What is Applied Behavior Analysis?
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is an approach to identifying and studying the interpersonal and environmental influences on behavior. It can then provide techniques to bring about constructive changes and improve performance. Behavior Analysts collect and analyze data in order to produce evidence-supported behavior-analytic treatment plans. ABA is an often used therapy to help children on the autism spectrum.
Intervention can be provided not only for problematic behaviors, but also in organizational management, skills development, and the training of animals.
The Behavior Analyst Certification Board® Inc. (BACB®) is the non-profit organization internationally recognized as the certification body for Applied Behavior Analysts.
The board provides several levels of certification for Behavior Analysts. Academic paths to two of the levels, the Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA) and the Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) are available at Northeastern University. See below for the details.
All levels of certification require courses covering specific topics for specific amounts of time. Northeastern’s courses are a BACB® Approved Course Sequence which satisfies their Fourth Edition Task List. Also required are supervised experience and an examination.
To practice in several states, including Massachusetts, professional licensure is required.
ABA at Northeastern
The courses leading to the Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA) are available as part of the Bachelor of Science curriculum of the Psychology Department in the College of Science. The Board also requires supervised experience and an examination to qualify for the certification.
Further, courses leading to the Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) are available through the Master of Science curriculum of the Applied Psychology Department in the Bouvé College of Health Sciences. The Board also requires supervised experience and an examination to qualify for the certification
Of special note is the PlusOne program, an accelerated Master’s, developed through the cooperation of both departments.
The undergraduate courses and the graduate program are completely separate and independent. Students may choose to do either or both. Undergraduate courses may not be applied to graduate requirements.
See below for detailed information about these programs.
Bachelor of Science and BCaBA Courses
The Northeastern University Department of Psychology offers four courses, which, along with supervised experience, qualify students to sit for the Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA) exam. These courses fit entirely within our BS in Psychology undergraduate curriculum (they are psychology courses) and can be completed as part of your regular degree.
See the list just below for the requirements satisfied. All earn four semester hours credit.
- PSYC 3451, Learning Principles and Applied Behavior Analysis — satisfies a Topic Area requirement. This course is prerequisite to the others.
- PSYC 3358, Behavior Therapies — satisfies one of the five Psychology Elective requirements.
- PSYC 4508, Assessment and Data Collection in Applied Behavior Analysis – satisfies one of the Psychology Elective requirements.
- PSYC 4654, Seminar in Behavioral Modification — satisfies the Capstone Seminar requirement.
- These courses are not restricted to Psychology majors.
NOTE: All courses are offered regularly but each is not offered every semester. It is important to plan ahead, consult with Prof. Wiliam Sharp, the ABA advisor, regularly, and take the courses as early in your curriculum as possible. To contact the academic advisors of the College of Science, click here.
Also necessary to qualify to take the Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA) exam are 1000 hours of supervised experience under a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. Northeastern co-op placements may provide at least part of this experience. If you are interested in obtaining supervised experience hours through your co-op job, consult with your co-op coordinator and ensure that the co-op you select has a BCBA who is able to provide this supervision. The Northeastern Department of Psychology offers four-year Bachelor’s degree programs including one or two co-ops. Also available is a five calendar year program including three co-ops. All of our programs normally require eight academic semesters, and all students earn 128 semester hours.
Master of Science and BCBA PlusOne Program
An accelerated Master’s degree is offered by the Department of Psychology in the College of Science and the Department of Applied Psychology in the Bouvé College of Health Sciences. The advantage is accomplished by allowing four graduate courses to count as part of the undergraduate Psychology BS requirements.
Application may be made to the program after a psychology major has earned 64 SH. Admissions requirements are the same as those for the traditional MS program: a 3.00GPA, an interview, two letters of recommendation, and a personal statement.
After admission to the PlusOne program, students take the four graduate courses in their final undergraduate year.
- CAEP6327, Behavioral Assessment (Counts as an Interdisciplinary Cluster course for the BS)
- CAEP6328, Research Design and Methodology (Counts as an Interdisciplinary Cluster course for the BS)
- CAEP6334, Advanced Programming 1 (Counts as an Interdisciplinary Cluster course for the BS)
- CAEP6331, Advanced Learning 1 (Counts as a Psychology Elective for the BS)
- Each graduate course carries three Semester Hours credit.
- An undergraduate planning worksheet for the PlusOne Program can be found here.
The details of the complete MS requirements are here.
Students interested in the program should seek advising in the Department of Psychology as early as possible in their undergraduate career. The undergraduate advisor is Prof. William Sharp. To contact the academic advisors of the College of Science, click here. The director of the graduate program is Prof. Laura Dudley.