The need for qualified professionals to support individuals on the autism spectrum is increasing as an estimated one in 68 individuals falls on the spectrum. Earning an online master’s in autism spectrum disorder is a great way to meet the needs for effective methods and treatment programs for those with behavioral challenges and learning challenges.

A master’s in autism spectrum disorder provides graduates with training and education in this diverse area, as well as the opportunity to earn a license or certification in ASD. Autism spectrum disorder online graduate programs are found in a variety of departments including psychology, special education, and curriculum and instruction, which allow for unique perspectives and emphasis in the many facets of ASD. Below we list the top 25 online master’s in autism spectrum disorders.

In order to come up with our list of the top online master’s in autism spectrum disorder, we searched College Navigator for universities offering this major. We only considered accredited institutions offering programs in this area, with coursework specifically related to helping individuals on the autism spectrum. We also looked for attributes including experienced faculty, offering licensure/credentials, and national rankings. Since applied behavior analysis, although not without controversy, is one of the most predominant strategies for working with individuals on the autism spectrum, we were especially interested in programs that offer the approved coursework required by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board for certification as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. Our ranking methodology is below.

Rating and Ranking Methodology

Student/Faculty ratio:

  • 15:1 or less- 3 points
  • 16:1 to 19:1- 2 points
  • 20:1 and above- 1 point

Average Graduate Tuition Rate:

  • Less than $13,000- 3 points
  • $13,000 to $20,000- 2 points
  • Greater than $20,000- 1 point

BCBA Approved Course Sequence

  • Yes- 3 points

Where there are ties, schools are ranked according to in-state average graduate tuition rates per College Navigator.

#25 -Oakland University-Rochester Hills, Michigan

M.Ed. in Special Education with Concentration in ASD

Website
BACB Approved Course Sequence: No
Ratio: 21:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $16,338/year in-state and $24,648/year out-of-state
Points: 3
What’s Unique
With no on-campus residency requirement, the online master’s in autism spectrum disorder at Oakland University is flexible enough for the working professional. This 44 credit hour program includes an ASD teaching endorsement for those working with special populations, including those on the autism spectrum. A supervised practicum experience is included as the final experience needed for the K-12 certification in ASD. In order to be considered for program admission, students need to either hold (or be eligible for) a Michigan Teaching Certificate at either the elementary or secondary level.
Courses:
Overview of Autism Spectrum Disorders; Educational Procedures for Students with ASD; Communication and Language Issues in ASD; Behavioral and Social Issues in Students with ASD.

#24 -Monmouth University-West Long Branch, New Jersey

Master’s Degree in Special Education-Autism track

Website
BACB Approved Course Sequence: No
Ratio: 13:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $24,156/year
Points: 4
What’s Unique
Monmouth University features a 30 credit hour master’s in Special Education program with a track in autism online. Students learn strategies to help students achieve their goals as well as behavior support strategies and decision making skills. The program consists of 12 credits in special education courses and 18 credits related specifically to autism. Fieldwork requirements are included within each course to allow students to demonstrate their knowledge and skills. Monmouth also features a stand-alone online Certificate in Autism
Courses:
Autism: Characteristics, Etiology, and Current Issues; Communication and Social Competence Skills; Assessment and Interventions for Individuals with Autism; Management of Challenging Behaviors.

#23 -Regent University-Virginia Beach, Virginia

M.Ed.–K-12 Special Education (Licensure)-Autism Certificate

Website
BACB Approved Course Sequence: No
Ratio: 41:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $12,726/year
Points: 4
What’s Unique
Regent University is a private Christian institution with a mission to change the world through Christian leadership. The top online master’s in autism program is offered in conjunction with the K-12 Special Education master’s in education program that includes coursework required for the Certificate of Graduate Studies in Autism. Students develop an understanding of how to identify and assess autism spectrum disorders and design and implement behavior and academic support plans to ensure success in the classroom. Although the majority of this 42 credit hour program is available online, there are minimal face-to-face components throughout the program.
Courses:
Autism Overview;Introduction to Identification and Assessment of Autism Spectrum Disorders; Methods for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders; Autism Practicum Project.

#22 -University of South Florida-Tampa, Florida

Master of Arts in Autism Spectrum Disorder and Severe Intellectual Disabilities

Website
BACB Approved Course Sequence: No
Ratio: 22:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $8,350/year in-state and $19,048/year out-of-state
Points: 4
What’s Unique
With representation from over 130 different countries and home to over 10,000 graduate students, the University of South Florida is a force to be reckoned with in graduate level education. Students interested in both autism and severe disabilities should consider the online accredited master’s in autism spectrum disorder and severe intellectual disabilities. The program creates ethical education practitioners who are skilled in the latest best practices in special education. Collaboration skills are emphasized so students learn to work effectively with children, their families, and other interdisciplinary professionals. Tuition support is available through a variety of sources including the TEACH Grant and the Exceptional Student Education Endorsement Tuition Support Program.
Courses:
Educating Students with Autism; Positive Behavior Support; Advanced Theories and Practices in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities; Assistive Technology for Students with Low-incidence Disabilities in Special Education.

#21 -University of North Dakota-Grand Forks, North Dakota

Online Master’s in Special Education-Autism Spectrum Disorder

Website
BACB Approved Course Sequence: No
Ratio: 21:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $7,185/year in-state and $19,184/year out-of-state
Points: 4
What’s Unique
The online master’s in autism spectrum disorder program at the University of North Dakota includes both coursework and application in a field setting. Students learn how to work with children and adults with ASD and develop the skills necessary to assess and support across a variety of settings. Students may also take coursework from the applied behavior analysis concentration area. Most students can earn their degree in just two years of study.
Courses:
Autistic Spectrum Disorder: Medical Issues and Trend; Structured Teaching; Methods for Students with Asperger Syndrome; Autistic Spectrum Disorder Intensive Early Intervention.

#20 -Minnesota State University-Mankato, Minnesota

Master’s Degree in Autism Spectrum Disorders Online

Website
BACB Approved Course Sequence: No
Ratio: 23:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $6,849/year
Points: 4
What’s Unique
Minnesota State University in Mankato is the second largest public university in Minnesota. There are 75 different graduate programs and four doctoral programs. The online autism spectrum disorder master’s degree is a 34 credit hour program that includes an ASD Licensure/Certificate. Students complete a series of core courses in special education in addition to ASD coursework. Research courses are also required as part of the program as students prepare a capstone project. There are no residency requirements for this top online master’s in autism program.
Courses:
ASD: Program Design and Implementation; ASD: Medical and Community Supports; Graduate Student Teaching: Autism Spectrum Disorders; Initial Graduate Seminar: Special Education.

#19 -Arizona State University-Scottsdale, Arizona

Online Master of Education In Curriculum & Instruction (Autism Spectrum Disorders)

Website
BACB Approved Course Sequence: No
Ratio: 26:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $6,024/year
Points: 4
What’s Unique
Arizona State University has been nationally recognized by the Times Higher Education as one of the most prestigious universities in the country. It offers an online master’s in autism spectrum disorders program that is both rigorous and innovative. Students complete 10 courses consisting of classroom exercises and practicum experiences. Upon completion of the program, students will be competent in the six Council for Exceptional Children standards on autism. Faculty are world renowned, with four being listed in the Rick Hess’ Edu-Scholar Public Influence Rankings in Education Week.
Courses:
Reading & Communication Strategies for Individuals w/ Autism; Foundations of Autism Spectrum Disorders; Family Centered Practices; Consultation Frameworks and Issues.

#18 -St. Thomas University-Miami Gardens, Florida

Master of Science in Special Education with a Specialization in Autism Spectrum Disorders

Website
BACB Approved Course Sequence: No
Ratio: 14:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $14,076/year
Points: 5
What’s Unique
The master’s in special education with a specialization in autism spectrum disorders at St. Thomas University is a flexible online degree that can be completed in just 17 months. The 39 credit hour program is offered entirely online with no on-campus residency requirements. Students will learn valuable skills to improve learning outcomes for children and adults on the autism spectrum. Students who hold a valid teaching license from their home state may be eligible to earn an autism spectrum disorder endorsement upon completion of this top online master’s in autism program.
Courses:
Nature of Autism: Theory and Educational Practice; Communication Foundations and Assistive/Instructional Technology; Young Children with ASD.

#17 -University of Cincinnati-Cincinnati, Ohio

Master of Education in Special Education-Autism Spectrum Disorder

Website
BACB Approved Course Sequence: No
Ratio: 17:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $12,790/year in-state and $24,532/year out-of-state
Points: 5
What’s Unique
The University of Cincinnati is one of the 50 largest universities in the country It is ranked highly by both U.S. News and World Report and the Times Higher Education. The online master of education with a concentration in autism spectrum disorder is a great way to improve the quality of life for children with special needs. The rigorous curriculum includes 30 credit hours of coursework and the program can be completed in just six semesters. Each course is 14 weeks long and most students take two courses each term.
Courses:
Applied Behavior Analysis; Autism Spectrum Disorders; Autism and other Developmental Disabilities; ASD: From Theory to Practice.

#16 -Grand Canyon University-Phoenix, Arizona

Master of Arts in Autism Spectrum Disorders

Website
BACB Approved Course Sequence: No
Ratio: 19:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $9,783/year
Points: 5
What’s Unique
Grand Canyon University features an online master’s in autism spectrum disorders is a 32 credit hour program with six week courses and a liberal transfer credit policy. Students focus on developing the life skills needed to transition individuals to more independent living as adults. Using educational research, policy, ethics, assistive technology, and communication skills, students learn the best strategies to use with potential clients. Graduates have gone on to find successful employment in a variety of settings including schools, social service agencies, research agencies, non profits, and charter schools.
Courses:
Brain-Based Learning; Leadership and Collaboration in Autism Spectrum Disorders; Policy and Ethics in ASD; Communication Strategies and Assistive Tech for ASD.

#15 -The University of Kansas-Lawrence, Kansas

Online Master’s in Special Education with an Emphasis in Autism Spectrum Disorder

Website
BACB Approved Course Sequence: No
Ratio: 17:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $9,480/year in-state and $22,176/year out-of-state
Points: 5
What’s Unique
The University of Kansas is home to the #1 ranked Department of Special Education in the United States according to U.S. News and World Report. The online master’s in special education program with an emphasis in autism spectrum disorder is taught by world-renowned faculty who are experienced in teaching to an online audience. Most students can graduate in about two years because of the flexibility provided to working professionals. Students complete a field-based practicum experience during the program to gain valuable experience. There are no GRE requirements for this top online master’s in autism spectrum disorder.
Courses:
Functional Behavior Assessment, Positive Behavior Support, and Classroom Management; Advanced Methods and Assessment: Strategies for Students with Social and Emotional Needs; Transition Education and Services from Childhood to Adulthood; Assessment for Transition Planning.

#14 -Old Dominion University-Norfolk, Virginia

Master’s in Special Education-Autism Spectrum Disorder

Website
BACB Approved Course Sequence: No
Ratio: 18:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $8,736/year in-state and $25,548/year out-of-state
Points: 5
What’s Unique
Old Dominion University offers a flexible autism spectrum disorders online program that can be completed as a stand alone certificate or incorporated into a master’s degree in special education. Students complete coursework entirely online through an online learning environment, allowing students to participate in live scheduled online class meetings. The program incorporates the Advanced Program standards from the Council for Exceptional Children in professional development. Graduates are prepared for PhD level study in special education.
Courses:
*Currently Under Review

#13 -Bowling Green State University-Bowling Green, Ohio

Master of Education in Special Education-Autism Spectrum Disorders Online

Website
BACB Approved Course Sequence: No
Ratio: 18:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $7,632/year in-state and $13,284/year out-of-state
Points: 5
What’s Unique
The autism spectrum disorder master’s online program at Bowling Green State University eCampus features world-class faculty and an innovative online learning platform. The program was developed with the Ohio Center for Autism and Low Incidence to create courses that are relevant and cutting edge. Students complete several field experiences throughout the program to gain experience working with individuals at various stages of life. Courses are each eight weeks in duration, allowing students to work through the program quickly while maintaining work and family obligations.
Courses:
Nature and Characteristics of Students with ASD; Assessment, Methods and Materials for Students with ASD; Social, Sensory & Communication Issues for Students with ASD; Behavior and Classroom Management.

#12 -Missouri Western State University-Saint Joseph, Missouri

Master’s of Applied Science in Assessment-ASD Option

Website
BACB Approved Course Sequence: No
Ratio: 16:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $6,548/year in-state and $11,848/year out-of-state
Points: 5
What’s Unique
The online autism spectrum disorder master’s program at Missouri Western State University is a 2-3 year program designed for students who want to make a difference in the education of those on the autism spectrum. All courses are offered online with access from anywhere in the world. There is no GRE requirement for admission, students need to have a bachelors degree in education or a related field with a GPA of at least 2.75 to be considered. The program does not currently lead to licensure of certification since Missouri does not offer such recognition, but students from other states may be eligible in their home state.
Courses:
Assessment and Planning for Students with ASD; Classroom Programming for Students with ASD; Behavioral Intervention; Teaching Communication and Social Skills.

#11 -Northeastern State University-Tahlequah, Oklahoma

Online Special Education-Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Website
BACB Approved Course Sequence: No
Ratio: 17:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $3,899/year in-state and $8,813.year out-of-state
Points: 5
What’s Unique
Northeastern State University in Oklahoma offers an online master’s in autism spectrum disorder incorporating professional education, special education, and enrichment courses. This 33 credit hour program features a rigorous curriculum that prepares students to successfully work with individuals on the autism spectrum to reach their full potential. Admission to the program is competitive and students must submit acceptable GRE scores for consideration.
Courses:
Evidence-Based Strategies & Curriculum Design for Students with ASD; Positive Behavioral Supports for Students with ASD; Response to Intervention and Assessment of Students with ASD; Practicum in ASD.

#10 -Mary Baldwin University-Staunton, Virginia

MEd degree and the Comprehensive Certificate in ASD

Website
BACB Approved Course Sequence: No
Ratio: 10:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $12,506/year
Points: 6
What’s Unique
Mary Baldwin University features an online master’s in autism spectrum disorder through their Master of Education program. This 33 credit hour program includes instruction in educational, community, and home interventions for individuals with a variety of developmental disabilities. Graduates of the program will earn a Comprehensive Certificate in ASD along with their MEd degree. A practicum experience is required as part of the program to gain professional work experience with individuals on the ASD spectrum.
Courses:
Characteristics & Assessment of Students with ASD; Communication, Language, and Sensory aspects of ASD; Social Skills Instruction and behavioral Strategies for Students with ASD; Practicum Experience in ASD.

#9 -Gwynedd Mercy University-Gwynedd Valley, Pennsylvania

Online Master of Science in Special Education-Autism Endorsement

Website
BACB Approved Course Sequence: No
Ratio: 11:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $11,772/year
Points: 6
What’s Unique
The master’s in autism online from Gwynedd Mercy University was created for educators to help children with cognitive differences meet their full potential. This fully online program features accelerated coursework with students taking one course during each seven week block. The program is designed to create educators who are research driven, reflective, and offer a holistic series of strategies to improve the development of the child.
Courses:
Foundations of Autism Spectrum Disorders; Assessment/Program Development for the Student on the Spectrum; Scientifically-Based Best Practices for the Student on the Autism Spectrum; Communication and Behavioral Issues and Social Competence for Students on the Autism Spectrum.

#8 -Hamline University-Saint Paul, Minnesota

Master of Arts in Education-Autism Spectrum Disorder

Website
BACB Approved Course Sequence: No
Ratio: 12:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $8,532/year
Points: 6
What’s Unique
Hamline University School of Education offers an online master’s in autism spectrum disorder that can be completed in just 18-24 months of study. This 34 credit hour program is offered online with some on campus course options for students in the general proximity of the university. Students earn their Autism Spectrum Disorder Certificate upon completion of 12 credits of ASD coursework. With the online master’s in ASD from Hamline, students will develop the skills necessary to be successful in a variety of settings including community, schools, home, and clinics. Faculty are well respected in the field and are able to provide students with the latest research based strategies to work successfully with this population.
Courses:
Autism Spectrum Disorder: Introduction and Overview; Proactive Behavior Management; Intervention and Strategies for Students with ASD; Assessment: Identification and Planning for the Student with ASD.

#7 -Drexel University-Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

MS in Applied Behavior Analysis-Autism Spectrum Disorders Concentration

Website
BACB Approved Course Sequence: Yes
Ratio: 10:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $32,184/year
Points: 7
What’s Unique
The master’s in applied behavior analysis online program at Drexel University prepares students to understand and guide change in behavior using a systematic approach. The autism spectrum disorders concentration area is 12 credits of coursework specifically related to improving the lives of individuals with ASD. A practicum experience is required as part of this program to allow for hands-on learning and the opportunity to reflect on program components. Graduates are also prepared for doctoral level study in ABA, clinical psychology or even experimental psychology.
Courses:
Characteristics & Methods: Autism; Characteristics & Methods: High Functioning Autism; Communication & Language Interventions: Autism Spectrum Disorders; Behavior & Sensory Support: Autism Spectrum Disorders.

#6 -Saint Cloud State University-St. Cloud, Minnesota

MS Program in Applied Behavior Analysis

St. Cloud State University
Website
BACB Approved Course Sequence: Yes
Ratio: 22:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $7,373/year in-state and $11,201/year out-of-state
Points: 7
What’s Unique
The MS program in Applied Behavior Analysis program at Saint Cloud University is the only accredited online Applied Behavior Analysis program in the world. The program is accredited by both the ABAI and the BACB, one of the few such programs in the country. Students have the opportunity to study either on campus or online with Ph.D. level instructors. Coursework and practical experience prepare students for careers including working with individuals with autism and those with self injurious behavior, functional analysis, developmental disabilities, organizational development, and training and development. Research opportunities are available with support from faculty to both present and publish findings. Students can also participate in student organizations and internship experiences to apply what they learn.
Courses:
Behavioral Foundations of Autism Treatment; Behavioral Assessment; Social Bases of Behavior; Ethics in Psychology and Behavior Analysis.

#5 -George Mason University-Fairfax, Virginia

Master of Education in Applied Behavior Analysis or Autism Spectrum Disorders

Website
BACB Approved Course Sequence: Yes
Ratio: 16:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $10,628/year in-state and $29,306/year out-of-state
Points: 8
What’s Unique
The unique online Master of Education in Special Education allows students to choose from two different tracks: Autism Spectrum Disorder or Applied Behavior Analysis. The autism certificate can be completed as part of the master’s degree by completing 15 credit hours in autism education. There is no field experience requirement and students will learn a variety of different perspectives including community, school, and agency. The Applied Behavior Analysis track also supports learners with disabilities including both verbal and functional behavior analysis for both children and adults with disabilities. While an undergraduate degree in education or experience in the field is helpful, it is not required for admission to either track.
Courses:
Characteristics of Individuals with Autism; Interventions for Individuals with Autism; Supporting Communication and Literacy for Individuals with Autism; Autism Across the Lifespan: Collaboration with Critical Partners.

#4 -University of Arkansas-Fayetteville, Arkansas

Master of Education in Special Education-ASD Certification or ABA Certification Option

Website
BACB Approved Course Sequence: Yes
Ratio: 18:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $7,379/year in-state and $18,842/year out-of-state
Points: 8
What’s Unique
Considered one of the best online education programs in the country by U.S. News and World Report, the online master’s in special education program features a certificate track in both ASD and applied behavior analysis. Most students can complete the program in just two years of study and GRE scores are required for admission. While coursework is offered 100% online, students are required to complete a practicum experience to gain valuable experience and demonstrate their skills. This top online master’s in autism spectrum disorder program is nationally recognized by the Council for Exceptional Children.
Courses:
Teaching Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders; Assessment of Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders; Instructional Methods for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders; Practicum in Autism Spectrum Disorders.

#3 -University of Louisville-Louisville, Kentucky

M.Ed. in Special Education with a Concentration in Autism Spectrum Disorder and Applied Behavior Analysis

Website
BACB Approved Course Sequence: Yes
Ratio: 15:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $12,246/year in-state and $25,486/year out-of-state
Points: 9
What’s Unique
One of the most exciting programs on our list is offered by the University of Louisville. The online master’s in autism spectrum disorder and applied behavior analysis provides students with the training to apply the principles of ABA to the treatment and assessment of individuals with autism. Over the course of five semesters, students move through the program as a cohort and gain the coursework and experience needed to sit for their Board Certified Behavior Analyst examination.
Courses:
Applied Behavior Analysis; Autism: Introduction and Understanding; Practicum in Autism and Applied Behavior Analysis; Single Subject Research Designs; Autism: Strategies and Techniques.

#2 -Endicott College-Beverly, Massachusetts

Autism and Applied Behavior Analysis Program (M.Ed.)

Website
BACB Approved Course Sequence: Yes
Ratio: 14:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $11,489/year
Points: 9
What’s Unique
The online master’s in autism and applied behavior analysis program at Endicott College in Massachusetts features a good mix of both autism and ABA coursework. Students will meet the coursework requirements to sit for the BACB exam and will be able to provide this knowledge to working with individuals on the autism spectrum. This 39 credit hour program is offered entirely online with no on-campus residency requirement. Students have the opportunity to complete an elective intensive practicum experience to meet the remaining requirements for the BACB exam.
Courses:
Introduction to Autism Spectrum Disorders; Developing Individualized Goals for Learners with Autism; Understanding and Remediating Social and Play Skill Deficits in Learners with Autism; Effective Collaboration Across Disciplines.

#1 -Ball State University-Muncie, Indiana

Master of Arts in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) with an Emphasis in Autism

Website
BACB Approved Course Sequence: Yes
Ratio: 14:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $8,386/year in-state and $20,698/year out-of-state
Points: 9
What’s Unique
Ball State features our top choice for an online master’s in autism spectrum disorder. To meet the needs of a national shortage of professional educators, Ball State has developed an online master’s in ABA with an emphasis in autism. This 30 credit hour program is offered entirely online and can be completed in just two years. The program is a part of the Teachers College, with is nationally ranked and recognized, as well as accredited by the National Association of Colleges for Teacher Education. Students come from a variety of backgrounds including education, social work, criminal justice, and psychology. Graduates will meet the course requirements to sit for the BCBA examination.
Courses:
Research Methods for Behavior Analysis; Introduction to Persons with Autism Spectrum Disorders; Interventions and Treatments for Persons with Autism; Field-Based Experience in Autism.

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About the Author

Kelley Jacobs is a midwest business consultant and former program evaluator. Past experience includes qualitative and quantitative research, survey development and statistical analysis. With 15 years in social service, Kelley is passionate about helping others and giving back to the community.