Saint Joseph's University

General Studies Bachelor’s: Autism Studies Concentration

The latest data estimates that 1 in 68 American children have some form of autism spectrum disorder— up from 1 in 150 in 2000.1 As the rate of diagnosis rises, so does the need for autism specialists who understand, support and advocate for this growing population. The Autism Studies concentration of the online BLS in General Studies provides you with the skills to work with individual along the autism spectrum.

The autism studies curriculum consists of eight courses (26 credits) that include an introduction to autism theories, techniques, treatment, and therapies, including three practicum courses that equal the total hours of field experience required. The Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) has approved this eight-course sequence, as it satisfies the coursework and the field experience requirements for taking the Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA) Examination.

What Can I Do With a Degree or Certificate in Autism Studies?

Board Certified Behavior Analysts work with individuals on the autism spectrum in a wide range of settings, from primary schools to mental health facilities. As an autism specialist, you could find yourself teaching children in a special education classroom, or counseling adults who are participating in a behavioral health program. Communication with and support of the families and caregivers of autistic individuals is also a common responsibility in this field.

Behavior analysis is increasingly used for behavior problems associated with a wide variety of issues and causes, including autism spectrum disorders. Applied behavior analysis has been shown to help individuals learn more effectively in the classroom, as well as function more successfully in situations from social to work environments.

Listen to series of podcasts with Autism Studies Program Director Dr. Michelle Rowe for in-depth information about this concentration. Learn about the value it can have as a career and the impact it makes on the lives of those who have autism spectrum disorder.

Autism Practicum Courses

To help you meet the Behavior Analyst Certification Board’s supervised experience requirements, Saint Joseph’s University offers three practicum courses that cover the BCaBA courses’ fieldwork requirement.

These courses allow you to demonstrate behavior analytic skills in applied settings. In order to generalize information and techniques learned in previous courses, you will work with clients with autism at an approved practicum site. Activities will include selecting learning objectives, measurement plan development, instructional plan development, generalization, data collection, fidelity checks, training others, evaluation of results, progress reporting, and discussion of ethical considerations. The course requires you to work the field of autism treatment, complete a site verification, secure practicum contracts, and garner client consent prior to logging hours.

IHS 480 Practicum 1 (8 weeks): 152 hours in the field (19 per week), 18 supervision hours

  • Weekly supervision hours: 1.125 hour online at SJU

IHS 481 Practicum 2 (8 weeks): 152 hours in the field (19 per week), 18 supervision hours

  • Weekly supervision hours: 1.125 hour online at SJU

IHS 482 Practicum 3 (8 weeks): 152 hours in the field (19 per week), 18 supervision hours

  • Weekly supervision hours: 1.125 hour online at SJU

Additional Certification Options

The Autism Studies concentration is also available as a stand-alone certification via two options:

  1. Post-baccalaureate Certificate in Autism Studies: This option includes all eight courses in the concentration, including the BCaBA-approved coursework and fieldwork to prepare you to sit for the BCaBA examination. You must have a bachelor's degree to earn this certification.
  2. Certificate of Proficiency in Autism Studies: This option does not require a bachelor’s degree. Consisting of five courses, it does not include the three practicum courses that fulfill the BCaBA certification fieldwork requirement. Should you wish to pursue your undergraduate degree in Autism Studies in the future, these credits may be applied toward your degree. Please note that financial aid is not available for this option.

With You at Every Step

Saint Joseph’s University has been educating adults for more than 100 years. To support you as you work toward your educational goals, we offer:

  • A full team of counselors, advisors and professors who offer one-on-one support
  • Financial aid to those who qualify
  • 24/7 technical support
  • Assistance with the application process

How to Get Started with Your Autism Studies Program
Learn more about the online Autism Studies concentration or the BCaBA online programs: Call (866) 758-7670 to speak with a Program Manager or request more information below.

BCaBA Pass Rates


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