Endorsed by the United States Surgeon General, the National Science Foundation, the American Academy of Pediatrics, among others, applied behavior analysis (ABA) employs procedures based on scientific research, systematic instruction, and empirical data to teach the language, social, and behavioral skills, etc. needed by persons with autism spectrum disorder. Students pursuing the undergraduate concentration in ABA are eligible to achieve national certification at the assistant level and are highly employable in a number of areas, including schools, homes, institutions, group homes, and hospitals. Note: The ABA concentration or minor do not lead to public school licensure or certification.
Coursework and Field Experiences
The ABA concentration allows students to take foundation courses in the liberal arts and education, followed by a four-course sequence of courses specifically about autism and behavior analysis. A year-long practicum, completed in the fall and spring of senior year, is also required. In Massachusetts, internships in the field of applied behavior analysis are possible through sites such as Melmark New England in Andover, CrossRoads School for Children in Natick, and Future Clinic in Beverly.
Certification in Behavior Analysis
Over the past 20 years, the standard in the field of ABA to provide such services has fallen to those professionals who are identified as being “board certified” by the Behavior Analysis Certification Board, Inc (BACB®), which is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation established in 1998 to meet professional credentialing needs identified by behavior analysts, governments, and consumers of behavior analysis services. The BACB adheres to the national standards for boards that grant professional credentials, and certification procedures and content undergo regular psychometric review and validation, pursuant to a job analysis survey of the profession and standards established by content experts in the field. The BACB credentials practitioners at three levels. Students graduating from the School of Education with a concentration in ABA are eligible to sit for the assistant behavior analyst certification examination to become board certified assistant behavior analysts (BCaBA®). Individuals who wish to become board certified behavior analysts (BCBA®) must possess at least a master’s degree, such as those offered by Endicott’s Institute for Behavioral Studies, have 225 classroom hours of specific graduate-level coursework, meet experience requirements, and pass the behavior analyst certification examination. Doctoral board certified behavior analysts are BCBAs who hold doctorate degrees and meet other criteria. BACB certificants must accumulate continuing education credit to maintain their credentials.
Programs at the Institute for Behavioral Studies in the Van Loan School at Endicott College
In addition to the undergraduate concentration in ABA, Endicott’s Institute for Behavioral Studies currently offers several graduate programs focusing on the acquisition of ABA techniques, leading to expertise in intervention for this complex disorder. First and foremost, the faculty offer both a Master of Education in ABA/Autism and an advanced graduate Certificate in Autism for students who hold board certification in ABA. This M.Ed. program provides intensive training in both the idiosyncratic learning characteristics of children diagnosed with ASD as well as the fundamental science of ABA. The program includes the five required ABA courses that lead to eligibility for certification as a BCBA. It is offered in a hybrid format, utilizing both distance learning and traditional classroom instruction. The BCBA certification is important in that it is becoming increasingly recognized as the certification emphasizing preparation in the field of ABA. Coupled with specialized training in ASD, graduates of this program are expertly trained to work with this population. Students may pursue this degree with or without teacher licensure.
In addition, the Institute offers a Master of Education program that combines courses in special education with the five required ABA courses for BCBA certification. Students may pursue this degree with or without teacher licensure. A similar master’s program in moderate or severe special education teacher training is also offered. This special education teacher preparation program embedding the BCBA certification training is one of only two such programs in the United States. A non-degree certificate program consisting of the five-course certification sequence in ABA is also available.