We recognized Eastern Connecticut University 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 James Diller, PhD, BCBA-D, LBA; Professor & Assistant Chair at Eastern Connecticut University 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.
Eastern Connecticut University Programs: The Department of Psychological Science offers a Verified Course Sequence for the BCaBA credential. This sequence is embedded into our concentration in Behavior Analysis (one of five concentrations available to students in the Psychology major) and can be taken by students in other majors to complete the Psychology minor, or by non-degree-seeking students.
Professor/Faculty Name: James Diller, PhD, BCBA-D, LBA; Professor & Assistant Chair
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?
James: Most of our students are traditional college students, but we have had some people come back to complete our course sequence to advance their career goals or to transition into the field of Applied Behavior Analysis.
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?
James: Most of our students work for agencies that provide services in home or in school settings, generally working with individuals on with autism spectrum disorders.
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?
James: I love that our program is within the broader context of psychological science. Students in our program gain experience with an array of topics in psychology and a strong foundation in research methods.
I am also very proud of the diversity of our coursework within the area of behavior analysis. We require a class on Radical Behaviorism, to ground the practice in the philosophy that underlies it. We also have a course relating behavior analysis to issues of climate change and environmental sustainability. While most funding streams come from special education fields, I think that it is really important to remember that behavior analysis can be beneficial in a variety of settings.
I think I am most proud of where our students have gone after graduating from our program. We have had a few dozen students go on to get their master’s degree in behavior analysis and several go on to doctoral training. For a small program, we have been highly successful in having students continue on in the field—and the alums I keep in touch with have consistently said that they are well prepared in their graduate study.
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?
James: One big challenge is to develop competent practitioners who understand basic research and the philosophy that support ABA. We work to achieve this goal by providing our students with broad coursework, including a principles of learning class and a radical behaviorism course. We also emphasize ethics and professionalism throughout our curriculum.
The Department of Psychological Science offers a Behavior Analysis Certification Preparation program. Is the program solely targeted at students interested in taking the BCaBA exam?
James: Any student who is interested in behavior analysis could declare this concentration or complete these courses. Given the interaction between behavioral techniques and other areas of psychology, some of our courses (e.g., principles of learning) are optional for all of our students within the department.
What is the length of this program? Is it available online?
James: Generally our students complete our course sequence within the context of their bachelor’s degree, so most folks take four years to complete all of the requirements. Our behavior analysis classes are offered on-campus only. This allows for the development of strong relationships between our students and faculty.
Psychology majors can pursue a concentration in behavior analysis. Are these the same concentration courses found in the certification prep courses?
James: The courses open to our psychology students are the same as in the Verified Course Sequence.
Please feel free to add anything else you would like potential students to know about your program and that would be good for them to consider before choosing a program.
As I mentioned before, I am extremely proud of our alumni who are working in the field at master’s and doctoral levels. Because we are a small behavior analysis program, with our classes held on campus, it is easy to form relationships and make connections with our faculty and with other students. We have had several students present at professional conferences and even publish in behavior-analytic journals. We do what we can to make opportunities available if students are interested in taking advantage of them.
Check out our full interview series here to see what other professors and faculty are saying about their ABA programs.