From left: Haily Kelliher ’16, who will begin her graduate studies at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington this fall, and Sara Peck ’17 recently presented their research poster at the Annual Convention for the Association for Behavior Analysis International in Chicago, Ill. 

Board Approves Applied Behavior Analysis Coursework


Psychology majors at MCLA who wish to pursue a certification in applied behavior analysis are now one step closer to their goal: The Behavior Analysis Certification Board recently approved a sequence of four courses for meeting its requirements for eligibility to take the Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst Examination®.

Other requirements of the certification include a bachelor’s degree, 1,000 hours of supervised experience, and the successful completion of the exam.

Once she has finished the supervision requirement, Amanda Hoag ’15 (top right), who graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology and a minor in applied behavior analysis, will qualify for the board certification 

A full-time behavior specialist at Berkshire Family and Individual Resources (BFAIR) in nearby Pittsfield, Mass., Hoag was accepted into Northeastern University’s master’s program in applied behavior analysis.

According to MCLA psychology professor Dr. Thomas Byrne (bottom right), there is a considerable demand for professionals who have formal training in applied behavior analysis. 

“In fact, there are more jobs than qualified applicants,” Byrne said. “Most of the jobs are with human services agencies, public schools and specialized treatment facilities, and the majority of employers look to hire candidates who hold certification from the Behavior Analysis Certification Board, which oversees national credentialing standards.”

Hoag said that the quality education she received from MCLA prepared her well for a career in this field.

“I had the opportunity to work in a laboratory setting and received hands-on experience with schedules of reinforcement, which is something I work with on a daily basis at my job,” she explained.

“The applied behavior analysis minor at MCLA is a gem,” Hoag continued. “The courses were well put together, and everything I learned while completing my coursework is what I’m using while working in the field.”

Byrne explained that a behavior analyst studies behavior from a natural science perspective.

“Most applied behavior analysts work with behavior problems associated with autism and other developmental disabilities, but there is work in many areas, including substance abuse treatment, behavioral medicine, industrial training and safety, gambling addiction, sports psychology and animal training,” he said.

“It is a heavily data-based approach, so a behavior analyst needs a good understanding of standards of evidence and the scientific method,” Byrne continued. “Those who do applied work must also have the patience and the emotional fortitude to deal with severe behavior problems.  It is challenging, but it is highly rewarding to be able to apply a technology that can dramatically improve lives.” 

Hoag recommends MCLA’s psychology program, which she said provided her with the knowledge she needs to work in the applied behavior analysis field. In addition to the dedication of each professor to their students, “all of the psychology courses tie nicely into each other.”

“I enjoyed my time at MCLA, and was sad to see it end,” she said.

MCLA’s four-course sequence includes “Introduction to Behavior Analysis,” “Research in Behavior Analysis,” “Functional Assessment and Intervention,” and “Ethics and Professional Issues.”

The Behavior Analyst Certification Board, Inc. ® has approved the (above) course sequence as meeting the coursework requirements for eligibility to take the Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst Examination®. Applicants will have to meet additional requirements to qualify.