Newswise — The Department of Curriculum and Instruction in the College of Education at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) is pleased to announce its newest graduate degree program, the Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis (M.S. in ABA). The M.S. in ABA is intended for individuals with undergraduate degrees in education, special education, psychology, nursing, counseling, social work, and other related fields, and will prepare graduates to sit for the Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) examination. Enrollment will begin this fall under the purview of the program’s coordinator, Dr. Jennifer Bruzek.

"The UAH College of Education is excited to offer this new degree program in response to the expressed needs of individuals, families, community agencies, employers, and local school districts," says Dr. Beth Nason Quick, dean of the College. "Over the past three years, the national demand for BCBAs has doubled, with over 85% of all BCBAs working in healthcare, educational services, and social assistance. Individuals with this degree and certification are in high demand to serve as applied behavior analysts, mental health clinicians or therapists, and school psychologists."

The curriculum for the M.S. in ABA applies rigorous, scientific methods to develop programs and services for individuals with unique behavior needs. Aside from electives offered face-to-face by the Department of Psychology, the majority of the courses will be accessible online through UAH’s Canvas Learning Management System, with instructors using a combination of synchronous and asynchronous activities. Students will also be required to complete clinical field experience hours per Behavior Analyst Certification Board policies.

"We are excited to offer a series of seven ABA-specific courses that have been approved as a verified course sequence through the Association of Behavior Analysis International, says Dr. Bruzek, who is both a Licensed Behavior Analyst and a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. "These courses serve as the first step in the certification process and will prepare students to be science-based practitioners." Both local and distance students will also have a variety of opportunities to complete the supervised fieldwork to ensure they meet the clinical requirement for certification.

The program is further enhanced by several relationships unique to UAH’s College of Education. These include the university’s membership in the Regional Autism Network under the leadership of assistant professor Dr. Whitney Meade and the College’s close relationship with the UAH Early Learning Center, which provides a variety of early childhood education options for children with and without disabilities and which has established strong collaborative relationships with local school districts.

"UAH has a strong presence in Huntsville and the surrounding regions, while its membership in the Regional Autism Network affords us a unique opportunity to collaborate on addressing the needs in the local community through research and training," says Dr. Bruzek. "Additionally, UAH’s Early Learning Center, which has already embraced applied behavior analysis as a crucial component of their program, provides an excellent opportunity for our students to gain experience."

Graduates of the program will be prepared to successfully serve as behavior specialists or applied behavior analysts, the demand for which has grown since the Alabama Legislature approved legislation requiring health insurance coverage for the use of Applied Behavior Analysis as an approved therapy for children with autism. "Our graduates are going to go on to successful careers as BCBAs able to meet the needs of differentiated learners," says Dr. Bruzek.