Applied Behavior Analysis for Special Populations Certificate
Get certified to serve as an effective practitioner who can assess, design, implement, and evaluate applied behavior analysis (ABA) programs.
UMass Boston’s Applied Behavior Analysis for Special Populations Certificate focuses on providing students with the preparation to serve as effective practitioners who can assess, design, implement, and evaluate applied behavior analysis (ABA) programs. It’s for education professionals who want to hone their skills and add a certification to their résumé. Explore cutting-edge knowledge, concepts, and skills of basic ABA principles, ethical considerations, generalization strategies, and application to special populations and settings. Apply these skills to many areas — from neighborhoods and specialized schools to residential programs to serving children and adults with disabilities.
Courses are offered at our Boston campus and through live interactive video at selected locations within Massachusetts and Providence, Rhode Island. The Association for Behavior Analysis International has verified the courses toward the coursework requirements for eligibility to take the Board Certified Behavior Analyst® examination. Applicants will need to meet additional requirements before they can be deemed eligible to take the examination. You may apply ABA certificate credits towards a Master’s in Education without licensure, or combine initial licensure in Moderate Disabilities with the ABA certificate for a master’s degree plus 12 post-masters credits. The MEd degree may be completed entirely with 15 credits of advanced post-certificate ABA courses.
- This program consists of seven required 3-credit courses, or 21 credits and one optional practicum for an additional 1-6 credits.
- Online tuition is $575 per credit.
- On campus tuition is $768.10 per credit for Massachusetts residents and $1247.20 per credit for New England students.
- Total estimated cost to complete this program starts at $12,075.
1. Required Courses:
Philosophical Underpinnings of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA 650) (HLL)
This introductory course offers a comprehensive study of the philosophical and historical foundations of behavior analysis, with special emphasis on behaviorism, experimental analysis of behavior, and the application of applied behavior analysis. Topics covered during this course include a historical perspective of behaviorism, description and environmental explanation of behavior, the science of behavior analysis, the relationship between behavior analysis and other psychological sciences and theories, as well as the major professional issues currently facing the field. Additionally, students will identify and analyze the key components of empirical research published in scholarly journals in the field of behavior analysis related to the topics in this course. This course emphasizes the tenets of behaviorism in the application of behavior analysis to interpreting and understanding everyday events. This course meets Behavior Analyst Certification Board, Inc.TM Task List 5 requirements for Philosophical Underpinnings; Concepts & Principles (45 of 90 hours).
Concepts and Principles of Behavior Analysis (ABA651) (HLL)
This course will teach students to identify, define, and apply the concepts and principles of behavior. Topics covered during this course include an environmental explanation of behavior, respondent and operant conditioning, contingencies of behavior including reinforcement and punishment, extinction of operant behavior, and verbal behavior. Upon completion of this course, students will be able to define, provide examples of, and apply the basic principles of behavior analysis within the context of clinical and educational programming, as well as read and synthesize relevant literature and incorporate best practices into applied programming. This course meets Behavior Analyst Certification Board, Inc.TM Task List 5 requirements for Concepts and Principles (45 of 45 hours freestanding).
- Assessment and Treatment of Problem Behavior (ABA652) (HLL)
In this course, you’ll review the literature relevant to the assessment and treatment of challenging behavior. Content is based on relevant literature in the field of behavior analysis and includes an overview of and the logic behind procedures required to complete a functional behavioral assessment of challenging behavior and implementation of function-based treatments to decrease challenging behaviors and increase adaptive behaviors. You’ll study functional behavior assessment procedures, including indirect assessments, descriptive assessments, and functional analysis. You’ll practice conducting an indirect and descriptive assessment and will have the opportunity to design a functional analysis. The course will cover various treatments, including antecedent interventions, differential reinforcement procedures, extinction, punishment, and more. You’ll also design a comprehensive function-based intervention plan. Conceptual and practical issues related to the assessment and treatment of challenging behavior will also be addressed. This course meets Behavior Analyst Certification Board, Inc.TM Task List 5 requirements for Behavior Assessment (30 of 45 hrs.) and Behavior Change Procedures; Selecting and Implementing Interventions (15 of 60 hrs.).
- Skill Acquisition (ABA653) (HLL)
In this advanced course, you’ll address competencies in the areas of identification of problem behaviors, assessment, intervention, and behavior change. You’ll get a systematic introduction to behaviorally based assessment methods, the use of reinforcement to teach new behavior, and a variety of instructional methods and instructional formats. The instructional planning process and the protocols necessary to develop comprehensive instructional programs for learners will be reviewed with special emphasis for those learners with autism spectrum disorders. The broad goal of the course is to impart you with a broad range of instructional tools that allow you to develop systematic and comprehensive programs that teach relevant skills in the most natural contexts possible. Specific topics include schedules of reinforcement, preference assessment, criterion-referenced skill assessments, reinforcement-based behavior change procedures such as token economies and self-management, stimulus control, errorless teaching, behavior chains, discrete trial instruction, naturalistic teaching, verbal behavior training, and maintenance and generalization of skills. This course meets Behavior Analyst Certification Board, Inc.TM Task List 5 requirements for Behavior Assessment (10 of 45 hrs.) and Behavior–Change Procedures; Selecting and Implementing Interventions (35 of 60 hrs.).
- Research Methods (ABA654) (HLL)
Through this course, you’ll address competencies in measurement and experimental design. With regard to measurement, you’ll learn how to define behavior in observable and measurable terms, select an appropriate measurement system based upon the dimension of behavior you’re studying, consider the strengths and limitations of each measurement system, and calculate inter-observer reliability using a variety of methods. You’ll also learn different ways to display data, interpret data, and arrange various experimental designs using single-subject methodology. This course meets Behavior Analyst Certification Board, Inc.TM Task List 5 requirements for Measurement, Data Display, and Interpretation; Experimental Design (45 of 45 hrs.).
- Organizational Behavior Management (OBM) (ABA655) (HLL)
Address competencies in the identification of problems and the implementation, management, and supervision of services. Learn techniques to collaborate with other professionals working with students requiring special education. You’ll learn how to use everyday language when explaining behavioral concepts and how to consider environmental modifications to reduce the need for behavior analytical services. You’ll also learn behavioral methodology for staff training and evaluations. Performance management, behavior expectation, and competency-based training are a few of the topics covered during this course. You’ll design tools for monitoring procedural integrity for skill acquisition and problem behavior management. Upon completion of this course, you’ll be able to address complex issues related to training and development of staff in different contexts such as consultation, public schools, home-based programs, and private schools. You’ll also learn what best practices in consultation are, some limitations and strategies for problem-solving around limitations, and the different models of consultation (e.g., in public schools, within agencies, in-home, etc.). This course meets Behavior Analyst Certification Board, Inc.TM Task List 5 requirements for Behavior Assessment (5 of 30 hrs.), Behavior-Change Procedures; Selecting and Implementing Interventions (10 of 60 hrs.), and Personnel Supervision and Management (30 of 30 hrs.).
- Ethical & Professional Conduct (ABA656) (HLL)
This course addresses competencies in Ethical and Professional Conduct. You’ll have the opportunity to learn the Disciplinary and Ethical Standards and the Disciplinary Procedures required in the practices of applied behavior analysis. Through case studies and scenarios, you’ll have the opportunity to apply guidelines for responsible conduct for behavior analysts. In particular, you’ll apply the guideline expectations for ways in which to conduct research, assessments, and make ethical decisions before taking action. You’ll design ways in which to apply the guidelines to training, supervision and consultation, interactions with colleagues, and responsibility to society. This course meets Behavior Analyst Certification Board, Inc.TM Task List 5 requirements for BACB Compliance Code and Disciplinary Systems; Professionalism (45 of 45 hrs.).
- Applied Behavior Analysis for Special Populations Practicum (ABA698) (online)
The focus of the Practicum is learning and consolidating behavior analytic skills related to the Behavior Analysis Certification Board (BACB) Fourth Edition, Task List and Ethical Compliance code, and the mission statement within the College of Education and Human Development. Pre-registration for the Practicum is required one semester prior to enrollment. The practicum site must be approved by the Graduate Program Director.
3. Advanced post-certificate courses for completing an MEd degree (Pick Five):
- Autism Spectrum Disorder: Characteristics and Interventions (ABA660) (online)
In this course, you’ll focus on the characteristics of and teaching methods for students with autism spectrum disorders from a behavior analytic perspective. You’ll study various topics including definitions, accommodations, behavioral support, behavioral analysis, behavioral progress monitoring, and instruction for students with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Fieldwork components are included.
- Behavior Analytic Approaches to Psychological Disorders (ABA661) (online)
You’ll learn how to evaluate the assessment and treatment of a variety of common psychological disorders through the lens of behavior analysis. You’ll be introduced to common behavioral approaches for treating psychological disorders and challenged to understand how to both assess and treat these disorders in a manner consistent with the tenets of applied behavior analysis. By the conclusion of the course, you should have an understanding of traditional behavioral treatments of psychological disorders, as well as a cursory understanding of how to assess and treat these disorders from a behavior analytic perspective.
- Culturally Responsive Practices in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA662) (online and HLL)
Examine the ways in which race, class, gender, language, culture, and ethnicity influence the ways in which we perform our main functions as behavior analysts. You and fellow students will begin by exploring your own cultural, socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds and then those of individuals from other diverse groups with whom you interact professionally. You’ll consider the impact these factors have on functional assessment (including interviewing staff, parents, and consumers), targeting behaviors, measurement of behavior, selecting treatment outcomes, consultation, and training caregivers and staff to provide treatment.
- Designing Behavior Analytic Research (ABA663) (online and HLL)
This is part one of a 2-course sequence that results in the completion and write up of a single-subject research project. You’ll design a single subject research proposal that will be submitted to the Institutional Review Board (IRB). You’ll apply what you have learned about how to conduct a literature search for an area of interest, formulate a research question, select meaningful target behaviors, define behavior in observable and measurable terms, select an appropriate design and measurement system based upon the dimension of behavior you are studying, and develop staff training protocols for those assisting with the research. The final assignment will be to write an introduction and method sections for the proposed study.
- Implementing Behavior Analytic Research (ABA664) (online and HLL)
This course is a part two of a 2-course sequence that results in the completion and write-up of a single-subject behavior analytic research project. This section uses a behavior analytic approach to single subject research design, expanding upon ABA663 Designing Behavior Analytic Research, which is a prerequisite to this course. In this course, you’ll implement the study you developed in course 1 with a research participant. You’ll coordinate the implementation of experimental procedures with treatment fidelity, train staff to assist in data collection, ensure reliable data collection, display and interpret data, and if needed, modify the research design. The final assignment will be to write the results and discussion sections for the study, and then to present the results in a poster format suitable for submission to a professional conference. You’ll learn to apply APA standards in writing and use of technologies to support research, including online library resources and reference management software.
- Verbal Behavior (ABA665) (online and HLL)
In this course, you’ll review the literature relevant to the understanding of verbal behavior. By the end of this course, you’ll be able to demonstrate the basis for a functional analysis of human language. This includes establishing a familiarity with elementary verbal operants, the ways in which verbal behavior is established, the relevance of the behavior of the listener, and ways that verbal behavior becomes organized. You’ll establish vocal verbal behavior with regard to the topics addressed. You’ll also define and distinguish among the elementary verbal operants. Lastly, you’ll design a lesson plan and a research idea related to one verbal operant.
- Special Topics (ABA697) (online and HLL)
Students will study a special topic related to applied behavior analysis. Topic is determined by the instructor each semester. Students can earn 1-6 credits, depending on level of study.
At the end of this eleven-month program, you’ll be awarded a graduate certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis for Special Populations. The certificate will demonstrate your expertise in the field on your résumé, as well as in interviews and workplace evaluations. Successful completion of the certificate meets the requirement to sit for the national Behavior Analyst Certification Board licensing examination. You may apply ABA certificate credits towards a Master’s in Education without licensure, or combine initial licensure in Moderate Disabilities with the ABA certificate for a master’s degree plus 12 post-masters credits. The MEd degree may be completed entirely with 15 credits of advanced post-certificate ABA courses.
If you’re having difficulty completing or submitting any application requirements because of disruptions related to COVID-19, contact email@example.com before the application deadline to discuss potential submission extensions or exceptions.