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ABA Therapist Degrees by Degree Program Level

Majors Overview February 20, 2013

Autistic children are treated with an emotional and behavioral intervention program known as applied behavior analysis (ABA). They receive rehabilitative and educational therapy from graduates of ABA therapy degree programs. In this article, we will take a look at some applied behavior analysis therapy degree programs.

ABA Bachelor Degree Programs

Degree programs in applied behavior analysis vary widely in their applicability because of the reluctance of several organizations to agree on a standard. Prospective therapists can complete either the Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in behavior analysis or Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Psychology focused on ABA to prepare for the profession. Students who graduated from an ABA degree program learn methods of helping individuals develop and change specific behaviors in certain environments.

Educational Prerequisites

Admission criteria to a bachelor degree program in ABA includes completion of prerequisite coursework in various subject areas, such as science, foreign language, fine arts, social science, English and computers. This applies equally to freshmen and transfer applicants to the program who would be required in a majority of programs to complete the university or college’s core curriculum.

Program Coursework

Students who graduated from the bachelor degree program in ABA are prepared for other scientific and psychological fields; in addition to careers relating to behavior analysis. The coursework emphasize on the development of assessment skills, techniques and strategies in behavioral intervention and other areas, including the following:

•Behavior Principles
•History of Applied Behavior Analysis
•Organizational Behavior Management
•Psychology Statistics
•Data Analysis and Collection

ABA Master Degree Programs

The master degree program in ABA has a greater focus on research-oriented analysis of behavior science and its application to particular mental diseases such as autism. A clinical practicum is added to coursework in behavior analysis applications and theories thereby providing graduates with a sound basis to perform treatment of various disorders including autism. Master degree program graduates are trained to practice as behavior analysts and can seek certification from the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB).

Educational Prerequisites

Admission criteria in a graduate degree program in ABA include completion of an undergraduate degree, preferably in a related field, such as education, sociology, psychology or special education. In a majority of programs, students are also required to have a grade point average (GPA) ranging from 2.75 to 3.00 in all undergraduate courses.

Program Coursework

Coursework in the graduate degree program is aimed at preparing students to practice as ABA therapists in various settings, such as mental health, education or rehabilitation. Typical coursework in the ABA program includes:

•Cognitive Psychology
•Stimulus Control
•Biological Foundations of Behavioral Disorders
•Behavior and Learning Analysis
•Functional Assessment

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Apart from educational training, ABA therapists must have an abundance of communication skills, understanding and patience needed to work with clients. An optimistic job growth projection has been made for ABA therapists. According to statistics released by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (www.cdc.gov); one out of every one hundred ten children in the United States has an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). As the need for ABA treatment and therapy for ASD increases, job opportunities are also likely to increase. In January 2010, an ABA therapist earned an average annual salary of $42,000 (source: Indeed.com).

Continuing Education and Professional Certification

Graduates from undergraduate or graduate degree programs in ABA therapy or related fields have certification options available to them. The Behavior Analyst Certification Board (www.bacd.com) offers the Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst to undergraduate degree holders and the Board Certified Behavior Analyst to graduates of master degree programs. Although ABA therapy positions do not require more than a master degree, post-graduate doctorate and certification ABA programs are also offered. Students enrolling in these programs are prepared for advanced management, teaching, and research positions in the ABA field.

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