Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is a discipline that uses principles of learning and motivation to promote positive behavioral change in children and adults. ABA practices have been proven to be effective in areas of organizational behavior, sports performance, and early childhood education.
ABA is often used to treat people who have behavioral disorders, particularly autism spectrum disorder. The Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD) notes that professionals who have studied ABA can help people with autism improve social interactions, maintain positive behaviors, lessen interfering behaviors, and even learn new skills.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), behavioral disorders are becoming more prevalent in the U.S., which means there will likely be a growing need for the services of applied behavior analysts in the future.
Learning about online applied behavior analysis courses is a good exercise for anyone who may be considering pursuing an online Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis program.
What Is Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)?
ABA focuses on behavior, the consequences of behavior, and applying the science of behavior to improve lives. Through ABA, individuals learn how to conduct themselves in ways that are more effective, and how to alter the consequences of their behavior.
According to Autism Speaks, the autism advocacy and research organization, ABA uses treatment goals based in the following skill areas.
- Academic and learning skills
- Language and communication
- Motor skills
- Play and leisure
- Social skills
ABA relies on techniques such as positive reinforcement to encourage individuals to improve their behavior. Through ABA, a therapist identifies the antecedents that precede behavior, the associated resulting behavior, and the consequences that follow that behavior. The therapist then uses that information to help an individual replace inappropriate behaviors with behaviors that will be more helpful.
The Association for Science in Autism Treatment notes there are multiple ABA techniques. For example, ABA can use:
- Behavior chaining, in which a positive behavior is divided into small units that help an individual learn the behavior
- Modeling, in which an individual learns a behavior by imitating the behavior that a model performs
- Precision teaching and fluency-based instruction, in which an individual learns to correctly execute a skill at a high rate
- Peer-mediated social skills training, in which peers model social skills or tutor individuals on social skills
- Script-based and script fading techniques, in which an individual is taught to read the words in a script related to a particular social situation and, as the repetition continues, the words in the script begin to fade
Common Online Applied Behavior Analysis Courses
A Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis is an advanced degree that combines high-level scientific and research training with practical clinical experience in behavioral assessment and treatment. The program is tailored for students with backgrounds in health science who are pursuing leadership roles in the field of behavioral therapy.
The online applied behavior analysis courses offered as part of a master’s degree program help students achieve a deeper understanding of the principles, methods, and leadership skills that are essential in ABA-related careers.
The following information summarizes just a few of the courses that may be offered in an online ABA master’s program.
Concepts and Principles I: Introduction to Applied Behavior Analysis
This is an introductory course designed to give students an overview of applied behavior analysis and its treatment goals. The course typically covers behavior analysis theory, literature, and key scientific concepts and procedures.
This course provides students with a working knowledge of systems for measuring behavior, presenting patient data, and analyzing behavioral changes in graphic displays. These methods are essential for evaluating the effectiveness of treatments, a critical step in applied behavior analysis interventions.
In this course, students receive an overview of the major issues, methods, and ethics involved in behavioral assessment. In targeting behaviors for change, behavior analysts utilize methods such as descriptive assessments, functional analyses, indirect assessments, and skill assessments throughout the treatment process. Students are also taught how to prepare for any unwanted side effects of function-based interventions.
Professional behavior analysts use behavior interventions to reduce negative behaviors and increase positive academic and social behaviors. This course shows students strategies for identifying, applying, and maintaining these interventions. It places emphasis on training for, and supervision of, the application of behavioral intervention plans.
Ethical Practices in Applied Behavior Analysis
Students pursuing a career in ABA must understand the related ethical and legal issues. This course uses as guidelines the ethical principles supported by the BACB. The course presents ethical scenarios to students, who then must evaluate them and design proper courses of action to address them.
An ABA master’s degree program offers a full curriculum of online applied behavior analysis courses that help build the strengths and skills that health science professionals are likely to use throughout their careers. Taking the step toward an advanced degree helps prepare students for certification, and may help open doors for a number of higher-level careers.
Acquiring the Tools for High-Level ABA Careers
Behavior analysts work in a variety of organizations, from schools and child care centers, to hospitals and residential treatment facilities. Earning a master’s degree assists these professionals in developing the tools to help parents, teachers, and health care administrators evaluate the behavior of children, students, and other patients. Courses in behavior assessment and treatment evaluation, for example, provide graduates with the skills to develop effective plans to treat their future clients.
In addition to taking online applied behavior analysis courses, students pursuing this degree exercise skills such as leadership, communication, analytics, cultural awareness, time management, and conflict resolution during their clinical experience. These experiences are facilitated by the school, with faculty providing feedback to students throughout the term. During this experience, students can build a strong resume to prepare for their desired career after graduation.
There are many career paths that an ABA program graduate can pursue, some of which require advanced credentials such as the Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) certification. Some popular occupations for professionals who have earned a master’s in ABA include:
- ABA training coordinator
- Board Certified Behavior Analyst®
- Clinical director
- Clinical supervisor
- School-based therapist
- University/college professor
While ABA coursework and practicum experiences provide the foundational knowledge for behavior analysis professionals, employers will often look for additional years of experience for supervisory and director-level positions.
Skill Outcomes of an ABA Program
ABA master’s degree programs enable students to acquire skills in areas such as:
- Explaining concepts regarding behavior and learning
- Presenting data regarding changes in behavior
- Designing experiments
- Measuring behavior
- Selecting methods for assessing behavior
- Conducting behavioral assessments
- Developing target behaviors
- Developing intervention strategies
- Applying ABA procedures to modify behavior
Pursuing Graduate Education in ABA to Embark on a Rewarding Career
Enrolling in online applied behavior analysis courses is a great way to start working toward a career in ABA. If you have been considering a future in the field of behavior analysis, an excellent strategy is to explore the Regis College online Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis program.
The opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of human behavior and prepare for your future awaits. Consider taking the first step toward a fulfilling career today.