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Online Master's in Autism Spectrum Disorder at KU.

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Online Master's in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD), which affects nearly one in 68 children in the U.S., impacts learning and development in unique ways.1 Currently, the best available interventions and treatments for students with ASD are educational in nature, and many are rooted in applied behavior analysis. This means that educators, families and individual advocates play a key part in supporting these students. Special educators, and those trained in identifying and leveraging evidence-based practices, empower learners with ASD by focusing on such students' strengths and interests, and by designing personalized instruction that teaches them to improve their communication and behavioral skills and make the most of their personal strengths.

Whether you are passionate about educating students in the classroom or in other school and community settings, or you simply want to become a more effective advocate for individuals with ASD, advanced training will give you the knowledge and practical skills to do so. Faculty at the University of Kansas Department of Special Education are leaders in research and educational strategies for students with ASD, and they bring their years of experience and expertise to the online master's in autism spectrum disorder.* With access to cutting-edge information from renowned experts in the field, you can be confident that our online graduate programs will prepare you to positively impact the lives of people with autism spectrum disorder and their families.

Learn from the best, and put theory into practice.

The University of Kansas is a pioneer in autism education and educator training, having prepared educators with graduate programs in ASD for over 30 years—and our faculty are highly regarded experts whose internationally acclaimed research and decades of practical experience translate directly into a relevant and meaningful experience for our graduate students.

The online autism education program is designed for current educators and related service professionals who need the skills and expertise to develop and implement programming for students with ASD. Students will advance their understanding of the characteristics of ASD and how it affects development, formal and informal assessment methods, instructional strategies, and effective teaching practices for both students who require intensive and highly individualized education and those who need less intensive supports and services.

The online master's in autism spectrum disorder is intense and thorough, providing a broad foundation in behavioral analysis and then building on that foundation in one of three track directions. Based on your personal career goals and interests, you will be required to choose from one of the following elective tracks: Behavior (understanding and supporting appropriate behaviors in learners with ASD), Leadership (preparing for a leadership position at a school or district) and Secondary/Transition (helping students transition to adult life).

Program Details


  • 12 courses, 8 weeks per course, 36 credit hours
  • Complete in as few as 2 years
  • Learn from renowned faculty in a department that has set the standard in the research and practice of special education for over 50 years
  • Complete your coursework anytime, anywhere through our innovative online format
  • Gain real-world experience through an extensive field-based practicum during your program
  • No GRE required for admission

View Admissions Requirements

What You'll Learn

All students will complete core coursework that gives them a full understanding of autism spectrum disorder as well as the most effective methods for educating children and youth with ASD. The online master's program includes an intensive field-based practicum as well as a culminating project that demonstrates mastery of program competencies. Upon graduating, students will have fully developed their ability to select, implement, and evaluate evidence-based interventions and support strategies for learners with ASD, and they will be expected to demonstrate best methods for applying behavior interventions and teaching social interaction and communications skills.

Online master's students will choose from one of the following three elective tracks:

Behavior: Learn to conduct functional behavior assessments and design behavior intervention plans to support socially adaptive behavior for students with disabilities. The focus of this track is on understanding behavior function, factors that influence appropriate and inappropriate behavior, and function-based interventions. You will study methods for prevention and intervention in various settings, including examining ethical and legal issues related to these prevention and intervention methods.

Leadership: This track provides an understanding of the issues and trends related to administering special education programming for students with disabilities. You will learn about the history of special education and policy, current policy and practices (and criticisms of both), and develop a deep understanding of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Secondary/Transition: In this track, you will learn to prepare secondary students and young adults with disabilities for the transition to post-secondary education, employment and a fulfilling adult life in their communities.

For more detailed information on the topics covered in this program, view the course listings.

Career Outcomes

Graduates of the online master's in autism spectrum disorder program are prepared to seek many different careers serving students with ASD—for example, they may serve as special educators, autism specialists, or behavior specialists at the local or state level. Outside of education, they may choose to utilize their knowledge by working with Applied Behavior Analysis clinics or pursue work as a therapist in specialty areas, which may include occupational therapists, speech language pathologists or therapists, or art therapists.

*This program is an online Master of Science in Education (M.S.E.) degree in special education with an emphasis in autism spectrum disorder. It does not lead to initial nor advanced licensure in special education in the state of Kansas.

Note: In order to enroll in this program, a bachelor's degree is required. 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

August 9
Fall 2019 Term

Next Start

August 26
Fall 2019 Term


Coming Soon


  1. Retrieved on September 26, 2018, from