Behaviour Analyst Certification

What is Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA)?

Mirenda BACBThe broad field of behaviour analysis grew out of the scientific study of principles of learning and behaviour. It has two main branches: experimental and applied behaviour analysis. The experimental analysis of behaviour is the basic science of this field and has over many decades accumulated a substantial and well-respected research literature. This literature provides the scientific foundation for applied behaviour analysis (ABA), which is both an applied science that develops methods of changing behaviour and a profession that provides services to meet diverse learning and behavioural needs. Professionals in applied behaviour analysis engage in the specific and comprehensive use of the principles of learning in order to address behavioural needs of widely varying individuals in diverse settings. Examples of these applications include building the skills and achievements of children in school settings; and enhancing the development, abilities, and choices of children and adults with various types of kinds of disabilities.

What is the Behaviour Analyst Certification Board?

The Behaviour Analyst Certification Board, Inc. (BACB) is a nonprofit corporation established to meet professional credentialing needs identified by behaviour analysts, government agencies, and consumers of behaviour analysis services.

The BACB’s mission is to develop, promote, and implement a voluntary national and international certification program for behaviour analyst practitioners. The BACB has established uniform content, standards, and criteria for the credentialing process that are designed to meet

  1. The legal standards established through state, federal, and case law;
  2. The accepted standards for national certification programs; and
  3. The “best practice” and ethical standards of the behaviour analysis profession. The BACB enjoys the support of the Association for Behaviour Analysis International

What Certifications Are Available from the BACB? Is Certification Required in British Columbia?

The BACB offers two certifications, one for individuals with a Bachelors degree (Board Certified Assistant Behaviour Analyst™, BCABA™) and one for individuals with a Masters or higher degree (Board Certified Behaviour Analyst™, BCBA™). While neither certification is required in British Columbia at this time, individuals who act as behaviour consultants through the Autism Funding Programs (both under age 6 and over age 6) and those who design and implement other types of behaviour support services are encouraged to obtain the BCBA credential. The Association for Behaviour Analysis has provided recommendations regarding behaviour consultant training in their Consumer Guidelines for Identifying, Selecting, and Evaluating Behaviour Analysts Working with Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (2007).

Please note that the information on this website applies only to BCBA certification. BCABA certification is offered in Canada through the University of Manitoba and through Douglas College and Capilano University in British Columbia. For information about Universities in the United States that offer online courses leading to BCABA certification, see “Approved University Training” under “Becoming Certified” on the BACB website.

What Does BCBA Certification Mean?

BCBA certification means that an individual has met a number of degree, coursework, and experience requirements and has passed an examination administered by the BACB. Individuals with this certification can refer to themselves as “Board Certified Behaviour Analysts (BCBAs).” A BCBA is an independent practitioner who may work as an employee or as an independent contractor for an organization. The BCBA conducts descriptive and systematic behavioural assessments, including functional analyses, and provides behaviour analytic interpretations of the results. He or she also designs and supervises behaviour analytic interventions, and is able to effectively develop and implement appropriate assessment and intervention methods for use in unfamiliar situations and for a range of individuals. BCBAs seek the consultation of more experienced practitioners when necessary and teach others to carry out ethical and effective behaviour analytic interventions based on published research and designs. He or she may also deliver instruction (e.g., teach courses) in behaviour analysis. Finally, the BCBA can supervise the work of others who implement behaviour analytic interventions.

Please note that the requirements for students who wish to begin the pre-approved BCBA course sequence at UBC on/after September 2013 include the following:

  • Approved graduate coursework totaling 270 contact hours and covering specific content areas. In February, 2005, the BACB approved a series of graduate courses at the University of British Columbia (UBC) as meeting the coursework requirements for eligibility to take the BCBA examination. Applicants will also have to meet all of the other requirements to qualify.
  • Completion of 1500 hours of supervised experience that meet the BACB requirements. Supervised experience is not available through UBC at the present time; students must make their own arrangements in this regard – see FAQ.

Individuals who meet all of these requirements may apply to the BACB to take the Board Certified Behavior Analyst examination. ONLY individuals who achieve a passing grade on this exam can refer to themselves as Board Certified Behavior Analysts.

Coursework Requirements Available at UBC

Graduate courses in Educational & Counselling Psychology, and Special Education (ECPS) have been approved as meeting the BCBA 4th Task List coursework requirements. These courses may be taken in conjunction with an M.Ed., M.A., or Ph.D. degree in ECPS or another UBC Department; or (for individuals who already have a BACB approved Master’s degree or higher) as individual courses in which students are enrolled as “unclassified students.”

The approved courses are all offered on the UBC Point Grey campus (not online), and include the following:
Course Name Credits Sequence Timeframe Prerequisites
EPSE 574: Principles of Behavior Analysis 3 First course in the BCBA sequence September semester
EPSE 575: Seminar in Instructional Methods for Persons with Significant Learning Challenges 3 Second course in the BCBA sequence January semester
EPSE 576: Assessment and Positive Behaviour Support in School and Community Settings 3 Third course in the BCBA sequence September semester
EPSE 577: Seminar in Assessment and Positive Behavior Support in School and Community Settings 3 Fourth course in the BCBA sequence January semester EPSE 576 (firm)
EPSE 593: Design and Analysis of Research with Small Samples and Single Subjects 3 May be taken either following or concurrent with EPSE 576 September semester
EPSE 578: Ethics for Behaviour Analysts 3 Final course in the BCBA sequence May-June semester (twice/week for six weeks) EPSE 574 and EPSE 575
EPSE 549: Seminar in Autism – – – OR – – – EPSE 515A: Semester in Behaviour Disorders 3 May be taken at any time Both offered during January semester EPSE 449

UBC Application procedures differ, depending on whether or not you already have a Masters or higher degree.

UBC Application Procedures for Students Without an Existing Masters or Higher Degree

The BCBA requires a Masters or higher degree for BCBA certification. Students who wish to obtain a graduate degree must complete the usual application process for admission to a graduate program at UBC. Typically, students who are interested in BCBA certification will apply for admission to a (either M.Ed. or M.A.) in either autism & developmental disabilities or behaviour disorders.

In these programs, the BCBA-approved courses can be taken along with other courses to meet the requirements for a graduate degree. Alternatively, students may apply for admission to another ECPS graduate program (e.g., school psychology, counseling psychology) or to a graduate program in another Department, and add the BCBA courses to that program’s existing course requirements.

Please note that admission to UBC graduate programs is quite competitive, and only a limited number of new students are admitted each year. UBC’s Faculty of Graduate Studies requires a minimum GPA of 76% or better in 3rd and 4th year undergraduate courses, plus three letters of references from individuals who can comment favorably on the applicant’s academic potential (i.e., letters from employers or families with whom you have worked are less desirable than letters from past or current Professors). The application deadline for graduate admissions is around December 1 of each year, and students who are admitted can begin their programs in either the following summer or September semesters.

Find more information about current tuition and fees for UBC graduate programs on UBC Vancouver Academic Calendar and Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies websites.

Learn More & Apply to ECPS!

UBC Application Procedures for Students Who Already Have a Masters or Higher Degree

Students who already have a Masters or higher degree in an appropriate area (e.g., education, psychology) from an approved University may be able to apply for either a PhD program in Special Education or for admission to UBC as an “unclassified student” in order to enroll in the BCBA-approved courses. Prospective unclassified students:

  1. MUST have AT LEAST 2 years of full-time, supervised experience in applied behavior analysis, and must have provided applied behavior analytic supports to AT LEAST 6 clients (children, adolescents, or adults) prior to applying;
  2. MUST be engaged in behavior analytic work on at least a part-time basis, under the supervision of a BCBA, while they are taking the BCBA courses at UBC;
  3. MUST seek permission to enroll in the BCBA course sequence by January 31 of the year in which they wish to begin taking courses (e.g., by January 31, 2014 in order to begin in September 2014). Note that the first course in the sequence is offered in the Fall (September) semester only.

Students who wish to enroll as unclassified students should proceed as follows:

Contact Dr. Pat Mirenda to make an appointment to discuss the appropriateness of the BCBA courses and requirements in your situation.

Please read the FAQs on the BACB website in addition to those below. On the website, click “Become Certified” and then click “Application FAQ” under BCBA.

Not at the present time. UBC faculty who are BCBAs do not have the time to provide supervision to students other than those who conduct ABA-based research at UBC. Most students meet the BACB experience requirement by working with other individuals who are BCBAs and agree to act as supervisors. You can locate potential supervisors on the BACB website. Choose 'Canada' in the International drop-down menu and then click on the Search tab. Look in the State column for individuals who live in BC and then look for those with a 'C' in the Supervision column. You may contact potential supervisors through the BACB site by clicking on a name, which willl then give you an email form to complete.

No; we do not have the resources to develop and teach the three required BCABA courses at UBC. If you are interested in this credential, contact Douglas College or Capilano University.

No, you cannot. These are graduate courses and are open to students who are either enrolled in a graduate program or who have already completed one.

No, it will not. UBC does not offer an ABA graduate program. Your degree will be in the graduate program at UBC into which you are accepted and in which you meet all coursework requirements (e.g., special education, school psychology, counselling psychology, etc.). If you want a graduate degree specifically in ABA from a Canadian university, you will need to contact the University of Manitoba.

Yes, you can apply -- but your application may be rejected. UBC graduate programs have become increasingly competitive over the past few years, and even students with GPAs of 75.8% or 75.9% have difficulty being admitted into some programs. If your GPA is “close” to the 76% cut-off, you are advised to supply three excellent letters of reference from academic sources and a good explanation of why your GPA falls short, along with the other information required on the application. Even with this, there is no guarantee of admission. If you apply and are not admitted, or if your 3rd and 4th year coursework GPA is considerably less than 76%, you should consider pursuing BCABA certification instead, either by enrolling in online courses through one of Universities in the United States that offer this option or enrolling in the program at Douglas College or Capilano University.

If the other courses have been pre-approved by the BACB, they will probably be acceptable when you apply to take the examination. If they have not been pre-approved, you will need to submit course syllabi and other information to the BACB when you apply for the exam, and they will decide at that time whether or not to accept the courses. Remember that only graduate courses – not undergraduate courses – “count” toward the BCBA requirements. If you are not certain whether or not previous courses will count, you might consider taking all five of the UBC courses, just to be sure.

BCBA examinations are scheduled three times each year in over 150 testing sites (usually, in December/January, March/April, and August/September). Theexams are administered in a computer-based testing format delivered through the Pearson VUE network of high-security, standardized testing centers. Pearson VUE is one of the largest and best-respected high-stakes certification and licensure testing organizations in the world. In British Columbia, the only test site is in Burnaby. A computer-based testing tutorial is available on the Pearson VUE website to acquaint individuals with the on-line testing format. For additional information, see “Exam Administrations,” and “Exam Information,” on the BACB website.

The examination questions cover a wide range of basic and applied behavior analytic principles, techniques, research and measurement techniques, ethical issues, and other content. A new exam is created for each sitting and all questions are in a multiple choice format. The BACB provides a “task list” of topics that will be covered, as well as information about the overall “pass rate” for each exam. They also track the “pass rate” for examinees from each University with approved coursework so that, if the rate is low compared to the overall average, faculty teaching the courses will know that they may need to be strengthened in specific areas. (The BACB does not provide information about examination scores to persons other than examinees themselves.) Although the approved UBC courses (including readings, assignments, etc.) and your supervision experiences should provide you with the information you need to take the exam, you should plan to study for it as well, just as you would for any important test.
For additional information, see “Exam Content Task List” and “Exam Results Summary” on the BACB website.

If you have questions about BACB requirements or procedures, please go to the BACB website and read it thoroughly. If you still have questions after doing this, or if you have questions about the approved UBC courses or the UBC application process, please contact Dr. Pat Mirenda.