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This article describes the masters in autism spectrum disorder degree program, some of the subject matters and courses it delves into, and why completing this degree could be a great way to advance your career. It also highlights one online masters in autism program that you may want to consider.
What Is a Masters in Autism?
There are a number of graduate degrees that focus specifically on the autism spectrum. These degrees prepare students to psychologically, socially, medically, or educationally help people with an autism diagnosis. It is common for graduates to become employed in education, helping those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) obtain the best possible academic attainment. For some positions, certification is necessary, such as that of the Behavioral Analyst Certification Board, or they may require a teaching license. Non-licensed individuals may find work in educational consulting, or non-licensed therapy.
Generally, it takes two years to complete such a program, often including a student-teaching experience. While all schools can set their own admission requirements, a bachelor’s degree in a field, such as special education, education, or psychology is usually required. Sometimes, professional experience is also required.
Graduates of a masters in autism are able to provide education and teaching experiences, as well as intervention services to those with ASD. Students learn about behaviors, learning disabilities, and the characteristics of autism. Furthermore, they learn how to handle the special needs of those with autism, while developing and implementing appropriate academic interventions as well. The curriculum usually includes courses such as:
- Socialization and Communication Strategies and Concepts
- Characteristics and Theory of ASD
- Reading and Mathematics for Special Needs Students
- Educational Assessment Methods and Intervention
- Behavioral Management in the Classroom
Others complete a masters in autism with a focus on applied behavior analysis, which is a branch of psychology. This option will teach students about the functions and concepts of applied behavioral analysis, as well as how to ensure that services are designed for individuals with autism from childhood to adulthood. These programs prepare the students for BCBA certification. Here, the curriculum is somewhat different and includes courses in:
- Introduction to Applied Behavioral Analysis
- Professionalism and Ethics in Applied Behavioral Analysis
- Scientific Research Methods and Writing
- Social Skills and Language in ASD
- Intervention Assessment for Autism
Why Earn a Masters in Autism?
By completing a masters in autism, you may become certified as a teacher. Licensure requirements are different depending on the state in which you work. All states, however, require licensure for special education teachers. Others can choose to become BCBA certified. This requires the completion of a certain number of credit hours, as well as a supervised working experience and passing the BCBA certification exam. A masters in autism, whether it focuses on teaching or on applied behavioral analysis, enables graduates to help those with autism achieve the highest possible quality of life.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has reported that special education teachers had a median salary of $57,910 per year as of May 2016. However, this is at the bachelor’s degree level. Those with the advanced skills and knowledge of a master’s degree are more likely to find themselves in the top 10% of earners, who can get $93,090 per year or more. The BLS has also reported that there will be a 6% increase in demand for these professionals from 2014 to 2024, which is as fast as the national average and will translate into some 28,100 new jobs.
Online Option for Masters in Autism
Arizona State University
If you are interested in obtaining a masters in autism, you may want to consider the Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction for Autism Spectrum Disorders, offered by the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University (ASU). This degree, which is available 100% online, equips students with the specialized knowledge and skills to work compassionately and effectively with people with autism, from childhood to adulthood. A total of 30 credit hours are required for completion of the degree.
ASU has developed the degree program in response to the rise in number of people diagnosed with autism. This has led to a greater public demand for those who have professional awareness of the needs and issues faced by those with ASD, as well as their families and the various service providers. Graduates of such programs are respected for their advanced skills in being able to provide professional services for these individuals, while also being compassionate and caring. Graduates work with family members, behavior analysts, speech pathologists, psychologists, interventionists, educators, and more.
The degree includes a practicum experience, which ASU designed to be in line with the personal abilities and interests of the students. The complete the degree, students must present a portfolio that demonstrates synthesis and analysis of the material they learned as part of their degree. Furthermore, they must demonstrate that they have competency in at least six of the autism standards as set by the Council for Exceptional Children.
It should be noted, however, that the degree does not prepare students to become BCBA-certified. Those who are interested in that particular certification are encouraged to complete the Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction for Applied Behavior Analysis, which ASU also offers. Alternatively, students can complete the graduate certificate in applied behavior analysis, which the school also offers.
ASU is this country’s fastest rising top-tier college, and it has won numerous awards. Statistics that show the excellence of the school and its programs include:
- Being ranked 14th best education program in the country by the U.S. News and World Report in 2017
- That undergraduate students from Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College have a 92.5% employability rate after graduation.
- That the 2018 U.S. News and World Report has ranked the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College as 11th best graduate college of education, public and private. They have also ranked it 4th best college among public universities.
To complete the degree, students must take part in three credit hours as part of the required core. They also have to complete 18 credit hours in their concentration, as well as three credit hours in elective courses. Three other credit hours are dedicated to the practicum experience. The final three credit hours are dedicated to the capstone project.
Graduates from this particular degree have many different career opportunities available to them. These include:
- Adapted physical education specialist
- Speech and language pathologist
- Special education teacher
Those who complete the BCBA credential can take on positions such as:
- Education and training consultant
- Applied behavioral analysis therapist
- Clinical service director
As you can see, completing a masters in autism opens up a wealth of career doors for you in a variety of different areas. You can choose to complete teaching licensure or BCBA certification to further advance your career. Finally, you can take a great deal of personal satisfaction in the fact that you will be able to make a meaningful difference in the lives of those with ASD.
- Special Education Teachers. (2015, Dec. 17). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/special-education-teachers.htm
- Online Master of Education in Curriculum & Instruction (Autism Spectrum Disorders). (n.d.). Retrieved from https://asuonline.asu.edu/online-degree-programs/graduate/master-education-curriculum-and-instruction-autism-spectrum-disorders
- Behavioral Analyst Certification Board (BACB). (n.d.). Retrieved from https://bacb.com/
- CEC Professional Standards. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.cec.sped.org/Standards