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To Address Nationwide Shortage of Behavior Analysts, Northcentral University Launches New Specialization

Jul 7 2020

LA JOLLA, CALIFORNIA (July 7, 2020) --- On July 6, Northcentral University – a nonprofit, online institution – launched a fully online Master of Arts in psychology with a specialization in applied behavior analysis. The seven-course applied behavior analysis sequence is verified and approved by the Association for Behavior Analysis International.

Board-certified behavior analysts support clients with significant behavioral problems, such as aggression or self-harm, or those who want to learn new skills. They use scientifically proven and evidence-based methods to assess their clients and drive behavior changes. Behavior analysis is considered the gold-standard for treating children and adults with autism spectrum disorder.

“There is a significant need for this intervention,” said Melinda Docter, a professor at Northcentral University and program coordinator for the new specialization.

The Behavior Analyst Certification Board found that, between 2010 and 2018, the demand for board-certified analysts grew by  1,942%. This is due in part to increased demand for autism services – a Stanford University study from 2017 indicated that demand for autism treatment in the United States was 18 times higher than available providers could handle.

Northcentral’s new 10-course sequence will help students on their path to becoming board-certified behavior analysts and help serve the many people and families seeking treatment. The coursework has been thoughtfully designed to prepare students for success in the field.

Bettina Shapira, chair of Northcentral’s Department of Psychology, says students should attend a school like Northcentral that offers a verified course sequence to ensure they are best prepared to pass the exam that leads to board certification.

"We want to prepare our students to sit for the exam, but we also want them to become well-rounded clinicians,” said Shapira. “These are two very important aspects that form the basis of our program."

She stresses that Northcentral’s one-to-one teaching model sets it apart from other universities. The approach allows students to collaborate closely with their faculty mentors and tackle their degree at their own pace.

Northcentral’s Department of Psychology oversees the master’s in psychology with specialization in applied behavior analysis. Programs are fully online and can be started at any time. GRES/GMATS are not required. To request information, visit or call 866-776-0331.

About Northcentral University

Founded in 1996, Northcentral University is a regionally accredited, nonprofit, online and graduate-focused university serving professionals globally. NCU offers doctoral, master's and bachelor's degrees in business, education and psychology, as well as doctoral and master's degrees in marriage and family therapy, technology and health sciences.

Northcentral University is a nonprofit affiliate of the private, nonprofit National University System. It is regionally accredited by WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC). For more information, visit or call 866.776.0331.