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Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology & Special Education

Master of Arts in Applied Behavior Analysis

Fieldwork Experience

A Brief Description of the Concentrated Fieldwork Experience

Background. The Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) offers two ways for students to satisfy their fieldwork requirements: a) supervised fieldwork experience (2,000 hours), or b) concentrated supervised fieldwork experience (1,500 hours).

The MA in ABA Program at Michigan State University (MSU)is designed to support the concentrated fieldwork experience.

About the Concentrated Supervised Fieldwork Experience. In addition to completing 1,500 of concentrated supervised fieldwork, the following are also required of the student1

  • The student must obtain no less than 20 hours of experience per supervisory period2, and no more than 130 hour sof experience per supervisory period
  • The student must have a minimum of 6 supervisor-trainee contacts per supervisory period(contacts must be at least 15 minutes)-The student must be observed with a client, by their supervisor, at least once per supervisory period3
  • At least 10% of the student’s hours for the supervisory period should be supervised hours (calculated by dividing the supervised hours by total fieldwork hours for the supervisory period)
  • At least 50% of the student’s supervised hours must be individual supervised hours (i.e., group supervision may not exceed 50%)
  • At least 60% of the student’s supervised fieldwork must be spent engaged in unrestricted activities

Unrestricted vs. Restricted Activities. The BACB defines unrestricted activities as those that are most likely to be performed by a BCBA. Whereas restricted activities are things you may do to provide directservices to a client (e.g., deliver discrete trial instruction), unrestricted activities include, but are not limited to data collection, staff training, and data analysis.

Practicum Courses. To satisfy the requirements of the concentrated fieldwork experience, students will enroll in a practicum courses throughout their program of study. The practicum courses will facilitate growth in competence in BCBA-related activities. The courses will also ensure the student’s compliance with BACB requirements for the concentrated fieldwork experience.

The First Year Experience. During the first year experience, students spend a majority of their time engaging in restricted hours, which resembles direct-contact with a client or clients.

The Second Year Experience. During the second year experience, students spend a majority of time engaging in unrestricted hours. The transition from restricted to unrestricted hours comes as the student spends less time working with clients and more time coordinating treatment and planning. The practicum course will require that students obtain 20 hours per week of fieldwork experience at an approved practicum site (a majority of which will be unrestricted hours). Five of the 20 hours per week may be put towards on-site activities involving the student’s research thesis. Any practicum course meetings will be in addition to the required 20 hours per week.


1 It is your responsibility to check BACB.com for updated requirements, as the information provided on that Web site is considered the authoritative and final word on requirements for fieldwork supervision.

2 The BACB defines a supervisory period as 1 calendar month.

3 However, students enrolled in this program must be observed at least 4 times a supervisory period, with a client, to meet present fieldwork requirements.