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Master's in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

The online Master of Science in Education (M.S.E.) in Special Education and an emphasis in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) from the University of Kansas addresses the complex professional demands of educating students with ASD. This program is designed for current educators and related service professionals who need the skills and expertise to create successful learning environments. Students will advance their understanding of how to teach children with ASD, including those who require intensive and highly individualized education as well as those who need less intensive supports and services.

Program Benefits
  • Earn a respected master’s degree from the No. 1 ranked Department of Special Education in the country (among public universities)1
  • Top 10 Best Education School (among public universities)2
  • Top 30 Best Online Education Graduate Program3
  • Graduate in as few as 2 years
  • Experience the flexibility of online learning to accommodate a busy working professional
  • Gain real-world experience through an extensive field-based practicum during your program
  • Apply with no GRE requirement for admission
Program Structure
  • 36 credits or 13 courses, 8 weeks per course, including a field-based practicum
  • As few as 2 years to completion
Admissions Requirements

Our Admissions Advisors are here to help answer your questions regarding admissions requirements and licensure. If you have questions, please email us at, or call us at 855-639-7799.

To be considered for admission, prospective students must have completed a bachelor’s degree with a GPA of 3.0 or higher (on a 4.0 scale). Applicants with an undergraduate GPA below 3.0 should contact an Admissions Advisor for more information.

To apply to the online M.S.E. in Special Education with an emphasis in ASD, we recommend you first review our admissions guide and then complete the online application form.

International Students: International applicants must meet English language proficiency requirements. These requirements are located here.

What You Will Learn

At the University of Kansas, you’ll learn from a university with more than 30 years of experience providing educators with the tools needed to teach children with ASD. As a student in this graduate program, you can expect to:

  • Expand your knowledge of applied behavior analysis and evidence-based practices for learners with ASD
  • Apply interventions and supports gleaned from coursework in ways that directly improve your teaching and benefit your students
  • Acquire a sophisticated skillset via course work that systematically builds on previously learned material
  • Develop an e-portfolio that can be used both to demonstrate your expertise and serve as a professional resource during your career as a special educator
  • Complete an innovative e-practicum experience that allows you to observe your own teaching with feedback from experts in ASD

The M.S.E. in Special Education with an emphasis in ASD focuses on:

  • Characteristics of ASD and assessments for program development
  • Social, language and communication development and intervention
  • Applied behavior analysis, functional behavior assessment and positive behavior supports
  • Curricular considerations, components and instructional strategies

In the Master’s in Autism Spectrum Disorder program, students will acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to effectively educate children with ASD. Professionals interested in serving students with ASD will find this program beneficial for developing an understanding of ASD in educational and therapeutic contexts.

Students will learn from expert scholars with backgrounds in special education and behavioral science to bridge the gap between research and practice and support better outcomes for students and families affected by ASD. Throughout the program, students will learn about and apply evidence-based interventions in a variety of educational settings. Using repeated practice and analysis, this program helps students to become more fluent in various procedures that are characteristic of compassionate and effective instructional environments.

Topics relating to motivation and teachable moments, simple and efficient progress-monitoring tactics, causes of desired and undesired behavior, legal and ethical issues, and others will prepare students for a semester-long field experience. The field experience is designed to support your integration of the acquired knowledge and skills to develop effective programming for learners with ASD. To learn more about the topics covered in the M.S.E. in Autism Spectrum Disorder program, please view the curriculum.

View Course Descriptions

Program Tracks

Suggested Practicum Electives

Students will complete three elective courses from a single elective track for their program of study. There are three tracks to choose from: the Behavior track, the Leadership track and the Secondary/Transition track.

The Behavior track is appropriate for graduate students who are interested in developing an in-depth understanding of behavior, applied behavior analysis, positive behavior support and how to support appropriate behavior in learners with ASD. The Behavior track includes several course options:

  • SPED 743: Functional Behavior Assessment, Positive Behavior Support, and Classroom Management
  • SPED 843: Advanced Methods and Assessment: Strategies for Students with Social and Emotional Needs
  • One more elective course to be determined in consultation with the Academic Advisor

The Leadership track is appropriate for graduate students who are currently serving or aspiring toward a leadership position in a school or district (e.g., special education coordinator, director of special education, principal, superintendent, etc.). This track provides students with an understanding of and the skills to address the complex issues surrounding educating students with learning, social and emotional needs, including those identified with disabilities. Students in the Leadership track will select the following three courses:

  • SPED 756: Special Education Leadership
  • SPED 758: Appropriate Education and Least Restrictive Environment
  • SPED 759: Non-Discriminatory Evaluation, Parent Participation and Procedural Due Process

The Secondary/Transition track helps educators prepare secondary special education students and young adults with disabilities who are making the transition to adult life. The transition courses will provide you with instructional teaching strategies and the latest applied research to ensure success for students in secondary education transitioning to life outside of school. Students in this track will elect the following three courses:

  • SPED 856: Transition Education and Services from Childhood to Adulthood
  • SPED 858: Assessment for Transition Planning
  • SPED 861: Blending Academics and Transition

Courses in this program are taught by a mix of full-time and tenure-tracked University of Kansas faculty who have expertise in special education for learners with ASD. Each instructor is committed to ensuring a robust graduate school experience necessary for the provision of an effective, specialized education for learners with ASD.

The ASD program faculty research a range of issues in evidence-based practices for learners with ASD in PK-12 schools. Other research areas include social skills interventions, technology supports and behavior interventions. As a student in this program, you’ll learn from experts who have a variety of classroom teaching experiences and who remain committed to supporting children and families affected by ASD, their communities and society.

After Graduation

This degree program provides students with real-world experience in classroom settings and other service delivery models teaching children with (and without) disabilities. Based on evidence that repeated practice is necessary for mastery and fluency of almost every skill, students are expected to apply the knowledge and skills acquired from their first to final course in the program.

Students who earn their M.S.E. in Special Education with an emphasis in ASD are typically interested in pursuing positions like:

  • Special education teachers in classrooms specially designed for students with ASD
  • Inclusive special education teachers who serve students with ASD
  • District autism specialists
  • Board Certified Behavior Analysts® and district behavior specialists
  • Occupational therapists
  • Speech language pathologists and therapists
  • Psychologists or other health services professionals

Please note: The Master’s in Special Education with an emphasis in Autism Spectrum Disorder does not lead to a teacher license or endorsement in the State of Kansas.

No program can guarantee licensure. It is each student’s responsibility to determine the licensure requirements in his or her state and to apply for the licenses or endorsements necessary to his or her career goals. Our department staff and Licensure Officer can provide individual support during the application process to help you understand your state’s requirements.

Important Dates

Application Deadline

April 26
Summer 2019 Term

Next Start

May 13
Summer 2019 Term

Application Deadline

August 9
Fall 2019 Term


School of Education Webinar

February 28 Register Now

  1. Retrieved on October 16, 2017, from
  2. Retrieved on October 16, 2017, from
  3. Retrieved on January 9, 2018, from