The basis of Behavior Analysis may have been formed around the theory that states behavior is learned and can be influenced by a person's environment. With that being said, it may also be important to note that the studies of behavior may purposefully lack any insight into emotional processes that may take place throughout the process. Behavior Analysts may look directly at a target behavior when introduced to a client, as well as the factors in the client's environment that may be reinforcing future occurrences of that behavior.
Students entering into Masters in Behavior Analysis degree programs should take into consideration both the course work involved in this degree program and the career opportunities that may be available to them after completing their degree and training. Our team of educational experts has been researching educational programs like this one for over a decade. The information provided in this guide can help you decide whether or not a Masters in Behavior Analysis could be the right career option for you.
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Master of Behavior Analysis Programs
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology
Students with the desire to help others progress through unwanted behaviors can engage in their education and training through the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. This university currently provides a BACB-approved Behavior Analysis program for upcoming students. This program may require that students complete their courses online, with most students completing their part-time program in around 28 months.
Capella University's Applied Behavior Analysis master's program can be excellent for students interested in learning more about the function of behavior in people of various backgrounds. This program can be an excellent choice for current educators or clinical professionals seeking added training in managing difficult or socially-significant behaviors in a variety of settings. This program can allow students to complete their degree in around 2 years.
The Masters in Applied Behavior Analysis at Drexel University can also be a great resource for students that have the need to pursue their degree completely online. Through this program, students can learn more about how behavior is reinforced naturally and through responses - which can be helpful in developing relevant behavior plans for families and educators. This program may require students to take 2 years work of courses, totaling 46 credit hours for the entire program.
Common Master of Behavior Analysis Courses
- Behavior Interventions: Students of Behavior Analysis may receive direct instruction on how to apply behavioral programs to clients in the field. Based on an initial Functional Behavior Assessment, students can organize a treatment plan that may consist of interventions such as positive reinforcement, praise, positive punishment, or many others. In this course, students can examine different interventions to learn more about how they are applied and the benefits to each.
- Techniques in Applied Behavior Analysis: Students interested in becoming licensed behavior analysts should have the opportunity to engage in learning about techniques that can sharpen their skills with clients in the field. This course can introduce students to different teaching and instructional techniques that can be effective with certain groups of clients. Techniques for achieving valid data may be discussed, as well as techniques for ensuring extraneous variables are not interfering with the progress of treatment plans.
- Ethics in Applied Behavior Analysis: Just like any other degree program that focuses on practice with clients, this program may provide students with the opportunity to look closer into the ethics and regulations set forth in this field. Students in this course might take a look at the practical considerations that must be implemented when working with clients, as well as the restrictions for treatment and assessment. Students may also have the opportunity to review the regulations set forth by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) as part of this course’s requirement.
What To Expect Post-Graduation
Through the Masters in Behavior Analysis, students can learn about the skills required to perform valid behavior assessments in the field. College training can assist students with gaining the ability to analyze behaviors in their natural context, determine with acts as reinforcement for the behavior, and implement a behavior plan that can influence the reaction or environment that is helping the behavior continue. The course work that teaches these skills may include a practice component that allows students to better understand how to implement behavior programs in the real-world environment. Some of the topics learned in these programs that can translate into career responsibilities are listed below.
- Initial Interview: Part of the training process may involve a look into conversational methods and documentation of initial behavioral interviews. These can take place between a behavior analyst and a client, family member, or members of an educational team. This is the first component into the investigation of a behavior and its source.
- Pairing: Students in ABA degree programs may also learn how to appropriately build a relationship with their clients. In Behavior Analysis, this process is referred to as pairing.
- Data Collection: Data collection may be a huge factor during the analysis of behavior. In degree programs, students can learn different methods of data collection based upon timed trials, frequency, and interval recordings. Data can be the basis of forming a baseline figure of behaviors in which to compare to information gained after a behavioral intervention.
- Functional Behavior Assessment: The actual report on the behavior and its causes may be reported in a Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA). Students training in Behavior Analysis can learn how to accurately locate the function of a behavior and report it in this format in order to determine a proper course of treatment after the assessment process.
- Intervention: The intervention portion of ABA may include changing the response to a behavior, adjusting the environment, or even reinforcing a replacement behavior for the client to use. If you are training in an ABA degree program, you may be tasked with developing your own intervention for a mock behavioral issue.
- Parent/Teacher Training: A huge portion of Behavior Analysis may lie in the training of people around your client. While in Masters in Behavior Analysis degree programs, students can learn how to properly train parents and educators on data collection and intervention application.
What is a BCBA? Board Certified Behavior Analyst
The Masters in Behavior Analysis can be a great way to learn more about behavior and how to change it. This knowledge alone can assist you in finding great careers that can allow you to exhibit your skills in a proactive way. However, if you are interested in writing behavior plans and working in private or educational environments, you may need to move forward with obtaining your license as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA).
BCBAs are licensed professionals that can implement interventions when needed in a variety of settings. They can be exceptionally useful in areas where behavior can interfere with progress, such as schools and in the home. This specialty field is relatively new in comparison to other psychological fields, so it may continue to change and evolve as the years progress.
At first, Behavior Analysis may have been a field most useful with clients that have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or other developmental delays. However, as the field has grown in popularity, more and more people may be realizing that ABA can be a useful tool with clients of all kinds. The Behavior Analyst Certification Board is the primary resource for upcoming professionals that might be interested in becoming licensed as a professional within this field.
There are a few different requirements that graduates of the Masters in Behavior Analysis must consider when seeking licensure. First, the BACB requires that the degree program contain a course sequence that is approved through their organization. Second, students must complete a supervised work experience requirement that meets a certain criteria to ensure they have the necessary skills for practice within their field. Finally, after completion of the work experience requirement, students must successfully complete an examination that tests their skills within the field of Behavior Analysis.
Once you have graduated with your Masters in Behavior Analysis, you may be expected to take part in a supervised work experience requirement prior to becoming licensed. The Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) requires that graduates of degree programs gain 1500 independent experience hours under the supervision of a licensed Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). This experience requirement can ensure that graduates of this program have enough experience to move forward with working with individuals in the field.
Job Roles and Responsibilities of a BCBA
The role of the behavior specialist may vary depending on the type of environment you choose to work in. Some behavior specialists may work in schools – assisting educators with maintaining negative behaviors of students that can interfere with learning. These professionals can help alter an environment that may be reinforcing bad behavior, as well as implement behavior plans to help get bad behavior back on track. A majority of BCBAs may also work with clients that have specifically been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. While this is a popular career choice for upcoming professionals, Behavior Analysis is not limited to working with clients with any specific diagnosis. If you are interested in learning about more career opportunities for individuals with this degree, take a look at some of the examples listed below.
- Behavior Interventionist
- Behavior Therapist
- Environmental Behavior Analyst
- Behavior Management Specialist
- Behavior Trainer – Parents and Educators