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Graduate Program

BCBA Training

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Board Certified Behavior Analysts conduct behavioral assessments, provide interpretations of the results, and may design and supervise behavioral interventions. BCBAs may work as independent practitioners or may work as employees or independent contractors for organizations.

BCBA Concentration. Students in both the experimental and clinical program who elect the optional BCBA concentration complete required core coursework and obtain critical supervised experience in an intensive practicum. This additional training permits them to sit for the BCBA exam. Both the curriculum and the practicum are approved by the Behavioral Analyst Certification Board (BACB).

BCBA Certificate. A BCBA Certificate Program is also offered by our department for individuals who already hold a Master’s degree in Education or Psychology. It provides coursework and experience needed to sit for the national BCBA exam.

While this approach has become best known for highly effective applications to autism spectrum and other neurodevelopmental disorders with early and intensive intervention, similar applications to health, fitness, sports, rehabilitation, and organizational behavior are beginning to create employment opportunities in a wide variety of clinical, educational, and corporate environments. There are consistently more than 100 job openings nationally for BCBA’s and currently there is an ongoing dramatic shortage of BCBA’s and BCBA-designed programs for autism and developmental disabilities in the Rio Grande Valley. The curriculum of this master’s concentration is specific and intense so admission is highly competitive.

Students learn the principles of operant learning in the Psychology Department’s state-of-the-art Behavioral Neuroscience Laboratory. The laboratory currently occupies six rooms of the Behavioral Neuroscience Building in which a colony of Sprague-Dawley rats is housed and Med-Associates Inc. instrumentation is controlled by computer and programs enabling every schedule of reinforcement including the very useful progressive-ratio variations.

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Eight operant conditioning chambers are available to students as they are expected to learn and demonstrate their ability to implement any of the operant methodologies with resulting cumulative records of behavior. All chambers are enclosed in sound attenuated cubicles and two are electrified grid floor enabled with supporting shock/scrambling modules. One chamber is fully equipped for bar-press activated drug self-administration. Four modular living cages with attached running wheels have guillotine doors controlling access to activity, controls for wheel drag, and automated measurement systems. Two Open Field apparatuses are also in the lab and enable precise measurement of movement topographies through multiple laser-based position detectors. Recently, a three-chamber place-preference apparatus was added for studying passive respondent learning phenomena. We hope to add one or more operant chambers equipped with intra-cranial self-stimulation (ICSS) instrumentation and we have plans to supply an available surgical suite in the building with a motorized stereotaxic instrument and a complete small mammal surgical supply inventory.

For more information about the BCBA program, contact:
Frederick Ernst, Ph.D

Professor and BCBA Program Coordinator
(956)665-3329
e-mail: fernst@utpa.edu

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