Virginia Applied Behavior Analysis Consortium

Virginia ABA Consortium logo

The Virginia Applied Behavior Analysis Consortium is a university based partnership designed to provide participants with high quality coursework in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and to prepare participants to take the Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) exam if they choose. For more information, please visit the Virginia ABA Consortium website.

The Consortium is comprised of four cooperating Universities including George Mason University, Lynchburg College, Old Dominion University, and Virginia Commonwealth University. These Universities have collaborated to create a unified consortium designed to prepare students to sit for the BCBA examination. The Consortium provides content in Applied Behavior Analysis and offers supervised experience that is consistent with requirements of the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB).

What is Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)?

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a discipline devoted to understanding human behavior and to bringing about improvements in behavior and quality of life that are significant to the individuals involved. ABA does this through application of empirically validated, scientific methodology to real-world problems and solutions. ABA has applications in general and special education at all levels; business and industry; autism and intellectual disabilities; treatment of psychiatric disorders and family relationships; geriatrics; general and specialty medicine; and numerous other areas. For more information on the scope of Applied Behavior Analysis, please visit the Association for Behavior Analysis International's website on Special Interests.

How Do I Become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst?

To become a BCBA, you must complete a combination of courses, supervision experience, and pass the Behavior Analyst Certification Examination. The Behavior Analyst Certification Board has very stringent and intensive criteria for becoming a BCBA including 270 total hours of instruction in specified areas including Ethical Considerations in ABA, Characteristics and Principles of ABA, Behavioral Assessment, Selection and Evaluation of Interventions, Measurement of Behavior, and Behavior Change Procedures as well as an intensive supervision experience in an area of ABA with a qualified supervisor. Participating in this cohort provides the courses and supervision experience that prepare students to sit for the BACB Examination. If you would like further information on the examination or the requirements for becoming a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), please visit their website.

What is a Consortium?

The Virginia ABA Consortium is a collaborative effort between four Universities. This Consortium offers courses in Applied Behavior Analysis as well as supervised experience designed to prepare participants to sit for the BCBA examination.

The coursework is provided by each of the universities and students are able to attend classes at George Mason University, Lynchburg College, Old Dominion University, or Virginia Commonwealth University. The professor teaches class from any one of the four locations. Courses are offered using interactive videoconferencing and web conferencing technology so all sites may see, participate, and interact with the professor and fellow students. Students attend a class each week at one of the four University locations and complete assigned activities and projects outside of this class time.

Program Requirements


The ABA Certificate is comprised of the following six courses, each of which is 12 weeks in duration:

ABA: Principles, Procedures & Philosophy: Provides an overview of the basic principles of procedures of ABA. Factors and principles that contribute to improved performance as well as development of interfering behaviors are identified. Further, procedures that can be used to minimize interfering behavior, improve performance, teach new behaviors, and increase the probability of behaviors occurring under appropriate circumstances are described.

ABA: Applications: Discusses the various applications of the field of ABA and expands the capability to deal with more complex behavioral situations, enabling the ability to relate to more sophisticated professional issues and environments. Specifically, this course demonstrates how ABA is applied in real world situations to make socially significant changes by minimizing interfering behavior, improving performance, teaching new behaviors, and increasing the probability of behaviors occurring under appropriate circumstances. This course also provides a foundation for giving appropriate support to those implementing the behavior plan.

ABA: Empirical Bases: Provides information on the basic content of ABA and how to implement the core principles in real life situations. Participants will be instructed on how to implement behavioral procedures and develop behavioral programs for individuals who may need to increase positive skills or reduce interfering behavior. Participants will also be instructed on single-subject design, the research methodology used in the field of ABA, and its applications in real life situations.

Ethics and Professional Conduct for Behavior Analysts: Provides an overview of the professional conduct standards consistent with the practices of ABA and outlines how to provide ethical and responsible behavioral programming. The Virginia Behavior Analyst Licensure law, the Behavior Analyst Certification Board's Guidelines for Responsible Conduct and Disciplinary Standards as well as the Association for Positive Behavior Supports Standards of Practice are reviewed and used to guide course content. A focus is placed on developing and implementing ethical behavioral programming that promotes the improvement as well as the dignity of the person receiving intervention. Ethical conduct as it relates to colleagues, the field of ABA as well as society is also discussed.

ABA: Assessments & Interventions: Expands on basic content of ABA and teaches how to implement behavioral procedures and develop behavioral programs for individuals with fundamental socially relevant behavioral needs. In this course, participants will learn how to implement behavioral assessments, select and develop intervention procedures, and compose instructions for implementation.

ABA: Verbal Behavior: Further expands the participant's capability to use ABA in complex behavioral situations and enables students to apply principles to sophisticated issues through analysis of language development. The course will provide information on verbal behavior and basic verbal operants and how to develop intervention procedures to teach diverse learners.

Supervised Internship (Optional): Provides a Supervised Internship and is designed for participants to apply principles and practices of ABA with individuals who need to increase positive skills or reduce interfering behavior in school and community settings. The course provides the hours of supervised experience required for the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) exam eligibility.

When to Begin

Students interested in the program will need to apply to be in a cohort which is limited to 32 students. Students complete the courses as a group. New cohorts are scheduled to begin during the Fall semester. Courses would be taken across six total semesters (Fall, Spring, Summer, Fall, Spring, Summer). Each course is 12 weeks and takes place on Monday evenings.

The courses are scheduled to be offered in the following pattern:

ABA: Principles, Procedures, & Philosophy Fall
ABA: Empirical Bases Spring
ABA: Applications Summer
Ethics and Professional Conduct for Behavior Analysts Fall
ABA: Assessments & Interventions Spring
ABA: Verbal Behavior Summer

Where Should I Complete the Program?

Students are able to participate in the courses at any of the four universities. During the admission process, the participant will select the desired location. When choosing a university, consider which university is located nearest to you. Even though the four universities are participating in the Consortium, each has their own criteria for admission such as grades, tests, or recommendations and you should ensure that you meet the criteria for admission for your chosen university prior to applying. If you have questions about the criteria, please contact the Consortium Faculty Representative at your chosen university listed below.

Students who have to travel more than 90 miles (or 90 minutes in a congested area) from one of the four university locations may ask to be considered to take courses from home with a webcam and high speed internet. However, there are limited spaces for students completing the program using this format.

Applying to the Program

You must apply and be admitted to the Consortium. The online application as well as a guideline for applying can be found on the Consortium web site. If you are accepted to the Consortium, you will be instructed on how to apply to your chosen university.

Consortium Faculty Contacts
Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU):
Selena J. Layden, Ph.D., BCBA-D
Training Coordinator
Autism Center for Excellence
Virginia Commonwealth University
1314 W Main St.
Richmond, VA 23284
Tel. 804-828-9548
George Mason University (GMU):
Christine Hoffner Barthold, Ph.D., BCBA-D, LBA
Assistant Professor, Special Education
Graduate School of Education
George Mason University
4400 University Dr., MSN 1F2
Fairfax, VA 22030
Tel. (703) 993-5450
Old Dominion University (ODU):
Laura C. Chezan, Ph.D., BCBA-D
Assistant Professor
Darden College of Education
Old Dominion University
110 Lions Child Study Center
Norfolk, VA 23529
Tel. 757-683-7055
Lynchburg College:
Gena P. Barnhill, Ph.D., NCSP, BCBA
Director of Special Education Programs
Lynchburg College
1501 Lakeside Drive
Lynchburg, VA 24501
Tel. 434-544-8771