Be a Behavior Specialist: How to Choose a School and Training Program

Students who wish to study behavior analysis should check that their chosen program aligns with the requirements of the Behavior Analyst Certification Board. Students who want to pursue special education teaching degrees might look for a program approved by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. Programs are offered at the undergraduate, graduate and certificate levels.

How to Select a School and Training Program for Behavior Specialists

Behavior specialists work in education, business and social work as teachers, counselors and consultants. They may work with students who need special education or as consultants for large corporations. Undergraduate programs are usually geared toward education professionals, while graduate and certificate programs provide training for other specialties. Schools with graduate programs for behavior specialists often allow students to work with faculty conducting research studies in behavior analysis. Students can also gain work experience through programs that include internships or practicum courses in their curriculum. The following items should be considered when choosing a behavior specialist school:

  • Students may want to seek out programs that provide career counseling, if they are seeking a specific occupation.
  • Practical work experience may be necessary for students to meet requirements for board certification as teachers or counselors.
  • An important consideration for students as they select a school is whether or not the school's behavior analysis program is accredited.

Behavior Specialist Program Overviews

Bachelor's Degree in Education

Undergraduate degrees for behavior specialists are usually education degrees, such as a Bachelor of Science in Education or Bachelor of Science in Special Education. Many bachelor's degrees in special education include preparation for teacher certification as part of the program. Typical courses cover topics like:

  • Human development
  • Computer software
  • Behavior management
  • Teaching methods

Master's Degree in Special Education

Graduate degrees for behavior specialists include a Master's Degree in Special Education - Learning Behavior Specialist II, and a Master of Science in Education in Special Education - Behavior Intervention Specialist. Acceptance into a master's program requires a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and previous teaching experience. Courses typically cover subjects like:

  • Disability issues
  • Educational psychology
  • Positive behavior management

Graduate Certificates

Students who want to supplement prior education can earn a graduate certificate such as a Learning Behavior Specialist II graduate certificate or a Graduate Certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis. Students are usually required to have a master's degree and prior work experience, but a bachelor's degree is sometimes sufficient. Typical courses cover subjects such as:

  • Learning assessment
  • Behavioral consultation
  • Behavior analysis
  • Professional collaboration

10 Schools with Behavioral Analysis Programs

College/UniversityInstitution Type
Western Michigan University4-year, Public
Ball State University4-year, Public
Florida Institute of Technology4-year, Public
Arizona State University-Skysong4-year, Public
California State University-Los Angeles4-year, Public
University of Houston-Clear Lake4-year, Public
University of Massachusetts-Boston 4-year, Public
University of Nebraska-Omaha4-year, Public
University of North Texas4-year, Public
Florida State University-Panama City4-year, Public

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