Autism is being diagnosed more and more often, and with this increase, there is an increase in demand for those with autism spectrum disorders degrees certifications. Because therapies take many forms, a wide variety of underlying degrees can get you started on adding a suitable credential to your resume.

Notably, the autism spectrum disorders (ASD) field is not a licensed one. Instead, your license, should you need one, will be in education, special education, or a related field. Requirements for the credential will depend not only on which state you’re in, but on which main professional focus you choose.

Many degrees of all levels in autism spectrum disorders are available fully or partially online. To find out how to apply and complete a level in this rewarding field, read the sections below.

Choosing the Right Online Autism Spectrum Disorders Degree Program

If you’re just starting out, it makes sense to go right for a master’s degree, which can allow you to be board certified. However, if you’ve already gotten a degree in a field like special education, speech pathology, or another specialty that is helpful for autistic people, you can add an autism spectrum disorders certification to beef up your original credential. Either choice will expand your career opportunities.

As with other degrees, it is important to make sure that your chosen online program is properly accredited. Thanks to the educational focus of this field of study, accreditation is typically provided by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).

Bachelor’s Degree

Some universities offer online bachelor’s degrees in autism spectrum disorders, but it is quite rare. More commonly, you’ll start out by going for an online degree in special education, general education, or a related field. This will then contribute credits toward a specialized master’s degree or certification.

Master’s Degree

This is the prime degree for autism spectrum disorder students. It allows the graduate to better focus on the needs of autistic children. Field studies or practicum hours are typically included so that the graduate will have some experience with actual autistic children before going into professional work. Many options allow for the classroom portion of the program to be completed online.


Those who already have degrees in education-based subjects should choose this path, rather than the master’s program. An online certification program will provide several classes directly related to autism spectrum disorder. These will work with the already-obtained educational courses to allow ASD to be added to your resume as a focus of study.

Which Autism Spectrum Disorders Degree is Right for Me?

Bachelor’s DegreeMaster’s DegreeGraduate CertificatePh.D. or PsyD
I am interested in gaining entry-level experience in autism spectrum disordersx
I want to get started in my autism spectrum disorders career before I pursue more educationx
I want to pursue a non-patient-facing rolexx
I want to switch to an autism spectrum disorders specialtyxx
I already have a psychology degree and want to gain specialized knowledge in autism spectrum disordersxx
I want to conduct research on autism spectrum disorders xx
I want to become a licensed psychologist and treat patientsx
I want to work in academiax

Autism Spectrum Disorders Degree Program Curriculum

Since the ASD aspect of a degree is often an add-on to a different degree, these programs work a bit differently from the norm. You’ll get to take online classes that are directly related to this specialty, rather than ones that are only tangentially relevant. However, before you can enter an ASD-specific program, you’ll first need a bachelor’s in a related subject. A bachelor’s isn’t nearly as focused, and will include classes in things like history, English, and math as well as ones that are centered on the degree’s focus.

Bachelor’s Degree – For this field, the underlying bachelor’s is typically education-related. It is typical for 120 credit hours to be required, with the classes spread out so that it’ll be a four-year degree. However, you can take more or fewer credit hours per semester, which will influence the time to graduation accordingly.

Master’s Degree – Master’s degree programs can require as few as 30 credit hours to complete, but they also include mandated practicum experience. The amount of experience involved depends on the school. In these programs, you’ll learn about topics like communicating with ASD students, positive behavior support, and how to help with life skills and transitions. Those who graduate have a better chance of getting into a career involving autistic children.

Certificate Programs – If you already have a master’s degree or greater in a special education or general educational field, you don’t need to get all of the credit hours and practicum experience needed for another master’s. Instead, choose a certificate program to add this skillset to your list of expertise. You may be able to get one with as few as six courses, but the exact number will depend on the school you choose.

Autism Spectrum Disorders Degree Program Clinical Requirements

At the master’s degree level, clinical experience becomes a requirement. How many hours this entails depends on the university, with some offering 90 hours, others 120 hours, and another, 270 hours. Many universities mention the need for practicum hours without saying how many. Contact the schools you’re interested in to get the full details of their program.

List of Online Autism Spectrum Disorders Degree Programs

Looking for an online autism spectrum disorders degree program near you? Browse our state-by-state school listings below.

Jump to Your State Listings


Certificate Programs
222 S. Copeland Street
Tallahassee, FL 32306-1037
(850) 644-2525

Graduate Certificate Programs
341 Tigert Hall 300 SW 13th St
Gainesville, FL 32611
(352) 392-1202


588 Longmeadow Street
Longmeadow, MA 01106
(413) 565-1000

Certificate Programs
1071 Blue Hill Ave
Milton, MA 02186-2395
(617) 333-0500


225 South 6th Street, 9th Floor
Minneapolis, MN 55402-3389
(866) 808-4080

1282 Concordia Ave
Saint Paul, MN 55104-5494
(651) 641-8278


Certificate Programs
220 McFall Ctr
Bowling Green, OH 43403
(418) 372-5526


712 S Broadway St
Menomonie, WI 54751
(715) 232-1122

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