Can You Take the BCBA Exam Without a Degree?

The journey to becoming a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) is both rigorous and rewarding. One of the most common questions aspiring behavior analysts ask is whether they can take the BCBA exam without holding a degree. In this blog post, we’ll explore the requirements for the BCBA exam and clarify whether a degree is necessary.

Understanding the BCBA Exam Requirements

The BCBA credential is governed by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB), which sets strict requirements for candidates wishing to sit for the exam. Let’s break down these requirements:

1. Educational Requirements

To be eligible for the BCBA exam, you must hold a minimum of a master’s degree in behavior analysis, education, or psychology. This degree must be obtained from an accredited institution. Here are some specifics:

  • Master’s Degree: The degree must be in behavior analysis or a related field (education or psychology).
  • Accredited Program: The degree must be from an institution that meets the BACB’s accreditation standards.

2. Coursework Requirements

In addition to having a degree, you must complete specific coursework in behavior analysis. The BACB outlines the coursework requirements, which typically include:

  • Behavioral Assessment
  • Experimental Design
  • Behavior-Change Procedures
  • Ethics for Behavior Analysts

This coursework can be completed as part of your degree program or through additional approved courses.

3. Supervised Experience

Another critical requirement is supervised experience. Candidates must complete a certain number of hours of supervised fieldwork, which provides practical, hands-on training under the guidance of a qualified supervisor.

  • Supervised Fieldwork: This includes different types of fieldwork such as practicum or intensive practicum, with varying hour requirements.

4. Exam Application and Fees

Once you have met the educational, coursework, and supervised experience requirements, you can apply to take the BCBA exam. This involves submitting an application and paying the associated fees.

Can You Take the BCBA Exam Without a Degree?

The short answer is no. The BACB requires candidates to hold at least a master’s degree in behavior analysis, education, or psychology. Without meeting this educational requirement, you cannot sit for the BCBA exam.

Why Is a Degree Necessary?

The degree requirement ensures that candidates have a comprehensive understanding of the theoretical and practical aspects of behavior analysis. A structured degree program provides foundational knowledge, critical thinking skills, and exposure to evidence-based practices that are essential for effective practice as a BCBA.

Alternative Paths

If you do not currently hold a degree in a relevant field, consider these alternative paths to becoming eligible for the BCBA exam:

  1. Pursue a Master’s Degree: Enroll in an accredited master’s program in behavior analysis, education, or psychology.
  2. Complete Required Coursework: Ensure your degree program includes the necessary coursework or take additional approved courses.
  3. Gain Supervised Experience: Engage in supervised fieldwork to gain practical experience and meet BACB requirements.


In conclusion, you cannot take the BCBA exam without a degree. The BACB’s stringent requirements, including the need for a master’s degree in a relevant field, coursework in behavior analysis, and supervised experience, are designed to ensure that candidates are well-prepared to practice as behavior analysts.

If you are passionate about becoming a BCBA, focus on obtaining the necessary education and experience. The journey may be challenging, but it is a worthwhile investment in your professional future and the lives of those you will help through behavior analysis.

Stay dedicated, and you’ll be on your way to achieving your goal of becoming a Board Certified Behavior Analyst!

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