June 1st, 2013

Salve Regina University to offer master’s degree in ABA

Salve Regina University this fall will introduce a new master’s degree program in applied behavioral analysis (ABA), making the private Catholic co-educational university in Newport the first Rhode Island higher education institution offering graduate training in this fast growing area of psychology.

Eighteen of the program’s 36 credits are courses and practicum experience required by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) to sit for the national certification exam. Salve will also offer a certificate of advanced graduate studies (CAGS) in ABA for students with a master’s degree in a related field seeking national certification as an applied behavior analyst.

The program’s development started three years ago and received BACB approval last October, says Associate Professor and Department of Psychology Chairwoman Sheila Quinn, Ph.D., who serves as Salve’s graduate director in psychology.

“The mission of Salve has always been not only rigorous academics but there’s always been a service component,” Quinn says. “Applied behavioral analysis really teaches students to look at the environment and to manipulate or change that environment so that people are achieving their maximum potential.”

ABA is best known as a treatment for children with autism. Current estimates suggest 1 in 50 children are diagnosed with autism. In August, 2011, Rhode Island became the 27th state to pass an autism insurance reform bill requiring insurance coverage for ABA treatment. Less than a year later, in June, 2012, Gov. Lincoln Almond signed legislation to create a licensure board for behavior analysts in Rhode Island.

ABA also addresses a wide range of populations and settings such as law enforcement and corrections, business, hospitals and treatment centers.

“Although graduates in the field can apply their skills in a multitude of settings from schools to businesses, there is a significant need for more professionals to serve the increasing number of children being diagnosed with autism,” says Andrea Chait, Ph.D., BCBA-D, NCSP, an adjunct faculty member at Salve who worked closely with Quinn in developing Salve’s program.

Salve’s projected enrollment for fall 2013 is 15 students, Quinn says. Coursework will cover areas such as measurement and data analysis, behavior change techniques, assessment and systems management and ethics and professional conduct. Salve’s closest competitor offering a master’s degree in ABA is the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

“Our first graduates are probably going to receive most of their training in working with people with disabilities. However, we’re definitely going to be going in the direction of looking at the business environment,” Quinn says.

Salve also offers a post-baccalaureate certificate program for those with bachelor’s degrees who want to complete the assistant behavior analysis courses.

By Janine Weisman

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