How to Become an Applied Behavior Analyst in Kentucky

Kentucky’s law (KRS 319C) governing applied behavior analysts identifies the Kentucky Applied Behavior Analysis Licensing Board (part of the Kentucky Public Protection Cabinet, Office of Occupations and Professions) as being responsible for issuing state licenses for ABAs.

This law further identifies the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) as the sponsor of the national credential you must earn and maintain to qualify for state licensure: Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA®).

Kentucky law also recognizes the professional classification of assistant behavior analyst, issuing licenses to qualified candidates that meet requirements for the BACB’s Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA®) credential.

Earn a Relevant Graduate Degree
Complete the Supervised Experience Requirement
Pass the BACB Examination
Meet Additional State Requirements for Licensure
Apply for Licensure with the Kentucky Applied Behavior Analysis Licensing Board

Step 1. Earn a Relevant Graduate Degree

To be eligible to take the BCBA® (Board Certified Behavior Analyst) examination, the BACB (Behavior Analyst Certification Board) requires you to have at least a master’s degree in Applied Behavior Analysis, Education, or Psychology that meets specific curriculum requirements. You can find schools that offer qualifying programs both online and in-state.

Having an advanced post-master’s graduate degree such as an Ed.S. or doctoral degree in these fields would also qualify you to sit for the exam.

Qualifying degrees must meet BACB’s Acceptable Degree Definitions and ONE of the following:

All master’s or doctoral degree programs that have recieved accreditation from the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) include a BACB pre-verified course sequence as part of the curriculum.

Some schools also offer stand-alone VCS courses separate from graduate program curriculum specifically designed for candidates that already hold a graduate degree but that need to complete ABA courses to be eligible for the BCBA® Exam.


  • If your graduate program does not include a BACB pre-verified course sequence, confirm that it meets course content allocation requirements. Programs without a pre-verified course sequence would be subject to a syllabus evaluation to ensure they include a qualifying curriculum.

Prerequisites for Master’s Degrees

Enrolling in a master’s program in behavior analysis involves meeting degree and course prerequisites. These are determined by each school, and can include anything from holding a general bachelor’s degree to having a specific undergraduate degree and/or fulfilling course prerequisites.

Examples of specific bachelor’ degrees you may be required/preferred to have include those in:

  • Education
  • Counseling
  • Psychology
  • Special education
  • Sociology

Specific course prerequisites you may encounter include those covering topics in:

  • Special education methodologies
  • General psychology
  • Applied behavior analysis
  • Research methods
  • Statistics
  • Conditioning and learning
  • Experimental design
  • Developmental psychology

Content of Master’s Programs in Behavior Analysis

An acceptable master’s in behavior analysis program covers a range of topics that will prepare you to practice as a professional in this field:

  • Applied behavior analysis introduction
  • Ethical and legal issues in behavior analysis
  • Methodologies of behavior change
  • Single subject research designs
  • Applied and theoretical behavior analysis according to Skinner’s models
  • Conducting behavioral assessments
  • Advanced behavior analysis

Comprehensive behavior analysis master’s programs include a thesis and supervised field experience. The thesis is a research-based paper that represents the culmination of your abilities to apply the theory, practice, and implementation of behavior analysis. The thesis is your unique contribution to this field, and may incorporate practica, mentored, and supervised experience that you’ve completed as part of your master’s program.

Education Requirements for Assistant Behavior Analysts

To be eligible for the BACB’s Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA®) examination you must have a bachelor’s degree in any subject from an accredited institution and complete coursework in the following subjects:

  • Principles and concepts of behavior analysis
  • Ethical and professional conduct
  • Research methods in behavior analysis
  • Applied behavior analysis
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Step 2. Complete the Supervised Experience Requirement

To become eligible to take the BCBA® examination you must fulfill the BACB’s experience requirements. Some master’s programs include a segment of qualifying supervised experience. You can also complete qualifying supervised independent fieldwork concurrently with, or after, your master’s program.

Qualifying supervised experience includes these elements:

  • Development of performance expectations
  • Behavioral skills training, observation, and delivery of performance feedback
  • Modeling of ethical, professional, and technical behavior
  • Guidance of behavioral case decision making, conceptualization, and problem solving
  • Review of written materials like reports, behavior programs, and data sheets
  • Evaluation and oversight regarding the effects of the behavioral service delivery and supervision
  • Up to half of the supervision can be conducted in small groups
  • The supervised experience must be conducted according to a written contract pre-established between you and your supervisor
  • The supervised experience must be well documented, including hours and activities

Master’s programs that incorporate BACB-approved practica – Practica / intensive practica that meet the BACB’s experience requirements are included as part of the curriculum in many master’s programs in applied behavior analysis:

  • Practicum – Requires 1,000 hours (automatically included in master’s programs with a BACB-approved practicum)
  • Intensive practicum – Requires 750 hours (automatically included in master’s programs with a BACB-approved intensive practicum)

Supervised Independent Fieldwork – If you attend a master’s program with a practicum that is not already pre-approved by the BACB, then you would document 1,500 hours of independent fieldwork to be eligible to sit for the exam.

Alternatives to supervised experience – You would also be eligible to take the BCBA® examination if you meet either of these conditions:

  • You have a qualifying graduate degree and a full-time research/teaching faculty position in behavior analysis
  • You’ve had a doctoral degree for 10 years and have 10 years of practical experience in behavior analysis

Supervised Experience Requirements for Assistant Behavior Analysts

The supervised experience standards for assistant behavior analysts are identical to those for applied behavior analysts. Having any one of the following supervised experience will qualify you to take the BCaBA® exam:

  • Practicum – 670 hours of experience
  • Intensive practicum – 500 hours
  • Supervised independent fieldwork – 1,000 hours

Furthermore, throughout your career as an assistant behavior analyst you must be supervised by an approved licensed behavior analyst. This supervision must be for two percent of all behavior-analytic service hours you perform each month throughout your career, and five percent during your first 1,000 hours of post-certification practice.

Step 3. Pass the BCBA® Examination

Once you have an appropriate graduate degree and fulfill the experience requirement you will be eligible to take the BCBA® examination.

You can apply for the exam online with the BACB. The exam is proctored through BACB’s partner Pearson VUE, and you’ll also need to register with them. This includes selecting an examination date, and choosing a testing location.

There are two Pearson VUE testing centers located in Kentucky:

  • Lexington – 2720 Old Rosebud Road, Suite 180
  • Louisville – 9400 Bunsen Parkway, Suite 220

Board Certified Behavioral Analyst (BCBA®) Exam Content

Details about the exam include:

  • Computer-based
  • 150 graded multiple-choice questions
  • Four choices per question
  • Four-hour time limit

Questions cover two main areas and are divided into these categories:

Basic behavior analytic skills

  • Fundamental elements of behavior change – 26 questions
  • Measurement – 15 questions
  • Specific behavior change procedures – 15 questions
  • Experimental design – 11 questions
  • Behavior change systems – 8 questions
  • Behavior change considerations – 3 questions

Client centered responsibilities (includes at least two ethics questions per section):

  • Intervention – 23 questions
  • Problem identification – 14 questions
  • Management, implementation, and supervision – 14 questions
  • Assessment – 12 questions
  • Measurement – 9 questions

Examination Requirements for Assistant Behavior Analysts

The process of applying for, scheduling, and taking the BCaBA® exam, and its content, are similar to those for the BCBA® exam. You are eligible for this once you have completed your requisite education and supervised experience.

Step 4. Meet Additional State Requirements for Licensure

Before you can be eligible for licensure by the Kentucky Applied Behavior Licensing Board you’ll need to complete these requirements. This holds true for applied behavior analysts and assistant behavior analysts, including those applying for temporary licenses.

Abuse, neglect, and exploitation training – All applicants must complete five hours of training on identifying and reporting abuse, neglect, and exploitation. This must be in accordance with Kentucky Revised Statutes (KRS) Chapter 209, and should be completed from any of these approved agencies:

  • The Cabinet for Health and Family Services
  • Department of Kentucky State Police
  • A law enforcement agency
  • From the office of a Commonwealth’s attorney or county attorney
  • From a division of the Office of the Attorney General

Review relevant laws – All applicants must also attest they have reviewed the following laws:

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Step 5. Apply for Licensure with the Kentucky Applied Behavior Analysis Licensing Board

All applicants fill out the same application. You’ll have the opportunity on this application to indicate if you’re applying for an applied behavior analyst license, an assistant behavior analyst license, or a temporary license in either of these categories.

You’ll need to include these items with your application:

  • Official academic transcripts showing completion of required education
  • Verification of current appropriate certification by the BACB
  • Verification of passing the appropriate exam – BCBA® for applied behavior analysts; BCaBA® for assistant behavior analysts

All license applicants should send their application and accompanying documents/fees to:

Kentucky Applied Behavior Analysis Licensing Board
PO Box 1360
Frankfurt, KY 40602

Temporary license – You can qualify for a temporary license as an applied behavioral analyst or assistant behavior analyst if you have completed all your academic course requirements for the appropriate BACB certification. You must practice under the supervision of an applied behavioral analyst if you hold a temporary license, and this license cannot be renewed.

License renewal – A license issued by the Kentucky Applied Behavior Analysis Licensing Board expires every two years on the last day in the month it was originally issued. To renew you must fill out an application for licensure renewal with this board. Your renewal application must include the following:

Maintaining your BACB certification involves biannual renewal with the BACB. This requires completing continuing education as follows:

  • Applied behavior analysts (those with BCBA® certification) – 32 units of approved continuing education
  • Assistant behavior analyst (those with BCaBA® certification) – 20 units of approved continuing education and maintenance of supervision requirements

At least four hours of continuing education must relate to ethics. Approved continuing education can include:

  • College and university coursework
  • Scholarly activities
  • Retaking and passing the certification exam
  • Education from approved providers
  • Teaching or instruction activities

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