Bachelor’s degrees in applied behavior analysis (ABA) provide students with a foundation in the validated science of applied behavior analysis, preparing them to understand behavior and social problems in individuals, groups, and communities and apply successful behavioral interventions.
Bachelor’s degrees in applied behavior analysis prepare individuals to work in a variety of fields, including in applied behavior analysis as an assistant applied behavior analyst. It is also the minimum educational requirement to earn the Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA®) certification through the Behavior Analyst Certification Board.
Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Behavior Analysis: Who is it Right For?
Depending on the institution or college/department in which the program is located, applied behavior analysis bachelor’s degrees are grounded in education/special education, psychology, or applied behavior sciences. However, all programs include study in behavior analysis, such as behavioral assessment, behavior interventions, and the development in behavior therapy programs.
Individuals with bachelor’s degrees in behavior analysis enjoy careers in counseling, business and industry, and education/special education, among others as an assistant applied behavior analyst.
Just some of the settings where assistant applied behavior analysts work include:
- Autism clinics
- Community mental health centers
- Home- and community-based settings
- Adult day facilities
- Child welfare agencies
Outside of applied behavior analysis, a bachelor’s degree in this field provides students with a well-rounded body of knowledge that translates well for jobs in many human service fields, such as:
- Human resources
- Consumer science
- Customer service
- Public health
- Social services
- Youth services
- Urban planning
A bachelor’s degree in psychology or education with a specialization in applied behavior analysis prepares students to enter their respective fields, either as paraprofessionals in psychology or teachers.
Bachelor’s degrees in psychology also prepare students to continue their studies at the graduate level, priming them for careers as psychologists, applied behavior analysts, special education teachers, and education administrators, among others.
Bachelor’s Degrees in Applied Behavior Analysis: BA and BS Online Degrees
Bachelor’s degrees in applied behavior analysis may be designed as Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BS) programs.
Many of these programs are offered online, thereby accommodating students with busy schedules or those who do not reside near an institution with a behavior analysis program. In addition to online coursework, many institutions offer innovative learning platforms that allow students to interact via live seminars and discussion boards.
Graduates of these programs are prepared to:
- Analyze major concepts and theoretical perspectives in applied behavior analysis
- Effectively communicate for assessment, evaluation, and/or intervention purposes
- Understand the value of empirical evidence, ethical actions, and human diversity
- Use a scientific approach for addressing practical problems related to the behavior of individuals in a social context
Bachelor degree programs in applied behavior analysis generally consist of about 120 credits and require four years of full-time study.
Bachelor’s degrees in behavior analysis build upon a broad foundation in psychology, sociology, logic, and law, allowing students to gain an understanding of behavior to solve social problems. They involve an interdisciplinary approach to the basic concepts and principles of behavior analysis, preparing students to analyze the way in behavior changes according to its interaction with the surrounding environment.
Courses examine the major concepts, research methods, historical trends, and study in applied behavior analysis and how it is related to human behavior, learning, and development.
A sampling of core courses in a bachelor’s degree in applied behavior analysis includes:
- Introduction to Psychology
- Research Methods
- Statistics for the Behavioral and Social Sciences
- Lifespan Development
- Social Psychology
- Cognitive Psychology
- Human Memory
- Contemporary Social Problems and the Workplace
- Social Problems
- Social Psychology
- Introduction to Social Psychology
- Public Policy and Social Services
Applied Behavioral Science
- Psychological Assessment
- Introduction to Applied Behavioral Science
- Learning Principles and Applied Behavior Analysis
- Behavior Therapies
- Assessment and Data Collection in Applied Behavior Analysis
Bachelor’s Degrees in Applied Behavior Analysis Leading to the Assistant Applied Behavior Analyst (AABA) Designation
The Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) offers the Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA®) certification, an undergraduate-level certification in behavior analysis.
If you want to practice as an assistant applied behavior analyst, the BCaBA® designation is recognized as a respected credential in the field and is often required for reimbursement under many state insurance laws. Among states that license assistant applied behavior analysts, the BCaBA® is often a requirement for licensure or accepted as a path to licensure.
Requirements to Become a BCaBA®
You must meet a set of requirements to become certified as a BCaBA®:
To become a BCaBA®, the bachelor’s degree you complete must meet one of the following requirements:
- A bachelor’s degree accredited by the Association for Behavior Analysis International’s (ABAI) Behavior Analysis Accreditation Board (BAAB)
- A bachelor’s degree or post-baccalaureate certificate that includes a BACB-approved course sequence, or a BACB-approved course sequence independent of a bachelor’s degree. You can view a list of institutions offering BACB-approved course sequences here.
- A bachelor’s degree that meets BACB Course Content Allocation requirements and receives approved from the BACB at the time of application
Course content requirements for BCaBA® certification include:
- Ethical and Professional Conduct: 15 hours
- Concepts and Principles of Behavior Analysis: 45 hours
- Research Methods in Behavior Analysis
- Measurement (including data analysis): 10 hours
- Experimental Design: 5 hours
- Applied Behavior Analysis
- Fundamental Elements of Behavior Change and Specific Behavior Change Procedures: 45 hours
- Identification of the Problem and Assessment: 30 hours
- Intervention and Behavior Change Considerations: 5 hours
- Behavior Change Systems: 5 hours
- Implementation, Management, and Supervision: 5 hours
- Discretionary: 15 hours
Practical Experience Requirements
You must complete a BACB-recognized practical experience as part of your bachelor’s degree. This includes completing a program-based practicum of 670 hours or an intensive practicum of 500 hours or a supervised field experience of 1,000 hours.
BCaBA® Certification Examination Requirement
Once you have fulfilled the education and practical experience requirements, you must take and pass the BCaBA® examination, which consists of 130 questions in the following content areas:
- Basic Behavior Analytic Skills
- Experimental Design
- Behavior Change Considerations
- Fundamental Elements of Behavior Change
- Specific Behavior Change Procedures
- Behavior Change Systems
- Client-Centered Responsibilities
- Identification of the Problem
- Implementation, Management, and Supervision