Kent State University Interview

We recognized Kent State University among the 62 Best Schools with Online ABA Master’s and Certificate Programs, adding them to our list of top recommendations for ABA grad students.

We were excited to hear from Dr. Christine Balan, a faculty member at Kent State 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.

Kent State University ABA Program:

  • Behavioral Intervention Specialist Certificate Program (BISCP) (BACB VCS)

Professor/Faculty Name: 

Dr. Christine Balan, Professor NTT of Special Education; Board Certified Behavior Analyst; Certified Ohio Behavior Analyst

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?

Christine:  About half of our students join the Behavioral Intervention Specialist Certificate Program (BISCP) with experience working in the field of Special Education as an Intervention Specialist. The other half of our students join the BISCP after completing their undergraduate degree in Special Education at Kent State University and deciding to pursue the Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) credential. Because a graduate degree in Special Education and completion of a Behavior Analyst Certification Board Verified Course Sequence are two of the requirements to sit for the BCBA exam, they can get both, while continuing their academic career as a Golden Flash!

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?

Christine:  The vast majority of our graduates are taking the behavior analytic skills they learn in the Behavioral Intervention Specialist Certificate Program back to classrooms in local schools or in special educational centers. However, we do have some graduates who have chosen to use their skills to benefit clients and families in home-based programs.

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?

Christine:  The Behavioral Intervention Specialist Certificate Program blends scholarly excellence in the field of Special Education and the translation of scholarship into service delivery by having faculty in the Special Education program, as well as practicing Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) teach our courses. The Special Education faculty focus on providing the theoretical and research base of the field, while the BCBAs are able to teach students about how this information is translated into the ethical and theoretically sound delivery of behavior analytic services that create socially significant change for their clients. This blend of experts sets the Behavioral Intervention Specialist Certificate Program apart. We also have many great community programs near Kent State University that provide internship hours for our students, so they are able to get real-life experiences while in their program. I think having such a well-rounded program contributes greatly to our very high first-time pass rate on the Board Certified Behavior Analyst Examination.

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?

Christine: The most pressing issues in the delivery of Applied Behavior Analytic services today include ethics, individualization of services, and systematic adherence to applied behavior analytic principles. The Behavioral Intervention Specialist Certificate Program prepares graduates to address these issues by ensuring that they are included in all seven courses in the sequence, rather than only in courses that bear their namesake. In addition, instructors use current case law, issues in the media, and case studies allow students to engage with the issues and learn to problem solve while providing concrete feedback for improving decision-making, rather than just reading about the issues.

The university offers a Behavioral Intervention Specialist Certificate Program (BISCP). Why should this certificate appeal to students interested in becoming a BCBA?

Christine:  The Behavioral Intervention Specialist Certificate Program should appeal to students who are interested in becoming a Board Certified Behavior Analyst because, for the past ten years, it has been designated as a Verified Course Sequence by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board. Therefore, it meets the course work component of the requirements to be eligible to sit for the Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) Examination. In addition, Kent State University awards the Behavioral Intervention Specialist Certificate to students who complete program.

What are the benefits of being able to take the BISCP completely online?

Christine:  Because the Behavioral Intervention Specialist Certificate Program can be completed online, we are able to attract students from outside of our region, state, and country. Currently, the BISCP has students enrolled from 18 different cities in Ohio, six different states, and two countries. The online delivery model creates diversity among the students enrolled. It also permits students to continue working while they complete the course sequence. The vast majority of the content in all of the courses is delivered in an asynchronous format. This benefits students who are working, as well as those from other time zones.

How many hours of study does it take to complete the BISCP? How many courses?

Christine:  The Behavioral Intervention Specialist Certificate Program is a 21-hour graduate certificate that can be completed in one academic year. The seven courses in the BISCP include:

  • Applied Behavior Analysis I (Fall)
  • Program Development in Applied Behavior Analysis (Fall)
  • Applied Behavior AnalysisII  (Spring)
  • Single Subject Research Methods (Spring)
  • Ethical and Professional Conduct in Applied Behavior Analysis (Spring)
  • Advanced Interventions for Addressing Severe Behavior  (Summer)
  • Advanced Practicum                         (Summer)

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.

One of the main factors students consider when choosing where to complete a Verified Course Sequence is the first-time pass rate of the program’s graduates. We are proud to say that over the past seven years, the first-time pass rate for all of our graduates on the Board Certified Behavior Analyst Examination is 89%.


Check out our full interview series here to see what other professors and faculty are saying about their ABA programs.