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.

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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.

10 Schools with Behavioral Analysis Programs

The following list includes a number of public colleges and universities that offer undergraduate and graduate degrees in behavior analysis or related disciplines.

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered* Undergraduate Tuition (2015-2016)**
Western Michigan University Kalamazoo, MI 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's In-state $11,029; Out-of-state $25,713
Ball State University Muncie, IN 4-year, Public Bachelor's In-state $9,498; Out-of-state $25,016
Florida Institute of Technology Melbourne, FL 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $39,290
Arizona State University-Skysong Scottsdale, AZ 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's In-state $8,565; Out-of-state $15,529
California State University-Los Angeles Los Angeles, CA 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's In-state $6,355; Out-of-state $17,515
University of Houston-Clear Lake Houston, TX 4-year, Public Bachelor's In-state $5,802; Out-of-state $16,170
University of Massachusetts-Boston Boston, MA 4-year, Public Bachelor's In-state $12,682; Out-of-state $29,920
University of Nebraska-Omaha Omaha, NE 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral In-state $6,898; Out-of-state $18,610
University of North Texas Denton, TX 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Doctoral In-state $9,730; Out-of-state $19,090
Florida State University Tallahassee, FL 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's In-state $6,507; Out-of-state $21,673

Sources: *School websites, **National Center for Education Statistics

School Selection Criteria

There are several things that 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; students may prioritize programs that offer practicums or internship opportunities.
  • An important consideration for students as they select a school is whether or not the school's behavior analysis program is accredited.
  • Some schools may only offer undergraduate degrees, and those planning to pursue graduate studies after acquiring their bachelor's degree may prefer to attend a school where they can complete all of their studies.

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.

Master's Degree in Special Education

Graduate degrees for behavior specialists include a Master of Science 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.

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.

There are several colleges and universities that offer psychology degrees; some also offer behavioral analysis concentrations or majors. It's possible to pursue studies related to behavioral analysis at undergraduate and graduate levels from public and private institutions across the country.

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