Even in districts experiencing cutbacks, the need for teachers with a master’s degree specializing in autism will continue to rise. While the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not provide separate figures for autism specialties, it does estimate that job growth for special education teachers at the preschool level will rise by about 16 percent in the next five years. That makes now the perfect time for teachers who have a gift for reaching students with exceptional challenges to consider earning a Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Special Education with a specialization in autism.
An online master’s degree in autism can save time and money
Online M.Ed. in Special Education degree programs, particularly those offered through respected state universities, are often specifically designed to meet the needs of working teachers. They typically offer many concentrations, including a master’s degree specializing in autism. They also tend to charge lower tuition rates than traditional programs because the operating costs are lower. Furthermore, most programs offer at least some downloadable course materials, which can reduce the cost of textbooks.
Online courses can be designed around your schedule and provide online access to related course materials. You can watch recorded lectures, complete assignments, conduct research, participate in class discussions and take exams at times and places that are convenient for you. Finally, because courses are usually accelerated, you can complete your degree quickly, often in less than two years.
What you learn
Few programs offer a master’s degree in autism specifically, but rather an M.Ed. in Special Education with an option to concentrate your studies in autism. Therefore, your coursework will cover many general special education topics like research methods, issues and trends in special education, human growth and development, and an overview of school law.
The courses that focus on autism will give you insight into the nature and needs of students with diagnoses spanning the entire autism spectrum. You will also learn to identify autism spectrum disorders, understand autistic behaviors and apply behavioral interventions. Since many high-functioning autistic students do well in traditional classroom environments but require individualized education plans (IEPs) to accommodate specific learning needs, you will learn valuable consultation skills to help general education teachers manage and evaluate students with milder forms of autism.
About one in 68 children is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder in the United States. These students require specialized interventions in order to guarantee the best possible educational outcomes so that they can thrive and contribute to society as adults. Earning a master’s degree specializing in autism provides the skills and insights you need to help these bright and often extremely capable students fulfill their potential.