An integral part of successfully working with individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is behavior analysis. Becoming a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) marks professionals as practitioners who are qualified to perform the behavior analysis necessary to work with students with ASD. The online Master of Arts in Education (M.A.Ed.) – Teacher as Leader in Autism & Applied Behavior Analysis program from Northern Kentucky University (NKU) prepares degree candidates to sit for the BCBA exam and provide effective behavior-analytic services.
What Is Behavior Analysis?
According to the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB), “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.”
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is therapy based on the science of learning and behavior. ABA is used to treat autism by teaching desired behaviors through positive reinforcement and establishing constructive social consequences for current behavior. According to Autism Speaks, the goal “is to increase behaviors that are helpful and decrease behaviors that are harmful or affect learning (negatively).”
ABA can help students with ASD and related developmental disorders develop and improve beneficial skills like language and communication skills. When a student’s attention, focus, social skills, memory and academics are improved, problem behaviors decrease.
What Is the BACB?
The BACB is a nonprofit organization “established in 1998 to meet professional certification needs identified by behavior analysts, governments, and consumers of behavior-analytic services.” The BACB’s certification programs are accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies.
As the credentialing agency for behavior analysts, the BACB established a certification exam and a set of certification requirements and procedures that applicants must complete to be certified.
The BCBA is a graduate-level certification in behavior analysis for professionals who provide behavior-analytic services. As outlined in the BCBA Handbook, applicants become eligible to sit for the certification exam by following one of four pathway options. Each pathway requires applicants to have at least an acceptable graduate degree with behavior-analytic content as well as applied behavior analysis fieldwork. Applicants then must pass the BCBA exam to become certified.
Northern Kentucky University’s Specialized Online Master of Arts in Education Program
NKU’s specialized online M.A.Ed. Teacher as Leader – Autism & Applied Behavior Analysis program not only provides students with the foundation for working with individuals with ASD but also prepares graduates to sit for the BCBA certification examination. The degree program’s BACB-approved course sequence meets coursework requirements for eligibility to take the BCBA exam.
Applicants can take the exam after completing the required coursework and supervised fieldwork. NKU helps students find locations for their supervised experiences.
Students can complete this 100% online master’s degree program in as few as 18 months. It consists of 33 credit hours of coursework, and all courses are taught by the same distinguished faculty who teach on campus. Students will learn how to apply advanced principles of behavior management, including measurement systems, functional behavior assessment, schedules of reinforcement and more. With this degree and BCBA certification, graduates can pursue rewarding work in various roles, such as behavioral specialist and independent practitioner.