The autism spectrum disorders (ASD) emphasis area offers an M.A. with an ASD endorsement or an ASD endorsement only.* The program is designed for highly committed and competent teachers in K-12 settings who have the skills, knowledge and dispositions to become professional leaders, expert practitioners and effective collaborators. You will learn research-validated instructional methods and evidence-based practices and you will have opportunities to apply those methods in authentic classroom contexts to become highly skilled practitioners. Throughout the ASD endorsement program, you will engage in clinical projects and practicums that provide opportunities to administer a range of evidence-based assessments and interventions and to reflect on teaching practice with the support, feedback and collaboration of the teaching faculty.
Special Education Online Master's Degree and ASD Endorsement
The master’s degree with an endorsement in autism spectrum disorders (ASD) or ASD endorsement only programs will prepare educators to teach individuals with ASDs in K-12 settings. Students will be trained to implement educational programming that relies on evidence-based practice for students with ASD. Evidence-based practices are educational practices that
- Have empirical support
- Are appropriate for a particular student in a particular situation given the professional judgment of the student support team
- Practices or procedures that can be implemented within the educational setting the student resides
Through a combination of completing the program requirements and successfully passing the Michigan Test for Teacher Certification, students will meet the requirements for a master’s degree in special education with an endorsement in ASD.
Students will learn essential skills for teaching individuals with ASD
Students will be prepared to create classroom and schoolwide environments that reduce the likelihood of challenging behavior and increase the likelihood individuals with autism will learn skills that can lead to future independence. Students will learn to assess a variety of behaviors and to create necessary environmental supports such as visual cues, augmentative and alternative communication, structured teaching sessions, peer involvement in academic and social instruction, quiet environments and predictable routines and schedules. This will allow candidates to teach new skills in deficit areas in order to provide individuals with ASD new opportunities to access potentially rewarding environments and experiences. Students will learn to administer and supervise effective instructional and behavioral practices for individuals with autism including functional assessment, function-based intervention, social skills training, discrete trial instruction and transition strategies.
Application and Admissions Process
There are a variety of program sequences an individual can take to obtain the M.A. degree and ASD endorsement. These sequences depend on a student’s previous education and teaching certification. Students in the ASD endorsement program can also earn a Graduate Certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) with just three additional courses.
A “track” is the specific coursework and sequence of courses you will take depending on your previous academic experience and the teaching certification you have already obtained. Each track has different requirements pertaining to specific courses a student needs to take. The ASD endorsement program at MSU has multiple tracks to meet the needs of a wide group of potential students.
People who complete this track
Number of required credits
Typical Time to complete
Students with a B.A. in education, but not a special education endorsement
Two (2) full years
Students with a B.A. and a special education endorsement granted by another institution
Two (2) full years
Students with a B.A. and a special education endorsement granted by MSU
18 (+12 transferred from internship)
One (1) full year
Students who have an initial special education certification and master’s degree seeking ASD endorsement only
One (1) full year
Optional Graduate Certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis
Students in any ASD program track are eligible to apply for admission into the Graduate Certificate Program in Applied Behavior Analysis. Completion of the Graduate Certificate Program requires three (3) additional courses for students in any of the ASD tracks. The Behavior Analyst Certification Board, Inc.® has approved the course sequence as meeting the coursework requirements for eligibility to take the Board Certified Behavior Analyst Examination®. Applicants will have to meet additional requirements to qualify. Visit the ABA program page for more information.
See the ASD program courses, and learn about the program faculty.
For more informatoin about applying to the program please contact the graduate secretary Missy Davis (firstname.lastname@example.org) or, to learn more about the program, contact our M.A. coordinator Erin Hamilton email@example.com.
CEP 801A: Collaboration and Consultation in Special Education
This course develops the knowledge, skills and professional dispositions related to effective collaborative problem solving. Special educators and general educators interact together in many collaborative activities both inside and outside of school to support students, families and the community. This course explores evidenced-based practices in key collaborative spaces in schools, including (1) IEPs, (2) pre-referral intervention assistance teams (i.e., child study teams, student support teams), (3) Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports, (4) RTI teams, (5) behavioral consultation, (6) working with paraeducators, (7) transition planning, (8) collaborative teaching, (9) serving as an intervention specialist who helps create access to the general education curriculum and (10) home/school/community services. Undergirding the course is a focus on developing and applying key principles of effective collaboration and consultation while developing a critical content expertise about best practices in key collaborative structures.
CEP 803A: Assessment of Students with Mild Disabilities
Assessment serves as a cornerstone of special education, both in terms of eligibility determination and instructional planning. This course focuses on the wide array of assessment methods available for identifying students with disabilities and evaluating their responsiveness to instruction, including norm-referenced tests, criterion-referenced assessment tasks, curriculum-based assessments and measurement and dynamic assessment. We examine assessments designed specifically for evaluating students' literacy skills, mathematics skills, behavior and intelligence. Students conduct an in-depth assessment project in which multiple assessment methods are used to evaluate an at-risk student or student identified with special needs in a particular domain and make recommendations for services and instruction.
CEP 840: Policies, Practices, and Perspectives in Special Education
This course introduces the practice of special education in today's schools, with a focus on the United States. We will analyze characteristics of students with learning and behavior disabilities and the implications of learner differences for the legal and professional responsibilities of classroom teachers. We will survey general principles of instruction that can help improve students' access to the general education curriculum, including collaboration with other professionals, universal design for learning, response to intervention (RTI) and assistive technology. Each of these topics is covered in more depth in later courses. We also address multicultural considerations in the diagnosis and instruction of students with disabilities. The overall goal of the course is to expand your expertise and confidence in providing an inclusive classroom that effectively addresses the needs of the diverse population of students.
CEP 841: Classroom & Behavior Management in the Inclusive Classroom
This course is designed to provide teachers and other practitioners with a foundational knowledge in classroom management, behavioral intervention for mild/moderate behavioral challenges, and knowledge of behavioral technologies to support classroom teaching with diverse students, including those with special needs. Especially salient to this course is the acknowledgement of prevention and intervention strategies conducted at multiple levels, including the macro-level of schools and communities and at the micro-level as teachers negotiate meaning with students on a moment-to-moment basis. Students will directly utilize a series of behavioral assessments in a variety of domains to build a technology of resources for identifying and successfully intervening with problematic behavior. The functional analysis of the etiology of behaviors will allow students to identify crucial factors that motivate, prompt and maintain the behavior. Students will then apply their principles and understanding of behavioral change to develop and implement behavioral, social and academic interventions.
CEP 842: Content Area Instruction for Students with Mild Disabilities
In this course, we will investigate instructional practices that can be used in general education classrooms to improve the learning and academic performance of students with mild learning problems and disabilities. We will focus on instruction in the content-area subjects of science, social studies and mathematics. Our goal is not to examine how to teach these subjects, but, rather how to design and differentiate instruction that is sensitive to individual learning needs and preferences. We also will address Universal Design for Learning, collaborative planning for instruction, secondary and transition services and creating a classroom climate in which all students have the opportunity to participate and succeed.
CEP 843: Autism Spectrum Disorders
Characteristics and Educational Implications. Characteristics of individuals on the Autism Spectrum, including Asperger's Syndrome, Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified, Rett's Syndrome, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder. History of ASD, etiology of ASD and past and present theories of autism. Prevalence, comorbid conditions, research on ASD. Impact of ASD on learning, family systems and learning.
CEP 844: Applied Behavior Analysis I
This course will emphasize the concepts, principles, techniques, strategies,
interventions and research within the fields of Applied Behavior Analysis and
Positive Behavior Support when delivering instruction to students. The primary
objective of this course is to provide participants with the skills necessary to
complete a thorough functional behavior assessment, develop a function-based
behavioral intervention plan and implement the behavior plan with a student
diagnosed with ASD or other disabilities. Participants will learn to implement
antecedent strategies for the prevention of problematic behavior and
interventions designed to decrease problem behavior while increasing acceptable
alternative behaviors. The overarching goal of the course is to prepare course
participants to consider behavioral excesses and deficits within the context of
the environmental stimuli that precede and follow the behavior of interest and
to develop behavioral interventions by systematically changing the relevant
CEP 845: Autism Spectrum Disorders: Assessment and Intervention
This course examines assessment and intervention for students with ASD and related developmental disabilities. Participants will develop an understanding of research-basd theories and practices in providing appropriate educational services and supports to students. This course emphasizes research-based assessment and intervention methods for students with an ASD across all levels of the education system. The course material will emphasize assessment of behavioral and educational deficits as well as intervention or instructional methods to address those deficits. Content will come from a variety of literatures in education with a focus on evidence-based instructional practices for individuals with ASD. The overarching goal of the course is to prepare course participants to be knowledgeable and highly skilled practitioners who understand assessments (formal and informal) and can subsequently recommend, implement and supervise the most appropriate interventions to meet the needs of their students.
CEP 846: Autism Spectrum Disorder: Advanced Topics
This course examines advanced topics in the educational treatment of individuals with ASD. The course will provide participants with an overview of recent research, policy, legislation, and judicial decisions related to educational programming for students with ASD. Participants will learn to analyze research and employ professional judgment to determine the efficacy and appropriateness of treatments for an individual student. Participants will learn strategies for disseminating empirical information regarding educational and other interventions for individuals with ASD to families and service providers. The course material will come from a variety of literatures in education and related fields. The overarching goal of the course is to prepare course participants to be empirically oriented when working with families and student support teams to select, implement and evaluate interventions for students with ASD.
CEP 850: Technology and Literacy for Students with Mild Disabilities
This course will examine the use of technology to meet the needs of students who face challenges reading and comprehending text. We will examine ways in which technology can be used to support students' literacy acquisition and to improve their performance and independence as they read and write. We will consider students with literacy difficulties and students with mild disabilities (such as learning disabilities), and will examine technology applications that can be used in the general education classroom. Participants will examine a variety of technology-based applications online, choose applications that are relevant for the students they teach and create a technology and literacy plan.
CEP 894J: Special Education Practicum: Children and Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders
Supervised practicum with students who are identified as Autism Spectrum Disorders at the elementary or secondary levels.
Forms, Handbook, and Resources for Students
Plan Official Form
Each student and his/her advisor must prepare a program plan
before the student completes 10 semester hours. Degree candidates must obtain
final program approval from their advisor before the semester in which they
enroll for the final course in their program. This will help ensure that the
final degree certification is not delayed due to an outdated program plan on
admitted to the program should plan to meet with their advisor soon after
receiving their acceptance letter to the program. Together,
the M.A. student and advisor will develop a plan for completing the degree based
on student needs, interests and coursework that may be brought into the M.A.
program (such as MSU's 800-level intern courses or, for non-MSU interns,
appropriate credits that have not been applied to a prior degree).
must apply for graduation the first week of the semester he/she expects to
complete the degree requirements.
Student must apply for readmission if not enrolled for one full
Request for Extentsion of Time to Complete Degree Requirements
The time limit policy for completion of a master's degree—set by the Graduate School of Michigan State University—is five (5) years. The five-year window begins with the date of the earliest credits in the degree program; this includes any transfer, LifeLong or graduate certificate credits transferred into the degree program. Students who encounter events that make it difficult to complete the degree within five years can speak to their advisor about applying for a time extension.
Key to being able to use WebEnroll, Angel, MSU Mail and other secure sites at MSU; students need to activate their MSU NetID.
Secure online access to student records at MSU (financial, academic, personal information)
about MSU's main library plus online access to MSU's library catalog, other
e-resources and databases plus online assistance in research and additional
onsite and online services.
The Graduate School
MSU Course & Enrollment Information
MSU Course Descriptions (searchable)
MSU Schedule of Courses
MSU Registrar's Office Calendars