Post Baccalaureate Certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorders
More individuals than ever before are being diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (2012), one in 88 children in the United States has an autism spectrum disorder. This increase has resulted in substantial demand for effectively trained educators, parents and service providers.
The School of Education addresses the critical professional development need of individuals who support this unique population by offering a Post Baccalaureate Certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorders. The Post Baccalaureate Certificate program is comprised of four courses in autism spectrum disorders. Each course is 3 credit hours for a total of 12 semester hours. The four course sequence provides participants with the wide range of competencies necessary for the provision of effective educational programming and service delivery.
The Post Baccalaureate Certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorders is designed prepares participants to support individuals with autism spectrum disorders from early intervention through adult services. Emphasis is placed on research to practice opportunities, as participants are required to demonstrate knowledge and skills through applied experiences in every course. The Post Baccalaureate Certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorders is designed for educators or potential educators, including special education teachers, general education teachers, paraprofessionals, and related service personnel; however, due to the utility of the program, it is available to professionals working in the human service setting who wish to gain comprehensive knowledge and experience in this area.
Participants will learn and demonstrate competencies that are critical to successfully serve individuals with an autism spectrum disorder. Specifically, participants will:
- Learn the differences between the autism spectrum disorders
- Understand the primary and secondary characteristics of the disorder and the educational impact of each
- Assess students strengths, needs, and emerging skills
- Learn and implement a variety of interventions and supports demonstrated to be effective with this population
- Evaluate interventions and modify programming
- Outline a comprehensive curriculum that addresses the myriad of educational and behavioral needs
For more information about our graduation rates, the median debt of students who completed the program, and other important information, please click on the following link: http://www.gainfulemployment.vcu.edu/Programs/Details.aspx?id=335.
Program of Study and Course Sequence
All four courses in autism spectrum disorders are offered online to fit the schedules of busy parents, students and professionals. The courses are NOT self-paced, but instead are divided into instructional modules. Each module contains a range of assignments and requirements designed to facilitate learning of specified content. Emphasis is placed on research to practice opportunities, as participants are required to demonstrate knowledge and skills through hands-on experiences in every course.
The course descriptions and suggested sequence of completion is below:
- SEDP 532: Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorders
This course presents an introduction to the pervasive developmental disorders with an emphasis on autism, asperger’s disorder and pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified. This course will include a discussion of the core behavioral and secondary characteristics and how they impact the individual across the lifespan, from infancy through adulthood. Additionally, family concerns and considerations will be discussed in the context of age, development and need for support. Finally, the course will describe the qualities of intervention strategies and will outline ways to evaluate practices and make sound intervention decisions. (3 credits) Prerequisite: None
- SEDP 634: Assessment, Curriculum, and Teaching Methods for Autism Spectrum Disorders
This course will review assessment techniques and curriculum design, as well as the major methodologies to teach individuals with autism spectrum disorders from early intervention through transition to adult services in inclusive and specialized educational settings. This course will focus on scientifically based interventions that address the communication development and academic needs of the individual with autism spectrum disorder. Students will be required to demonstrate knowledge of course goals by integrating content with students with autism spectrum disorders. (3 credits) Prerequisite: SEDP 532
- SEDP 635: Supporting Behavior and Social Skills for Autism Spectrum Disorders
This course will review major methodologies needed to create a positive social and emotional learning environment for individuals with autism spectrum disorders from early intervention through transition to adult services in inclusive and specialized educational settings. The course will address the individual with autism’s social, behavioral and sensory needs by focusing on the emerging best-practice interventions needed to teach social understanding and shape appropriate social behavior, build play and leisure skills, teach anger and stress management, procure sensory motor modulation, conduct functional behavior assessments, and provide positive behavior support. Students will be required to demonstrate knowledge of course goals through integration with students with autism spectrum disorders. (3 Credits) Prerequisite: SEDP 532
- SEDP 638: Instructional Design and Field Experience for Autism Spectrum Disorders
This course will focus on the integration of theoretical and practical concepts related to supporting individuals with autism spectrum disorders from early intervention through transition to adult services in educational settings. Provides the opportunity to apply knowledge of assessment, curriculum design, teaching methodologies and environmental and technological supports while working collaboratively with parents and educational teams to develop individualized programming. This course has a 20 hour field-based experience that is to take place in an educational setting. The field-based experience will be coordinated with the course instructor.(3 credits) Prerequisites: SEDP 532, SEDP 634 and SEDP 635
* Course section listings have recently changed to SEDP and were formerly listed as TEDU 532, TEDU 634, TEDU 635, and TEDU 638. These are the same courses.
The four courses in autism spectrum disorders can be taken together to create a Post Baccalaureate Certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorders. The courses may also be taken individually (provided course prerequisites are met) for students who wish to learn more about autism spectrum disorders and for whom a Certificate is not a priority.
The Post Baccalaureate Certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorders is for both degree seeking and non-degree seeking students. For those wishing to complete the Certificate, admission to the VCU Graduate School is required. All applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree in any area related to education, social work, psychology, or human services. A minimum undergraduate GPA 3.0 is required. In cases where the undergraduate GPA is below 3.0, additional factors, including performance in the last 60 hours of course work, may be weighted more heavily in the admissions assessment. For students with earned graduate degrees from accredited institutions, the graduate GPA may be the primary basis for consideration.
How to Apply
To obtain the Post Baccalaureate Certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorders, the student must apply and be accepted to the VCU Graduate School for the “Certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorders.” Applying to the VCU Graduate School entails a formal application, application fee, and a variety of supporting documents (e.g. transcripts, letters of reference, etc.) There are NO assessment requirements (e.g. GRE). For additional information on how to apply please visit http://www.pubapps.vcu.edu/bulletins/graduate/.
Please note, you may begin coursework towards the Post Baccalaureate Certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorders prior to applying to the VCU Graduate School. However, you must apply and be accepted prior to the completion of your second course.
To enroll for a course, you may register directly with the School of Education Associates (SOEA). To find the schedule of courses and register please visit
Links to application forms, graduate school, and student services office:
VCU Graduate School Information and Admissions http://www.pubapps.vcu.edu/bulletins/graduate
VCU Graduate School Program Description for the Post Baccalaureate Certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorders
School of Education Associates (SOEA) Course Schedules, Tuition, and Registration Information
Additional information may be obtained by emailing AUTISMINFO@VCU.EDU or calling (804) 827-0746.