Applied Behavior Analysis
Applied Behavior Analysis is the ethical design, implementation and evaluation of environmental changes to produce socially significant improvements in behavior. At the M.A. level, the Applied Behavior Analysis program incorporates the content areas and practicum requirements to make graduates eligible for national board certification by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board® in addition to providing a solid foundation in clinical psychology. The aim is to prepare students for a rewarding career in the rapidly growing field of applied behavior analysis. M.A. graduates work in residential, school, and community-based settings with a wide variety of clients including children, adults, and seniors with diagnoses such as autism, behavioral difficulties, developmental disabilities, mental illness, and a variety of geriatric conditions. Doctoral graduates are lead practitioners in educational, clinical, and business settings who can successfully respond to the diverse needs of consumers of behavioral interventions and therapies. Students in the doctoral program who are Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBA) may choose from one of three concentrations Instructional Design, Developmental Disabilities, or Supervision and Consulting, or they may choose to create a specialty track by combing various electives. Those without BCBA certification will follow the BCBA Respecialization concentration.
In addition to the Master of Arts degree and the Doctor of Psychology degree, The Chicago School also offers one online re-specialization program that develops mastery of applied behavior analysis principles. This program meets the academic course work requirements to qualify to sit for the examination to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA).
Students applying to the online BCBA Respecialization certificate program must possess a Master’s degree. The applicant must have the appropriate degree from an accredited university, that was conferred in behavior analysis or other natural science, education, human services, engineering, medicine or a field related to behavior analysis and approved by the BACB. Applicants to this program should ensure their resume illustrates relevant work experience. A letter of reference, preferably from a supervisor or manager, is required. A practicum site approval form is also required from students seeking to complete their board required supervision through this program.
In addition to the admission criteria, students entering the certificate program must have access to a computer that is less than three years old, a broadband internet connection, and the Microsoft Office Suite including Word, Excel, and Outlook and, at minimum, the following computing skills:
- A comfort with basic Internet technology
- The ability to open and attach files from and to emails
- The ability to send and receive email
- The ability to save documents
TOEFL or IELTS, International Credentials, and International Students
TOEFL or IELTS: If English is not your primary language, you must submit official TOEFL or IELTS scores with your application (TOEFL School Code: 7161). International students who received a bachelor’s degree from an accredited United States institution are exempt from this requirement. The minimum scores are: TOEFL – 550 paper based, 213 computer based, 79 internet based; IELTS – 6.5.
ELS Educational Services, Inc.: The Chicago School is a cooperative member of ELS Educational Services, Inc. which provides intensive English language programs. Students who have successfully completed ELS course 112 may be considered for admission in lieu of the TOEFL or IELTS.
International credentials: Applicants with international credentials must obtain and submit an official “course-by-course” evaluation through an evaluation agency such as World Education Services (www.wes.org) or Educational Credential Evaluators Inc (www.ece.org). In addition to the agency evaluation, all official graduate and undergraduate transcripts must be submitted.
International students: International students must submit a completed application by the general consideration deadline. This will allow sufficient time to obtain the additional documentation required to study in the United States. In addition, once accepted, international students must submit the International Student Information form, a copy of their passport, and financial documentation showing sufficient funding for at least one year of study and all living expenses. This documentation must be submitted at least two months prior to the start of the semester in order to allow sufficient time for the school to issue an I-20 for the student to obtain an F-1 visa, if needed.. An I-20 visa will not be issued without this documentation.
The Chicago School reviews applications on a rolling basis. Once review begins, complete applications will be considered by the Admission Committee and applicants will be notified regarding the admission decision. The Chicago School does not share information or provide any feedback regarding admission decisions.
If a student is offered admission, in order to secure a place in the incoming class, a non-refundable tuition deposit of $500 will be required by the deposit deadline indicated in the offer of admission. The non-refundable deposit will be applied in full toward the student’s tuition upon enrollment.
* Students accepted into the BCBA or BCABA Respecialization program are required to submit the intent to enroll form, but not a tuition deposit.
Transfer of Credit
Prior graduate course work, if within the area of study, may be eligible for transfer or waiver of credit. All accepted students may petition by submitting a Petition of Transfer/Waiver of Credit form** and all required documentation. The decision to accept transfer credit is solely that of the school, which reserves the right to require satisfactory performance on an examination before awarding a transfer of credit. Satisfactory completion of a competency examination is required before transfer of credit is awarded when the course in question has been taken more than five years prior to admission. No credit will be transferred for course work that is more than 10 years old. Transfers of credit are subject to the following conditions.
- Transfer credits can be applied to the BCBA Re-specialization to satisfy prerequisite coursework; however, The Chicago School can only guarantee courses completed within the framework of our program will be honored by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board. Therefore, students planning to sit for the Board exam are encouraged to contact them in advance for a final determination regarding the course(s) in question. Students may contact the Board by visiting (www.bacb.com).
** Please submit all required documentation with each petition. Any credit approved for transfer will not be added to the student’s academic record until after the second week of their first semester.
Matriculated students must be continuously enrolled in their degree or certificate program until graduation unless granted an approved leave of absence. Satisfactory progress semester hours do not include waiver or transfer credit hours. No student will be permitted to take fewer than three semester hours of course work in the fall or spring semesters unless that student has fewer than three semester hours of course work remaining or is on an approved leave of absence. In order to receive financial aid, however, students must be at least half-time for the semester.
Credit Hours per Year and Program Length
The BCBA Respecialization program can be completed in as little as 10 months. Completion may run longer for students also doing supervision through the program. The length of time will depend on the practicum option selected (either five or ten 8-week terms). Students enrolling in group supervision only will add 5 credit hours to the program; students enrolling in both group and individual supervision will add 10 credit hours to the program.
The BCBA Respecialization program requires 18 credits of internet-based core course work. Students wishing to complete supervised field work (practicum) at an approved site will take either 5 (group supervision only) or 10 (group and individual supervision) additional credits of internet course work. Students are not required to complete supervised field work with The Chicago School. The Behavior Analyst Certification Board requires supervised field work to be completed prior to sitting for the certification exam with them. Completing supervised practical work experience required by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board while enrolled in an approved program can lead to a significant reduction of required field experience hours (1,000 versus 1,500). Students who plan to pursue the BCBA credential by participating in our Approval Program for field experience have two options. If the student has a supervisor holding the BCBA credential on-site, the student must enroll in one additional distance course per term (group supervision) after successfully completing EBC400. If the student does not have a supervisor on-site holding the BCBA credential, the student must enroll in two additional distance courses per term (both group and individual supervision) after successfully completing EBC400. Students must submit an application for site approval to the department chair who will review it with the BCBA supervisor and advisor. An applicant may not start accumulating experience until he or she has begun the course work required to meet the BACB coursework requirements. Sites must meet BACB criteria for approved activities and hours. All students must be able to complete a weekly minimum of 10 hours per week (hours in excess of 30 hours per week will not count toward the practicum requirement) of documented work with clients to meet the necessary requirements of the Behavior Analyst Certification Board.
Respecialization Practicum Criteria
BCBA Re-specialization students must be able to complete a weekly minimum of 10 hours per week (hours in excess of 30 hours per week will not count toward the requirement) of documented work with clients to meet the necessary requirements of the Behavior Analyst Certification Board. Applicants are encouraged to have experience in multiple sites and with multiple supervisors. Appropriate experience activities include:
- Conducting assessments related to the need for behavioral interventions
- Designing, implementing, and monitoring behavior analysis programs for clients
- Overseeing the implementation of behavior analysis programs by others
- Other activities normally performed by a behavior analyst that are directly related to behavior analysis such as attending planning meetings regarding the behavior analysis program, researching literature related to the program, and talking to individuals about the program. Any additional activities related to the oversight of behavioral programming, such as behavior analyst supervision issues or evaluation of behavior analysts’ performance, are appropriate.
Clients may be any persons for whom behavior analysis services are appropriate. The applicant may not be related to the client or the client’s primary caretaker. Applicants must work with multiple clients during the experience period. Approved site hours are applied toward certification eligibility in accordance with BACB University Approved Site requirements.
ABA procedures and theories have made remarkable progress possible for many people. For instance, this progress takes the form of children learning to read, children with severe disabilities learning very basic life skills, increased communication between people, decreased symptoms of adults with brain injuries, and many other examples of reduced human misery and increased skills. Behavior Analytic theories and procedures now cover many diagnoses, behaviors and procedures. Because all ABA work is to be validated with data about its effectiveness, each clinician generates a data set, and tests what he or she does. As clinicians review their outcomes, they modify and test procedures to get better results. Hence newly tested procedures are added each year, and older procedures are modified and sometimes discarded.
The reason for the existence of the ABA department is to make even greater progress for many more people by training students to understand and implement these behavior analytic theories and procedures. This goal requires that the faculty measure students’ performance and insure that students implement procedures correctly and ethically, and forward competent students to the next steps in the professional progression.
The ABA programs and curriculum are designed to help the student master the large ABA verbal and physical repertoires needed to be an effective professional. While there is overlap, classes and textbooks primarily shape the student’s verbal repertoires, and practica and experiences shape the physical repertoires. ABA procedures must be implemented as documented by data, so students must learn them exactly. For this reason, The Chicago School model is that of the student as an apprentice learning to be a professional, not of the student as a consumer choosing what to learn. When the student learns to correctly implement procedures and measure behavior, the resulting data should drive procedures and theory; until that time, students must rely upon the literature and professors.
As an apprentice, the student is required to attend professional meetings in addition to classes and practicum. In the Fall semester, the student must attend the International Precision Teaching Conference or a regional or state behavior analysis conference approved by the faculty, and in Spring, the Charter Association for Behavior Analysis (CABA) or another approved regional or state conference. In May of each year in residence, the student must attend the Association for Behavior Analysis: International conference. Regional conferences (e.g., Mid-American ABA), state conferences (e.g., Missouri ABA and Behavior Analysis Association of Michigan) and CABA offer opportunities to learn and practice professional behavior. Note that professional conferences are held in various parts of North America, and so students should budget for attendance, workshops, hotel, meals, and travel. See (abainternational.org) for information about the required conference for the Association for Behavior Analysis: International.
Because ABA implementations are data-driven, the student should focus especially on quick, precise, and efficient data collection procedures that inform professionals about outcomes of his/her behavior. Then, as new curricula, procedures, clients, and situations are encountered, the ABA professional can use the data of each client to judge effectiveness and guide his or her actions according to the best outcomes for the client. In future years, as students transition into professionals, they can collect and share data that help others and advance the field. For now, the faculty will model and direct the use of data and ABA procedures, while students should view themselves as apprentices whose focus is to learn everything possible from their time at The Chicago School. Also, students should consider themselves “works-in-progress” (as do other elements of the program, such as faculty, curriculum, and administration) and expect change over time and in response to data and contingencies. A large element in professional success is the willingness to seek out and learn from feedback; this is especially true in the areas of personal and professional emotional development.
- By completion of the program, students will be able to describe and explain behavior in behavior analytic terms. Students will also be able to use the dimensions of applied behavior analysis to evaluate interventions and distinguish among types of behaviors.
- By completion of the program, students will be able to define and provide examples for all of the important principles, processes and concepts of applied behavior analysis.
- By completion of the program, students will be able to systematically manipulate independent variables to analyze their effects on treatment. Students will also use various designs and various methods of analysis to evaluate interventions.
- By completion of the program, students will be able to conduct a task analysis and make recommendations to the client regarding appropriate target outcomes and intervention strategies.
- By completion of the program, students will be able to acknowledge and follow the ethical and professional standards of the profession of applied behavior analysis. They will use assessment methods and interventions that are ethical and scientifically validated while protecting the confidentiality and well-being of the client at all times.
- By completion of the program, students will be able to state the primary characteristics of and rationale for using various methods of assessment. Students will also be able to gather, organize, and interpret data obtained through various methods of assessment.
- By completion of the program, students will be able to identify the measurable dimensions of behavior.
- By completion of the program, students will be able to use multiple formats to effectively display data. Students will also be able to interpret and base decision-making on data displayed in various formats.
- By completion of the program, students will be able to effectively identify and use multiple behavior change procedures while recognizing the appropriate parameters and possible unwanted effects of these procedures.
- By completion of the program, students will be able to use effective performance monitoring and reinforcement systems while monitoring systems for procedural integrity. Students will also be able to establish support for behavior analysis services from persons directly and indirectly involved with these services.
Ethics and Professional Behavior
Students are expected to learn and to follow the ethical guidelines of the American Psychological Association, the Association for Behavior Analysis: International, and the Behavior Analysis Certification Board during and after their work at The Chicago School. A class in ethics is required, and student adherence to ethical codes is evaluated both formally and informally.
The Applied Behavior Analysis specialization/re-specialization course work is approved by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board® and meets the requirements necessary to take the Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) exam. ABA curricula are periodically reevaluated by the BACB and recertified.
Full-Time vs. Part-Time
Students entering the BCBA Respecialization are considered part-time. In general, faculty plan for students to dedicate at least 10 hours per week to their studies. This respecialization program falls under the Executive and Professional Education division of The Chicago School, which emphasizes blending real-world experience with career enhancement course work. Students are therefore expected to be working in a relevant field and should consider carefully the balance between school, work, family, and other responsibilities and the rigors of specialized, online study.
Technical Requirements (Respecialization Students)
Students completing virtual supervision through The Chicago School will enroll in one of the following series of online courses: EBC 500, EBC 520, EBC 540, EBC 560. To successfully participate, students must have these technical capabilities:
- A computer made in the last three years
- Broadband Internet connection
- A webcam, digital camera, or digital recorder capable of:
- Recording 24 frames per second (fps)
- Recording for 60 consecutive minutes
- Recording sound
- Focusing appropriate to collect student-client interaction
- A cable that connects the camera to the computer
- Software that converts the raw footage to a smaller file — Windows MovieMaker (PC) or iMovie (Mac)
The Applied Behavior Analysis BCBA Respecialization requires 18 credits of Internet-based core course work. Students choosing to participate in Chicago School approved supervised field experience will take 5 (group supervision only) or 10 (group and individual supervision) additional credits of supervised practicum work for a total of 23 or 28 semester credit hours. Students will work with their assigned academic advisor to determine the best practicum option.