The new Master of Arts in Behavior Analysis program - the only program of its kind in the Houston area - will be unveiled at the University of Houston-Clear Lake this spring.
Students currently interested in this field are participating in the applied behavior analysis sub-plan in the Master of Arts General Psychology program.
"The applied behavior analysis sub-plan will be eliminated after the new program is implemented," said Hilary Karp, associate professor of psychology.
Dorothea Lerman, professor of psychology and coordinator of the Applied Behavior Analysis program, saw a need for the program at the university.
"I knew that there would be quite a demand for the program because there aren't any other programs in Houston," Lerman said. "There is a huge demand for certified behavior analysts right now because of the incidence of autism."
There are currently 25 students enrolled in the applied behavior analysis sub-plan. They will receive a master's degree in behavior analysis upon completion of their studies.
Jennifer Fritz, visiting assistant professor of psychology, said graduating students would likely become more competitive for top positions in the field as their degrees would indicate a specialization in applied behavior analysis.
"The program is similar to professional programs such as clinical psychology, school psychology and family therapy," Lerman said. "Students and graduates work with public and private agencies and serve as private consultants to families or school districts."
The Clear Creek, Pasadena and Pearland school districts fund graduate assistantships for students in the program. Students provide consultation services to these school districts and work with children and teachers.
The university also has a large grant to provide services to children at the on-campus autism clinic.
"We have four graduate students who are working on that project along with a board certified behavior analyst who is a former graduate of mine," Lerman said. "We also have a number of formal practicum sites at various private day programs for children with autism."
Upon graduation, students can expect to obtain similar careers working with special populations.
"Most of the jobs are in the area of autism and developmental disabilities," Lerman said. "Therapy based on applied behavior analysis has been shown to be effective with these children. This program is geared to prepare people to work with that population."
Karp strongly encourages students to enroll in the new program.
"The training in this program is excellent and more than prepares students for the certification in behavior analysis," Karp said. "Dr. Lerman is known both nationally and internationally to be an expert in this field. Students will get a strong background in both the theoretical underpinnings and the application of behavior analysis. They will be especially well-trained to work with those who have autism and developmental disabilities."
Students interested in the program can contact Lerman at 281-283-3437 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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