About Applied Behavior Analysis

What is Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)? (BACB.com)
Behavior analysis is the science of behavior, with a history extending back to the early 20th century. Its guiding philosophy is behaviorism, which is based on the premise that attempts to improve the human condition through behavior change (e.g., education, behavioral health treatment) will be most effective if behavior itself is the primary focus.

Behavior analysts have developed numerous techniques and treatment approaches for analyzing and changing behavior, and ultimately, to improve lives. Because this approach applied behavior analysis (ABA) is largely based on behavior and its consequences, techniques generally involve teaching individuals more effective ways of behaving and working to change the social consequences of existing behavior. Treatment approaches based on ABA have been empirically shown to be effective in a wide variety of areas. However, because ABA was first applied to the treatment of individuals with intellectual disabilities and autism, this practice area has the largest evidence base and has received the most recognition.

What does a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) do? (BACB.com)
The BCBA holds graduate-level certification in behavior analysis; professionals certified at the BCBA level are independent practitioners who provide behavior-analytic services. Although many BCBAs work with individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities in schools and clinics, other ABA subspecialty areas include:

  • Education (Early Childhood Educator, Behavior Specialist)
  • Sports
  • Organizational Behavior Management
  • Behavioral Gerontology
  • Brain Injury Rehabilitation
  • Sustainability
  • Behavioral Pediatrics
  • Prevention/Intervention in Child Maltreatment
  • Health and Fitness
  • Treatment of Substance Abuse Disorders 

How can I become a BCBA? (BACB.com)
According to the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB), which establishes practice standards, administers examinations, and provides ethics requirements and a disciplinary system for its certification programs, there are three pathways to BCBA certification (see the BCBA-2022 Eligibility Requirements Handbook). Augustana University’s M.Ed. SPED ABA program provides a route through Pathway 2 (graduate degree + behavior-analytic coursework + practical fieldwork in applied behavior analysis).

Do I need to be working in a behavioral setting to enroll in the M.Ed. SPED ABA program?
The M.Ed. SPED ABA program has been designed for students who are working in behavioral settings (for example, as a Registered Behavior Technician [RBT], a Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst [BCaBA], or a special education teacher). A behavioral work setting is necessary for students to be able to complete the concentrated fieldwork requirements within three 5-month practica that run concurrently with coursework. Augustana has partnered with HOPE Group Clinical to offer the three practica, which follow a fieldwork curriculum aligned with coursework and the BCBA (5th ed.) Task List. Students who are employed full time in a behavioral setting will have the opportunity to accrue the required number of concentrated fieldwork experience hours within the 16-month graduate program course sequence. Note that requirements for degree completion in M.Ed. SPED ABA include both coursework and practica.

What is a Verified Course Sequence (VCS)?

A Verified Course Sequence (VCS) is a set of courses that has been verified by the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) as meeting basic coursework requirements for eligibility to take the Board Certified Behavior Analyst® examination. Augustana’s M.Ed. SPED ABA courses have received VCS verification from ABAI.

Note: BCBA applicants will need to meet additional requirements (i.e., supervised field experience hours, completion of master’s degree) before they can be deemed eligible to take the examination. Students of Augustana’s M.Ed. SPED ABA program will have the opportunity to complete all components required to apply for the BCBA exam while completing their degree.