Do you believe you have the calling to make a difference in the lives of individuals afflicted with psychological and behavioral disorders? If so, then you should consider getting a BCBA. This way you can help them reclaim the ability to perform everyday functions. Today, it’s relatively easier to attend BCBA certification programs online.
Having a master’s degree in ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) would also allow you to apply your passion, but as a BCBA, you can widen your sphere of positive influence. Don’t let a busy schedule hinder you from becoming one. Instead, consider taking one of those BCBA certification programs online.
What Does It Mean to Be a BCBA?
A board-certified behavior analyst (BCBA) is a professional independent practitioner who provides behavioral analysis to clients in different types of situations. Counseling children in schools, hospitals, or clinics and administering therapy to adults in rehab centers are examples of a BCBA’s career path.
Each client receives a comprehensive series of assessments and evaluations. Based on the results, the BCBA drafts a plan for intervention and improvement of identified behaviors.
Having a behavior analysis graduate-level certification grants you the authority to manage the work of professionals who carry out behavior-analytic interventions. These specialists include Registered Behavior Technicians, Board-Certified Assistant Behavior Analysts, and Applied Behavior Analysis therapists.
How Does One Become a BCBA?
There are three ways to be eligible for candidacy to a BCBA title, as outlined by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB):
Behavior-Analytic Coursework – The BCBA applicant must be a graduate degree-holder of an accredited university, with relevant coursework and supervised practical work.
Faculty Teaching and Research – An MA graduate may apply for board certification if their graduate degree is in a related field, such as education and psychology, they work full-time as a behavior analysis faculty, and they have accomplished relevant practical work.
Postdoctoral Experience – Any individual with an appropriate doctoral degree is qualified as a BCBA candidate as long as their degree was earned more than 10 years prior. At least 10 years of postdoctoral practical work is also required.
If you meet the eligibility requirements, you can proceed with your application. When the BACB accepts it, which is usually within 24 hours, you will be scheduled for an exam. Passing the test is not the end of the line.
Just like most board certifications associated with the medical field, you need to renew your certificate every two years. Also, to maintain your BCBA status, you must adhere to the BACB’s ethics requirements and take up continuing education.
Do your educational background and work experience fall within one of the three options outlined above? If so, then it’s time to take the next step. Let’s explore the digital landscape of BCBA certification programs.
1. The University of Arizona Applied Behavior Analysis Graduate Certificate
If you have already earned a graduate degree but lack the coursework requirement (Option 1 in the previous section) to apply for a BCBA certification, then this program is what you need.
The Applied Behavior Analysis graduate certificate offered by The University of Arizona is an online course. It provides basic learning and behavioral principles in working with people with special needs.
Here’s a quick look at the program’s details:
- Career Level: Graduate Certificate
- Degree: Graduate Certificate
- College: College of Education
- Cost: $653 per unit
- Eligibility: Residents of some US Territories may not be eligible. For more information, you may visit the university’s Eligibility & State Authorization page.
- Courses and Hours: 6-course sequence, 18 semester hours
- No. of Units: 21
This program is flexible in the sense that you can complete the courses over several semesters. But if you can wing it, three consecutive semesters plus one summer session is all it takes. That would be equivalent to 16 months.
These are the admission requirements:
- Master’s degree from an accredited university or college
- At least 3.00 GPA in the Master’s degree
- Work experience under the supervision of a BCBA
- 3 recommendation letters
- Personal Statement
2. Monmouth University Applied Behavior Analysis Certificate Program
The online Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) certificate program of Monmouth University is designed to meet the required university coursework requirements for the BCBA exam. It is one of the special education programs of the university’s School of Education.
You can complete the program’s seven-course sequence in 315 hours. This sequence is as per the 5th edition task list of the BACB. These are the inclusions:
- Concepts and Principles
- Behavior Assessment
- Behavior Change Procedures
- Personnel Supervision and Management
- Professionalism and Ethics
To qualify for admission to this program, you must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. Besides, your GPA should be 3.0 or higher overall and in your undergraduate major.
Important Note: This program does not take the place of the master’s degree required for eligibility to take the BCBA exam. It will also not include the BCBA-supervised work experience qualification.
3. University of Cincinnati Online Behavior Analysis Graduate Certificate Program
The online Behavior Analysis Graduate Certificate program offered by the University of Cincinnati provides coursework that meets BACB’s eligibility requirements to take the BCBA exam. This program’s curriculum is established on practices that are evidence-based as well as research-based, and according to the core competencies set by the BACB.
Admission to this program is selective and the university does not accept transfer credits for it. Below are the requirements:
- Master’s degree, preferably in a related field, from a regionally-accredited university
- Overall 3.0 GPA (on 4.0) or higher on all previous graduate courses
- Official transcripts of all university or college grades (unofficial transcripts are accepted during the application)
- Current resume
- 2 reference letters from professional or academic colleagues
- Goal statement in letter form, which includes the reason for enrolling in the program, how it could meet the applicant’s professional goals, and all relevant background in applied behavior analysis or any related field
- Accomplished online application and payment of $20 fee
UC Online programs offer flexible asynchronous online classes in 7-week and 14-week formats. Coursework is accessible 24/7 and some tests are monitored through an exam proctoring software.
You can complete your behavior analysis graduate certificate either part-time or full-time. Those set up to be part-time include less than 10 credit hours per semester. This is an online program that does not require campus visits.
The University of Cincinnati is one of the pioneers of BCBA certification programs online. Ranked by the U.S. News & World Report as one of America’s Best Colleges, it makes online courses more affordable with its financial aid packages.
4. George Mason University Applied Behavior Analysis Graduate Certificate Program
The Applied Behavior Analysis Graduate Certificate program at George Mason University is offered in an online delivery format. With the course content based on the task list issued by the BACB, it has been verified to meet the course requirements for eligibility.
This program can be either specialization of the university’s Master’s program or a stand-alone certificate. These are its features:
- Duration: 18 months (can be completed in 1.5 years)
- Credit Hours: 18
- Asynchronous Courses: 6
- Competitive Tuition Price Point
- Non-licensure teacher program
- Prepares students for the BCBA exam (Note: BCBA’S supervised experience requirements are not included in the courses)
- Flexible and accessible to working professionals
This program equips you with the skills required to pursue a career in understanding human behavior and formulating behavioral improvements. Compared to the university’s Autism Spectrum Disorder program, the Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) online graduate certificate is not limited to people with disabilities and special education.
Through evidence- and research-based practices, you will have a higher chance of success in various fields. These include business and industry, treatment of psychiatric disorders, general and specialty medicine, autism, family relationships, intellectual disabilities, geriatrics, and education at all levels.
You will also be able to choose where to work. Whether in a school, an agency, a home setting, or in private practice, this outcome-focused program prepares you to be proficient. Its student-centered learning is carried out by a distinguished faculty with extensive backgrounds in research and practice.
5. St. Joseph’s University Graduate Certificate Program in Applied Behavior Analysis
The graduate certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis offered by St. Joseph’s University is one of the most affordable online ABA programs in the country. It provides proficiency that prepares you for the BCBA exam and the skills you would need for career advancement.
This program includes an ABA course sequence approved by the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) as meeting the eligibility requirements for taking the BCBA exam. To be admitted to the flexible program, you must have a Master’s degree in any related field, including psychology and education.
You can have the application fee waived if you can complete your application file within 20 days of an appointment with one of their Program Managers. Your file must include all supporting documents listed on their website’s Admission Checklists page. There may be additional records that the university would request as well.
St. Joseph’s University is a great choice for securing your BCBA online certification program. It is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. The U.S. News & World Report ranks it as the 12th Best Regional University in the North, the 131st Best Online Bachelor’s Degree in the US, the 37th Best Value School in the North, and the 34th Best Online Criminal Justice Program in the US.
Forbes Magazine has also cited the university as one of America’s Best Value Colleges.
As you may have noticed, universities offering graduate certificate programs do not include relevant and supervised experience in their curricula. However, completion of experience hours is one of the requirements for eligibility to take the BCBA exam.
If you haven’t undergone this training yet, you may do so after starting your qualifying coursework in the certificate program.
This process starts with obtaining a supervisor with these qualifications:
- A BCBA or BCBA-D of good standing
- Worked as a psychologist, whether licensed or registered
- Worked as an instructor of Verified Course Sequence (VCS)
The three experience types are listed below. You can be credited with training hours in one category or any combination of the three options.
1. Supervised Independent Fieldwork – You need to accomplish at least 1,500 hours in this training.
2. Practicum – If you choose this experience, you may finish a minimum of 1,000 hours. It is less than what is required by the supervised independent fieldwork but requires more supervision. Also, this type of training is available only within a VCS and from an instructor with verified experience in the sequence.
3. Intensive Practicum – With this option, you can clock in a minimum of 750 hours but with supervision at the highest level. It is also available only with a verified experienced instructor within a VCS.
As a trainee, you are responsible for documentation and filing of the records that show your experience hours. These will serve as proof during an audit or if the BACB requests for them.
Nationwide, the demand for behavior analysts has been on an upward trend since 2012. In general, BACB credentials are expected for occupations such as counselors, special education teachers, teacher’s assistants, and clinical, counseling, or school psychologists.
These credentials are important in the health care, educational services, and social assistance industries. But both private and public institutions prefer individuals with a BCBA credential.
If your eyes are set on a career path in any of these industries and occupations, then a BCBA certificate will certainly give you a better chance at success. With BCBA certification programs online now offered by reputable educational institutions, your dream is just within your reach.
Important Reminder: Even if you have obtained a BCBA certificate, you may need to apply for licensure to establish an independent practice. Some states require this, so you must consult the state board where you plan to work. Requirements differ from one state to another and may or may not include educational background, additional coursework, and relevant work experience.