Improving the Lives of Individuals with Disabilities through Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)

What is applied behavior analysis?

Behavior analysis is the study of behavior and learning in relation to the environment. It is considered a natural science. There is a strong basis of quality research documenting the basic principles of behavior and learning. Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is a field that applies the basic principles of learning to meaningfully change behaviors of importance in our society.

What do behavior analysts do?

Practitioners in the field of ABA make data-based decisions to improve behavior and document the events responsible for that improvement. They may provide services including behavioral assessment, data-analysis, ongoing treatment planning and implementation, and oversight of treatment plan implementation. Individuals with credentials in behavior analysis may qualify to work in a variety of specialty areas, including behavior change at the level of an organization or system (e.g., staff performance, school-wide positive behavior support), teaching skills across the lifespan (e.g., adaptive behavior, communication, social skills), and reducing challenging behavior (e.g., aggression).

Why applied behavior analysis and special education?

In regards to discipline, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act mandates a safe environment that is beneficial to student learning through the use of positive behavioral interventions and behavioral assessments. According to Behavior Analyst Certification Board (2024), there is an increasingly high workforce demand for behavior analysts across the United States. Highly sought positions in behavior analysis include those in the educational and medical services industries (e.g., special education teachers and consultants, behavior specialists, program directors, clinical supervisors). These positions most often call for experience in treatment planning and working with individuals with autism spectrum disorder and other developmental disabilities.

The Pathway to National Certification in ABA

To pursue national certification as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, candidates must complete the following four components:

  1. Corresponding Degree
    • BCBA = Graduate Degree
  2. Qualifying Behavior-Analytic Coursework
  3. Practical Fieldwork/Supervision Hours
  4. Pass National Exam

Our program, offered through UH Mānoa’s Department of Special Education, is designed to provide opportunities for candidates to meet the requirements to be eligible to sit for the national exam.

University Pass-Rate Reports

Verified Course Sequence pass-rate information is published annually by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board® (BACB).

To learn more about national certification and requirements, please visit

You can find the full listing of the University Pass-Rate Reports here.


Which certification is right for me?

The Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA®) is a certification in behavior analysis at the undergraduate level. Professionals certified at this level are not credentialed to practice independently (i.e., they must be supervised by someone with the BCBA or BCBA-D level credential). BCaBAs may supervise the practice of others, such as Registered Behavior Technicians (RBTs) who implement behavior-analytic procedures.

  • BCaBA-Track program option is no longer available

The Board Certified Behavior Analyst® (BCBA®) is a certification in behavior analysis at the graduate level. Professionals certified at this level are credentialed to independently provide behavior-analytic services. BCBAs can supervise the practice of others who implement behavior analytic procedures.

The Board Certified Behavior Analyst-Doctoral (BCBA-D) is not a separate credential from the BCBA but it designates an individual with qualifying doctoral training in behavior analysis. The BCBA-D designation does not grant privileges beyond the BCBA credential. Applicants must apply for this credential and meet specific requirements of eligibility.


Behavior Analyst Certification Board. (2024). US employment demand for behavior analysts: 2010–2023.  Littleton, CO: Author.