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Autism Spectrum Disorders Concentration

Master of Arts

This concentration will prepare you to serve students in birth to age 21 settings who have been identified with autism spectrum disorders.


Mostly Online

You'll complete over 80% of your coursework online.

Location: Online

Start Dates: Spring 2018


Mostly Online

Courses will be a mix of online and face to face sessions. You'll complete 30-80% of your coursework online.

Location: Anderson Center, and St. Paul

Start Dates: Summer 2017, Fall 2017, and Spring 2018

Total Credits


Approximate Program Length

24 months (plus thesis)


  • Educational Research (EDUC614)

    Focus is on understanding and reporting educational and psychological research. Students will conduct online computer searches, appraise the quality of professional literature, cite research using APA style, and understand the options of writing a master's thesis or conducting an action research project.

    1 credits

  • Preparing the Thesis/Action Research Project (EDUC755)

    Assists students in preparing their master's thesis or conducting an action research project. Focus is on the design process and includes the following topics: information on the nature and scope of the master's thesis/action research project; selection and refinement of topic; APA style; and the oral examination process.

    1 credits

  • Writing the Thesis/Action Research Project (EDUC790)

    Exploration of a significant educational issue relevant to the student's professional involvement through an independent, individually supervised thesis or project.

    3 credits

  • Characteristics of ASD (SPED601)

    Examination of the spectrum of autism. Information will be accessed regarding theories, research, medical, and legal requirements of autism. Personal viewpoints and ethics from a biblical perspective will be examined regarding educational approaches to autism. Introduction to educational criteria, identification and assessment, teaching strategies, and family issues. Introduction to behavior management: behavior management philosophy, practical strategies, and skills related to children identified with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

    3 credits

  • Introduction to Special Education (SPED605)

    Special education historical and legal issues. Basic characteristics of mild-moderate disabilities. State and federal laws, due process, data privacy requirements, exclusionary rules. Special education historical and philosophical background. Attitudes toward the exceptional child. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Significant litigation related to special education. Preview into the child with LD, EBD, OHD, DCD, or ASD.

    1 credits

  • Introduction to Academic Instruction and Behavior Management for the Exceptional Learner (SPED608)

    This course will prepare special education teachers for their unique role as academic instructors and skillful classroom managers. Students will become familiar with a wide range of evidence-based teaching and behavior management methods that include approaches for one to one, small group and class-wide delivery. An emphasis on universal design as it relates to the needs of both typically developing and exceptional learners will accompany a foundational introduction to Behavioral management through antecedent-based intervention and environmental arrangement.

    2 credits

  • Norm-Referenced Assessment (SPED610)

    Introduction to special education teacher role in assessment processes. Norm-referenced, standardized assessment as part of identification and instructional planning process for students with emotional/behavioral disorders, learning disabilities, other health disabilities, autism spectrum disorder, or developmental cognitive disabilities. Issues of test quality (reliability, validity, standardization), scoring, and interpretation. Survey of instruments commonly used in assessment.

    3 credits

  • Evaluation, Communication and Intervention Strategies in ASD (SPED611)

    Examination of ASD assessment procedures to identify needs and develop intervention plans; review current tools and strategies used to understand communication, language and social skills including in-depth descriptions of research-based interventions and video examples; discuss ethical and moral issues from a biblical perspective.

    3 credits

  • Planning, Instruction & Consultation for ASD (SPED612)

    This course will examine educational planning, collaboration and how that impacts instruction for students with mild, moderate, and severe Autism Spectrum Disorders from birth to grade 12. Focus will revolve around planning appropriate educational plans based on evidence of disability. Create and modify lessons and units to meet and address the needs of students with mild, moderate, and severe Autism Spectrum Disorders. Examine collaboration methods that prove successful in the educational programming and success of students with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

    3 credits

  • Foundations of Instructional Strategies for Students with Mild-Moderate Disabilities (SPED618)

    Course provides teacher-students a framework for designing, implementing, and evaluating instructional methods to teach exceptional students writing, mathematics, social skills, organizational skills and transition skills. Examine and apply evidence-based instruction while making instructional modifications and accommodations to address the needs of students with a range of disabilities and needs.

    3 credits

  • Reading Foundations (SPED620)

    Identification of relationships among reading, writing, and oral language, comprehension processes, and instructional strategies. Description of the structure of the English language and word identification strategies, and the role of vocabulary knowledge in language. Analysis of different texts for K-12 classrooms. Assessment strategies for reading and writing needs.

    3 credits

  • Reading Field Experience (SPED621)

    Supervised reading instruction in a K-12 setting. Assessment and analysis of reading ability. Creation of lessons and application of reading instruction skills/strategies. Designing of an environment that fosters reading. Identification of how personal faith connects with the professional responsibilities of a teacher. 30 hours over 12 weeks.

    1 credits

  • Special Education: Planning and Programming (SPED625)

    Special education delivery systems. Using assessment data to write academic and behavioral goals and objectives for incorporation into an individual education plan (IEP). Evaluation of available service delivery options to choose the most appropriate setting to meet students need. Effective multidisciplinary team processes with consideration of influence of diversity and language on eligibility, placement decisions, and programming.

    3 credits

  • Classroom-Based Assessment (SPED655)

    Focus is primarily on non-standardized assessment techniques including curriculum-based assessment/measurement; observations; functional behavioral assessment; learning styles/multiple intelligences; and ecological, authentic, and portfolio assessments. Review of behavior rating scales and various assessment data in evaluation reports. Students practice techniques in actual classrooms.

    3 credits

  • Special Education Assessment Field Experience (SPED670)

    Eighteen-week, 35 hour clinical field experience designed for students to demonstrate understanding and competent application of assessment. Students identify specific educational needs and judge eligibility for special education or response to intervention (RTI) process while using both formal, norm-referenced assessment as well as informal, classroom-based assessment.

    1 credits

  • Autism Field Experience (SPED671)

    A 35-hour field experience in which learners will complete required ASD competencies within settings targeting students ages Birth-21, including a variety of educational settings, covering mild-severe ranges of Autism. Evidence illustrating completion of competencies will be contained in a comprehensive portfolio that includes evaluations, IEP goals and objectives, behavior plans, communication strategies, classroom strategies and consultation reports.

    1 credits

  • Consultation, Collaboration & Resources (SPED675)

    Focus is on the communication skills necessary to consult and collaborate effectively with parents, administrators, teachers, paraprofessionals, and agency personnel about the special needs of students. Students will become acquainted with outside agencies, as well as transition needs and services. Clarifying personal beliefs and adjusting to diverse student needs within their student teaching environments are critical elements of this course.

    2 credits

  • Select one from:

    • ASD: Student Teaching (SPED781)

      Complete required competencies within an educational setting for students with ASD for 12 weeks. IEP goals and objectives, assessments, behavior plans, communication strategies, and classroom strategies will be completed and included in a portfolio.

      4 credits

    • ASD: Practicum (SPED787)

      Complete required competencies within an educational setting for students with ASD. IEP goals and objectives, assessments, behavior plans, communication strategies, and classroom strategies will be completed and included in a portfolio.

      3 credits

Credits listed are for the current catalog. The MN Board of Teaching may implement new requirements that may require credit changes.

Premier Paraprofessional Partnership with Anoka-Hennepin

We partner with the Anoka-Hennepin School District to offer you opportunities to work as a full-time float para in area schools while you earn your master’s in special education. This program is a chance to gain first hand experience, get full-time pay and benefits while you work towards your degree, and make connections that will help you build a successful career.

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