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

The University of Louisville’s M.Ed. in Special Education with a concentration in Autism Spectrum Disorder and Applied Behavior Analysis degree program prepares students to meet the behavioral challenges and needs of the community by delivering a comprehensive curriculum in the philosophical, experimental, and applied domains that inform a natural science of behavior. Through this training, students learn to apply strategies and tactics grounded in the principles of the science to a variety of behaviors and contexts. Specific focus is placed on the assessment and treatment of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). The Program’s mission is to produce behavior analysts knowledgeable of their science, effective in their practice, and ethical in their interactions committed to using the science of behavior to better lives.

The Program accomplishes this mission using a 5-semester cohort model. Each cohort is comprised of no more than 20 students admitted each fall. All students adhere to a set schedule of coursework and are expected to commit to the Program full-time while enrolled. The Program’s faculty are comprised of instructors, researchers, and practitioners with a wealth of experience in the science and practice of behavior analysis. The Program is rigorous and demands excellence from its students and strives to deliver the same.

Students enrolled in our 39-credit hour program are given the opportunity to earn the degree, coursework, and experience standards required to sit for their Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) certification examinations after graduation. Additionally, graduates from the Program also are provided with the opportunity to meet all of the requirements necessary to become licensed as a behavior analyst in the state of Kentucky.

All classes in the major concentrations are offered online through Blackboard. Blackboard is the course management system used by U of L to facilitate online learning. Among other things, students use Blackboard to...

  • Read the course syllabus or handouts
  • Submit papers and assignments
  • Take tests
  • View grades
  • Send email to other students or the instructor
  • Participate in an online chat
  • Discuss case studies with classmates on a discussion board

The biggest benefit of online learning is that you can work to earn your degree from your own home while raising your family, working full time, or experiencing particular life circumstances that make commuting to campus difficult or impossible. At UofL, you are taught by the same world class faculty as our on campus students. You read the same textbooks, do many of the same assignments and earn the same degrees. The biggest difference is that you are able to do it in a way that best fits your lifestyle.

Be prepared for online learning. Online learning is learning that is facilitated in an online environment. Rather than attend class in a traditional classroom setting, online learning allows you to "go to class" when it's convenient for you whether that's 5am or 11pm.

Will you be a successful online learner?

Online learning is not for everyone. Successful online students...

  • Have a desire to learn online
  • Are motivated
  • Have strong time management and organizational skills
  • Can work independently
  • Have college level reading and writing skills
  • Are not afraid to speak up when problems arise

For more information, view /online.

Program Curriculum

Students admitted into the program adhere to a set schedule of didactic and practicum coursework that extends across 5 consecutive semesters. All didactic coursework takes place on campus during evening hours. Practical training occurs throughout the week during daytime hours. Detailed requirements for completing this degree are provided in the Graduate Catalog.

Fall (Semester 1)
EDSP 644: Applied Behavior Analysis (3 credits)
EDSP 570: Autism: Introduction and Understanding (3 credits)
EDSP 653: Practicum in Autism and Applied Behavior Analysis (3 credits)

Spring (Semester 2)
EDSP 669: Single Subject Research Designs (3 credits)
EDSP 671: Autism: Strategies and Techniques (3 credits)
EDSP 653: Practicum in Autism and Applied Behavior Analysis (3 credits)

Summer (Semester 3)
EDSP 546: Behavior Analytic Approach to Communication (3 credits)
EDSP 653: Practicum in Autism and Applied Behavior Analysis (3 credits)

Fall (Semester 4)
EDSP 650: Advanced Applied Behavior Analysis (3 credits)
EDSP 654: Radical Behaviorism (3 credits)
EDSP 653: Practicum in Autism and Applied Behavior Analysis (3 credits)

Spring (Semester 5)
EDSP 673: Research Seminar in Autism Spectrum Disorder (3 credits)
EDSP 651: Professional and Ethical Practice of Applied Behavior Analysis (3 credits)

*The program schedule is subject to change.

Note: Meeting GRE score and GPA minimums does not guarantee a student will be accepted to the program.

Admission to this program does not require teacher certification.

Priority application deadline: June 15th for Fall admission.
The program does not consider applicants for the spring semester. Please contact Betty Hampton, Director of Graduate Student Services for the College of Education and Human Development, at betty.hampton @ louisville.edu if you wish to apply after the priority application deadline for the fall semester.

Apply Now

The Program is interested in admitting hardworking students committed to learning the science and practice of behavior analysis. Students are expected to commit to the program full-time. The steps involved in the application process are outlined below:

  1. Complete the online graduate application for admission.
  2. Submit official transcripts to: School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies | University of Louisville | Louisville, KY 40292. Electronic transcripts should be sent to: gradadm@louisville.edu
    • Applicants must have an undergraduate GPA of 2.75 or better and (if applicable) a graduate GPA of 3.0 or better.
    • Applicants who have attended a college or university outside the United States are also required to submit an evaluation of their transcript through World Education Services (WES) or Educational Credential Evaluators (ECE).
      Please note that transcript evaluations can sometimes take several weeks.
  3. Submit GRE scores using the code 1838.
    • Applicants must have a minimum combined (verbal and quantitative) score of 800 if they took the GRE prior to August 1, 2011.
    • Applicants taking the GRE on August 1, 2011 and after should refer to the table below:
      SectionExceeds expectationMeets expectationFalls below expectationsDoes not meet expections
      Verbal157 (73%) and above147 (32%) to 156 (70%)143 (18%) to 146 (28%)142 (15%) and below
      Quantitative153 (53%) and above142 (13%) to 152 (49%)138 (5%) to 141 (11%)137 (3%) and below
  4. Upload a personal statement to your on-line graduate application.
  5. Request two professional references. Applicants should indicate the e-mail addresses of two professional references in the appropriate section of the on-line Graduate application. Recommendation letter requests are automatically sent to the recommenders upon submission of the on-line application. (Applicants may check their application account to send reminders and check the status of their recommendation requests.) Adequate time should be given to recommenders to respond to the request by the application deadline!
  6. Upload your signed Acceptable Use of Technology and Code of Ethics statement to your on-line graduate application.
  7. Applicants whose first language in not English, and who did not earn a degree from an accredited institution in the U.S., must provide evidence of their English proficiency as part of the application process. For more information about the TOEFL, please visit www.ets.org. Test scores are valid for two calendar years.

If you have questions about applying to the program, please contact the Program’s Director, Dr. Robert Pennington, via email at robert.pennington@louisville.edu or phone at (502) 852-2633.

The Program’s faculty are comprised of instructors, researchers, and practitioners with a wealth of experience in the science and practice of behavior analysis.

Robert Pennington, Ph.D., BCBA-D
Robert Pennington PhD BCBA-D is an associate professor at the University of Louisville in the Department of Special Education. He has over 25 years of experience working with individuals with disabilities, their families and teachers. He graduated from the University of Kentucky in 2010 and has since published 30 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters related to working with persons with ASD and intellectual disability. Robert is passionate about the dissemination of research-based practice and has provided nearly 200 refereed and invited presentations to practitioners. He currently sits on five journal editorial boards and on multiple advisory panels included the Governor’s Advisory Council on Autism Spectrum Disorder. His current research interests involve behavior analytic communication instruction and expanding writing repertoires for students with significant intellectual disabilities.

Monica Delano, Ph.D.
Monica Delano is an Associate Professor in the Department of Special Education at the University of Louisville College of Education and Human Development. Prior to earning her doctorate, she worked as a classroom teacher, behavior consultant and job coach. A focus of her scholarly activities has been intervention research to promote literacy and social skills in learners with ASD. She is co-editor of the CEC/DADD publication, A Guide to Teaching Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders, and a member of the Editorial Board of Research and Practice in Severe Disabilities.

Terry Scott, Ph.D.
Terrance M. Scott is a Professor and Distinguished University Scholar in the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Louisville. Having received his Ph.D. in Special Education at the University of Oregon in 1994 (with an emphasis on emotional and behaviors) he has previously been a faculty member at the Universities of Kentucky, Florida, and Oregon. He has over 80 publications on a variety of issues in the areas of behavioral disorders and behavioral support systems and has conducted over 900 presentations and training activities throughout the U.S., Canada, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Norway. Dr. Scott has successfully competed for more than $13 million in external grant funding. In 2004 he received the Distinguished Early Career Award from the Research Division of the International Council for Exceptional Children and in 2012 he received the Outstanding National Leadership Award from the Council for Children with Behavior Disorders and was elected President of this organization in 2013. As a former counselor and teacher of students with seriously challenging behaviors, his research interests focus on school-wide prevention systems, the role of instructional variables in managing student behavior, functional behavior assessment/intervention, and scientific research in education.

Justin Cooper, Ed.D.
Justin T. Cooper is an Assistant Professor of Learning and Behavioral Disorders in the Department of Special Education at the University of Louisville in Louisville, Kentucky. He received his Ed.D. in special education from the University of Kentucky. Dr. Cooper teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on behavior management and applied behavior analysis. He has provided numerous presentations and trainings on functional behavioral assessment and the use of applied behavior analysis methodology. His current research interests include function-based approaches to changing behavior within multi-tiered systems of support and the role that teacher behavior has in managing student behavior. In addition to his work in higher education, he has been a special education classroom teacher in Utah, Wyoming, and Florida, working primarily with students who have emotional and behavioral disorders.

Erick Dubuque, Ph.D., BCBA-D, LBA
Erick Dubuque is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Special Education at the University of Louisville. Dr. Dubuque also serves as the Accreditation Administrator for the Association for Behavior Analysis International’s (ABAI) Behavior Analysis Accreditation Board (BAAB). Prior to his work at the University of Louisville, Dr. Dubuque served as an Assistant Professor and Program Director for Spalding University’s M.S. in Applied Behavior Analysis Program. He earned his degree in Psychology from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2012. Dr. Dubuque is a former U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer (Kenya) and is the President-Elect of the Kentucky Association for Behavior Analysis (KYABA). As an active member of the behavior analytic community, Dr. Dubuque has served as the Student Representative to the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) and on the organization’s Education Board. He is past Academic Coordinator for the Jordan University of Science and Technology Master’s Degree Program in Applied Behavior Health Analysis, the first graduate degree program in behavior analysis founded in the Middle East. Dr. Dubuque’s scholarly interests extend across the philosophical, experimental, applied, and professional domains in behavior science. A general theme across all of his interests is the understanding of technology and complex human behaviors, especially as they relate to the topics of education and social justice. Dr. Dubuque is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst-Doctor (BCBA-D) and Licensed Behavior Analyst (LBA) in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

Molly Dubuque, M.A., BCBA, LBA
Molly L. Dubuque is the Practicum Director for the University of Louisville’s M.Ed. in Autism and Applied Behavior Analysis Program and provides services as a Behavior Analyst at the University of Louisville’s Autism Center. She earned her M.A. in Psychology (with an emphasis in Behavior Analysis) from University of Nevada, Reno in 2008 where she served as the Assistant Director for a day treatment and habilitation program for adults with developmental disabilities and held various positions in the University of Nevada, Reno’s Early Childhood Autism Program. Molly is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), Licensed Behavior Analyst, and is a member of the Association of Behavior Analysis International, the Nevada Association of Behavior Analysis, and the Kentucky Association for Behavior Analysis. She has over 15 years of experience treating children and adults with developmental disabilities in the United States and overseas. Prior to moving to Kentucky, she served as a Behavior Analyst with Advanced Child Behavior Solutions where she provided consultation to parents and teachers of children with and without disabilities, conducted teacher and parent trainings, and managed home-based early intensive behavioral intervention (EIBI) services for young children with Autism. Molly has been actively involved in the education, supervision, and training of behavior analytic practitioners for over 10 years. Her previous appointments included Tutor Auditor in the Early Childhood Autism Program at the University of Nevada, Reno, Practicum Instructor in the Masters of Science in Applied Behavior Health Analysis Program at the Jordan University of Science and Technology, and Practicum Director in the M.S. in Applied Behavior Analysis Program at Spalding University. Molly currently serves as a representative to the Kentucky Association for Behavior Analysis (KYABA) and is an active member of Families for Effective Autism Treatment (FEAT).

Graduates of this program acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to address the needs of persons with Autism/ PDD in a variety of settings.

Financial Aid

In addition to the financial aid opportunities offered by the University, the College of Education & Human Development also has information about financial aid.

Other financial aid opportunities available include graduate assistantships and other employment opportunities.

Supervising and Resource Teachers

In recognition of valuable service to the preparation of teachers and the need for all teachers to have continual professional growth, a supervising teacher or a resource teacher for teacher interns may, with prior approval of the course-offering institution, take a maximum of six (6) credit hours per term at any public postsecondary institution and pay no tuition. The postsecondary institution shall waive the tuition up to a maximum of six (6) credit hours.

To apply, you must complete the Tuition Waiver Certification for Supervising and Resource Teachers Application [PDF]. It should be completed by the supervising teacher, certified by their principal, and returned to our office. Return the form to the Student Financial Aid Office at U of L, attention: Wesley Partin.

Eligibility: 6 credit hours of tuition benefits for each semester served as a full responsibility supervising or resource teacher, or 3 credit hours of tuition benefits for each semester served as a shared supervising or resource teacher. Students may exercise the tuition waiver option up to twelve months following the assignment. Tuition benefits are paid directly to the University of Louisville.

Practical Training

The Program's structured practical training system offers students the opportunity to practice the skills learned in the classroom across a variety of populations and settings. Students dedicate around 15 hours per week to their practicum coursework across four of their five consecutive semesters. As part of this training, students learn how to provide comprehensive early intensive behavioral intervention (EIBI) services to young children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Students are also assigned to community sites where they gain a wealth of experience working with a variety of populations in schools, clinics, and hospitals alongside talented BCBA professionals. The program is proud to have partnerships with the following community providers.