Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.

Tiered Model of Education FAQ


When can my program apply for recognition in ABAI's Tiered Model?

Programs may apply for recognition via the Tiered Model of Education now if they believe they meet the standards - though the first step begins with an eligibility request (see the "apply" page for instructions). Seeking recognition is voluntary, as it is with accreditation and VCS status. We hope programs find value in improving upon their current operations and see the model as a road map for obtaining the highest level of recognition in the training of behavior analysts at the local, regional, and global levels.


What will happen to my VCS if the program does not obtain recognition via the Tiered Model?

Currently, nothing. Most programs may maintain their VCS status through December 31, 2025. Effective January 1, 2026, the VCS system will no longer exist, though programs can still offer behavior analytic coursework for students seeking BACB certification via Pathway 2 (through December 31, 2031). It is important to note that the VCS is limited to BACB coursework requirements for Pathway 2 eligibility. VCSs do not require a full review of the program and therefore are not assessed for quality. ABAI encourages all programs, especially those with graduates who will no longer be eligible for BACB certification (e.g., those operating outside of the BACB's authorized countries as of 2023), to look towards full program evaluation and quality review via the Tiered Model to strengthen the local and regional training of behavior analysts.


How does the Tiered Model of Education differ from my current VCS?

The Tiered Model is a comprehensive evaluation of the entire training program whereas the BACB VCS is an administrative review of coursework hours and faculty. In verifying course sequences (VCSs) for BACB coursework eligibility, ABAI reviews only coursework content hours reported in the syllabi and faculty qualifications. In contrast, the Tiered Model provides additional and different standards for the entire program as a comprehensive evaluation. Table 1 demonstrates the main differences between the current BACB VCS and the Tiered Model standards.


Table 1

Summary of Tiered Model and BACB VCS Standards 



How does the Tiered Model of Education differ from Accreditation?

Like accreditation, the Tiered Model is a comprehensive evaluation of your entire program, beyond coursework and faculty, and follows the same set of standards as accreditation. The accreditation status is only granted to the degree programs with experiential learning that have undergone the rigorous self-study application, site visit review, and decision from the Accreditation Board. Tiers 2a through 4b are designed to approximate accreditation, granting a recognition status for programs. The Tiered Model also permits the recognition of different types of programs (degree and non-degree) and those offered outside of higher education institutions (outside of the United States). Similar to accreditation, the Tiered Model programs might be used for certain regions to begin establishing professional practice requirements.


Does my program have to apply as a specific tier?

During the eligibility request and application process your program will indicate if it is housed in an institution of higher education, whether it awards academic degrees, and whether it requires experiential learning. Based on these features and the fulfillment of standards, the program might only correspond to specific tier.


What if we do not have all the tier requirements and data yet?

ABAI encourages programs to first review the standards and conduct its own self-evaluation of how well it meets the standards, identifying areas to improve and developing short- and long-term goals to meet those areas of improvement. In January 2023, ABAI published Guidance to Transition to the Tiered Model to help programs prepare to move from a VCS to a recognition application. Further, ABAI encourages programs to complete the Tiered Model (online) application in its entirety to allow a comprehensive evaluation, peer review, and opportunity for feedback. The goal of this process is to promote continuous improvement.


What if my program is not an Applied Behavior Analysis program or housed in an ABA department?  

There are no requirements on the degree, program, or department types so long as it encompasses the necessary behavior analytic instruction, faculty requirements, and the overall goals and mission of the program are rooted in behavior analysis and the training of behavior analysts. ABAI’s recognition is not limited to ABA. We are appreciative and understanding of the needs of programs housed in Special Education, School Psychology, Health Sciences, and other related departments. Further, we encourage training programs that emphasize the experimental analysis of behavior and organizational behavior management to apply for recognition as well.


What happens if our application is not approved as a certain tier?

ABAI may provide a deferral and/or temporary recognition with specific steps to address within an appropriate timeframe.


Is a tier "pre-accredited" or "provisional accreditation"?

No. ABAI does not have a “pre-accreditation” status, and the “provisional accreditation” is specific to the ABAI Accreditation Board and its standards and governance. 


What are the fees?

Effective January 1, 2022, programs applying for recognition via Tiers 2a-4b follow the current VCS fee structure. These fees are subject to change. Effective January 1, 2023, all BACB and CBS VCSs and Tiers 2a-4b will follow the new fee structure in Table 2. The accreditation (Tier 1) application and fees remain as indicated on the accreditation website. Every program is required to have its own application and annual fee. ABAI’s (2023) fee structure is organized into four regions based on the country’s income per capita; details of each region are located here. Table 2 summarizes the fees for applications and annual renewals. 


Table 2

Application and Annual Renewal Fees for Tiers 2a-4b (and VCS) 


Note: fees are subject to change. 


Modifed by Eddie Soh