Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a fast growing field with positions expected to grow by 27% by 2020. It’s easy to see why… professionals credentialed in behavior analysis can pursue careers in education, criminal justice, social services and even marketing.

Behaviorist therapy uses behavior modification treatments instead of traditional counseling. These techniques might include providing desensitization treatments for military personnel with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), increasing worker efficiency, fostering safer driving practices or quitting drugs and alcohol. Most often the therapies are used to treat children with developmental disabilities such as autism.

SJU logoSaint Joseph’s University is a Jesuit Catholic University with a focus on strong academic excellence. Their Behavior Analysis Concentration is perfect for students who want to examine and address the underlying causes of human behavior and prepares students to sit for the Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) Exam.

As a student interested in studying behavior analysis, you probably have a lot of questions about which program is right for you and how you can prepare to apply for an ABA program. I had the opportunity to present some of these questions to Dr. Samantha Riggleman, Assistant Professor in Special Education and the ABA/BACB Verified Course Sequence Coordinator at Saint Joseph’s University.

Saint Joseph’s University offers a suite of online ABA degrees, from an MS in Education or Criminal Justice to certificates in Autism Studies or Behavior Analysis (you can see all they have to offer here).

Not sure if ABA is right for you? Dr. Riggleman explains:

“Applied Behavior Analysis is the umbrella of many behavioral principles and is based on the science of learning and behavior and is an evidence-based practice treatment by the US Surgeon General and by the American Psychological Association. I would say that ABA involves many techniques for understanding and changing behavior, regardless of an individual’s age or exceptionality. ABA can also teach skills that are useful in everyday life; can be provided in many different locations; can be adapted to meet the needs of each unique individual; and can involve one-to-one teaching or group instruction.”

Applying for an ABA Program

Do you have what it takes to apply to Saint Joseph’s University? “We are looking for students to have at least a 2.8 GPA,” says Dr. Riggleman, “a year of relevant and applied experience, 2 letters of recommendation, writing sample, and valid transcripts. Students who apply should also have some sort of background working with children, students or adults that would be relevant and applicable to the field of ABA.”

When applying for SJU’s online degrees, you can also expect to complete the entire program online. SJU does not currently offer internships or field experience as part of the degree program (although that may change in the future), but do keep in mind that you will have to complete 1500-2000 fieldwork hours to qualify to sit for the BACB exam.

“The program is currently approved for the 5th BACB tasklist,” adds Dr. Riggleman, “and uses a variety of learning modules and tools to ensure students not only understand the material, but also have fluency of the material. The capstone course is project based that allows students to apply the principles of ABA to a problem they currently see.”

Is Pursuing a Degree in ABA Worth It?

So you have your application all set and you’re ready to move ahead with your career plans. But wait a minute… what about the cost? With student debt being such a concern, is the cost of pursuing an online ABA degree from SJU really worth it for students?

Dr. Riggleman has no hesitations in answering that!

“Yes! The professors who teach these courses online are knowledgeable and want to see students succeed. Students are able to complete the coursework anywhere in the world. Saint Joseph’s University is a top-ranked Catholic University that provides a rigorous, student-centered education.”

She adds that there are many career opportunities for SJU graduates: “BCBA is a growing profession among fields.  The kind of career opportunities depend if their concentration is in criminal justice or education; however, they may be consultants for school districts or private organizations, teachers, direct-care therapists, or behavior specialist.”

You can learn more about the online ABA programs offered at Saint Joseph’s University here. Or reach out with questions and we’ll help you pursue your degree goals!

Is a Degree in Applied Behavior Analysis Worth the Cost?