First undergraduate behavior analysis major begins at SIU

By Jessica Brown, @BrownJessicaJ

The College of Education and Human Services’ new undergraduate major, behavioral analysis and therapy, will be the first of its kind offered as a bachelor’s program in the country.

The program, administered by the Rehabilitation Institute, will be the third and lowest level of the degree SIU has in addition to the pre-existing master’s and doctorate programs.

“Behavior analysis is all about applying scientific principles to changing behavior of individuals who might have clinical disorders,” said Ruth Anne Rehfeldt, a professor at the Rehabilitation Institute. Examples of these disorders are autism, intellectual disabilities and traumatic brain injury.


Behavior analysts also focus on applying behavioral principles to developing people like children and parents, as well as improving environmental and community problems.

There are four classes in place for the fall semester, including Skeptical Thinking 200, Applied Behavior and Analysis I 312, Ethics in Behavior Analysis 440 and Therapy and Autism/Intellectual Disabilities 445H.

Courses in behavior management and therapy have been offered through the rehabilitation services major in the past. However, Rehfeldt said undergraduate students requested increased specialized training in the subject.

“They wanted more instruction in behavior analysis than [the rehabilitation services major] could give to them,” she said.

Despite the added courses, the new major will not cost the university any money.

“It was constructed in a way that our existing faculty would be able to cover the courses,”  Rehfeldt said.

Having a specific major for behavior analysis will make the transition into higher levels of education a smoother process.


Individuals who complete the major will be well-qualified candidates for entry into behavior analysis master’s programs on a national basis, she said. Because of this, increased enrollment in the College of Education and Human Services is a strong possibility.

“It is [an opportunity] that will likely allow our program to recruit more students who want to have real employment opportunities following graduation,” Carl Flowers, director of the Rehabilitation Institute, said.

Jessica Brown can be added at [email protected]