Positive Behavior Support, Graduate Certificate

Department of Educational Specialties

College of Education

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.

    • Graduate certificate programs require a minimum of 12 credit hours. Many graduate certificate programs require more than 12 credit hours.
    • No more than one 400-level NAU course (3 - 4 units) may be used on a graduate certificate program.
    • No more than twenty-five percent 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)

  • Fieldwork is required for some emphasis areas.

Students 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
Fieldwork Experience/Internship Required

Purpose Statement

Positive Behavior Support (PBS) is an approach to improving human behavior by making challenging behavior unnecessary and preferred behavior easy and effective. PBS emphasizes improving the quality of life for individuals with challenging behavior, and replacing challenging behavior with socially acceptable alternative behavior. Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is the science behind the approach, and PBS employs research-validated behavioral practices of teaching and reinforcing behavior for individual children and adults as well as for groups of people. Attention is focused on understanding the conditions in the environment that contribute to challenging behavior, and modifying those conditions to strengthen desirable behavior. The graduate certificate in PBS combines the knowledge and skills of ABA with the attitude and research of PBS. The courses in the PBS Certificate are an “Approved Course Sequence” (ACS) of the Behavior Analyst Certification Board®, and earning the certificate enables students to fulfill one of the requirements to become Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBA). Our graduates help parents, teachers, and others who support people with disabilities and challenging behavior, develop interventions that enhance the quality of life for everyone involved, and facilitate meaningful differences in self-determination and daily functioning.

Student Learning Outcomes
Graduates of the PBS certificate program will demonstrate the ability to:

  1. Explain the effect of various quality of life factors on the development and maintenance of challenging behavior (including disabling conditions, family and cultural factors);
  2. Demonstrate a functional understanding of the “Rules of Behavior” (i.e., operant and respondent conditioning) and how those rules contribute to the development and maintenance of challenging behavior;
  3. Prioritize meaningful goals for behavioral reduction and skill increase in collaboration with the focal individual and members of his/her system of support;
  4. Develop systems for collecting and analyzing data to determine functional relations between the individual's behavior (including verbal behavior) and surrounding environmental events across settings and activities;
  5. Utilize the principles and applications of applied behavior analysis (e.g., discrimination training, shaping, chaining, fading, differential reinforcement, self-management, planned generalization) for making problem behavior irrelevant, inefficient, and ineffective, while increasing the individual's ability to accomplish goals in socially acceptable ways;
  6. Conduct risk-benefit analyses in practical applications of learning and behavior change that are culturally responsive and sensitive to environmental features;
  7. Design behavior monitoring systems to track changes in behavior/skills over time and summarize the results of those observations in visual (graphic) format to facilitate understanding and data-based decision making among all team members;
  8. Develop systems for ensuring that interventions are implemented with fidelity, and provide the leadership necessary to creatively resolve barriers to implementation;
  9. Describe a problem-solving process in which ethical dilemmas can be identified and resolved using the BACB Professional and Ethical Compliance Code for Behavior Analysts (2014);
  10. Monitor and evaluate emerging research-based practices in applied behavior analysis and PBS, and apply these practices in service delivery for the purpose of improving the quality of life of individuals with challenge behaviors and those who care about them. 

Additional Admission Requirements
  • Individual program admission requirements over and above admission to NAU are required.

  • The NAU graduate online application is required for all programs. Admission to many graduate programs is on a competitive basis, and programs may have higher standards than those established by the Graduate College.

    Admission requirements include the following:

    • Transcripts.
    • Undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution with a 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale ("A" = 4.0), or the equivalent.

    Visit the NAU Graduate Admissions website for additional information about graduate school application deadlines, eligibility for study, and admissions policies.

    Ready to apply? Begin your application now.

    International applicants have additional admission requirements. Please see the International Graduate Admissions Policy.

    • 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 successfully complete. For prerequisite information, click on the course or see your advisor.