Program Coordinator: Sherry Serdikoff, Ph.D., BCBA-D, CP
Faculty: Dorothy Gardner-Martin, Ph.D.
The behavior analysis program offers training to undergraduate students in the scientific study of human and animal behavior. It takes an interdisciplinary approach to teach the basic concepts and principles of behavior analysis. Students will learn to analyze the way in which behavior changes as a function of its interaction with the surrounding environment.
One aim of the program is train undergraduate students to think as a behavior analyst. They will learn to differentiate between environmental and behavioral events. The program places particular interest in teaching functional analysis. Accordingly, students will learn how behavior functions to produce or remove environmental consequences. Similarly, students will learn how the environment functions to guide and maintain behavior in different settings.
Defining, recording, analyzing, and representing behavioral data are some of the skills that student will learn in the behavior analysis program. Students will also receive training in writing research protocols, scientific papers, and articles according the guidelines of the American Psychological Association.
Behavior analysis is the scientific study of the relationship between the environment and human and animal behavior. Behavior analysts operate from the assumption that behavior is a function of environmental variables and typically research the rules governing this relationship (i.e., principles of behavior) and apply what they have learned to address behavioral issues (i.e., applied behavior analysis). Behavior analysts work to address a variety of social issues, including working with academic behavior, individuals with autism or developmental disabilities, health behavior, organizational and business issues, psychopharmacology, etc.
Behavior analysis offers a number of different opportunities and careers. Behavior analysts generally work in basic research, applied research, or in the field addressing social issues. Basic research typically involves animals or humans and is done in a university or college environment. Applied research typically involves addressing socially important issues in a controlled environment. Applied work is usually done in people's homes, schools, community organizations, or businesses. Many behavior analysts become board certified in order to practice in the community, and the behavior analysis program at Savannah State University offers all of the courses needed to meet the requirements to sit for the Associates level (BCaBA) certification exam. For more information please see www.bacb.com.
Many behavior analysts will do a combination of research and applied work. Some behavior analysts become academic faculty at colleges and universities where they teach behavior analysis in addition to research and work in the community. Whether doing research or working in the community, individuals in behavior analysis may work in any (or a combination) of the following areas:
- Developmental Disabilities and Autism
- This typically involves working as a consultant, having their own business, or in a state or community agency with adults or children. A behavior analyst may provide services in the home, at school, or at the person's place of work addressing behavioral problems and skill acquisition (e.g., communication).
- Education and Special Education
- This may involve working for a school or consulting to a school or school district. Behavior analysts will work in the schools, at home, or have the children come to a center where they will address academic, social, communication and/or other behavioral issues.
- Clinical and Counseling
- Behavior analysts in a therapy role will address psychological issues from a behavior analytic perspective. A few examples of these approaches would be Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and Functional Analytic Psychotherapy (FAP).
- Business and Industry
- This area is called Organizational Behavior Management. Behavior analysts will either work for an organization or as a consultant to help resolve a number of behavioral issues, which may include productivity, quality, efficiency, motivational, or safety issues. Behavior analysts may work for health and human services, small businesses or large international corporations.
- Behavior analysts also work for different agencies or organizations as consultants, therapists, trainers, or researchers in areas such as:
- Child management and parenting
- Health psychology and behavioral medicine
- Community psychology
To complete the Bachelor's of Science degree in behavior analysis, students are required to complete 120 hours of general core courses, major core courses, and major electives. The Behavior Analysis Grid provides an outline of all requirements for the degree and should be completed by students each semester to ensure students are on track for graduation. The Major Coursework Requirements and Plan of Study outlines the specific requirements for the major and provides a sample plan of study for students planning to complete the degree within four years. Finally, the Minor Coursework Requirements (i.e. 15 credit hours) are also included for students that wish to minor in behavior analysis.
- Behavior Analysis Grid
- Major Coursework Requirements and Plan of Study
- Minor Coursework Requirements (15 credits)
- BEHV1101 - Introduction to Behavior Analysis: Professions
- BEHV2101 - History of Behavior Analysis
- Three upper-level (3000 and above) BEHV courses
There are many ways to get more involved in behavior analysis as a student at Savannah State University. Many of the faculty offer opportunities to assist with research projects or provide opportunities to do applied work as an intern in the community. In addition, there is also a Behavior Analysis Student Association (BASA) that offers students the chance to get to know other students in the major, do projects in the community, network with professionals in the field through invited speakers and attending conferences, and participate in behavior analytic events.
How is behavior analysis related to psychology?
- Behavior analysis is the scientific study of human and animal behavior. It is a specific perspective of psychology examining how behavior is determined by environmental factors.
Will I still be able to be a counselor or therapist with a degree in behavior analysis instead of psychology?
- Yes. To become a counselor or therapist, it usually requires students to get a master's or doctoral degree. A bachelor's degree in behavior analysis will qualify students to apply for these advanced degree programs in behavior analysis, psychology, or programs specifically in counseling or clinical psychology. Students who receive their bachelor's in behavior analysis, and their bachelor's level certification in behavior analysis (see www.bacb.com), can provide some services without requiring an additional advanced degree.
What degree do I need to have a career in behavior analysis?
- Individuals with a bachelor's degree in behavior analysis can work in a variety of areas. With a bachelor's degree and the BCaBA credential (see www.bacb.com), many behavior analysts work directly with individuals with autism or other developmental disabilities. Many behavior analysts decide to pursue a master's degree since it provides more opportunities in the job market. Some behavior analysts also pursue a doctoral degree in order to run their own business or teach/conduct research at colleges and universities.
What kind of job can I get with a degree in behavior analysis?
- For specific information about careers, see the Careers in Behavior Analysis section of this website.
- Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI)
- Georgia Association for Behavior Analysis (GABA)
- Organizational Behavior Management (OBM) Network
- Association for Positive Behavior Support (APBS)
- Autism Speaks
- Society for Quantitative Analyses of Behavior (SQAB)
- Society for Neuroscience