Autism Spectrum Graduate Certificate and Related Studies

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Plan of Study

The Autism Spectrum Graduate Certificate offers a comprehensive plan of sudy comprising specialized courses that are linked to highly relevant field experiences and portfolio documentation for demonstrating professional competencies in autism spectrum related knowledge and skills.

Click here for overview of Autism Certificate study requirements

Core Autism Spectrum Courses (12 units)

  • SPED 791 Nature of Autism Spectrum (3 units) - Fall & Spring semesters
  • SPED 825 Communication, Behavior and Instruction: Autism (3 units) - Fall & Spring semesters
  • SPED 794* Socialization and Imagination: Autism (3 units) - Spring semester
  • *SPED 791 or 825 is a prerequisite for SPED 794
  • Elective (graduate-level seminar with faculty approval) (3 units)

See Bulletin for course descriptions

Field Experiences

Field experiences explicitly support opportunities to apply theoretical constructs, conduct and interpret assessments, and design and implement curriculum, instruction and intervention practices with diverse learners on the autism spectrum in a variety of educational and therapeutic contexts.

Field experiences are closely aligned with each of the four Autism Spectrum certificate courses.. While participating in the program, candidates conduct a total of 100 hours of field experience (averaging 25 hours per course).

The majority of field experiences may be carried out in a respective school, clinic or program site where a candidate is working or has access to engaging with learners on the autism spectrum. Candidates who are not working with this population, or otherwise do not have access to learners on the autism spectrum, will be supported by faculty to identify appropriate settings among our partner school, clinical and community field sites.

While conducting field experiences, candidates will be offered guidance from highly knowledgeable and experienced faculty and field site mentors.

Portfolio Documentation

Autism Spectrum Graduate Certificate candidates are required to develop a Portfolio over the course of their studies. The Portfolio is designed as a repository for documents and artifacts that demonstrate the evolution of professional competencies (knowledge and skill) acquired through course participation and field experiences. Candidates are encouraged to be creative in developing and personalizing Portfolios as a reflection of their unique professional experiences. Portfolios shared with prospective employers may ultimately give graduates an edge in finding meaningful work in the area of autism. 

Portfolio Development
Candidates have the option of developing either an ePortfolio (web-based) or PDF version of the Portfolio. Portfolio contents include course documentation, field experience documentation and evaluations (see Portfolio Contents).

Portfolio Submission
Completed Portfolios are due by the end of November (Fall semester) or end of April (Spring semester) in order to file for the award of the certificate (see below) in the same semester. To submit the Portfolio, email a link or PDF to

Portfolio Review
Portfolios will be reviewed in the order that they are received by the due date of a given semester. Portfolios received after the due date will be reviewed at the start of the subsequent semester. Candidates will be notified and receive the Final Evaluation Report when Portfolio reviews are complete in advance of the filing deadline.

Filing for the Award of the Autism Spectrum Graduate Certificate

Upon successful completion of the Autism Spectrum Graduate Certificate requirements (following Portfolio review) candidates obtain and complete the original Certificate Approved Program (CAP) form (which was filed with the Department at the time of admission - see Applying for Admission). Candidates may only submit the CAP the semester they graduate with their Master’s degree (this does not apply to students who posses a Master’s degree). The CAP must be turned in by the last week of classes (before finals week) in order to be processed in the same semester. 

To obtain signatures on the CAP, candidates submit the form to Dr. Pamela Wolfberg's mailbox in the Department of Special Education Burk Hall 156 ; the signed form will be forwarded for further processing. The Certificate willl subsequently be sent directly to the graduate by mail. Note that the certificate may arrive separately from the graduate degree at a later date.

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