The Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) recently released the 5th Edition of its BCBA/BCaBA Task List. With this new Task List come substantial changes to the course work requirement, including the addition of 3 credits, which will increase the total credits required from 18 to 21. Substantial changes to the fieldwork requirement will also go into effect at the same time, including 500 more hours added to the fieldwork requirement.

The new 5th Edition Task List and the corresponding changes to the required course work and fieldwork will go into effect in January 2022. Anyone applying to take the board certification exam in January 2022, or after, must qualify based on the 5th Edition course work and fieldwork requirements.

Penn State will continue to run the current 18-credit 4th Edition Verified Course Sequence through summer 2019. We will then begin running the new 5th Edition course work in fall 2019.

Applicants who want to become a BCBA under the 4th Edition requirements should start Penn State's ABA course work no later than fall 2018 and should be aware that most required courses will be offered to them only once. SPLED 503A, 503B, 503C, and 503D will not run after the 2018–19 academic year. However, SPLED 811 (the Ethics course) will continue to run regularly and will not change from the 4th Edition to the 5th Edition. It is the only 4th Edition course that you will be able to take after summer 2019. Below you will find a list of our current 4th Edition courses and the remaining semesters they will be offered:

Remaining Schedule for 4th Edition Courses
Course Number Course Title Remaining Offerings
SPLED 503A Applied Behavior Analysis for Special Education: Basic Principles I Fall 2018
SPLED 503B Applied Behavior Analysis for Special Education: Basic Principles II Spring 2019
SPLED 503C Applied Behavior Analysis for Special Education: Extended Applications I Summer 2019
SPLED 503D Applied Behavior Analysis for Special Education: Extended Applications II Summer 2019
SPLED 811 Ethical Considerations for Special Education Populations This course will not change from 4th to 5th Edition, so it will continue to run regularly even after 2019.

General Guidelines for Deciding between the 4th Edition and 5th Edition BCBA Course Work

The 4th Edition course work is right for you if—

  1. You can commit to taking the following courses at the following times:
    • SPLED 503A in fall 2018
    • SPLED 503B in spring 2019
    • SPLED 503C in summer 2019
    • SPLED 503D in summer 2019 (this is the in-person, must-travel course)
  2. You can commit to completing your master's degree, your supervised fieldwork, and sitting for the BCBA certification exam NO LATER THAN November 2021. This is the last examination date that the 4th Edition requirements will be valid.

If you cannot commit to the above parameters, then waiting to take the 5th Edition course work is right for you.

Students who take Penn State's 4th Edition course work but do not sit for the BCBA certification exam by the end of 2021 will need to upgrade their course work (as well as their fieldwork) to meet the 5th Edition requirements that go into effect in January 2022. This may include completing a majority of the new course sequence, if not the entire new course sequence.