Master of Behavior Analysis: ABAI-Accredited Programs to Consider

People entering into psychology-based fields may have various reasons and aspirations for choosing their fields. Some people may want to help improve the lives of the people around them, while others may be more interested in researching facts and symptoms and developing methods for addressing them.

Behavior analysis may be one subfield of psychology that grows in popularity in the coming years because of its variable nature. This field has roots in behaviorism and can be an effective resource for practitioners interested in providing provable treatment plans for a large variety of behaviors.

When considering a career in this field, it is recommended to seek a program that is accredited by the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI). ABAI is a globally recognized organization that sets the standards for behavior analysis education. There are a number of ABAI-accredited programs available in traditional classroom settings as well as online.

Consider an online counseling program: The online master’s in applied behavior analysis at Pepperdine University prepares students to take the board certified behavior analyst (BCBA) exam. GRE scores are not required to apply. Learn more.
MA in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine
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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’s in Behavioral Therapy Programs

There are many ABAI-accredited options for earning a master’s in behavioral therapy online. Each program offers a unique curriculum and flexible online options to meet the needs of different students.

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology

Students with the desire to help others mitigate unwanted behaviors can engage in their education and training through Chicago School of Professional Psychology. This university provides behavior analysis programs that are Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) approved and ABAI accredited. Such programs may require that students complete their courses online, with program options at the master’s, doctoral, and certificate levels.

Capella University

The Master of Science in Psychology, Applied Behavior Analysis from Capella University could be excellent for students interested in learning more about the function of behavior in people of various backgrounds. This BACB-approved, ABAI-accredited program features a fully online curriculum, which may be a good choice for current educators or clinical professionals seeking further education.

Common Courses in Behavioral Therapy Master’s Programs

  • Behavior Interventions: Students in behavioral therapy master’s programs may receive direct instruction on how to apply behavioral programs to clients in the field. Based on an initial functional behavior assessment (FBA), students can organize a treatment plan that may consist of interventions such as positive reinforcement, praise, or positive punishment. Students can also learn more about how these interventions are applied and the benefits of each.
  • Techniques in Applied Behavior Analysis: This course teaches students about the techniques that can sharpen their skills with clients in the field. It introduces  students to potential teaching and instructional techniques to use in certain groups of clients. Techniques for achieving valid data may be discussed, as well as ways to make sure that extraneous variables are not interfering with the progress of treatment plans.
  • Ethics in Applied Behavior Analysis: This course may provide students with the opportunity to look closer into the ethics and regulations set forth in the field. Students in this course may 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 BACB.

What to Expect Following Accredited ABA Master’s Programs Online

Through an ABAI-accredited program, students can learn about the skills required to conduct valid behavior assessments in the field. College training can assist students with analyzing behaviors in their natural context, determine what 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 coursework that teaches these skills may include a practice component on how to implement behavior programs in the real-world environment. The topics and skills learned in accredited ABA master’s programs online can prepare students for some of the following career responsibilities:

  • 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, a family member, or members of an educational team. This is the first component of the investigation of a behavior and its source.
  • Pairing: Students in ABA degree programs may also learn how to appropriately build relationships with their clients. In behavior analysis, this process is referred to as pairing.
  • Data Collection: Data collection may be an important factor in behavior analysis. It can also help form baseline figures of behaviors to compare with information gained after a behavioral intervention. In degree programs, students can learn different methods of data collection based on timed trials, frequency, and interval recordings.
  • Functional Behavior Assessment: The actual report on the behavior and its causes may be reported in an 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 large part of behavior analysis may lie in the training people around your client. Students can learn how to properly train parents and educators on data collection and intervention application.

What is a BCBA?

An ABAI-accredited program in behavior analysis can be a great way to learn more about behavior and how to change it. If you are specifically interested in writing behavior plans and working in private or educational environments, you may want to move forward with obtaining your license as a board certified behavior analyst (BCBA).

BCBAs are licensed professionals who 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 in schools and homes. This specialty field is relatively new in comparison with other psychological fields, so it may continue to evolve over the years.

BCBA Licensure

The BACB is the primary resource for upcoming professionals who may be interested in becoming licensed BCBAs. There are a few different requirements that graduates of ABAI-accredited programs must consider when seeking BCBA licensure.

  • The BACB requires that the degree program contain a course sequence that is approved through its organization.
  • Students must complete a supervised work experience requirement that meets certain criteria to ensure they have the necessary skills for practice within their field.
  • 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 from a behavioral therapy master’s program, you may be expected to take part in a supervised work experience requirement prior to becoming licensed. The BACB requires that graduates of degree programs complete 1,500 independent experience hours under the supervision of a licensed BCBA. This experience requirement can ensure that graduates of this program have enough experience to move forward with working with individuals in the field.

BCBA Job Roles and Responsibilities

According to PayScale, BCBAs have a median annual salary of $64,541 as of 2021. However, this figure 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 environments that may be reinforcing bad behavior, as well as implement positive behavior plans.

Many BCBAs work with clients who have specifically been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). While this is a popular career choice for upcoming professionals, behavior analysis is not limited to working with clients with any specific diagnosis.

Some other behavior specialist careers are:

  • Behavior Interventionist
  • Behavior Therapist
  • Environmental Behavior Analyst
  • Behavior Management Specialist
  • Behavior Trainer – Parents and Educators

List of Programs

Pepperdine University 🗹 Online

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Capella University 🗹 Online

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