We recognized Lehigh University as one of the 62 Best Schools with Online ABA Master’s and Certificate Programs, adding them to our list of top recommendations for ABA graduate students.
We were excited to hear from Dr. Noor Syed, a faculty member at Lehigh 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.
Lehigh University Programs:
- Certificate in Behavior Analysis (online & in person)
Professor/Faculty Name: Dr. Noor Syed
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?
Noor: We have students from all backgrounds in our program! Our online program utilizes a synchronous and asynchronous model, depending on the class. In this program, we have students who already possess a terminal graduate degree and have decided to obtain a specialization in applied behavior analysis, those who are practicing full or part-time educators, practitioners, social workers, and psychologists, as well as students who are parents. Our in-person courses boast students who are interested in obtaining certification as special education teachers, psychologists, or counselors as well those who are seeking post-graduate positions in academia. Students attend our online program are from around the country, as well as abroad.
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?
Noor: I find a number of students are interested in or are continuing to serve their local school districts. While many do join private practices full- or part-time, there appears to be a desire to give back to local school communities. Upon completion of their requirements, our graduates have become district behavior analysts, teachers with a specialty in behavior analysis, and practitioners in private practices.
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?
Noor: Our practicum coursework and site are unique from many sites I have experienced thus far. Students learn the pedagogy in their classes and can apply to become practitioners with Lehigh University Autism Services. Students who are a part of the practicum course practice for varying number of hours per week, dependent upon their availability. The clinic operates year-round and utilizes behavior analytic principles through the seamless integration of verbal behavior development, pivotal response training, milieu teaching, and natural environment teaching. Throughout the progression of their practicum, students take a bigger role within their teams until they are (to name a few activities) leading team meetings, engaging in peer coaching, peer mentoring, engaging in program development and higher order decision analysis, and leading professional development workshops. Students can expect to develop verbal behavior of the science and verbally mediated repertoires, as well as fluency in program implementation, data collection, graphing, etc. Students can also expect to develop an understanding of communicative and social development, utilize soft skills, and begin engaging in supervision of others.
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?
Noor: A currently pressing need in behavior analysis is engaging in and learning to engage in effective supervision, which includes an understanding of evidence based practices as well as soft skills, such as the delivery of feedback with a plan for follow up, an understanding of and ways to assess for basic and advanced repertoires necessary in quality behavior analysts (QBAs), and methodologies to evaluate supervision as related to supervisee progression and client outcomes. While as a field we have acknowledged and are seeking to address the growing need for behavior analysts, we have yet to thoroughly experimentally investigate the supervisory practices that will lead to QBAs. This program is seeking to create and investigate behavior analytic supervision that will lead to the strongest growth and development for our clients, sustainable development, and behavior analysts that possess a strong understanding of professionalism, cultural competency, and the application of behavior analytic principles in all areas but particularly as related to children with autism.
How is the BACB Verified Course Sequence integrated into the other M.Ed. curriculum?
Noor: Students can choose to complete the BACB VCS through the following programs: M.Ed in Special Education/ Ph.D. in Special Education, Ed.S. or Ph.D. in School Psychology; M.Ed in Counseling and Human Services, M.Ed in School Counseling, or Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology. This is in addition to the online certification.
Is the course sequence offered in the Online Certificate in Behavioral Analysis exactly the same? If not, how do they differ?
Noor: The course sequence can be taken online and utilize a synchronous or asynchronous model, depending on the class. Students can also take the course sequence in person through one of the programs described in the previous section. Course content remains consistent across online and in person classes.
How do students interested in behavioral analysis get involved with the school’s Autism Services Clinic?
Noor: Interested students are able to contact the clinic through myself, Dr. Lee Kern, or our Program Coordinator throughout the year or when a call is made for practicum student applications. Students who are interested will meet with me, tour the clinic, and receive a brief introduction to expectations and logistics. We will review scheduling to find times that work best for you and our families.
Please feel free to add anything else you would like potential students to know about your program; anything that would be good for them to consider before choosing a program.
Lehigh University Autism Services, otherwise known as the Autism Clinic, is a non-profit organization that operates through the Center for Promoting Research to Practice within the College of Education. Our mission and values also include conducting original research such we can continue to further an understanding of evidence based practices. Students will receive experience designing, implementing, and/ or evaluating experimental studies for integrity and validity. Students will also be supported in writing these studies for submission to peer-reviewed journals as well as in presenting research in regional, national, and international conferences.
Check out our full interview series here to see what other professors and faculty are saying about their ABA programs.