Program Details

Master of Arts in Autism Spectrum DisordersAdvanced Program for Continuing Professional Education

Offered By: College of Education

Earn Your Master’s Degree in Autism Spectrum Disorders at GCU

The Master of Arts (MA) in Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) offered by Grand Canyon University is designed for teachers who understand the importance of working with students on the autism spectrum. The prevalence of ASD continues to grow. This means that the need for educators trained in understanding the specific neurological development and behavior of students with ASD is also growing. In this program, GCU students immerse themselves in brain-based learning techniques and life skill teaching strategies.

Graduates of this masters in autism degree program will study the special transitional skills needed to help student with ASD transition from school to independent living. The proven and innovative approaches in this MA in Autism Spectrum Disorders are delivered by faculty and staff who are experts in the field. In addition, graduates will complete field study and internships in order to apply techniques directly. The program concludes with a portfolio of work outlining the graduate’s competency in the field as an ASD specialist.

This online program allows GCU students to continue working while pursuing a professional degree. In addition, financial aid and scholarships are available to help future ASD specialists follow their calling in this support field.

Learn to Teach Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Applied theory and research are at the heart of the masters in autism degree program at GCU. Graduates will dive into education research in order to explore data collection and research design. Additionally, the capstone portfolio project provides GCU students with the opportunity to design a portfolio showcasing practices related to major elements of this professional program.

Future ASD specialists need to be highly-qualified in the areas of autism research and child development. Graduates of this MA in autism spectrum disorders will learn about how brain research is translated into classroom work, especially for students with special needs. They’ll also learn about the theoretical foundation of ASD, including how to determine eligibility for specialized school programs.

As a future graduate of this autism spectrum disorders master’s degree program at GCU, you will study everything you need to know to be the most effective ASD specialist possible.

Additional areas of study include:

  • Legal policy related to special education
  • Ethical practices associated with working with students with ASD
  • Assessment and evaluation techniques
  • Tools for intervention
  • Instructional planning ideas
  • Developmentally appropriate pedagogy
  • Functional communication practices
  • Advocacy strategies for mentorship and leadership

Careers for Autism Spectrum Disorder Specialists

The need for people with high-specialized special education training is growing. With this masters in autism degree, you may be able to find work as a(n):

  • ASD specialist
  • Behavior specialist
  • Classroom teacher
  • Resource room or special day class teacher
  • Child development specialist
  • Interventionist
  • Child advocate

ASD specialists can find work in many different environments. Schools and private special education programs are common workplaces for people with masters in autism degree. After graduating, you might find a job in:

  • Elementary classrooms as a co-teacher
  • Middle and high school classrooms designated for students with special needs
  • Private education centers
  • Social service agencies
  • District offices
  • Research agencies
  • Group homes

Students with ASD teachers need advocates who understand their educational and developmental needs. Specializing in ASD means you will develop relationships with students as you support them through school and beyond, into independent living. If you are ready to pursue this meaningful line of work, sign up for the MA in Autism Spectrum Disorders degree program at GCU today.

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Total Program Credits: 32
Online: 6 weeks [More Info]
Up to 12 credits or 1/3 of the total program requirements in transfer (whichever is less)

Online: $545 per credit [More Info]

Course List

The programs offered at Grand Canyon University may vary by content and course length. You are currently viewing the program version available in Arizona. For information about specific course content, credit length and VA approval in your state, please contact a counselor at 1-855-GCU-LOPE or click here to request more information.
32 credits
Total Degree Requirements:
32 credits

Program Core Courses

Course Description

This course is designed to prepare students for the graduate learning experience at Grand Canyon University. Students have opportunities to develop and strengthen the skills necessary to succeed as graduate students in the College of Education. Emphasis is placed on utilizing the tools for graduate success.

Course Description

This course provides an introduction to applied research in education across the major quantitative, qualitative, and action research traditions. Coursework focuses on understanding the research process and its integrated components and evaluating published research reports from the perspective of a critical consumer. Scientific reasoning and research design are also explored.

Course Description

This course focuses on brain research (from neuroscience to the behavioral and cognitive sciences) that relates to teaching and learning and suggests ways that brain research can be translated into what teachers do in schools and classrooms. Teacher candidates will examine the inner workings of the brain and the effect on student learning, memory, and transfer. Specifically, the course explores the body of knowledge that represents the application of brain research to classroom practice, and how knowledge about the human brain can affect the curricular, instructional, and assessment decisions that teachers make every day. Practicum/field experience hours: None. Fingerprint clearance not required.

Course Description

This course orients autism spectrum disorder specialist candidates to the theoretical foundations of autism spectrum disorders (ASD). ASD specialist candidates will focus on the exceptional needs of students with ASD and teacher's responsibilities to determining eligibility and assessment. This course also examines diagnoses and implications in the school environment. Practicum/field experience hours: 10. Fingerprint clearance required.

Course Description

The focus of this course is to provide methods for improvement of instruction, based on assessment for students with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). ASD specialist candidates will center on instructional planning, adaptive practices, and intervention strategies established through assessment analysis. Practicum/field experience hours: 15. Fingerprint clearance required. Prerequisite: SPD-505.

Course Description

The focus of this course is to provide autism spectrum disorders (ASD) specialist candidates with advanced knowledge of applied behavior analysis in regards to accommodations for students with ASD. ASD specialist candidates will focus on assessing individual needs, tools for intervention, and evaluating strategies and student progress. Practicum/field experience hours: 15. Fingerprint clearance required. Prerequisite: SPD-505.

Course Description

Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) specialist candidates acquire knowledge of legal policy and ethical practices associated with students with ASD. This course focuses on rights and responsibilities, trends, and advocacy for students with ASD. ASD specialist candidates will also focus on creation and delivery of individualized education plans. Practicum/field experience hours: 10. Fingerprint clearance required. Prerequisite: SPD-505.

Course Description

Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) specialist candidates acquire a repertoire of skills that enable them to lead and collaborate in an environment focused on students with ASD. ASD specialist candidates develop techniques for professional learning and evidence-based practices centered on learner growth for students with ASD. This course also focuses on mentoring opportunities and community collaboration. Practicum/field experience hours: 5. Fingerprint clearance required. Prerequisite: SPD-535.

Course Description

This course focuses autism spectrum disorders (ASD) specialist candidates on life skills and transitions for students with ASD. ASD specialist candidates will focus on development of individualized education plans and planning for independent living. No practicum/field experience required. No Fingerprint Clearance necessary. Prerequisite: SPD-535.

Course Description

This course explores functional communication training and specific strategies to promote effective communication behaviors or skills of students with ASD. In addition, ASD specialist candidates survey assistive technology in relation to enhancing communication of students with autism spectrum disorders. Practicum/field experience hours: 10. Fingerprint clearance required. Prerequisite: SPD-525.

Course Description

The capstone course provides ASD specialist candidates the opportunity to create a portfolio project that synthesizes major elements of the professional studies program. Prerequisite: Completion of all other courses required for the Master of Arts in Autism Spectrum Disorders program. Practicum/field experience hours: None. Fingerprint clearance not required.

Program Locations


Pursue a next-generation education with an online degree from Grand Canyon University. Earn your degree with convenience and flexibility with online courses that let you study anytime, anywhere. GCU offers the most experienced leadership in delivering online degree programs. Full-time faculty members and fully trained adjunct instructors, equipped with strong academic backgrounds and practical experience in their fields, support you every step of the way. Designed with the career-oriented professional in mind, our online classes provide an intimate environment that stimulates engaging and challenging discussions. Choose from programs across our distinct colleges, in high-demand employment areas. Classes begin frequently.


Grand Canyon University’s evening programs cater to the demands of working professionals who prefer an in-person learning environment. Our night classes meet just once per week and offer the interaction and discussion of a typical college classroom. Night classes are designed for a specific number of students, providing a warm and nurturing environment that supports an engaging experience. In an evening cohort, you will progress through your degree program with the same career-minded classmates, providing an opportunity to network and forge relationships that go beyond the classroom. Classes begin frequently at various locations, including our main campus.

* Please note that this list may contain programs that are not presently offered as program availability may vary depending on class size, enrollment and other contributing factors. If you are interested in a program listed herein please first contact your University Counselor for the most current information regarding availability of the program.

Program Domains

* The Department of Education defines how an institution must calculate a program's On-Time Completion rate for federal disclosure purposes. The On-Time Completion rate is based on a program's published required number of months to complete all degree requirements as provided in the institution's catalog. Completion statistics are updated every January and are based on the cohort of students who started the program in the same year and then graduated within the published program length .

Online and Evening program disclosures (17 months)

* Please refer to the Academic Catalog for more information. Program subject to change.