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Becoming a BCBA

The Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB)® is a nonprofit corporation whose mission is "to develop, promote, and implement a voluntary international certification program for behavior analyst practitioners." Below is a brief overview of the general certification requirements issued by the (BACB)® as of January 2013, but we recommend that you visit their website for the official "Standards and Application for Examination" and to monitor potential changes in coursework and experience requirements. The BACB® also offers an Application FAQ page under their 'Become Certified' link if you have specific questions regarding the application process.


I. Overview of BCBA Requirements
II. JSU's BCBA Coursework Sequence
III. Applying to JSU to Complete the BCBA Coursework Sequence
IV. JSU's Supervised Experience Options


Requirements for applying to sit for the Board Certified Behavior Analyst Examination®:

A. Master's 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."  A link to a list of acceptable degrees is available on the BACB's website.

B. Coursework . The BACB® requires that you complete 270 classroom hours of graduate level instruction in five content areas (i.e., Ethical and Professional Conduct, Concepts and Principles of Behavior Analysis, Research Methods in Behavior Analysis, Applied Behavior Analysis, and a "Discretionary" category). The BACB® has approved the following JSU psychology course sequence as meeting the coursework requirements for eligibility to take the BCBA Examination®: PSY 511, PSY 521, PSY 528, PSY 529, PSY 530, and PSY 538 (see below for more information).

C. Supervised Experience. The BACB® requires that you complete 1500 hours of "Supervised Independent Fieldwork" under the supervision of a BCBA. During your experience, you will learn behavior analytic skills listed in the BACB Fourth Edition Task List (e.g., developing interventions, conducting assessments, collecting and analyzing data). This experience must include at least 75 hours of direct supervision by a BCBA (i.e., the BCBA must meet with the trainee at least once every two weeks for 5% of the accumulated hours). Additionally, each meeting with the BCBA must be documented on the form provided by the BACB®. Note: The BACB® will not consider any supervision hours as meeting the 1500-hour requirement until the student has begun taking one of the six required courses listed above.

II. JSU'S BCBA COURSEWORK SEQUENCE (We do not offer an online coursework option.)

The BACB® has approved the following course sequence as meeting the coursework requirements for eligibility to take the BCBA Examination®. Applicants will have to meet the additional "Supervised Experience" requirement to be eligible for the exam (see above).

A. PSY 511 Conceptual Foundations of Behavior Analysis (3) . Issues underlying the acquisition, conceptualization, and understanding of valid knowledge in psychology, including the design, implementation, and interpretation of research.

B. PSY 521 Functional Assessment (3) . The strategies and ethics of functional assessment are presented in the larger context of behavioral assessment. Research articles relevant to indirect, descriptive, and experimental functional assessment approaches and assessment-based interventions are reviewed.

C. PSY 528 Applied Behavior Analysis I (3) . Pre- or Co-requisite: PSY 221 or PSY 504. An introduction to and examination of the theory, principles, and methods of modern applied behavior analysis.

D. PSY 529 Applied Behavior Analysis II (3) . Prerequisites: PSY 221 or PSY 504 and PSY 528. Diverse populations commonly served by applied behavior analysts (e.g., substance abuse, autism, traumatic brain injury) are examined with respect to their prevalence, defining characteristics, etiology, and current research trends. The potential for the use of applied behavior analysis in underserved populations is also discussed.

E. PSY 530 Single-Subject Research Methods (3) . Prerequisite: PSY 221 or PSY 504 and PSY 528. Examination of the strategies and tactics used in single-subject research to implement socially important behavior change.

F. PSY 538 Ethics and Professional Development (3) . Prerequisite: PSY 530 and PSY 534. Discussion of ethical guidelines and professional skills pertinent to research and practice in behavior analysis.

Please note:

• Several of these courses have prerequisites, so the courses must be taken in the appropriate sequence. PSY 528 lists PSY 221 or PSY 504 as a pre- or co-requisite; these courses are the undergraduate (PSY 221) and graduate (PSY 504) labs in behavior analysis. If graduate students have not passed PSY 221 at JSU or an equivalent lab at another university, they are required to enroll in PSY 504 Graduate Behavior Analysis Lab prior to or in the same semester that they enroll in PSY 528 Applied Behavior Analysis I.

• The six courses required by the BACB® are not offered every semester. We offer PSY 504, PSY 511, PSY 521, and PSY 528 every fall; we offer PSY 504, PSY 529, and PSY 530 every spring; and we offer PSY 504 and PSY 538 every summer.


A. If you do not have an acceptable master's degree
and would like to apply to the Department of Psychology's master's program, see the Graduate Bulletin's Psychology Department entry for a list of application materials. More information about these materials is available on our FAQ page.

B. If you already have an acceptable master's degree and would like to attend JSU only to complete the BCBA coursework sequence in the psychology department, you can apply to the College of Graduate Studies as a Professional Development student. See the "Applicants for Professional Development" section of the Graduate Bulletin for application instructions.


The following practicums are available to outstanding students who are interested in pursuing a career in applied behavior analysis. Board Certified Behavior Analysts® may be available to supervise students who demonstrate acceptable performance on the BACB® Task List (4th Edition) items.

A. Supervisor: Dr. Paige McKerchar

The Learning Tree, Inc.-a non-profit organization providing individualized, empirically validated services to persons with significant educational, medical, and behavioral challenges in residential and school settings in Jacksonville and surrounding areas

B. Supervisor: Dr. Steven Stout

Private Consultation-assessment and treatment services provided throughout the community in a variety of settings

Other opportunities may be available in JSU's Department of Learning Services, which operates the ExSEL program-an intensive six-week summer skills-building program that utilizes direct instruction, precision teaching, and individualized data recording to help prepare incoming JSU undergraduates and oversees ongoing instruction for JSU students requiring foundation courses in math and English.

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