Describe the history, philosophy, and terminology of behaviorism and Applied Behavior Analysis and understand basic behavioral principles and their application
Collect and analyze data, use within-subject designs in research and practice, and link assessment to treatment
Use behavioral technology to conduct an assessment of behavioral function and instructional programs to make data-based, timely decisions on the effectiveness of behavioral procedures and the need for modification to intervention
Participate as a part of a multi-disciplinary team, exercising ethical responsibility to clients, the limitations of their expertise, and the protection of the dignity of those they serve
Implement behavioral strategies in organizations by way of consultation and staff training
Tuition waivers are available to students working at the Gengras Center. Students who obtain optional employment as Teacher’s Aides at the Gengras Center receive a six credit per semester tuition waiver.
BACB® Supervision is built into the program for students who choose to work at the Gengras Center. These students enroll in our Practicum course to earn experience hours. During this time, they will work collaboratively with full-time Board Certified Behavior Analysts® (BCBA®) at the Gengras Center. Students can instead choose to receive supervision at their current behavior analytic employer. Our supervision coordinator will help you determine which path is best for you. Please see the BACB® Experience Standards for additional information regarding supervision requirements.
We offer a broad range of applied research experiences based on your interests. Check out our most recent issue of the Blue Jay Bulletinto learn more about the work being done by our students and faculty.
Applied Behavior Analysis, or ABA, is the science and study of behavior. Its roots lie in behaviorism, the premise of which emphasizes a focus on behaviors themselves in order to understand, analyze, and modify them. For regulatory purposes, this practice is defined as the design, implementation, and evaluation of instructional and environmental modifications to produce socially significant improvements in human behavior.Read more from the Association of Professional Behavior Analysts.
ABA is largely based on the principles of learning and behavior; these principles explain how a behavior is learned and how it changes (or can be modified) over time. ABA experts such as behavior analysts and behavior specialists have been using this knowledge to develop ways in which to analyze and change behavior — and to improve lives — since the early 20th century. Today, ABA is widely used across a variety of fields.
Our program is designed to help students prepare to obtain BCBA® certification. In order to obtain this certification, you must successfully complete a master’s degree, the required behavior-analytic coursework specified by the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI), the fieldwork requirements specified by the BCBA®, and the BCBA examination (https://www.bacb.com/bcba/). Importantly, you must meet both your coursework AND fieldwork requirements prior to becoming eligible to take the BCBA® exam.
ABAI has verified our courses toward the coursework requirements for eligibility to take the BCBA® examination (VCS #51040; 5th Edition; Verified course sequences are located here). Students who choose to complete our Intensive Practicum at the Gengras Center on campus also meet the BACB® fieldwork requirements for eligibility to take the exam, thus meeting all requirements to take the exam for certification. Students who choose not to complete our Intensive Practicum need to meet the fieldwork requirement elsewhere before they can be deemed eligible to take the examination.
In Connecticut, and other states with licensure, passing of the BCBA® exam meets the requirements for licensure. A list of states that have enacted licensure laws can be found here: https://www.bacb.com/u-s-licensure-of-behavior-analysts/. Since the field is relatively new, licensure laws are added and modified frequently, so please reach out to the ABA program director, Dr. Laura Turner at [email protected] if you have questions about the licensure law in the state you ultimately want to practice in.
Note: Students can take then exam multiple times; however, the BACB® Pass rates are calculated by the first attempt only.
In order to sit for the BCBA exam®, you need to complete 2000 hours of supervised experience in the field. You can choose to obtain these hours directly through our M.S. program by completing our Gengras Center Practicum. You can also choose to obtain these hours through your current ABA employer. Our supervision coordinator will help you determine which path is best for you. You will learn more about practicum and approved practicum experiences upon acceptance into the program. Please see the BACB Experience Standards for additional information regarding supervision requirements.
The M.S. in ABA has a fall start only (i.e., we do not accept students to begin during the spring semester). To begin courses in the upcoming fall semester, we recommend that students submit their application by April 1. Even after the priority deadline, we continue to review applications when we receive them. Depending on availability and the quality of the application, students will be accepted for the upcoming fall. If there is no available space when an application is received, we will put the applicant on a wait list in case any students fail to register. If that is not the case, the applicant will be guaranteed a spot with the following cohort of students.
The admissions criteria for our program include a minimum GPA of 3.0. That being said, we consider many variables when reviewing an application, and GPA is just one of those variables. Something that we value is experience in the field of ABA. If your GPA is below 3.0, but you have ABA experience and letters of recommendation from individuals in the field of behavior analysis this will help your application. You should also include a section in your personal entrance essay outline with an explanation of your GPA is below the required standard and how you plan to address those issues in your graduate studies.
Wondering what jobs and career options are available to Master’s in Applied Behavior Analysis degree holders? You may be surprised to find out that your possibilities reach far beyond the classroom.
Educational assessment, planning, and program evaluation
Therapy and mental health
Developmental disabilities and behavioral disorders
Staff and parent training
The list below highlights some of the more traditional applications of applied behavior analysis as well as some out-of-the-box and experimental career paths available to master’s degree holders.
Board Certified Behavior Analyst®
To become a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst® (BCBA), master’s students must complete their degree program and supervised clinical experience in addition to passing the certification exam.
BCBA career options are vast and varied. These professionals provide services for children, adolescents, and adults with autism, intellectual or developmental disabilities, or mental disorders. With the primary objective of improving their patients’ mental and physical health, independence, and social functioning, BCBAs analyze their behavior patterns; they then map out programs to modify existing behaviors, replace undesirable behaviors with new, more appropriate behaviors, and expand upon their behavioral repertoire. BCBAs find work in schools, homes, hospitals, assisted living facilities, and more. Learn more about the Behavior Analyst Certification Board.
Organizational Behavior Management
Organizational behavior management (OBM) aims to improve individual or group performance within an organizational setting, particularly in businesses. The goal of applied behavior analysts in organizational analysis is to create a balanced situation in which poor performance areas are improved, high performance areas are maintained, and organizational goals are met. Applied behavior analysts focus on principles such as reinforcement, punishment, and stimulus control to hit these targets. The overarching hope of this process is to create happier employers and employees, leading to a more efficient and harmonious workplace. Read the BACB’s fact sheet on organizational behavior management.
With a Master’s degree in Applied Behavior Analysis students can further their education with a P.h.D to become an Animal Behaviorist. As an Animal behaviorists an applied behavior analyst gets “back to basics” to analyze and modify operant (or voluntary) behaviors in non-human animals. Operant conditioning was developed by B.F. Skinner. Though the concept was first explored by Edward Thorndike, Skinner rejected Thorndike’s reference to unobservable mental states (like pleasure,) instead focusing solely on observable behavior and its equally observable consequences. Skinner stressed that reinforcement leads to desired actions or responses, while punishment stops undesired actions responses. Skinner gained worldwide recognition after training pigeons in World War II to guide missiles to their targets using operant conditioning, effectively proving that a positive outcome leads to learned behavior (the pigeons learned to peck the disc in return for the reward of food.)
Although the underpinnings of applied behavior analysis are present in both non-human animal and human behavior analysis and modification, animal behaviorists are able to focus on the fundamental elements of operant conditioning with their subjects. Animal behaviorists find work in shelters, farms, zoos, and in-home behavior consulting settings or private practices. Visit the Animal Behavior Society website.
Speech and Language Development and Therapy
Verbal Behavior Therapy builds upon motivation and uses positive reinforcement (in the form of rewards such as food or toys) to reinforce verbal communication in a child with developmental disabilities or impaired social or language skills. Applied behavior analysts working in speech and language therapy use ABA learning principles and techniques such as repetition, prompting, and shaping as motivation. The foundation of therapy is laid by teaching “mands,” or requests, so that the child learns that verbal communication (words) can produce desired results. Learn more about Verbal Behavior Therapy.
Careers in Experimental Behavior Analysis
As applied behavior analysis continues to grow and evolve into a well-known and widely used branch of psychology, more experimental subspecialties have cropped up that present new and exciting opportunities for Master’s in Applied Behavior Analysis degree holders. After earning a Master’s degree students can further pursue a career in Experimental Behavior Analysis by continuing their education and earning a P.h.D.
Experimental Behavior Analysis is based on B.F. Skinner’s theories of radical behaviorism. Skinner viewed all observable actions as behaviors, which can be analyzed and modified through operant conditioning. Behavioral economics, behavioral pharmacology, and behavioral toxicology are just a few of the subfields that behavior analysts can dive into. Academia and government also employ experimental behavior analysts. The overarching theme in all Experimental Behavior Analysis is, of course, experimentation. Read B.F. Skinner’s scholarly article on the experimental analysis of behavior.
Their findings gathered that annual demand for individuals holding BCBA/BCBA-D certification has increased each year since 2010, with a 1,942% increase from 2010 to 2018 and a 127% increase from 2017 to 2018. In addition, increases in demand occurred in every state since 2010.
Annual demand for individuals holding BCaBA certification has increased each year since 2010, with a 1,098% increase from 2010 to 2018 and a 184% increase from 2017 to 2018. In addition, increases in demand occurred in every state since 2010.
Pursue a rewarding, lucrative career and improve lives — earn your Master’s degree in Applied Behavior Analysis.
With so many fields and industries requiring the expertise of educated behavior analysts, a Master’s degree in Applied Behavior Analysis is a surefire way to open up a myriad of career opportunities. No matter which field you choose to utilize your expertise, applied behavior analysts improve lives and make the world a better place for all.
USJ’s ABA program prepares compassionate, driven individuals for a challenging and rewarding career in the unique field of behavior analysis.
All of our courses are offered on campus and either begin at 4 p.m. or 6:45 p.m. Monday through Thursday. You should expect to be on campus 1-2 nights per week. We do not offer any online courses. However, a hybrid model is used for the research capstone course, especially if students are conducting their project off-campus.
As part of the M.S. coursework, in your final year you must propose, complete, and defend an empirical master’s thesis. You will work in collaboration with experienced full-time faculty member for the entirety of this project.
The M.S. in ABA program can be completed in two or three years. You will take 2-3 courses per semester, depending on which option you choose.
Yes, USJ offers a small number of competitive assistantships each year. For additional questions and information, please contact the Office of Graduate Academic Services ([email protected]).
That is absolutely fine. You are not required to complete the Gengras Center Practicum. If you elect to work at an off-campus location, the USJ practicum coordinator will be available to assist you in locating and documenting BACB supervision experiences. Students not enrolled in the Intensive Practicum course will enroll in six credits of Practical Applications coursework.
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