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Autism and Applied Behavior Analysis (M.Ed.)

The courses inform students about state-of-the-art special education strategies to increase student success and teacher effectiveness. The program includes courses in Applied Behavior Analysis that fulfill the educational requirements for the internationally recognized certification offered by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB).

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Van Loan School at Endicott College offers a Master’s Degree in Autism and ABA for students who wish to specialize in meeting the complex needs of this population. Autism is a complex disorder, with behavioral, learning, and social characteristics that require comprehensive and coordinated intervention.  Furthermore, autism is a spectrum disorder, and is manifested quite differently in different learners.  Understanding the disorder is not achieved with exposure to one or a few children with this diagnosis, or with a few lectures on it.  It is a many-layered disability that requires in-depth training. 

The Master’s Degree is a 39-credit program that emphasizes the dual skill set of an in-depth understanding of autism spectrum disorders and a broad understanding of the principles and procedures of Applied Behavior Analysis.  Six courses in ABA are offered. Graduates of the program will have fulfilled the educational requirements to sit for the national examination administered by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board.  Seven courses in autism are also included, enabling the student to attain a deep and broad understanding of how autism spectrum disorders are manifested.  Graduates of this program will be uniquely qualified to apply the most effective interventions to this challenging population. 

This program is a hybrid online and F2F format, with most of the instruction delivered online.


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Program Overview

This 39-credit program prepares students to work with children with moderate and severe disabilities who participate in integrated or self-contained classrooms. The courses inform students about state-of-the-art special education strategies to increase student success and teacher effectiveness. The program includes courses in Applied Behavior Analysis that fulfill the educational requirements for the internationally recognized certification offered by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB). This is a unique program that focuses on the application of behavioral principles in special education. Students will learn best practices in addressing the needs of exceptional learners.

Program of Study

Required Courses in ABA (21 credits)
ABA 510           Conceptual Issues in Applied Behavior Analysis  3 cr.
ABA 525 Basic Principles of Applied Behavior Analysis  3 cr.
ABA 534 Measurement and Experimental Evaluation of Behavioral Intervention I  3 cr.
ABA 541 Behavioral Assessment  3 cr.
ABA 554 Behavior Change Procedures and System Supports  3 cr.
ABA 565 Ethics in Applied Behavior Analysis   3 cr.
ABA* 584 Measurement and Experimental Evaluation of Behavioral Intervention II  3 cr. 
EXM 699 Comprehensive Exam  0 cr.
Required Courses in Autism (12 credits)
AUT* 527 Introduction to Autism Spectrum Disorders  3 cr.
AUT* 537 Developing Individualized Goals for Learners with Autism  3 cr.
AUT* 571 Understanding and Remediating Social and Play Skill Deficits in Learners with Autism   3 cr.
AUT* 578 Effective Collaboration Across Disciplines  3 cr.
Elective Courses : Must take Two (6 credits)
AUT* 570 Understating and Remediating Communication Skill Deficits in Learners with Autism   3 cr.
AUT* 574 Evidence-based Practice  3 cr.
ABA 555 Intensive Practicum / Seminar I  3 cr.
ABA 568 Intensive Practicum / Seminar II  3 cr.
Total Degree Requirements 39 cr.


Note: A Master’s Thesis is required for the successful completion of this program.

* Certificate in Autism Courses
The courses above indicated with an asterisk comprise the seven-course sequence that leads to a Certificate in Autism.


How are the online/hybrid courses structured? What can I expect?

The online/hybrid courses are structured to help you learn the material in a systematic and effective way. While there is some variability across courses, the online requirements will include watching didactic lectures, viewing other assigned lectures or movies, taking quizzes, defining key terms or concepts, and completing application/conceptual assignments. Generally, the different tasks are due on different days of the week, and the week covers a topic in depth.
We have structured it so that each assignment helps with the next. Students generally report that they are ready for the quiz when it is time for it, as the assignments have provided the essential review.

I have never really been very technically savvy. Will the online program demands technically overwhelm me?

It takes a little getting used to, but students generally adapt easily and well. You can expect to feel a bit stretched for the first few weeks. Your professor can help you through it, and your fellow students will often be able to answer a question you are having that you post to the group.
The technical requirements are not unfamiliar or extraordinary. Generally, the challenge is simply becoming familiar with the system. Once you have navigated it for a couple of weeks, you will be entirely comfortable.

I have only taken face-to-face courses. It seems so unfamiliar to do it online. Will I really feel like I am part of a class?

It is new and different fro many students. Most students, however, really enjoy the format. You may feel like you are much more able to go at your own pace than you do in a face-to-face format. This is a feature most students relish about the format.
The forums also provide students with much more of a sense of community that they were expecting. You can ask questions, react to lectures, post thoughts about viewed materials, and respond to the posts of others. The posting are quite detailed, and the discussions generally take on a much more nuanced quality than in-class discussions do. Instead of stating a sentence, people write fully formulated thoughts. Similarly, reactions are more thorough. The quality of discussion, therefore, often exceeds that seen in F2F formats.
The strangest element may be getting to know people primarily by name. However, many students post their photos and many courses have group meetings with video.

If I already have a Master's degree, do I need to get another one to take the BCBA courses or the Autism courses?

Definitely not! If you wish to take another degree, you may, but the certificate programs exist so that you do not need to.

What is the difference between a degree and a certificate program?

The main difference is in the number of credits and whether a degree is earned. The Master’s programs are generally 36 credits, and the certificates are 15 (BCBA) or 21 (Autism) credits.
The certificates denote a specialization that would not otherwise be readily apparent, and can really enhance your marketability. It can be extremely useful to students who already possess a degree, but who seek specialized knowledge and training. The coursework for a certificate program exposes the student to in-depth training in the area of interest.

What can a Certificate of Autism do for me in terms of job possibilities?

There is an enormous need for specialized training in autism in school and agency settings. This group of learners has a complex set of needs that are unique and multi-faceted. The courses will prepare educators and clinicians to meet this complex set of demands. Learners with autism are not a unitary or similar group. Understanding the myriad ways in which the characteristics of autism affect learning, communication, and behavioral regulation requires in-depth study. Graduates of this certificate program will possess an in-depth understanding of autism spectrum disorders, and will be best equipped to program for their needs.

Why would I consider enrolling in a program with an emphasis on a combination of Autism and ABA?

This dual skill set puts you in an excellent position to meet the needs of learners with autism spectrum disorders. To intervene effectively with this population, a clinician needs BOTH a deep understanding of the characteristics of autism AND training in Applied Behavior Analysis, the treatment with the largest body of evidence supporting its effectiveness.
This degree program will ensure that you receive training in both of these essential skill sets. Graduates of the program will understand the context, history, and evolution of treatment for autism, will be able to design effective and efficient skill acquisition and behavior reduction programs, will be able to evaluate the impact of interventions for an individual learner. Students will be comprehensively prepared for competent practice.

What kinds of things would I learn in the Autism and ABA Program?

Graduates of this program will learn about the learning characteristics of autism, about the social and communication characteristics of autism, and about the behavioral characteristics of autism. In all of these realms, the emphasis will be on understanding effective treatment in the context of evidence-based practice. In addition, they will be introduced to information on diagnosis, as assessment, and the history of the treatment of autism. Students will also learn to identify relevant goals and to use resources to assist in the development of goals and instructional procedures. Strategies for effective collaboration with other service providers will also be a major theme, as many individuals with autism receive services from a variety of disciplines that vary in their database and effectiveness. Students will learn to design assessments of interventions for individual learners, using single case research designs. The overarching goals of the program will be to equip students to intervene with individuals with autism effectively and efficiently.
Students will be helped in the achievement of this goal by the BCBA coursework sequence. In the ABA courses, students will learn the principles, procedures, and values of a behavior analytic conceptualization and worldview. It is our philosophy that any specialized training in autism must be partnered with behavior analytic training, to ensure that those served receive evidence-based, effective, and efficient intervention and achieve meaningful and socially significant outcomes.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Demonstrate acquisition of the knowledge, principles, and skills of Applied Behavior Analysis.
  2. Demonstrate application of assessment and behavior change procedures involved in educating and treating individuals with autism.
  3. Demonstrate understanding of the learning, behavioral, communication, and social characteristics of individuals with autism as manifested by knowledge of effective individualized curricular planning, effective classroom management, and an understanding of evidence-based practice.

Admission Requirements

For Master of Education through the Institute of Behavioral Studies, the admission requirements are as follows:

Admission to a graduate program requires a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college. To be considered for admission, a candidate must apply online or submit the following to Van Loan School Admissions, Endicott College, 376 Hale Street, Beverly, MA  01915:

   •  Completed graduate application and non-refundable $50.00 application fee (check made payable to Endicott College).

    •  Two letters of recommendation (one academic reference and one professional reference is desired).

    •     Official transcripts of all post-secondary academic work sent directly from the institution(s) including confirmation of undergraduate degree, date confirmed, and any other graduate work.

    •     Essay of 250–500 words on career goals and motivation for graduate study.

    •     Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) for all students whose native language is not English; minimum score of 55(paper-based) or 79 (iBT) is required.  The institutional code for Endicott College is 3369. Endicott also accepts an IELTS score of 6.0 or better.

Additional admission Requirements Include:

  • Official score report of either the Miller Analogies Test (MAT) or the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) (Not required for students who hold a master’s degree).




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