Accredited BCBA Programs and Certification in Pennsylvania [2024 Guide]

Pennsylvania offers many high-quality Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) programs, designed to meet the growing demand for skilled professionals in the field of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). These programs, available across the state in both online and traditional formats, provide training in behavior analysis principles, ethical practices, and intervention strategies.

Whether you are seeking to advance your career in education, healthcare, or community services, Pennsylvania’s BCBA programs offer a solid foundation for professional growth and expertise in ABA.

In this article, we will explore key features of some of the popular BCBA programs available in Pennsylvania, making it easier for you to make an informed choice.

Best Accredited BCBA an ABA Masters Programs in Pennsylvania

BCBA Programs in Pennsylvania

Listed below are some of the popular schools offering BCBA programs in Pennsylvania:

  • Penn State Harrisburg
  • York College of Pennsylvania
  • Duquesne University
  • PennWest University
  • Slippery Rock University
  • Purdue Global
  • Capella University
  • Pepperdine University
  • Simmons University

Penn State Harrisburg

Master’s of Arts in Applied Behavior Analysis

The Master of Arts in Applied Behavior Analysis program at Penn State Harrisburg is designed to equip you with strategies and skills for addressing significant social issues. The Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) has verified the coursework requirements of this program for eligibility to take the BCBA exam.

This program includes both the academic coursework and practicum experiences, amounting to a total of 39 credits, which are necessary for you to qualify for the BCBA exam. Beyond the coursework and practicum, you are required to undertake a master’s project under the guidance and mentorship of a faculty member.

To earn your M.A. in ABA you must complete 33 credits of mandatory coursework, which includes the master’s project paper and supervised internship experience, in addition to 6 elective credits, culminating in a total of 39 credits. Core courses of the program include:

  • Science and Foundations of Behavior
  • Behavioral Assessment and Treatment
  • Behavioral Research Methods
  • Principles of Behavior Analysis
  • Behavioral Systems Support
  • Case Conceptualization and Development
  • Ethics in Research and Professional Practice
  • Internship

The program accepts approximately 15 students each academic year, whether you wish to attend full-time (9 credits per semester) or part-time (3-6 credits per semester). It is advisable to apply for admission in the fall semester, though spring applications are also considered on an individual basis.

Key features of the program include:

  • A Verified Course Sequence (5th Edition Task List) and Concentrated Supervised Fieldwork that fulfill the Behavior Analysis Certification Board’s requirements.
  • Evening classes to accommodate working professionals.
  • The option to attend classes either full-time or part-time.
  • Instruction from nationally recognized experts in ABA.
  • Eligibility for Pennsylvania licensure as a Behavior Specialist upon graduation.
  • A wealth of opportunities to engage in research, labs, conferences, and numerous other unique professional development activities.
  • Access to a vast network of supportive alumni, peers, and practicing behavior analysts.
  • A student-centered approach at Penn State Harrisburg.

Admission is competitive, favoring applicants who are highly qualified and have shown proficiency in both academic (for example, undergraduate studies) and clinical (for example, related work experience) arenas. As a full-time student, you can typically expect to complete the program in about two years, possibly with an additional semester for the master’s project. The duration for part-time students will vary based on your individual study plan.

You may transfer a maximum of 10 credits of high-quality graduate work from an accredited institution towards your master’s degree requirements. Such academic work must have been completed within five years before your initial registration at the Graduate School of Penn State, must be of at least B quality (grades of B- are not accepted), and must be documented on an official graduate transcript from an accredited university. Pass-fail grades are not eligible for transfer unless the “Pass” is officially confirmed by the issuing institution as being of at least B quality.

Graduates from this program work in various settings. Many secure positions as behavior analysts working with individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Others pioneer new methods and approaches in behavior analysis, such as training teachers and school support staff in behavioral interventions.

Graduates have also pursued doctoral training, founded service provider companies, taken up roles as program directors, engaged in advocacy and legislative efforts, and, most importantly, worked as behavior analysts providing support to those in need.

To apply, you must have at least 18 credits in a field related to psychology, special education, general education, behavioral health, mental health, disability services, or a related discipline. Additional requirements include:

  • Three letters of recommendation, with at least one being from an academic or scholarly source.
  • An optional interest statement.
  • Optional GRE scores for the verbal, quantitative, and analytic sections; note that without GRE scores, you may not be eligible for most graduate assistantships and/or scholarships.
  • A personal interview may be required.
  • An optional resume or curriculum vitae.

York College of Pennsylvania

Online Master of Education (MEd) – Applied Behavior Analysis

York College of Pennsylvanis offers an online Master of Education (MEd) degree program in Applied Behavior Analysis. By employing an evidence-based therapeutic approach and adhering to established ABA principles, you will gain practical experience and complete a verified course sequence recognized by the ABAI.

Upon completing this fully online ABA master’s program, you will be well-positioned to advance your career in special education and behavior therapy, as well as qualify to take the BCBA examination. Achieving certification qualifies you for state licensure.

The 33-credit online master’s program in ABA at York College offers a curriculum that combines foundational education and pedagogy with specialized coursework in ABA. The program includes critical topics such as:

  • Principles and procedures of ABA
  • Strategies for assessment and intervention
  • Ethics and professionalism in ABA practice
  • Research methods in ABA
  • Supervision and management within ABA environments

In a personalized and interactive online setting, you will learn:

  • How to design and apply evidence-based interventions for individuals facing behavioral and learning challenges.
  • Ways to communicate with interdisciplinary teams, including educators, parents, and ABA professionals.
  • Methods for presenting behavior analysis findings and recommendations to stakeholders.
  • Adherence to the field’s professional and ethical standards.
  • Interpretation and application of behavioral data.
  • Providing continuous support and monitoring to adjust and ensure the success of implementations.

If you are aiming for clinical experience or BCBA certification, you have the opportunity to engage in up to 2,000 equivalent hours of field experience under the supervision of a BCBA. Gaining real-world experience in a local mental health or educational setting through prepares you to address the systemic issues and challenges prevalent in today’s society.

If you are a working practitioner with access to a suitable ABA supervisor, you may fulfill the field experience requirement in collaboration with your workplace. Alternatively, you might opt for an independent internship under the guidance of a certified BCBA.

Through both individual and group engagements, as an MEd candidate aiming for the certification exam, you will perform daily tasks in a field relevant to your future career. You might develop and implement customized behavior management plans, conduct behavioral assessments, interact with classrooms and educators, communicate with families and stakeholders, and engage with special needs students of all ages.

After completing this online program, you will have satisfied the coursework requirements to sit for the BCBA exam. If your career goals include clinical roles or working closely with students with autism spectrum disorders in educational settings, obtaining certification from the Behavior Analyst Certification Board is a crucial step.

Achieving BCBA certification can lead to roles as a behavior analysis expert in educational contexts, as well as consulting, supervisory, or leadership positions within organizations. Furthermore, teachers with BCBA certification may qualify for higher compensation or specialized roles, enhancing their earning potential.

Potential career opportunities for those with a master’s degree in the ABA education sector include:

  • Special education teacher
  • School psychologist or counselor
  • Autism specialist
  • School interventionist
  • Early intervention specialist

Graduates of this program may find also roles in public or private schools, early intervention programs, and as program coordinators. Holding this advanced degree also opens doors to higher-level career opportunities, such as Director of Special Education Services.

Admission requirements for the program include:

  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institute.
  • Three letters of recommendation.
  • An optional interest statement.
  • An updated resume or curriculum vitae.

As a student in the online ABA master’s degree program, you may qualify for financial aid through employer tuition assistance from select local and regional partners, or by applying for federal aid.

Duquesne University

Master’s Science in Education in Applied Behavior Analysis

Duquesne University’s Master of Science in Education in Applied Behavior Analysis is a 39-credit-hour program designed to prepare you to support individuals with a variety of academic and behavioral needs. Upon completing this program, you will be well-prepared for roles in educational, community, or clinical settings. Additionally, you will have the opportunity to pursue licensure as a Licensed Behavior Specialist (LBS) through the Pennsylvania Board of Medicine.

The coursework for this program has been verified by the ABAI, meeting the academic prerequisites for the BCBA examination. This verification signifies that the courses you will undertake have been pre-approved by ABAI, covering the necessary academic content for the exam. However, to qualify for the examination and achieve BCBA certification, you must also complete specific fieldwork requirements and obtain the required supervision.

Core courses of the program include:

  • Applied Behavior Analysis
  • High Incidence: Behavior
  • Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • Evidence Based Practices in Autism
  • Legal and Ethical Issues: Applied Behavior Analysis
  • Advanced Behavior
  • Single Subject Methods in School Psychology

Duquesne University is committed to offering a learning environment that prioritizes the teaching of compassion through a behavioral analytic lens, ensuring the development of effective, competent, and ethically-minded practitioners.

At Duquesne, the ABA program is deeply rooted in the principle of compassionate care, emphasizing the importance of interpersonal skills for the effective and ethical application of behavior analytic techniques. Compassionate care involves recognizing and addressing the distress of others with empathy, dignity, and respect, which is crucial in all caring professions.

The program focuses on teaching compassionate-care-based behaviors, such as receiving and giving feedback, advocacy, perspective-taking, psychological flexibility, and cultural awareness and humility. These behaviors are essential for BCBAs to ensure all interactions with clients, colleagues, and caregivers are conducted with the utmost empathy and respect.

To instill these values, the ABA program employs various teaching methods, including:

  • Engaging in in-depth discussions, critical thinking, and reflection on compassion from a behavioral analytic perspective, particularly during case studies and fieldwork.
  • Defining compassionate care behaviors in operational terms to encourage actionable practices.
  • Providing self-management training to help you monitor and document your progress in developing these skills.
  • Offering opportunities to engage in or contribute to research on compassionate care within the field of ABA.

The M.S.Ed. in ABA program offers rolling admissions, allowing you to apply at any time during the year. To be considered for admission into this specialized graduate program, you must have achieved a minimum GPA of 3.0 in your previous academic work.

PennWest University

Online Applied Behavior Analysis Certificate

At PennWest University, you can enroll in a 7-course online certificate program in ABA, designed to equip you with the necessary coursework to qualify for the BCBA  exam. This 21-credit program focuses on building your expertise in foundational ABA, adherence to professional and ethical standards, the intricacies of single-subject design, and the development of effective interventions for behavioral modification.

Taught by seasoned faculty, you will learn the core principles of ABA, including thorough assessments and intervention strategies. The program also emphasizes understanding professional and ethical considerations in this field. Through an evidence-based capstone project and an extensive literature review, your understanding of the subject matter will be significantly enhanced.

This 100% online certificate program is dedicated to teaching evidence-based practices. You will be mentored by expert faculty who will guide you through a research-oriented capstone project, preparing you for the BCBA exam and a future in behavior management.

The student learning outcomes of this program are comprehensive and include:

  • Mastering the communication of assessment results and the evaluation of behavior intervention plans.
  • Employing strategies to ensure the accurate implementation of behavior intervention plans.
  • Assessing the social relevance of interventions across various stakeholders and environments.
  • Leading and executing person-centered planning that integrates participation in educational, home, community, and vocational settings.
  • Conducting thorough functional behavior assessments.
  • Utilizing assessment data to identify and apply function-based approaches within behavior intervention plans.
  • Continuously monitoring, assessing, and adjusting behavior intervention plans based on diverse data sources.
  • Incorporating a holistic approach to behavior intervention plans that includes behavioral, educational, medical, mental health, related services, and personal objectives.
  • Critically evaluating research on positive behavior intervention strategies and sharing advancements and evidence-based practices.
  • Supporting professionals and stakeholders in the creation, implementation, and assessment of comprehensive strategies to reduce challenging behaviors and promote desirable ones.
  • Advocating for a broad spectrum of services and placements that address the needs of individuals facing behavioral challenges.
  • Serving as a catalyst for systemic improvements to enhance social-emotional outcomes for individuals with challenging behaviors.
  • Identifying, evaluating, and applying evidence-based practices to assist students with challenging behavior patterns.
  • Advocating for ethical interventions for individuals exhibiting challenging behaviors.
  • Utilizing consultation, including performance feedback and implementation fidelity data, in decision-making processes.
  • Leading and facilitating collaborative efforts in behavior intervention decision-making.

This program not only prepares you for certification but also empowers you to make a significant impact in the field of behavior analysis, ensuring you are well-equipped to support individuals with challenging behaviors through ethical and effective interventions.

Admission requirements for the program are:

  • Master’s degree from a regionally accredited institution.
  • Cumulative graduate GPA of 3.30 or greater.

How Do I Become a BCBA in Pennsylvania?

To become a BCBA in Pennsylvania, you must:

  • Have a masters degree.
  • Complete the required graduate-level coursework (21 graduate-level credits of coursework in ABA).
  • Complete supervision hours under the supervision of a BCBA.
  • Pass the BCBA exam.

How Fast Can I Become a BCBA in Pennsylvania?

The fastest path to becoming a BCBA in Pennsylvania, assuming full-time study, could theoretically be around 4.5 to 6 years after obtaining a bachelor’s degree. This includes 2 years for a master’s degree, 1 to 2 years for completing required coursework (if not included in the master’s program), and 1 to 3 years to complete the necessary supervised fieldwork hours.

How Much Does a BCBA Make in Pennsylvania?

As of March 2024, the average annual salary for BCBAs working in Pennsylvania is $102,854. More experienced and top earning BCBAs working in Pennsylvania make well over $140,000 per year.

Copyright © 2024 All Rights Reserved. Program outcomes can vary according to each institution's curriculum and job opportunities are not guaranteed. This site is for informational purposes and is not a substitute for professional help.