Degrees to Pursue
A career in Applied Behavior Analysis can be sought through coursework in these degrees
- Special Education (M.S.)
- Special Education (Ed.D.)
- Non-degree certification (must have a master's degree)
What is ABA like?
The Applied in ABA refers to the application of the principles and procedures of the scientific
study of behavior to improve socially significant behavior to a meaningful degree.
The Behavior in ABA refers to the assessment and treatment of objectively defined behaviors of
The Analysis in ABA refers to the application of the scientific method to demonstrate that the
improvement in behavior is a result of the procedures used to improve the behaviors.
Once these procedures have been demonstrated to be effective they can be disseminated
to improve the behavior of others.
In sum, ABA is a scientific discipline that is devoted to understanding and improving
human behavior for the better (Cooper, Heron, & Heward, 2007).
For well over the past 30 years scientists, teachers, therapists, business people,
psychologists, parents, and counselors have used the methods and findings of behavior
analytic research to improve academic performance, communication, safety skills, social
skills, activities of daily living skills, teaching procedures, and assessment methods,
among many other important behavioral repertoires.
In general, behavior analysts ask, “Why does behavior change over time?” Behavior
analysts answer that question by primarily looking at environmental factors. Behavior
analysts engage in tasks such as:
- Conducting functional behavior assessments and analysis (FBA)
- Interpreting data from FBAs
- Designing and implementing interventions based on the principles of behavior
- Monitoring progress and graph and interpret behavioral data
- Usually working with a team of professionals.
Why is the ICL department in the CEHHS the best place to start?
The University of Memphis is now offering a 5 course and practicum sequence at the
graduate level that will allow students to qualify to sit for a national board certification
in behavior analysis. This program is the only program approved by the Behavior Analysis
Certification Board in the Midsouth. Moreover, it is one of a handful of programs
in the world that offer a practicum approved by the Behavior Analysis Certification
How do our faculty work in this career community?
We participate in the TN Association for Behavior Analysis which allows us to interact
with many practitioners across the state. We also work closely with several community
agencies utilizing ABA for a variety of populations in the Memphis area. In addition,
we have grants that offer ABA services to the community such as the Regional Intervention
Project, Restructuring for Inclusive School Environments (RISE) Project, and West
TN Positive Behavior Support Initiative.
What is special about our programs?
Our courses are designed to provide hands-on experience in conjunction with the practicum
in ABA. Students will learn how to precisely define and measure the behaviors of interest
of their students. They will learn how to determine whether their particular teaching
method was effective using the performance of the student as their guide. They will
go beyond the basics of learning what to teach when, and learn how to apply the principles
of behavior to augment learning for any of their students.
Behavior analysts work in many applied fields including education, business, and clinical
psychology. Currently, applied behavior analysis (ABA) has received a lot of attention
for its effectiveness with children with autism. Researchers and clinicians (e.g.,
U.S. Surgeon General, NY Dept. of Health) recognize ABA as the treatment of choice
for behavior problems and learning difficulties associated with autism. ABA has applications
for other populations as well and has been recognized for producing remarkable results
in academic learning and behavior in classrooms. Many behavior analysts work in schools
as teachers or school psychologists working with students enrolled in special education.
Many also work as scientists and scholars in higher education. Some behavior analysts
provide in-home supervision of direct care providers or provide direct care for children
with developmental disabilities and Autism. Others provide clinical services including
functional analysis of behavior and treatment of serious behavior disorders such as
self-injury and physical aggression. Still others work in business providing training
for new employees and improving training programs.
However, not everyone who calls them self a behavior analyst is certified by the Behavior
Analysis Certification Board®. A Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) is a professional
who has documented graduate training and supervised, hands-on experience in applying
the principles and procedures of behavior analysis, and has passed an examination
in ABA given by the BACB
For more information on certification requirements go to bacb.com
Dr. Laura Baylot Casey, BCBA
Laura Casey received her doctoral training from Mississippi State University. Following
coursework, she completed a dual internship in behavior analysis at May South, inc.
a subsidiary of the May Institute affiliated with Hughes Spaulding Children's healthcare
in Atlanta and the Marcus Autism Institute, an affiliate of Emory University. Prior
to joining the University of Memphis's ABA program she was a visiting Assistant Professor
in the psychology department. She has also worked as a behavior consultant in Georgia
public schools, a behavior specialist in Mississippi public schools, and a children's
behavior therapist for a community counseling agency in Mississippi. She has recently
been accepted for publication in Education and Training for Autism and Developmental
Disabilities, the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, and Beyond Behavior. She has
published in The Encyclopedia of School psychology, ACA encyclopedia, Phi Delta Kappan,
Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, Children & Schools, and The Family journal.
Her research interests include assessment and early intervention for academic difficulties
specifically written expression, effective assessment and intervention for children
diagnosed with Autism, ADHD, working with parents and families of exceptional children,
and merging applied behavior analysis with other disciplines. She is on the board
directors of the Autism Society of the Midsouth. She has been a BCBA since 2008.
Dr. James Nicholson Meindl, BCBA
James Meindl received his M.A. from Penn State - Harrisburg and his Ph.D. in Applied
Behavior Analysis and Special Education from The Ohio State University. He has worked
as a behavior analyst in both home and school settings. His work in these settings
has ranged from developing academic programming, to teaching independent living skills,
to focusing on problem behavior-primarily self-injury and aggression. In addition
to his clinical work, he has also published in a variety of journals including Research
in Developmental Disabilities, the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, Psychology
in Intellectual Disabilities, and Behavioral Interventions. He has also served as
a guest reviewer for School Psychology Review, Behavioral Interventions, the Journal
of Behavioral Education, and the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis. His research
interests including factors influencing choice and preference, contrast, interventions
for aggression and self-injury, and delayed consequences. He is on the board of directors
of the Autism Society of the Midsouth and has been a BCBA since 2006.
Dr. Neal Miller, BCBA
Neal Miller earned a B.A. in Psychology from Reed College in Portland, Oregon, where
he studied behaviorism, and conducted undergraduate thesis research on autism and
operant variability. He received an M.S.Ed in Behavioral Education from Simmons College,
and a Ph.D. in Applied Behavior Analysis and Special Education from The Ohio State
University. He has been a BCBA since 2007, and was a founding member of the Oregon
Association for Behavior Analysis. Neal has worked with children and adults with disabilities
form over 15 years, as a consultant, therapist, and behavior specialist. He has primarily
worked with individuals with moderate to severe disabilities, particularly autism.
In his work, he has developed individualized programs to teach social, communication,
and play skills, promote independent living skills, and to address challenging behaviors
such as aggression and self-injury. He has been a guest reviewer for several journals,
including the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, Behavioral Interventions, and
School Psychology Review. His current research interests include behavioral variability,
generalization, environmental sustainability, and teaching verbal behavior.