Program Coordinator: Sherry Serdikoff, Ph.D., BCBA-D, CP
Faculty: Dorothy Gardner-Martin, Ph.D.
What is Behavior Analysis?
Careers in Behavior Analysis
Behavior Analysis Coursework
Get More Involved in Behavior Analysis
Frequently Asked Questions
Additional Information & Related Organizations
The mission of the undergraduate major in Behavior Analysis is to educate individuals about behavior analysis – a natural science approach to understanding the behavior of individuals – by providing instruction, mentoring, and opportunities to engage in research and practice in behavior analysis to a diverse student population who will contribute to the well-being of society
Behavior analysis is the scientific study of the relationship between the environment and the behavior of humans and other animals. The principles of behavior analysis extend to all species and are in effect in all environments. These principles can be applied by behavior analysts with a variety of populations such as children or adults and people with or without disabilities. Behavior analysts help these populations address a variety of social issues, including academic behavior, addressing inappropriate behaviors (in a variety of settings), health behavior, organizational and business issues, psychopharmacology, zoos, etc. Students in other disciplines (e.g., social work, criminal justice, sociology, biology, and education) may find that understanding the science of behavior analysis can help them when they are working with their clients.
The field of behavior analysis has its roots in the scientific study of the principles of learning and behavior in the field of experimental psychology and thus can be characterized as a specialized way to approach psychological science and its applications. Accordingly, within this major, courses in behavior analysis are complemented with foundational courses and electives in the broader discipline of psychological science.
The behavior analysis program at SSU offers training to undergraduate students in the scientific study of human and other animal behavior to teach the basic concepts and principles of behavior analysis. Students will learn to analyze the way in which behavior changes when there is an interaction with the surrounding environment.
The goal of the program is to train students to think like behavior analysts. Students will learn the fundamental principles of behavior and how to use the principles and procedures developed from them to modify behavior in a context of ethical responsibility. Additionally, students will learn about research designs and statistical analysis techniques used in psychological science as well as the more specialized single-subject experimental methods more commonly employed by behavior analysts. Emphasis is placed on reading peer reviewed empirical research and writing research papers according the guidelines of the American Psychological Association Publication Manual.
The Behavior Analyst Certification Board, Inc.® has approved the following course sequence (BEHV 3103, BEHV 3104, BEHV 3105, BEHV 3117, and BEHV 3740) as meeting the coursework requirements for eligibility to take the Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst Examination®. Applicants will have to meet additional requirements to qualify.
Behavior analysis offers a number of different opportunities and careers. Behavior analysts generally work in basic research, applied research, or professional service delivery. Basic research typically is conducted in a laboratory setting at a university or government agency. Applied research involves addressing socially important issues in a controlled environment and is often conduced in people's homes, schools, community organizations, or businesses. Most behavior analysts must become board certified in order to provide behaver analytic services, and the behavior analysis program at Savannah State University offers all of the coursework needed to meet the requirements to sit for the Associates level (BCaBA) certification exam (additional requirements exist to meet all the requirements for certification). For more information please see www.bacb.com.
Many behavior analysts do a combination of applied research and professional service delivery. 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 in the school system, in a clinic, or in people’s homes. Consultants may work with adults or children and will often address behavioral problems, skill acquisition, academic, social, and communication skills.
- 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
- Animal training/zoos
To complete the requirements for the Bachelor of Science in Behavior Analysis, students must complete 120 credit hours of general education core courses, required major courses, and major electives. The Behavior Analysis Grid provides an outline of all requirements for the degree and should be updated 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.
- 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
- BEHV 3000 -Basic Concepts in Behavior Analysis
- Two 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.
- Research and Internship Opportunities
- Faculty provide on campus and off campus research and field placement opportunities. These opportunities will vary by semester and faculty/student interest.
- BASA’s mission is to inform individuals about behavior analysis—a natural science approach to understanding the behavior of individuals—by providing programing for members of the Savannah State University and surrounding communities and by raising awareness of the field behavior analysis through participation in campus and community activities.
How is behavior analysis related to psychology?
- Psychology as a discipline is scientific study of the mind and behavior. Psychology is an eclectic discipline that does not hold to any single paradigm or set of assumptions, but instead draws upon multiple schools of thought, including biological, behavioral, cognitive, humanistic, and psychodynamic perspectives. The behavioral school of thought, which focuses on how behavior is determined by environmental factors, is where behavior analysis has its roots. Behavior analysis is the scientific study of the principles of learning and behavior. Behavior analysis differs from psychology in that it is not eclectic, but instead adheres to one unifying theoretical perspective: the philosophy of radical behaviorism. Behavior analytic explanations of behavior appeal to natural, physical processes (e.g., environmental events and biological factors) as opposed to metaphysical phenomena (e.g., free will, the mind). Behavior analysis assumes behavior is governed by lawful principles that apply to all species.
What if I want to be a counselor or therapist?
- To become a counselor or therapist, 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 counseling. Students who earn their bachelor's in behavior analysis, and their bachelor's level BCaBA certification in behavior analysis (see www.bacb.com), can provide some services, under the supervision of a BCBA, without requiring an additional advanced degree.
- This is not the only path to become a counselor. Counselingg programs are often housed in schools of education. Other disciplines that can prepare you for a career that involves helping people include: Sociology, Social Work, and Education. Also, at Savannah State University, you are able to tailor a degree to your career interests by majoring in Interdisciplinary Studies, this program will provide you with the opportunity to take courses in any of the above-mentioned disciplines, including Behavior Analysis and Psychology.
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 https://www.bacb.com/bcaba/), 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 teach or 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.
Can I become a criminal profiler with this degree?
- The field of behavior analysis is not like what you have seen on TV with Criminal Minds. If you are interested in becoming a criminal profiler you can still get a degree in behavior analysis, but the FBI often wants students who have worked their way through law enforcement or have served in our military. In addition, there are few criminal profilers in the country…you have a better chance of playing one on TV.
- Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI)
- Georgia Association for Behavior Analysis (GABA)
- Southeastern Association for Behavior Analysis (SEABA)
- Organizational Behavior Management (OBM) Network
- Association for Positive Behavior Support (APBS)
- Society for Quantitative Analyses of Behavior (SQAB)
- Society for Neuroscience