Special Education, MA or Graduate Certificate, Specialization in Teaching of Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders & Severe Disabilities

Autism Special Ed degree banner with Autism Ribbon

Program Description

The diagnosis of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) has seen dramatic growth nationally. This is prompting critical shortages in qualified personnel to deliver evidence-based services to maximize the academic, social and communicative potential of these students. 

Early intervention programs, K-12 school programs, and private and not-for-profit therapeutic agencies and organizations need trained personnel who understand the needs of this special population.

Flexible Options to Meet Your Goals

The University of Nebraska–Lincoln offers both an online graduate certificate and a masters in special education degree focused on  the teaching of students with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Severe Disabilities. This degree program affords you the opportunity to take single courses of interest, or complete either a graduate certificate or master's degree in special education, online. The graduate certificate can be completed fully online. 

Please note:  A graduate certificate is awarded by the university and should not be confused with teacher certification, which is awarded by the state in which you wish to teach.

Special Accreditation

In addition to the Higher Learning Commission accreditation carried by all University of Nebraska campuses, this online special education program is also accredited by:

  • Nebraska Department of Education
  • Teacher Education Accreditation Council

Nebraska Department of Education logo, TEAC logo

Delivery Format

Home Campus: University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Method of Delivery: Blended Program - what's this? Some components of the program are synchronous, meaning students and instructor interact in real time. These meetings may be online or face-to-face/on campus.

All online courses are accessed via the Internet and use a learning management system. Technology requirements may vary by program and course, but all campuses have basic recommended requirements. High-speed Internet is required.

Interaction with professors and other students may include:

  • E-mail
  • Online discussion boards
  • Phone or video conferencing
  • Other forms of electronic and print communication

Supplemental materials for some courses may include:

  • Printed material and scanned documents
  • Digital resources accessed through university libraries
  • Videos accessed via the Internet, CDs or DVDs
  • Other media

To be successful, students taking online classes should be reasonably comfortable using a computer and the Internet. Learn more about online student tips for success.

Special Note

The graduate certificate may be completed 100% online.  Some semesters the courses for the master's degree may not be offered online.

Who Should Consider this Program?

  • Pre-school, elementary or secondary level teachers
  • Special education teachers
  • Speech-language pathologists
  • Occupational therapists
  • School psychologists
  • Community agency professionals
  • Anyone wanting to make a career change to teaching special education with an emphasis in Autism Spectrum Disorders and/or Severe Disabilities

 

Academic Year 2014 - 2015

Tuition rates are effective for the academic year listed. Tuition is subject to change.

Nebraska Resident:

 TuitionDistance Ed. FeeTechnology FeeLibrary FeeTotal
Per credit hour$325.50$25.00$7.35$4.00$361.85
3 credit hour$976.50$75.00$22.05$12.00$1,085.55

Non-Resident:

 TuitionDistance Ed. FeeTechnology FeeLibrary FeeTotal
Per credit hour$507.00$25.00$7.35$4.00$543.35
3 credit hour$1,521.00$75.00$22.05$12.00$1,630.05

Note: In addition to the costs outlined above, students will be assessed a $20.00 registration fee each semester they enroll in courses.

Required Courses for the Graduate Certificate:

 SPED 809 Autism Spectrum Disorders:  Effective Assessment and Intervention    3 cr 
 SPED 810 Autism Spectrum Disorders:  Methods & Program Planning    3 cr
 SPED 881 Methods for Students with Intellectual & Severe Disabilities    3 cr
 SPED 882 Specialized Instruction for Students with Severe & Multiple Disabilities   3 cr
 Total credit hours required for the graduate certificate  12

Additional Courses for the Master's Degree:

In addition to the 12 credit hours required for the graduate certificate as indicated above, students seeking the Master's Degree are also required to have 24 more credit hours:

 SPED 880 Educating Students with Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities    3 cr
 SPED 960         Family and School Collaboration in Special Education    3 cr
 SPLA 886* Augmentative Communication (or equivalent)   3 cr
 EDPS 800    Educational Research (or equivalent)   3 cr
 Electives Chosen in consultation with your advisor  12 cr
Minimum credit hours 36 cr

*Not currently available online.

For course descriptions, please click on the course titles below.

Course Name
Course #
Credits
Core Courses

Characteristics of Exceptional Persons

SPED 800
3
Etiology, growth and development, and characteristics of persons who differ from the norm.

Autism Spectrum Disorders

SPED 809
3

Prereq: SPED 400/800 or equivalent

SPED 809 requires observation in schools and applied assignments.

Designed for educators of children and youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) in school settings. Assessment strategies to identify characteristics of ASDs focused on individual needs and strengths-based outcomes. Knowledge and skills regarding evidence-based practices and individualized educational programs.

Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs): Methods and...

SPED 810
3

Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs): Methods and Program Planning

Prereq: SPED *809 or equivalent

Majors in severe disabilities must parallel with SPED *896P (1 cr). SPED *810 requires observations in schools and applied assignments.

Planning, implementing, and evaluating effective education for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs). Uses an ecological approach to assess present levels of performance and individual characteristics. Apply assessment outcomes to develop functional outcomes, to select instructional strategies, and utilize empirically-based interventions.


Assessment Techniques for Diverse Learners

SPED 812
3

Prereq: SPED 201 and 303

The role of general education teachers in the primary purposes of assessment of learners with diverse needs. Knowledge and experience with interpreting norm-referenced test information as related to planning educational programs. Use of assessment information for instructional planning and evaluation. Testing accommodations and classroom grading.


Behavior Management

SPED 818
3

For post baccalaureate students obtaining an initial teaching endorsement in mild/moderate disabilities. Course taught via Internet.

Introduction to behavior management. Analyze students’ behaviors, define and target behaviors, record and graph behaviors, and develop interventions based on positive reinforcement for improving students’ academic and social behaviors. Introduction to functional assessment, how to use reinforcement to decrease inappropriate behaviors, and guidelines for using punishment ethically and its relative effectiveness.

 

Methods for Students with Intellectual and...

SPED 881
3

Methods for Students with Intellectual and Severe Disabilities

Prereq: SPED 480/880

SPED 881 requires observations in schools and applied assignments.Planning, implementing, and evaluating effective longitudinal education for individuals with intellectual impairments and severe disabilities. Knowledge and skills regarding best practices within inclusive education settings for these learners emphasizing an ecological and functional model that addresses useful skills in current and future environments.


Specialized Instruction for Students with Severe...

SPED 882
3

Specialized Instruction for Students with Severe and Multiple Disabilities

Lec 3. Prereq: SPED *881 for the Severely/Multihandicapped endorsement program or SPED *862 for Preschool Handicapped endorsement program; and permission. Majors in severe disabilities must parallel with SPED 896P (1 cr). SPED *882 requires observations in schools and applied assignments. Selection, design, and implementation of best practice instruction for students with severe disabilities, multiple disabilities, or deaf-blindness.

Educating Students with Intellectual and...

SPED 880
3

Educating Students with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

SPED 480/880 requires observation in schools and applied assignments. Concepts related to history, definitions, identification, etiology, and assessment of students with intellectual impairments and developmental disabilities. Attitudes, assumptions, and stereotypes concerning persons with intellectual impairments and other developmental disabilities. Instructional methods, adaptations and teaming, to provide individualized interventions and to include students in least restrictive environments and/or general education settings.

Family and School Collaboration

SPED 960
3

Prereq: Professional experience or completion of one practicum and/or field experience with young children (birth to age 5) or other individuals ages 5 to 21 years who have disabilities. Functions and interactions of both family and education systems. Impact of having a child with a disability on the normal and stressed family system. Promote family-professional partnerships in assessment and intervention for the child and/or student with an IFSP/IEP. Communication skills are reviewed and practiced for effective teaming among educators and for interviewing, consulting, collaborating and coaching with family members and other community team members.


Augmentative Communication

SPLA 886
3

Speech pathology students must register for 3 cr only; special education students may register for 2-3 cr. Introduction to the augmentative communication options for persons unable to speak or write because of physical, language, or cognitive disability.


Foundations of Educational Research

EDPS 800
3

Prereq: EDPS 459/859 or equivalent or parallel EDPS 859. Purposes and characteristics of research process, selection of research problems in education and social sciences, critical review of published research, research ethics and institutional review, sampling methods, threats to validity in research.


Elective Courses

Behavior Management

SPED 818
3

For post baccalaureate students obtaining an initial teaching endorsement in mild/moderate disabilities. Course taught via Internet.

Introduction to behavior management. Analyze students’ behaviors, define and target behaviors, record and graph behaviors, and develop interventions based on positive reinforcement for improving students’ academic and social behaviors. Introduction to functional assessment, how to use reinforcement to decrease inappropriate behaviors, and guidelines for using punishment ethically and its relative effectiveness.

 

Medically Fragile Infants

SPED 863
3
Unique needs, family-coping strategies, specialized medical staff, and various health-care settings of chronically ill infants and toddlers. Overview of etiology, characteristics, and developmental implications of selected medical conditions related to developmental disabilities.

Dr. Ellin Siegel is the faculty coordinator for the Autism/Severe Disabilities program.  Other faculty who teach courses that you may take as part of this program include:

Ellin Siegel, Ph.D., Associate Professor

Christine A. Marvin, Ph.D., Associate Professor

Guidelines for Admittance

Admission to the masters or graduate certificate special education program is a two-step process. You will apply to both Graduate Studies and the academic department. 

For admission requirements and deadlines, please visit the graduate studies page:

 

If you have additional questions regarding the admissions process for the Autism/Severe Disabilities program, please contact Jill England at 402.472.2141.

Application Deadlines

Fall Semester March 1
Spring Semester October 1
Summer Sessions March 1

Please visit the Department of Special Education & Communication Disorders website for more detailed information about this program.

Contact

Online Worldwide Educational Representative
Phone:
888.622.0332
E-mail: online@nebraska.edu

Distance Education Contact
Name:
Cheryl Griffith
Phone: 402.472.5515
E-mail: online@unl.edu

Program Contact
Name:
Jill England
Phone: 402.472.2141
E-mail: jengland2@unl.edu

Request Information