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Five College Courses in an Applied Behavior Analysis Degree Program

Classroom scene for our article on classes in ABATop ABA Classes

  • Introduction to Applied Behavioral Analysis
  • Behavioral Analysis Research
  • Behavioral Assessment
  • Behavioral Interventions
  • Supervised Practicum

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a rewarding and lucrative field to enter. Autism, ADHD,and other childhood behavior disorders have existed for many years, but only recently has awareness and early detection and treatment been on the rise. ABA is the most effective method of treatment and management. For those interested in pursuing a degree in this field, here are five of the core courses to look forward to taking.

1. Introduction to Applied Behavioral Analysis

The first course any student will take towards this degree is an introduction to ABA. This course will cover all of the concepts and principles behind the method. This will include the history and development of ABA, an overview of the various behavioral disorders ABA works well with, and an introduction to how ABA is used to treat and maintain coping skills for these disorders. The course will cover the basic structures of behavioral control.

2. Behavioral Analysis Research

ABA is an empirically based treatment method. This means that it was created based on, and continues to be informed by, scientific research. This course will introduce students to the research methods historically used to develop ABA, as well as current research on ABA and directions for future research. Some students will enjoy this course so much that they set out on a track towards becoming an ABA researcher. Others will pursue a more practical career, and this course will help them better apply research findings and distinguish scientifically sound techniques.

3. Behavioral Assessment

Students who dream of becoming a practicing ABA therapist will particularly enjoy this course. It will provide the first contact with the process of assessing the various skills and issues that ABA therapists address in their work: skills, preferences and reinforcers, and functions. Students will learn how to ethically and properly administer and interpret these assessments, as well as how to best tailor treatment to each client’s assessment results. The course will include historical background on the assessments and directions for future use.

4. Behavioral Interventions

This course will dive into the various interventions and techniques that ABA therapists use when working with clients. The course will connect these interventions and techniques back to the assessments discussed in the previous course, as these assessment results guide therapists in the application of the interventions. The course will cover the history and research development of the interventions, as well as how intervention effectiveness, determined via continuing research using the behavioral assessments as measurement tools.

5. Supervised Practicum

Early on in any ABA degree program, students need to begin applying what they learn in coursework. This is accomplished through supervised practicum courses. Students typically begin by practicing assessments and techniques on each other, and then move to working with real clients. Instructors provide support and supervision in order to ensure that students develop solid skills and clients receive quality care. Instructors will reserve time within the course for students to engage in processing and feedback discussions.

After these five course courses, students will begin taking advanced versions and more independent practicum courses, such as the ones at Drexel University. This is a challenging academic and career path, but one that is highly rewarding for people passionate about helping children and families achieve mental, emotional, and behavioral wellbeing.