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What is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst? Your Guide to BCBA Requirements

Let’s face it. The psychology licensure world is filled with acronyms. The applied behavioral analysis field is no exception.

A Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) is a person with a certification in applied behavior analysis. Certification is obtained through the Behavior Analyst Certification Board.

Applied behavioral analysis (ABA) uses scientific and systematic processes to help influence an individual’s behavior. Behavior analysts can work in schools, classrooms, hospitals, clinics, and nonprofits; many analysts specialize in certain areas like autism, developmental disabilities, or mental health issues.

If you’re interested in this career path, you might consider becoming a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). Spoiler alert: There are quite a few acronyms coming up.

Read related: 

ABA Partner sites in Chicago

The scientific concepts behind ABA

Careers to explore with a degree in ABA


What is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst?

BCBA is not to be confused with the BCaBA, the undergraduate-level Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst, the BCBA-D, the doctoral-level certification, or the BACB, the Behavior Analyst Certification Board.

The graduate-level BCBA position provides fulfilling work and growing job opportunities. According to a study by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board, demand for BCBAs is growing.

Start your journey. Learn more about BCBA requirements and the BCBA exam now.



How does BCBA certification work?

To receive BCBA certification, there are four main requirements every applicant must meet: hold a graduate degree, fulfill relevant coursework, complete supervised experience, and pass the BCBA exam.

There are three tracks you can take to achieve these requirements. The most common track to BCBA certification looks like this:

  • Graduate degree in a relevant field (behavior analysis, education, or psychology) from an accredited university
  • Completion of relevant coursework
  • 1,500 hours of supervised independent fieldwork or 1,000 hours at a supervised practicum or 750 hours at a supervised intensive practicum

Discover this option on the BACB website.

You could also hold a full-time faculty position in behavior analysis or have a doctoral degree and still meet BCBA certification requirements. Learn more about option 2 and option 3.

When you know you’ve achieved the degree, coursework, and supervised experience requirements, then you can take the BCBA exam.

Read related: 

Decoding Behavior 

Natural environment training vs. Play Therapy

What does the BCBA exam involve?

No matter which track you take to achieve BCBA requirements, you must apply to take the BCBA exam.

You can apply online via the BACB. The application includes proof of your degree, coursework, and supervised work experience, as well as an application fee.

Once the Behavior Analyst Certification Board sees that you’ve met the requirements and approved your application, you may sign up for the exam.

The BCBA exam includes 150 multiple choice questions; students have 4 hours to take the exam.

Exam content covers analytical skills like measurement and experimental design, as well as client-centered responsibilities like assessment and intervention.



The Chicago School of Professional Psychology is here for you. We offer a number of programs that will help you launch your career in Applied Behavior Analysis.

For example, the M.S. in Applied Behavior Analysis meets the degree, coursework, and supervised experience requirements for the BCBA. This program includes 10-30 hours per week of supervised experience for over 12 months, with at least 1 hour of individual supervision each week.

Explore our full list of Applied Behavior Analysis programs. Have any questions about ABA or BCBA (or any acronym, we don’t blame you)? Request more information by filling out the form below.


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