College of Education2015-2016

Department of Educational Specialties

Positive Behavior Support, Graduate Certificate

This graduate certificate will help students partially fulfill the requirements to become Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBA). Courses cover both the knowledge of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), and its application with children and adults who have developmental disabilities and challenging behavior. Graduate students will learn how to conduct behavioral assessments and design interventions that make problem behavior unnecessary and preferred behavior easy.


What Can I Do with a Certificate in Positive Behavior Support?

Positive Behavior Support (PBS) is an approach to improving human behavior by making challenging behavior unnecessary and preferred behavior easy and effective. This involves helping people improve the quality of their lives (personal, health, social, family, etc) and replacing challenging behavior with socially acceptable alternative behavior. Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is the science behind PBS, and the courses in the PBS Certificate are an "Approved Course Sequence" by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board.

PBS employs research-validated behavioral practices of teaching and reinforcing behavior for individual children and adults as well as for groups of people (in classrooms, families, schools, etc). Attention is focused on understanding the conditions in the environment that contribute to challenging behavior and modifying those conditions to strengthen desirable behavior. This online Graduate Certificate in Positive Behavior Support prepares students who graduate, have a related master’s degree, obtain the required supervised experience, and pass the BACB national examination, to serve as Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs), and Arizona Licensed Behavior Analysts (LBAs). Our PBS Certificate graduates help parents, teachers, and others who support people with disabilities and challenging behavior. Throughout the courses, students will need access to children or adults with developmental disabilities and those who know them best (parents, teachers, staff, etc) in order to conduct assessments and implement positive behavioral interventions. Because these are long-distance courses and instructors cannot travel to observe, students will be required to submit videotapes of themselves conducting different instructional and behavioral interventions. Therefore, students will need informed consent from the person and/or parents or guardians and be familiar with FERPA requirements. This program places a high value on inclusion in school and community, on self-determination, and on avoidance of restrictive and coercive strategies.

University Requirements

  • Graduate certificate programs require a minimum of 12 credit hours. Many certificate programs require more than 12 credit hours.

    No more than one 400-level NAU course (3 or 4 units) may be used on a certificate program.

    No more than 25% of the units required for the certificate program may be transferred from another university.

    A 400-level course (undergraduate course) completed at another university is not eligible for transfer credit.

    A minimum grade point average of 3.0 must be achieved to obtain a graduate certificate. No more than three units of coursework with a grade of "C" may be used in a certificate program.

    A graduate student may pursue a graduate certificate concurrently with a graduate degree. Each graduate degree program must decide which, if any, certificate courses can be counted toward the graduate degree.

    Students who are admitted to a graduate certificate program will be eligible for the official posting of the graduate certificate to their transcripts when all applicable coursework has been successfully completed and approved by the academic unit and the Graduate College.
  • Please be aware that federal financial aid is not available for some certificates, if the certificate is pursued and completed as a stand-alone certificate (i.e., not completed concurrently with a degree program).  See the “Details” tab for additional information.


In addition to University Requirements:

Students must first be accepted into the Graduate Certificate in PBS by applying online. Once accepted they have two options:

  • School-Based Option (18 units)
  • Home/Community Option (18 units)

Please note that you may be able to use some courses to meet more than one requirement. Contact your advisor for details.

Minimum Units for Completion 18
Additional Admission Requirements Required
Some online/blended coursework Required


Additional Admission Requirements
  • Admission requirements over and above admission to NAU are required.
    • NAU Graduate Online application is required for all programs. Details on admission requirements are included in the online application.
    • Undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution
    • Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.00 (scale is 4.00 = "A"), or the equivalent. 
    • Admission to many graduate programs is on a competitive basis, and programs may have higher standards than those established by the Graduate College.
    • Transcripts
    • For details on graduate admission policies, please visit the Graduate Admissions Policy
    • International applicants have additional admission requirements. Please see the International Graduate Admissions Policy 

    Individual program admission requirements include:

    • Responses to specific essay questions
Certificate Requirements
  • Select One Option:
  • This certificate may be pursued and completed concurrently with a degree program or as a stand-alone certificate.  Under both circumstances, federal financial aid can be used for this certificate.

  • Be aware that some courses may have prerequisites that you must also take. For prerequisite information click on the course or see your advisor.

Campus Availability

Go to mobile site