We recognized OsloMet – Oslo Metropolitan University as one of the Top 20 Best Schools Offering Applied Behavior Analyst Master’s Programs, adding them to our list of top recommendations for students in the area.
We were excited to hear from Gunnar Ree, associate professor, Department of Behavioral Science, a faculty member at OsloMet – Oslo Metropolitan 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.
OsloMet – Oslo Metropolitan University Program:
- Master’s program in Behavior Science (formerly Master’s in Learning in Complex Systems)
Professor/Faculty Name: Gunnar Ree, associate professor, Department of Behavioral Science
OsloMet offers a Bachelor’s in Psychology with an Emphasis in Behavior Analysis that includes the courses required for the BCaBA certification. Are you seeing most graduates of this program entering the field to make a career out of being assistant ABAs, or do most eventually go on to pursue advanced studies to become BCBAs and psychologists?
Gunnar: The Bachelor’s program in ABA is an important source of students for our Master’s program, as is the Social Educator program, which also has a strong ABA component.
In Norway, the BACB certification is not required for professionals working with people with autism. We have rather strict licensing requirement for health personnel (social educators who are trained to work with persons with developmental disabilities; psychologists) and teachers. So, the BACB certification has not yet caught on, but there is increasing interest. Most agencies providing the services that require BCBA skills are government funded.
The bachelor’s program is not a basis for becoming a licensed psychologist; that requires admission to a special program sequence which takes 6 years.
Tell us about the types of students you see come through your Master’s in Learning in Complex Systems program. Are you seeing more non-traditional students and career changers coming from other fields, or mostly graduates from the psychology bachelor’s program you offer with an emphasis in behavior analysis?
Gunnar: The master’s program admits students from all educational backgrounds. The admission requirement is a bachelor’s degree with a C average or better, and we have seen students from very diverse educational fields – teachers, nurses, social educators, psychology bachelors, social workers, economists, engineers, police, military, lawyers and HR professionals. In our view, knowledge of behavior analysis adds value to any professional repertoire. When combined with network theory and complexity, this knowledge is applicable across most professional settings. The Master in Behavior Science (renamed as of last fall semester) is the program of choice for our psychology bachelors and in social education, but they meet a wide variety of students who can contribute knowledge and experience from other fields. We are determined to spread knowledge of behavior analysis to as many working environments as possible.
We know Oslo and Akershus is happy to host international students. I’m sure our readers here in the U.S. would be interested in knowing if you’ve had many students from the U.S. enroll in the ABA program and how they have been able to manage the program without speaking Norwegian.
We have not seen international students in the bachelor’s program yet (students from Sweden don’t count here, they suffer no language barriers). We have had students from Iceland, Sweden, Ghana and Denmark in the master’s program, but so far no students from the US. US students would have to take a Norwegian language proficiency test to be admitted to the complete master’s program. For taking the separate courses, we will find ways to accommodate them through tutoring and lab work (lab groups are usually run in English, and most instructors use slides in English for lectures). About half our Ph. D. candidates come from outside of Norway, so the Ph. D. program is completely international.
What areas of practice are you seeing graduates going into professionally? Do they tend to find jobs in schools or more often join private practices?
Gunnar: As the graduates usually come to us with an education for a certain profession, and frequently with work experience (especially the part-time students), we find that they tend to go back to what they were doing originally. Some use the degree to secure promotions, and a few take the opportunity to enter new fields. Schools and care facilities are common choices, but we have had graduates going into performance management and business consultancies, and into HR and management.
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?
Gunnar: We have integrated systems thinking, complexity, and network theory into the program, in order to expand the scope of problems that can be solved with behavior analytic knowledge. We know of no other program that takes this approach. We are also very proud of our courses in OBM, risk management, and behavioral economics, which combine field-specific knowledge with behavior analysis in a way that is appreciated by both students and employers.
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?
Gunnar: We would like to bring behavior analysis to the people, in the sense of disseminating new-found and robust old knowledge in all relevant fields. This would be everywhere, of course. Behavioral solutions and behavioral science now have a unique momentum, and we would very much like to keep that going. One way of doing that will be collaboration with other disciplines and integrating their science with ours. This applies to genetics and neuroscience as well as to political science and sociology.
Check out our full interview series here to see what other professors and faculty are saying about their ABA programs.