UTPA achieves approval for new graduate program concentration
Posted: 07/03/2009
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The Department of Psychology and Anthropology at The University of Texas-Pan American announces the official approval by the Behavioral Analyst Certification Board, Inc. ® of the curriculum and course sequence in its new master's program in experimental psychology with a BCBA (Board Certified Behavior Analyst) concentration.

With board certification, students become certified experts in applied behavior analysis, a large and technically sophisticated repertoire of behavioral techniques deriving from nearly 75 years of work by many scientists following the lead of famed psychologist B.F. Skinner. UTPA first offered the BCBA concentration in fall 2008 and it is one of only nine university programs in Texas with BACB approval.

Five of the 10 member charter class of students in UTPA's Master of Experimental Psychology program with a Board Certified Behavior Analyst concentration are pictured with the program's coordinator Dr. Frederick Ernst, professor of psychology. At front left to right are Adriana Sanchez, Ernst, and Claudia Arteaga. Pictured at rear left to right are Mandy Sanchez, Nancy Salinas, and Miriam Izaguirre.
According to Dr. Frederick Ernst, professor of psychology and senior adviser to the dean, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, BCBA professionals have many employment opportunities once they achieve certification.

"The approach has become the treatment of choice for children with autism and many parents of children with autism are demanding access to this form of treatment because of the proven results from early and intensive intervention," he said. "UTPA recognized this need and developed a curriculum to train BCBAs as they achieve their master's degrees in experimental psychology, a degree long known for its strong scientific base."

Many states have approved legislation to fund the treatment of autism with applied behavior analysis and the legislation requires that treatment is performed or supervised by professionals with BCBA certification. Texas is currently in the process of following the legislative lead of other states.

While this approach has become best known for highly effective applications to children with autism emphasizing early and intensive intervention, Ernst said similar applications to health, fitness, sports, rehabilitation, and organizational behavior are beginning to create employment opportunities in a wide variety of clinical, educational, and corporate environments.

"There are consistently more than 100 job openings nationally for BCBAs and currently there is an ongoing dramatic shortage of BCBAs and BCBA-designed intervention programs for autism and developmental disabilities in the Rio Grande Valley," he said.

During the early developmental period of this graduate program, the deadline for applications has been extended to August 1. RGV residents already having a bachelor's degree and working with children with autism or other developmental disabilities are encouraged to consider applying for admission to the program.

The program application can be done online at Information about the program can also be found at the Department of Psychology and Anthropology Web site at You can also direct questions to Ernst at