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How to Become a Behavior Analyst

Drexel University School of Education

The services of a Behavior Analyst (BA) are often sought when parents, teachers, and other caregivers have exhausted all other ideas and resources. Therefore, the work BAs are called upon to do can be very challenging, but meaningful work both for the individual who requires intervention as well as the relevant stakeholders. Progress, while sometimes slow, can still provide much needed hope and inspiration to those affected.

What Is a Behavior Analyst and What Do They Do?

Behavior Analysts serve various roles depending on the setting. In schools, BCBAs often fulfill a consultative role to teachers and administrators providing guidance and training on strategies to address student behavior challenges or to develop a school-wide behavior plan. In residential or community-based settings, BCBAs may also function in various roles. Specifically, they may provide direct service to residents, serve a consultative role to managers and directors, or fill administrative or training roles themselves. In clinic and research settings, BCBAs may be responsible for conducting assessments or overseeing caseloads of individuals with more significant needs or managing research protocols. In all of these settings and roles, BCBAs are expected to function as a member of a team of professionals focused on improving outcomes for individuals with the most significant needs.

What Degree Do I Need to Become a Behavioral Analyst?

The road to becoming a board-certified behavior analyst includes earning a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree. Those who are interested in becoming a Behavior Analyst may consider a bachelor’s degree program in a behavioral science field such as psychology. A graduate degree in Applied Behavior Analysis with coursework approved by the Association of Behavior Analysts International prepares students to sit for the Board Certified Behavior Analyst® exam. This is a critical step in becoming a BA.

Pursue a Graduate Degree to Become a Behavioral Analyst

Those interested in becoming a behavior analyst will need to complete the coursework required to sit for the Board Certified Behavior Analyst® exam. Students are also required to have a masters degree in a relevant field. A behavior analyst degree, like Drexel’s MS in Applied Behavior Analysis, provides the course sequence necessary to sit for the take the Board Certified Behavior Analyst® or Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst® examination. Students who already have a master’s degree in a relevant field can enroll in Drexel’s Applied Behavior Analysis certificate program where they can complete course work and required field experiences to sit for the BCBA exam.

Earn an Undergraduate Degree in a Behavioral Science

Prior to a graduate degree, students will need to earn a bachelor’s degree. Aspiring behavior analysts should consider degrees in fields like education, psychology, and other subjects related to the field of behavioral science. We encourage you to visit our undergraduate degrees page to see academic offerings from the School of Education.

How do you become a certified behavior analyst?

Below are the three main criteria to become eligible for certification as a behavior analyst.

  1. Graduate degree in education, psychology, or behavior analysis
  2. Graduate level coursework in the required content areas (the easiest way to accomplish this is from a University with a verified course sequence like Drexel’s).
  3. Supervised experience per the BACB requirements

Your state may also offer licensure as a BA. To find out if your state has a licensure act and the details, go to the following site: