In North Dakota, the licensing of Applied Behavior Analysts (ABAs) falls within the domain of the North Dakota State Board of Psychologist Examiners (NDSBPE).
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The state legislature passed Senate Bill 2155 in 2011 to amend Chapter 43-32 of the North Dakota Century Code, governing the professional licensing and practice of psychologists, to include new rules, and the authority to cover ABAs.
Rather than creating a completely new board or licensing process, the legislature simply expanded the authority of the NDSBPE and added provisions covering ABAs to the existing licensing process for psychologists. This means you would apply for licensure using the same forms and following the same steps, while meeting ABA-specific qualifications.
North Dakota does not license assistant applied behavior analysts, but it does have a separate category for registered applied behavior analysts. Registered ABAs are not permitted to practice independently, but are allowed to perform behavior analysis services under the supervision of a licensed psychologist or ABA.
Until 2015, ABA license candidates had to obtain a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA®) certification from the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB), the national body established to provide standards and certification services for the profession. However, with the passage of House Bill 1274 in 2015, that requirement was removed from state law.
The NDSBPE is still formulating the specific regulations to accommodate this update, and the administrative code governing professional practice for ABAs, Chapter 66-02 of the North Dakota Administrative Code, has not been updated to reflect the changes yet.
As a practical matter, you will still be able to meet most requirements for an ABA license in North Dakota by obtaining a BCBA® along with a graduate degree in the field, though the authority to practice legally in the state can only be earned through NDSBPE-issued licensure.
Steps To Becoming a Licensed ABA in North Dakota
Step 1. Earn a Master’s Degree at Minimum in Behavior Analysis or a Related Field
There are two general paths to satisfy the educational requirements outlined in the North Dakota code.
- Acquire a doctoral degree from an accredited program in psychology
- Acquire a doctorate or master’s degree in behavior analysis, psychology or education from a program accredited by the Association of Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) or one that is otherwise deemed acceptable to the BACB by meeting BACB acceptable degree definitions or acceptable course sequence requirements. Programs that are not ABAI-accredited and that don’t include a pre-approved course sequence can still meet requirements if they include the appropriate Course Content Allocation and are accredited by an accrediting agency recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).
Master’s-level courses found in behavior analysis graduate programs or programs in other fields that include an acceptable course sequence cover topics that include:
- Behavioral assessments
- Behavior change methodologies
- Legal and ethical issues in behavior analysis
- Research and application in behavior analysis topics
There are no universities in North Dakota that offer a complete master’s program approved by the ABAI or BACB. Many students today opt for accredited online master’s programs. Online degree programs allow you to choose from a greater variety of options and offer unmatched convenience by arranging for practicums to take place at locations near you.
Until recently, the BCAB (Board-Certified Behavior Analyst) was a mandatory requirement for ABA licensees in North Dakota. Even though that requirement was removed, the certification remains a highly relevant and highly respected credential.
Registered Applied Behavior Analyst Education Requirements
Requirements for registered applied behavior analysts are less stringent:
- Acquire a bachelor’s degree in a program accredited by the ABAI or recognized by BACB
- Acquire a bachelor’s degree with a major in psychology or other human service field that includes coursework in:
- Introduction to psychology (3 semester credits)
- Learning theory and behavior intervention (6 semester credits)
- Developmental psychology and autism spectrum disorder topics (4 semester credits)
Step 2. Complete a Period of Supervised Practice
State law requires that the NDSBPE establish a requirement for fulfilling a period of supervised practice for ABA applicants, but the board has not yet set any standards separate from those established by the BACB.
Those standards are:
- 1500 hours of supervised independent fieldwork completed outside of a graduate program.
Supervised independent fieldwork is conducted outside the scope of your master’s program, usually in a working clinic or practice, where you may conduct assessments, design behavior analysis programs, or oversee implementation of such programs while under the supervision of a licensed ABA.
- 1000 hours of practicum completed as part of a graduate program.
- 750 hours of intensive practicum completed as part of a graduate program.
Practicum or intensive practicum would be conducted as a part of your master’s program, usually as an enrolled course for which you will receive credit hours. You must achieve at least a C grade in such courses for the experience to count toward licensing requirements.
A current BCBA®-holder is required to provide supervision and evaluation for each of these categories. The supervisor will both attest to the completion of the required hours and evaluate your performance in a number of different aspects of care, including:
- Sensitivity to non-behavioral professionals
Step 3. Initiate the Application Process with the NDSBPE
NDSBPE has a two-step application process:
1) The first step is to complete an Application Initiation Form (for Licensure/Registration) and file it with the board.
The application form will require that you list such information as:
- Your educational background
- Professional experience
- Any current certifications or out-of-state professional licenses held
- Attestations of good conduct and ethical standards
The same form is used for psychologists, applied behavior analysts, and registered applied behavior analysts. It is also used for applicants looking for reciprocal or limited practice licenses.
A payment of $450 is due at time of filing.
Filing the application initiation form is a prerequisite to taking the required written examinations.
2) After receiving confirmation from the board regarding your application initiation, the next step of the filing process is to complete the PLUS Online Application on the NDSBPE website.
You have to begin your PLUS application within three months of the initial application.
The entire application process must be completed within six months of the initial filing.
Reciprocal and Limited Licensing for Behavior Analysts in North Dakota
North Dakota offers reciprocal or provisional licensing to ABAs who are already licensed or registered in other jurisdictions. The licensing fees are identical to those for regular applicants and you must file the initial application form.
Reciprocal Licenses – The exact terms mandated for the acceptance of an out-of-state license for reciprocity were altered by the state legislature in 2015 with the passage of House Bill 1274. The changes gave more latitude to NDSBPE to determine the exact requirements, but the board has not yet finalized the details of the new provisions.
Previously, the constraints were that the licensing jurisdiction must impose qualifications at least as stringent as those in North Dakota, or that the licensee also possess a certificate of professional qualification from a recognized certification body, such as a BCBA®.
Applicants seeking reciprocal licensure must also still pass the oral examination portion of the North Dakota licensing process.
Provisional Licenses and Limited Practice Certificates – The board also offers provisional licenses to applicants who may not qualify for a reciprocal license but who already hold a license or registration in another jurisdiction and hold a BCBA®. This allows you to begin practice immediately in North Dakota even while still going through the regular licensing process.
Finally, a limited practice certificate is available, for a $25 fee, for practitioners who do not plan to relocate to or gain licensure in North Dakota, but who intend to practice applied behavior analysis within the state for a limited period of time. Apart from the fee, the only requirement for a limited practice certificate is that you have a license in good standing in another jurisdiction. A provisional license is good for six months from the date of issue.
Step 4. Pass a Standardized Examination in Psychology or Behavior Analysis
NDSBPE allows applicants to fulfill their written examination requirement with one of two possible standardized tests:
- The Examination for Professional Practice of Psychology (EPPP) exam – The EPPP is administered by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards. You can apply to take the test online here once you have filed your initial application with the NDSBPE and been approved to proceed with the examination process.
- The National Behavior Analyst Exam – The National Behavior Analyst Exam was developed by the BACB and to take it you must first register online with the BACB. You will have to provide the necessary paperwork to verify that you have completed the educational and experience requirements for exam candidacy before you will be allowed to sit the exam.
Both exams are administered by Pearson VUE and offered in exam centers around the nation.
Bismarck and Fargo are the only exam center options for test-takers in North Dakota.
Step 5. Pass the State Board Oral Examination
Currently, all applicants for an ABA license are required to appear in person before a panel of the NDSBPE to undergo an oral examination. Oral exams will be scheduled not less than twice a year.
The oral exam is designed to assess your knowledge of North Dakota laws regarding applied behavior analysis as well as your understanding of ethics and standards of practice. The board will choose from a set of questions developed specifically for the purpose of the oral exam, but you will not be informed ahead of time which questions will be asked.
The format of the examination is for two members of the board and one other licensed practitioner, chosen by the board, to administer the questions to the applicant and record the answers. They will then discuss the answers offered and provide a pass or fail recommendation to the full board. The ultimate decision on issuing the license remains with the board regardless of the recommendation of the exam panel.
The NDSBPE has recently been directed to satisfy this requirement by offering a written professional responsibility examination. However, the exam has not yet been developed and standards have not been set for passing the exam. When offered, however, it will cost an additional $50 to take.
If you are only applying for registered ABA status, you are not required to sit the oral board exam.
License Renewal for Behavior Analysts in North Dakota
You will have to renew your ABA license or registration annually via an online renewal application on the NDSBPE website.
Licenses expire on January 1st and you will be mailed or emailed a reminder in October. The renewal paperwork must be filed by November 15th together with an annual licensing fee of $250. A late fee of $100 will be assessed on renewals filed after November 15th.
The state also has continuing education requirements that you will have to meet to maintain your license in good standing. Although license renewal is annual, continuing education requirements are biennial. At least 40 continuing education units are required per two-year reporting cycle.
Acceptable continuing education classes fall into four categories:
- Formal continuing education programs via conventions, workshops, or courses
- Postgraduate courses from an accredited institution
- Speaking engagements or publication of articles in professional journals
- Correspondence or online courses
More detailed information on acceptable continuing education opportunities can be found in the administrative code here.