We recognized Berry College as one of the Top 57 Best Schools Offering ABA Bachelor’s and BCaBA Courses, adding them to our list of top recommendations for ABA undergrads.
We were excited to hear from Michelle Haney, Ph.D, a faculty member at Berry College who took the time to answer a few questions about how the school works to create a great student experience that helps prepare graduates for a career in applied behavior analysis.
Berry College Programs:
- BCaBA Verified Course Sequence / ABA Minor
Professor/Faculty Name: Michelle Haney, Ph.D
Tell us about the types of students you see come through your program. Are you seeing more non-traditional students and career changers coming from other fields?
Michelle: Berry College attracts mostly traditional age college students who attend classes on our beautiful campus. In addition to our verified course sequence fulfilling course requirements for the BCaBA, we also offer an Autism Endorsement at the undergraduate and graduate level for current and future teachers. Our autism endorsement (approved by the Professional Standards Commission) has a strong emphasis of ABA into the coursework both at the graduate and undergraduate levels.
What areas of practice are you seeing graduates going into? Do they tend to find jobs in the local school districts or more often join private practices?
Michelle: The majority of our students who complete the ABA course sequence enter graduate school to become a BCBA. However, each year a few take positions in a private organization as an RBT to gain clinical supervision hours towards their BCaBA. Interestingly, many of those students also go on to become BCBA as well.
What are some of the things you love most about the ABA program at your university – the kind of things you’d like future students to know about as they consider their options?
Michelle: Berry students in the ABA/Autism program are doing really interesting research! They are earning competitive research grants internally at the college to work with faculty mentors, they are presenting their research at state (GABA) and national (ABAI) conferences; and using their research based on ABA to complete interesting Honor’s theses that are personally meaningful. We have also created a special topics course, where students in the ABA program and those new to ABA learned to use DISTAR to teach reading to kindergarten students in a Title I local public school. I believe these experiences make our students very competitive for Graduate Programs. I think what I love most about our program is that while there is a big emphasis on application of ABA to the field of autism and education in general, our students are working with faculty on projects that explore and apply behavior analysis in a wide variety of areas. Students in our ABA program start to see the world differently with a feeling of optimism that things can change for the better!
What do you feel are the most pressing issues in ABA today, and how does the program at your school prepare graduates to address these issues?
Michelle: We are in a somewhat rural area, that is just starting to see an influx of private ABA clinics as the insurance laws change. We want our students to have high quality clinical experiences, and have to be careful about which organizations are able to provide the type of clinical experience and supervision our students need. We have also created a stand-alone-3 credit hour ethics class to make sure our students are prepared to apply and understand the underlying standards, the Professional and Ethical Compliance Code for Behavior Analysts, as well as other relevant codes of ethics.
Do you find that some students that complete the BCaBA VCS go on to pursue master’s degrees and BCBA certification later?
Michelle: Yes, virtually all of our students who have completed the course sequence have either gone on to finish their clinical supervision to become a BCaBA, or entered graduate school to become a BCBA! Other students take 1-2 of the ABA classes and integrate ABA into their framework for related professions.
The college offers ABA students internship options to satisfy supervised hours for certification. Can these internships lead to future job opportunities?
Michelle: Yes, several of our students have been hired at the Marcus Autism Center after completing summer internships. Other internships have led to positions as RBTs with clinical supervision, there are no shortage of those!
Please feel free to add anything else you would like potential students to know about your program.
Berry College is nationally recognized for academic excellence and extraordinary value, Berry is an independent, coeducational college of approximately 2,100 students. For more than a century the College has offered a comprehensive liberal arts education that balances intellectual exploration, practical learning and character development. The Berry education is built on an exchange. The College offers a purposeful, four-year plan that integrates mentorship, reflection and hands-on learning. In turn, students contribute their ideas and hard work to make Berry and the larger world better. Our ABA program integrates well with our overall college mission!
Check out our full interview series here to see what other professors and faculty are saying about their ABA programs.