guys have a mentor model and we've heard this term used before at a couple of our other schools. So, so what does it look like at Georgia State?

Dr. Christopher Tullis (17:59):

Yeah, so up until this academic year, I was the sole full time faculty member in the ABA program. So I had anywhere between 15 and 20 students that I advised, I taught the majority of their coursework. And so really the way that mentorship kind of worked for me personally, we had to kind of systematize things a little bit. So once a semester, we always have a big group advisement without a doubt, middle of semester, we all meet together. We do any kind of housekeeping answer, big, huge questions, make sure that everyone's practicum sites are going fine. And in between all of those students know exactly when I'm on campus and what my hours are. And we, the mentorship to me is kind of fostering a clear two way dialogue. So it's less, Oh, we're going to have these meetings and I'm going to assign you to projects.

Dr. Christopher Tullis (18:49):

And it's more, here's how we're going to talk to each other. And here's how here are the things that I expect you to bring to me. And here's what we're going to do in response. So really laying out what the progression of things is. So if you're, you know, if you have a big family event, understand that I'm gonna be really reasonable about it. Let me know as soon as you can so that we can work, work through it. Or if you have a problem at work that impacts your supervision, let me know so that we can work through it. And surprisingly, that's been a really good model. I've had lots and lots of students that are very open and honest about their limitations, about what they need. And it's worked really, really nicely. I didn't think it was going to work that well, to be incredibly honest. Um, I thought it was going to blow up in my face and emphasizing that we just need to keep open lines of communication and kind of doing sporadic housekeeping before or after classes, that kind of stuff. Um, our classes are taught in the afternoon or in the evenings. So sometimes it's a little bit difficult for, um, for all of us to kind of hang around after class and talk, but we try to keep, you know, some wiggle room. So that there's time for, for any, any emergencies or any questions that we might have. .

Shauna Costello (19:58):

So, I mean, it really sounds like you're starting and now that you have help as well, but it sounds like you're really starting to foster that, you know, family like feel of your program.

Dr. Christopher Tullis (20:09):

Yeah, it really, you know, it is one of those things where we, we are supportive of each other. And even when students get out of the program, I have students that do contact me not a lot, but do reach out when they have questions or when they can't find resources or want some advice or anything like that. And, and I, I think that that's something that I would like to continue to have granted as, as the advisees former advisees get to be more and more, it becomes a little more difficult for me to respond to everything. So we may have to figure out a different system, but it's been something that's been pretty beneficial to all.

Shauna Costello (20:41):

Yeah. But I know that me being a former student, um, I know that I appreciate that as a previous student, just to know that you guys are really fostering that. And I know that probably as you keep growing and getting more help, that it'll probably be easier as one person can only do so much,

Dr. Christopher Tullis (21:00):

I'm sure that it will be in, in students. Also, we also practice a fair amount, and I think this, this goes into like kind of the hidden curriculum of, of graduate school or hidden curriculum being professional is we practice a fair amount about boundaries and almost all of the master students will tell you exactly what hours you, what you should expect from me at what hour of the day or night, if you email me on certain days, they know I'm just not responding, but it's more, but I don't expect that from them either. So we practice these boundaries where, you know, from three o'clock on Friday until seven in the morning on Monday, I'm not checking my email and I don't expect them to check their email either. So we try to make sure that, that we know when each other is readily available, which is another big part. I think, of, of how, of how mentoring is kind of working with us is that we make sure that expectations are laid out very clearly for both the students and for us. So they know what we should be doing. And if we're not, then they're more than welcome to send an email to that professor that says, Hey, you said you were going to do this. Like, I'm doing my part. You should do yours. So

Shauna Costello (22:05):

Yeah, a little mini behavior analyst,

Dr. Christopher Tullis (22:08):

We try our best to, to make, to make them good. So, um, so far they've all been wonderful cohorts and great students.

Shauna Costello (22:15):

That's good to hear. And so I know that we were talking a little bit about Georgia state's campus and the activities going on there. So what has been going on at Georgia state and the surrounding areas?

Dr. Christopher Tullis (22:28):

So Georgia state itself, this is a Georgia state university as a, as a university on the, on the whole. And this is a big thing that has bubbled up in behavior analysis. Right? A big, big question about diversity or those types of, of questions. And, you know, I'm an almost 40 year old white guy and now, and, and to me, I was like, Oh, diversity. I never really thought like, Oh, that's great moron. You probably should think about these things. Um, and prospective students have asked me a lot about what's your diversity on campus. And it gets to people being able to find their place or being comfortable. And that's a big deal in graduate school, or at least I think it's a big deal in graduate school. And so some of the things that I think are great about GSU and again, I've been in Atlanta for a long time and all that other kind of stuff is that we're a massively diverse campus.

Dr. Christopher Tullis (23:15):

And it don't say that like, oh, we're really diverse. Like we are insanely diverse as a campus as a whole. So, like I said, almost 40 year old white dude, there are more times than I can count that I am the only, only white guy walking down the street to go get a cup of coffee. That's how diverse our campus is. And I think that part of that, that's what, that's what makes Georgia State really, really unique. And that's what also makes it really special is that we have, we have a lot of different cultures and different races and different gender identities and everything else kind of melding together in this, in this campus. And it makes it a welcoming environment for lots of people. And I have a couple of, I have a tip sheet from our, from our people. So we've gotten awards for our diversity too, which I think is awesome, rundown of just GSU.

Dr. Christopher Tullis (24:01):

So we are the number one public or nonprofit university in the US to convert undergraduate degrees to African-Americans. So this being the city of Atlanta, this being Georgia, we are one of the cradles of civil rights. I think that's amazing. And right down the street from GSU is the fairly poplar district and Auburn Avenue and Ebeneezer Baptist church. So Georgia state is kind of is, is in this position where we're actually fulfilling a lot of dreams of people from minority communities. And I think that's awesome. And I think that it's great to be part of it.

Shauna Costello (24:32):

No, it's absolutely amazing just to hear it because I know my background too. I'm a, almost 30 year old white chick, so I get it. But I'm from a very, very small conservative Bible belt town. There's a small area of Michigan. That's known as the Bible belt of the up North. And that is where I'm from. And I know that I will probably never move back there because after moving away from there and getting to experience different types of cultures and really immersing myself in Detroit, like I told you, before I consider Detroit my home and everything about Detroit and what Detroit is, no matter what a lot of people like to say about Detroit, but I know that, you know, I'll be honest, Atlanta has a, or even Georgia in general has kind of a scattered background. And I would be lying if I said that I haven't already binge-watched mind Hunter season two. So, it's very good. I mean, it just talks about, you know, the Atlanta child murders. And I know that that's been something that I have a good friend that also works in Atlanta in a news station. And I know that they've done some recent news broadcasts about what's been going on and, you know, the mayor and how they're reopening a lot of the stuff that has really affected certain parts of Atlanta. And just to hear that this university in the heart of Atlanta is really fostering the growth of its community.

Dr. Christopher Tullis (26:08):

Yeah. The other parts that, that we've talked about a bunch here at Georgia state as a whole, and, um, and the college of education, human development, human development, which is where the ABA program is situated. You know, we're, we're, we're serving more minority students than we are, I guess, the traditional majority and, for a large research university, that's not really all that common. And I think that's a better, that's a great thing because we're, we're getting a whole lot of opportunity and providing a lot of equity. Our program itself is growing in its diversity. That's been something for me is, um, is, is an important thing, is an important aspect to take care of. Um, you know, we're down the street from the Atlanta university center. Um, so AUCD is Morehouse college Spellman, um, Clark Atlanta, and it used to be Morris Brown. Morris Brown has doesn't really have any students anymore.

Dr. Christopher Tullis (27:04):

So we're down the street from AUC and smart guys, smart gals. Like they should be coming to Georgia state to get their graduate degrees because we're down the street, you're already living in Atlanta, come and visit us and be part of our community. So I want to say that this incoming class of students is the most diverse that we've had. I think I'd have to go back and look again, but I think that's one of the, one of the things that I think is great about Georgia state is the diversity that we have on campus. The other things that are great about being here is that we're in Atlanta. We are in a large metropolitan city that has every opportunity known to man. All of my students are gainfully employed. They all have, they all have jobs. They're all out in the field in some sort of service provision agency practicing. And that's something that I don't know how common that is everywhere else, but I think that that's really nice that there's that much opportunity and potential job growth, um, for the students that are graduating from the GSU program.

Shauna Costello (28:01):

And they're really getting real world experience while still being able to be in an on campus program. Because a lot of times on campus programs are really about the faculty research and the faculty's practicum sites. And a lot of times can kind of jade you to what the real world service delivery model is actually.

Dr. Christopher Tullis (28:23):

Yep. We are still pretty research active, but which is still an opportunity for all the students, less of a requirement than it is an opportunity. So we don't require a thesis. And this is very much a practitioner type of degree. It's not to say that you can't go on to do research or to get a PhD. Two of my former students are now two of my current doctoral students and one of them, well, she's getting into her second or for her first full time year as a doctoral student. And she just submitted her fourth paper for publication. So we're still, there's a lot of that opportunity here too. We do that through a lot of our community partners, but, but you do, you, you're getting a lot of very applicable, real world experience while you're here. Um, and with our partners, they all, they all are pretty all right with being able to make it downtown, to go to classes and that kind of stuff as well.

Shauna Costello (29:16):

And I mean, we, we need more, you know, in the field in general, we do need more of those basic researchers, but on the, at the same time, we need more of those real world practitioners doing research in the field, the ones that are actually cause that's hard, it's hard translating from that basic research to practice. So being able to do a lot of that translational work is really important.

Dr. Christopher Tullis (29:47):

Yeah, yeah, yeah. So we have those opportunities here on campus, or we have those opportunities to in Atlanta. Um, Atlanta is a city, I think as I, there's a reason why I personally moved back to Atlanta. I think dr. Conine would say the same thing. Atlanta is just a great city. We have there. There's a lot of, there are a lot of, I guess, socially conscious activities that happen in Atlanta. There are a lot of people that are very committed to Atlanta being this top notch kind of city. One of the big projects that actually was someone's master's thesis at Georgia tech is the Atlanta BeltLine. So Atlanta BeltLine is, um, the brain child of this guy named Ryan Grevel, graduated Georgia tech in urban planning. The folks on North Avenue do all kinds of weird, cool stuff. Like she rockets into space and build better roads or whatever they do.

Dr. Christopher Tullis (30:35):

But his master's thesis was on this like master plan for transportation and walkability in the city of Atlanta. And it turned into then the Atlanta BeltLine. And it's a ring around the center of Atlanta that is meant for walking and biking and eventually public transportation. So restaurants and bars and shops and overpriced departments and a bunch of other stuff has popped up all around the Atlanta BeltLine, which is an exciting occurrence. It brings other things to the fore that needs to be handled by, by the community. But we have an amazing music scene. I went to undergraduate, undergraduate at the university of Georgia. So I'm, I like to see music as much as I can. I don't see as much as I used to, but we have amazing music that comes through the city. We have all kinds of, kind of the, the benefits that you would think of in a big city, great art museums, all kinds of good stuff like that. We're ending the festival season right now. So in the summers, every neighborhood in the city of Atlanta as at least one festival sometimes two. So every weekend you have something that's free that you can go see.

Shauna Costello (31:38):

And I know I haven't lived in a city that is as big as Atlanta, but I've lived all throughout Metro Detroit. And you can probably agree that even with as big as a metropolitan area as Atlanta is, um, I know for me, when I was in Detroit, it's still felt like you can find your small niche and your family, and it's not always this big, like hustle and bustle, and it's not always that, you can really find a place and people and that small town feel.

Dr. Christopher Tullis (32:11):

Yeah, most definitely. I mean, the bigger cities are kind of scary. I grew up in Augusta and it's two and a half hours South of here and it's a small town and, or was a small town at the time. It's bigger now. And then I went to Athens and other small town and then I moved to Atlanta and I honestly thought that I wasn't gonna be able to make it work the first day, because I'd never been on an interstate that was that big before in my life. And, but as time went on you, do you find, you find kind of your place that you're really comfortable and in Atlanta and Atlanta kind of like probably in Detroit or other places, you really don't always leave your, your area. So I know that I left my neighborhood for the first time, other than work and probably weeks over the weekend. I don't, I don't, I go, I go to the same three places to go and get beer. I walk places to eat with my wife and that's it. And I drive downtown for work. And that's what I do. Yep. So you can, you really can. I did Atlanta, like other big cities does seem like it's big and scary, but it really isn't.

Shauna Costello (33:12):

Right. You're building this community and this family feel and he, you know, um, I've been looking at your website and it says that, you know, the application is due fall or February one. Um, what is the application process like?

Dr. Christopher Tullis (33:28):

So, um, application process, the requirements for the program are a minimum 3.0 on a 4.0 scale GPA, GRE scores in the 50th percentile, three letters of professional recommendation. And then a goal statement that follows the guidelines that are on the website, the way that we do our admission. So we have stated missions criteria. The way that we do admissions is that everybody that applies does a faculty member that does get to make an admissions decision, sees all of our applications. One of the reasons that we do that is that individual scores are metrics that can be used in decision making, but that's not necessarily the whole picture of a student. So we don't rely on one thing or another to make our decisions. So it's not, oh, you've got a, you know, 45th percentile GRE score in this. So we're just going to kick you out.

Dr. Christopher Tullis (34:20):

We don't really do those things. Um, we want to see everyone's full and complete application packet before we make those decisions with, uh, the letters of recommendation our preference is that they're academic and that they're for people, if you're people that are working in in-home programs or clinic programs are in those things that they're not families of kids that you work with, as much as they probably can say how amazing you are. They're not really great judges of whether or not you're gonna be able to complete our program. And that's the business that we're in. We want program completers and want people to sit for the BCBA exam. And sometimes our consumers can't really tell that they can tell that you're a really good person and that's great, but that's not going to help us in our admissions and our admissions decisions. So all of those go to the office of academic assistance and graduate admissions. So it's, there's a button that's on the website and before it even gets to us, they handle everything. So you have an admissions, like I think they call them admissions counselors or something like that. We've had some job title changes recently, but you'll be assigned somebody that will be your main contact for the admissions process. The only things that I know about admissions are those things that are required for the application.

Shauna Costello (35:30):

Yeah. And so is there an interview process? Like, so when you get the applications, you're looking them over,

Dr. Christopher Tullis (35:36):

At this time, we don't have an interview process. It could change in the future, but right now that's not, that's not a direction that we've gone so no interview, but there, but anybody is welcome to reach out to most, I'm probably the best contact to reach out to me with any questions, any concerns, anything like that, just in general, about the program or any questions that you may have? Um, I try to, I try to be as, um, as available as I can be to answer those questions, but there anybody's more than welcome to email me.

Shauna Costello (36:07):

And I know that sometimes the interview process and some that we've even heard of can sometimes seem a little daunting for some of our listeners and potential students that that might actually be something that they like hearing and that wants to make them reach out to Georgia state. So, so no, it's good to hear that, you know, just the differences between the different schools and the programs for what's going on. So what about Georgia state or the behavior analysis program? Have I, have we not covered yet? Is there anything else that you want to,

Dr. Christopher Tullis (36:40):

You know, we're, we're a growing program, hopefully we'll, we'll be growing more faculty-wise, um, and, and all that kind of other kind of stuff. And I think that we, we hit, we hit pretty much everything. Like all the things that I think are, are what make us pretty unique as a, as a program.

Shauna Costello (36:59):

And I mean, even though you say you're a growing program and you are, you know, behavior analysis, like you said, has been established at Georgia state for many years. And you guys, even though you're growing program, you have all of these wonderful community partners and relationships to really help foster the growth of your students to get them out there and really experience that real world. And the ability to, you know, have them really tailor their experience in behavior analysis to what they want it to be. Like you said, neuroscience education, like what, and you push them to do that. I don't want you to just say, oh, we're a growing program because for a growing program, I think that, that sounds pretty wonderful.

Dr. Christopher Tullis (37:42):

Yeah. Yeah. We, we, we try, we try to get people what they need when they need it. And, and hopefully we'll continue doing that with our next, our next edition of the course sequence. That's actually going to give us a little more wiggle room as well. So we've done some, some fancy credit hour reorganization and that kind of stuff. So same credit hours, same amount of time, but we've added in some content and stuff. So we're super excited.

Shauna Costello (38:08):

Yeah, that sounds, it sounds very exciting. Um, so I just want to reiterate what you said that if people have any questions to reach out to you, um, I will, you know, all of the contact information will be in the description of the podcast, but also I'll put the website as well. And all of the contact information is also on there. There's a lovely website to go look at. If you're interested in going and visiting, I've been to Atlanta a couple of times, and I'm actually another trip back to visit family. And it is a wonderful city and don't let the big city scare you because it's really not that scary. I fell in love with it, and I'm from a very, very small town. Well, thank you again for talking with me today. I'm really excited to learn more about Georgia state and just how excited you and the schoolwork about really getting the program out there.

Dr. Christopher Tullis (38:58):

Cool. Thank you so much.

Shauna Costello (39:01):

Thank you for listening to the university series on operant innovations next week, we'll be heading back to Florida to speak with Rollins college, a private university in the heart of Orlando. And as always, if you have any questions, comments, concerns, or feedback, please feel free to email us at


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