Frequently Asked Questions

NAU Graduate Certificate in Positive Behavior Support

Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA®) Program

  1. Will this coursework allow me to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA)? 
  2. What other requirements are necessary to become a Board certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA)? 
  3. Are the requirements to become a Licensed Behavior Analyst in AZ the same as those to become a BCBA? 
  4. Do you offer University Practicum or Intensive practicum that is accepted for BCBA certification? 
  5. Do you offer BCaBA classes? 
  6. Do you offer a complete master's degree or just the certificate? 
  7. Are the NAU PBS Certificate courses the same as the BCBA courses? 
  8. What is the difference between Positive Behavior Support (PBS) and Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) 
  9. Are all classes taught online? 
  10. Are there some days/times that I must set aside for class? 
  11. How difficult are the classes? 
  12. Can I work full time and also take the classes? 
  13. Can I take more than one class at a time? 
  14. Are there any choices among the classes? 
  15. If I choose the School Option, do I have to take the prerequisite classes? 
  16. In what order can I take the classes? 
  17. Are there prerequisites for any of the classes? 
  18. When are the classes offered? 
  19. Can I substitute other classes? 
  20. Can I transfer credits for similar classes from another university? 
  21. Will I be guaranteed to pass the BACB Exam if I pass all courses? 
  22. Who are the instructors? 
  23. Who are the advisers? 
  24. How accessible are the instructors and adviser? 
  25. How can I get answers to my questions? 
  26. What are the tuition and fees? 
  27. What financial options are there for non-Arizona residents? 
  28. What technology must I have? 
  29. What technology skills must I have? 
  30. How much time should I plan on spending on each class? 
  31. What other expectations will I have to meet? 
  32. What will be expected of me if I am accepted? 
  33. Can I just take one or two classes instead of completing the PBS Certificate? 
  34. I have no prior training or experience in either ABA or PBS. Could I still be accepted? 
  35. If I'm not accepted can I get my application fee returned? 
  36. If I'm not accepted can I apply again? 
  37. What are the application deadlines? 
  38. Why should I take ABA/PBS classes from NAU instead of another university? 

1.  Will this coursework allow me to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA)?

Yes, but it is only one step in the process. The Behavior Analyst Certification Board, Inc.® has approved the courses listed on this site (i.e., the Positive Behavior Support Certificate) as meeting the coursework requirements for eligibility to take the Board Certified Behavior Analyst Examination®. Applicants will have to meet additional requirements to qualify.  The courses in the PBS Certificate are approved by the BACB® under the new 4th Edition Task List as an “Approved Course Sequence (ACS)” (see http://www.BACB.com/index.php?page=158). 

2.  What other requirements are necessary to become a Board certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA®)?

The information below comes from www.bacb.com. Please use that website as your official source of information about board certification. The NAU PBS Cert meets the “Coursework” requirements below. Students will be responsible to meet all other requirements on their own.

Degree requirements for those testing before January 1, 2016

  • Master’s degree from an accredited university, that was conferred in behavior analysis or other natural science, education, human services, engineering, medicine or a field related to behavior analysis and approved by the BACB®.

Degree requirements for those testing after January 1, 2016

  • Possession of a minimum of a master's degree from an accredited university that was (a) conferred in behavior analysis, education, or psychology, or (b) conferred in a degree program in which the candidate completed a BACB® approved course sequence

Experience supervised by a BCBA in either of the following ( see also http://www.BACB.com/index.php?page=69 ):

    • Supervised Independent Fieldwork: To qualify under this standard at the BCBA® level, supervisees must complete 1500 hours of Supervised Independent Fieldwork in behavior analysis. To qualify under this standard at the BCaBA® level, supervisees must complete 1000 hours of Supervised Independent Fieldwork in behavior analysis. A supervisory period is two weeks. In order to count experience hours within any given supervisory period, supervisees must be supervised at least once during that period for no less than 5% of the total hours spent in Supervised Independent Fieldwork. For example, 20 hours of experience would include at least 1 supervised hour.
    • Practicum (University only):  To qualify under this standard at the BCBA® level, supervisees must complete, with a passing grade, 1000 hours of Practicum in behavior analysis within a university practicum program approved by the BACB® and taken for graduate academic credit. To qualify under this standard at the BCaBA® level, supervisees must complete, with a passing grade, 670 hours of Practicum in behavior analysis within a university practicum program approved by the BACB® and taken for academic credit. A supervisory period is one week. In order to count experience hours within any given supervisory period, supervisees must be supervised at least once during that period for no less than 7.5% of the total hours spent in Practicum. For example, 20 hours of experience would include at least 1.5 supervised hours.
    • Intensive Practicum (University only):  To qualify under this standard at the BCBA® level, supervisees must complete, with a passing grade, 750 hours of Intensive Practicum in behavior analysis within a university practicum program approved by the BACB® and taken for graduate academic credit. To qualify under this standard at the BCaBA® level, supervisees must complete, with a passing grade, 500 hours of Intensive Practicum in behavior analysis within a university practicum program approved by the BACB® and taken for academic credit. A supervisory period is one week. In order to count experience hours within any given supervisory period, supervisees must be supervised at least twice during that period for no less than 10% of the total hours spent in Intensive Practicum. For example, 20 hours of experience would include at least 2 supervised hours.

Please Note that as of January 1, 2014 the following will apply (see also http://www.BACB.com/newsletter/BACB_Newsletter_9-12.pdf):

  • No more than 50% of the accrued experience hours can be in the direct implementation of behavioral programs
  • The start-date and end-date of experience may not be more than five years apart

Pass the BACB® Examination 

3.  Are the requirements to become a Licensed Behavior Analyst in AZ the same as those to become a BCBA®?

Mostly: The coursework requirements listed above are greater than those required for licensing in Arizona. One big difference to note is in the Experience requirements. To become licensed one must have completed 1500 hours of supervised experience. The Practicum (1,000 hrs) and Intensive Practicum (750 hrs) are not sufficient. AND the supervisor must be licensed in AZ, with some exceptions. For more information see http://www.psychboard.az.gov/PDF/FinalRules9.11.12.pdf.

4.  Do you offer University Practicum or Intensive practicum that is accepted for BCBA® certification?

No

5.  Do you offer BCaBA® classes?

No

6.  Do you offer a complete master's degree or just the certificate?

Just the certificate, but there are a few NAU master’s programs of study that allow the PBS Cert classes to count towards the master’s.

Name of Program

Website

Contact

Can be Completed online

M.Ed. Human Relations

http://nau.edu/COE/Ed-Psych/Degrees-Programs/Graduate/MEd-Human-Relations/   

Eugene.Moan@nau.edu

Yes

M.A. Psychology

http://nau.edu/SBS/Psych/Degrees-Programs/Graduate/ 

Andrew.Gardner@nau.edu 

No

M.Ed. Special Education (Severe-Profound)

http://nau.edu/COE/Ed-Specialties/Degrees-Programs/MED-Special-Education/ 

Laura.Sujo-Montes@nau.edu

No

7.  Are the NAU PBS Certificate courses the same as the BCBA® courses?

Yes

8.  What is the difference between Positive Behavior Support (PBS) and Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)

Many authors have described several differences such as a comprehensive lifespan perspective and contextual fit to real life settings, while others have argued that there is no difference between ABA and PBS. The NAU PBS Cert program is designed to prepare professionals who will be responsible to conduct individual assessments and develop unique behavior plans to help people improve their problem (or challenging) behaviors. Students in the PBS Cert are taught how to understand and used the principles of behavior that the science of ABA has discovered and to become behavior analysts. Yet at the same time, the courses are structured in a way that students will learn to use the science not simply to reduce problem behavior, but to do so with the clear goal of making problem behavior irrelevant, ineffective, and inefficient.  This is one of the lessons from the field of PBS.

9.  Are all classes taught online?

Yes

10.  Are there some days/times that I must set aside for class?

In general, No. Students can work at 2:00 am if they want. But there are assignments, quizzes and discussions due weekly. In addition, students will be assigned to small teams and those teams may find it best to chat or talk live (in real time). Therefore, anyone who applies for the PBS Cert should understand that s/he might have to be available at certain times.

11.  How difficult are the classes?

Very Difficult. The BACB® requires that our courses cover certain content. The Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR) requires that a 3-credit graduate class equals approximately 135 actual hours of student effort. This breaks down into approximately nine hours per week (spring and fall semesters) and nearly 15 hours per week for summer classes.

12.  Can I work full time and also take the classes?

Yes, provided that you understand the expectations in #11 above.

13.  Can I take more than one class at a time?

Yes, provided that you understand the expectations in #11 above.

14.  Are there any choices among the classes?

Yes, there are two options: The School option and the Home option. The table below lists the required classes for each option, the sequence of those classes, and the terms that those classes are offered. Students accepted into the PBS cert should use this as their guide to plan their program of studies.

HOME OPTION 

Must take in this order 

Fall 

Spring 

Summer 

1. DIS 519 Intro to PBS

X

X

 

2. DIS 529 Advanced PBS

 

X

X

3. DIS 539 Consultation in PBS

X

 

X

You must first complete DIS 519 before DIS 569 below   
2. DIS 569 Ethics in ABA and PBS  X

Must take in this order 

  

  

  

1. DIS 549 Early Behavioral Intervention

 

X

 

2. DIS 559 Verbal and Social Behavior

X

 

 

SCHOOL OPTION 

Must take in this order 

Fall 

Spring 

Summer 

1. DIS 519 Intro to PBS

X

X

 

2. DIS 529 Advanced PBS

 

X

X

3. DIS 539 Consultation in PBS

X

 

X

 You must first complete DIS 519 before DIS 569 below   
2. DIS 569 Ethics in ABA and PBS  X

Must take in this order 

  

  

  

1. **ESE 664 Methods in Low Incidence

X

 

 

2. **ESE 681 Methods in Autism

 

X

 

**These classes have prerequisites that must be taken first. See #15 below if you think you have the necessary training and experience to waive the prerequisites.

15.  If I choose the School Option, do I have to take the prerequisite classes?

You might be able to waive the prerequisites for ESE 664 or ESE 681, if you are not also pursuing a master’s degree in special education. The following criteria will help you to determine whether you would qualify for waiving the prerequisites. You must still contact the instructors of those classes to describe your training and experiences relevant to the table below if you are seeking a waiver to the prerequisites.

 

Prerequisites for ESE 664 waived (ESE 380/548 or ESE 434/634) 

Prerequisites for ESE 681 waived (ESE 580 only; ESE 664 cannot be waived) 

You are currently enrolled in or have already completed a master’s degree in special education or a related field (i.e., school psychology, speech pathology). 

YES 

You would need to have had recent specialized training experiences (intensive workshops, coursework in autism, employment training in ABA within the past two years) AND recent experience working with individuals with autism. 

You completed an undergraduate degree in either special education or a related field (i.e., psychology, child development, education). 

Only if you completed an introductory course on exceptionalities 

You would need to have had recent specialized training experiences (intensive workshops, coursework in autism, employment training in ABA within the past two years) AND recent experience working with individuals with autism. 

None of the above conditions 

Only if you have extensive experience working within the special education system (i.e., a number of years in a variety of educational settings and with a variety of individuals who have moderate to severe disabilities) AND have completed a variety of recent trainings/workshops related to special education. 

You would need to have had recent specialized training experiences (intensive workshops, coursework in autism, employment training in ABA within the past two years) AND recent experience working with individuals with autism. 



16.  In what order can I take the classes?

See #14 above. A student could take DIS 519 and DIS 549 (or DIS 519 and ESE 664) in any order, but cannot take DIS 529 without first taking DIS 519, cannot take DIS 559 without first taking DIS 549, and cannot take ESE 681 without first taking ESE 664.

17.  Are there prerequisites for any of the classes?

See #14 and #15 above

18.  When are the classes offered?

See #14 above

19.  Can I substitute other classes?

No

20.  Can I transfer credits for similar classes from another university?

No

21.  Will I be guaranteed to pass the BACB® Exam if I pass all courses?

No. Students will be given every opportunity to learn the concepts that will be on the BACB® exam. If they take advantage of those opportunities they will do much better on the exam. But the ultimate responsibility for learning and preparing for the exam is the student’s. For each year that the BACB® has provided us with information on our graduates’ pass rate, we have been slightly above the national average, with the exception of last year. Last year we had only nine students take the exam and three passed (33%). The national pass rate was 58%. With small numbers like ours a few students can make a big difference. If just three more had passed we would have been well above the average at 67%. In fact, in the previous two years that the BACB® reported our pass rate to us we were above their national average both years (67% compared to 58% in 2011-2012, and 80% compared to 78% in 2010-2011).

22.  Who are the instructors?

Many classes are taught by clinical instructors (BCBA’s and Licensed BA’s) who practice daily the very things they are teaching.

23.  Who are the advisers?

The adviser for the PBS Cert is Dr. Dan Davidson dpd@nau.edu. Students who are dually enrolled in the PBS Cert AND a master’s degree program will have a second adviser for the master’s degree program.

24.  How accessible are the instructors and adviser?

Because most classes are taught by clinical instructors (see #22 and #23 above) their feedback will be current and practical. The bad news is that they are not at their computers 24/7 and cannot get back to students right away. Courses are designed to provide students with plenty or resources to be successful, and to save instructor time for personalized feedback on student work. The more time an instructor spends answering questions already answered in the class, the less time s/he will have for the personalized feedback.

This document was created to help students get answers to their questions without having to wait for a reply, and it works well for students who learn to bookmark and refer back to it. Similarly, all course content is filled with helpful information, and students who read carefully are able to find answers to most of their questions. If the answer has already been written and students take the time to look for it, they will find it much faster than waiting for the instructor/adviser to reply.  However, ALL students are encouraged to contact their instructors or advisor immediately if they cannot find the answer to their questions.

25.  How can I get answers to my questions?

  • First read all the material that has been made available to you (this FAQ, the weekly class lesson, the PBS Cert website, the Registrar’s site, the Bursar’s site, the Financial Aid site... depending on your question).
  • Next send an email to the instructor/adviser with your question (emails are preferable to phone calls because they are a written record of the request).
  • Include in that email enough background so that the instructor/adviser fully grasps your question. If this is a continuation of an earlier conversation then reply to that conversation rather than starting a new thread, so that the background conversations are included.
  • Also, include in the email the steps you’ve already taken to answer your question and the sites, people or other resources you’ve already consulted.
  • If you prefer to talk by phone, then ask the instructor/adviser to schedule a phone call.

In general, we are eager and happy to help all students who first take responsibility to find the answers to their questions. This is what working professionals must do. But students who are not prepared to do this for themselves will struggle as a student and as a professional. So keep this in mind before you apply.

26.  What are the tuition and fees?

Tuition and fees can change from one semester to the next. Therefore you should go directly to the NAU Bursar’s site.

27.  What financial options are there for non-Arizona residents?

You can find out more from the Financial Aid office (http://nau.edu/finaid/). But keep in mind the following:

  • If you have financial aide you may use it to take classes in the PBS Cert.
  • If you are non-Arizona resident, with an out of state address, enrolled only in electronically delivered courses (fall and spring terms only), you can pay only 1.5 times the in-state tuition through the Worldwide University.
  • If you are a resident of one of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) states you may only need to pay in-state tuition through the Western Regional Graduate Program (WRGP). See http://www.wiche.edu/wrgp to see the list of states. See for http://www.nau.edu/GradCol/Financing/Western-Regional-Graduate-Program/for a list of NAU degrees/certificates that have been approved for the WRGP.

28.  What technology must I have?

Hardware: Computer with reliable Internet and reliable access no less than four times per week

Software: Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel (student discounts available at the NAU Bookstore or students can access the software through a virtual lab, plus Adobe Reader (free at https://www.adobe.com/downloads/), and video recording/viewing/editing software. The video camera on most current cell phones is often adequate.

29.  What technology skills must I have?

Students must be competent at creating/editing/renaming/saving MS Word and MS Excel files on their computer. They should be proficient at using email, including attaching files and downloading files. They should be very proficient at reading (documents, email, websites, etc) for comprehension, and writing clearly and professionally so that others can understand. This is not just to be successful in class but also to be successful as a professional behavior analyst. Students must also have the ability to record a digital video, import it to your computer, edit it, and upload it for class.

30.  How much time should I plan on spending on each class?

Nine hours/week in Fall/Spring classes and 15 hours/week in Summer classes (see #11 above).

31.   What other expectations will I have to meet?

Students must first be accepted into the PBS Certificate program before they are allowed to register for classes. Apply online. We will only accept the most qualified applicants so consider the following when completing the application:

  •  Understanding of the profession (what does a behavior analyst or a PBS specialist do?)
  •  Personal commitment and interest in becoming such a professional
  • Relevant training and experience
  • Personal commitment to positive behavior support
  • Ability to be successful in a rigorous online program
    • Ability to read/understand the information on this page
    • Ability to read/follow written instructions
    • Success with online instruction
    • Grade point average (GPA)
    • Likelihood of completing the program if accepted
  • Likelihood of success as an ethical and effective behavior analyst

Make sure to select the “Positive Behavior Support Certificate (online)” when applying.

32. What will be expected of me if I am accepted? 

  • check in several times per week
  • read all lessons, readings, and other assigned materials
  • ask if you don't understand something 
  • participate frequently, and in a meaningful way, with fellow students in group discussions 
  • take online quizzes 
  • get permission to work with a learner (child or adult with behavior problems) to assess his/her behavior over several weeks 
  • complete written (typed) assignments and submit them to the instructor on time 
  • observe videos of others to assess behavior 
  • demonstrate your ability to apply behavioral skills by working with a learner and record yourself on video 
  • score your own work before submitting to instructor
  • take responsibility for your own learning

33.  Can I just take one or two classes instead of completing the PBS Certificate?

No. Due to the high demand we are only enrolling students committed to completing the program.

34.  I have no prior training or experience in either ABA or PBS. Could I still be accepted?

Not likely. Too many students have applied and started classes only to learn they did not have an accurate understanding of what they were getting in to. We don’t want you to make the same mistake. If you think you want to become a BCBA® then spend some time with a few BCBAs to make sure you understand what they do. If you have not done the work directly, but have spent a good deal of time observing others, then you at least have some experience to describe in your application.

35.  If I'm not accepted can I get my application fee returned?

No

36.  If I'm not accepted can I apply again?

Yes

37.  What are the application deadlines?

You may begin this program in either the fall or spring semester. Be sure to complete your program application early so you have time to register for classes. Application Deadlines are:

  • November 1 for the spring term
  • May 15 for the fall term

*Make sure to select the “Positive Behavior Support Certificate (online)” when applying.

38.  Why should I take ABA/PBS classes from NAU instead of another university?

  • The NAU PBS Certificate was the first of the Arizona universities to offer a BACB®-approved course sequence (for those pursuing BCBA)
  • The NAU PBS Certificate was the first BACB®-approved course sequence with a focus on positive behavior support
  • The instructors work in the field, remain current in their skills and in issues faced by behavior analysts
  • The courses are continually revised each semester based on student and instructor feedback, and changes with the field
  • Students of the NAU PBS Certificate learn the skills to effectively help teachers, parents and other caregivers to improve the problem behavior of their students and children without coercion  
  • Students of the NAU PBS Certificate learn the skills to work hard and persist until they find solutions to the problems they face
  • Graduates of the NAU PBS Certificate have careers as PBS Specialists, BCBA’s, and licensed behavior analysts
  • In-state tuition at NAU is less than other Arizona universities
  • Tuition for many out-of-state students is also very affordable (see #27 above)
  • For each year that the BACB® has provided us with information on our graduates’ pass rate, we have been slightly above the national average.