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Master's Degree in Special Education with Endorsement in Autism Spectrum Disorders

Autism is a challenging condition for children and adults who have been diagnosed with it, as well as their families and caregivers. But the outlook for autistic individuals is much better today than it was a generation ago. With advances in early detection and intervention, new behavioral therapies can now improve outcomes in a wide range of developmental areas.

Parents and school districts are increasingly seeking special services for children with autism spectrum disorders. Since the skills and abilities of each individual with autism are unique, a comprehensive graduate level curriculum that results in better concentration and social skills will enable teachers to effectively empower their students, no matter what grade or subject they teach. Saint Joseph’s University’s online Master of Science in Special Education with an Autism Spectrum Disorders Endorsement will prepare you to fill this pressing need – taking your career to a higher and more rewarding level.

The Curriculum

Saint Joseph’s University’s online MS in Special Education with an Autism Spectrum Disorders Endorsement focuses on appropriate assessment and research-based strategies, with emphasis on skill development and behavioral modification for students of all ages who have been diagnosed on the autism spectrum.

The endorsed four-course concentration includes an overview of causality, initial diagnosis and advocacy; augmentative and alternative communication and socialization strategies; evidenced-based practices regarding assessment, interventions, and instructional methodologies; and applied behavior analysis and other behavior management approaches. Additionally, these four courses can be part of a comprehensive special education master’s degree program.

What Can I Do with an Autism Spectrum Disorders Endorsement?

The Autism Spectrum Disorders Endorsement will help you build a thorough base in the foundations, principles, ethics, values and methods of best practices in ASD education. Students focus on specific strategies and techniques to address socialization skills, and gain in-depth knowledge and expertise in behavior management approaches. The endorsement helps graduates learn the most effective ways to work with students, parents, and other teachers to build a supportive education framework for autistic students. Upon completing the advanced program in special education with the Autism Spectrum Disorders Endorsement, you could find yourself in such challenging and rewarding positions as:

  • Special Education Teacher, instructing a classroom of children who have been diagnosed with a range of disabilities.
  • Special Education Specialist, working one-on-one with students who require higher levels of assistance or supervision during the school day.
  • Rehabilitation Counselor, helping children or adults finish their education, land a job, or attain or regain their independence.
  • Educational Diagnostician, assessing a student’s disabilities and recommending the appropriate learning materials to ensure the student achieves academic success.

While the program prepares graduates to work with children and adults of all ages, your state’s teacher certification rules will still determine which age groups you will work with.

Why Get the Endorsement?

The Autism Spectrum Disorders Endorsement opens the doors of opportunity and gives you a competitive advantage over other teachers. This advantage strongly aligns with the needs of today’s education market across all geographic regions.

Schools continue to identify a growing number of students who are diagnosed on the autism spectrum. In many cases, teachers are heavily involved in the evaluation and assessment process. Upon diagnosis, intervention with proven research-based strategies becomes critical. This means there is a growing demand for qualified teachers who can meet the unique needs of autistic children. A report from the United States Department of Education indicates that almost every state and U.S. territory has reported a shortage of special education teachers for the 2015-2016 school year.3 The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports many individual school districts are having trouble finding an adequate number of certified special education teachers – and even more so those who specialize specifically in autism.

Not all special education programs offer a recognized endorsement in this area. In fact, Saint Joseph’s University is one of a select few that has received this distinct designation from the Pennsylvania Department of Education. It empowers you to have a transformative impact on students with autism while attracting employer interest to help you advance your career.

1 Source: Autism Spectrum Disorders’ Endorsement granted by the Pennsylvania Department of Education
2 Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Career Guide to Industries, 2014-15 Edition
3 Source:

Click on the image for an interactive infographic on teaching students with special needs in your state.

Special Education infographic

Outlook for Careers in Special Education Focusing on Autism

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of children with autism in the United States continues to rise. The latest data estimates that 1 in 68 American children have some form of autism spectrum disorder.* That’s a 78% increase compared to a decade ago. As a result, employment of preschool, kindergarten, and elementary school special education teachers is also increasing. Forecasts predict a 21% growth from 2010 to 2020 (20% for middle school Special Ed teachers and 7% for high school Special Ed teachers.)** A large number of teacher openings will also result from the need to replace special education teachers who change careers or retire.

* Source:
** Source:

How to Get Started with the Autism Spectrum Disorder Concentration

Start advancing your career today with an online Master of Science in Special Education with a concentration in Autism Spectrum Disorder from Saint Joseph’s University. Call (866) 758-7670 or request more information.

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