2023 Best Online Certificate in Autism Programs [Graduate Certificate]

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Earn an autism certificate online and gain specialized skills to support individuals with autism. Explore the best programs and advance your career.

If you are interested in learning more about supporting individuals with autism, whether personally or professionally, you might consider earning an autism certificate online.

Best Online Certificate in Autism Programs

Teachers, counselors, family therapists, paraprofessionals supporting educators, and family members of individuals with autism may all benefit from earning this academic credential. Courses from a graduate certificate program might also apply toward a master’s degree in a related field.

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Completing this graduate certificate could help you develop specialized skills for supporting individuals with autism at all ages and stages of life, both individually and in group settings.

Online Autism Certificate Programs

female student taking Certificate in Autism Online

Autism certificate graduate programs are designed for people who are looking to gain specialized skills and knowledge to better support individuals with autism. This certificate is often earned by professionals who work with autistic individuals in some capacity and want to gain expertise in this specialty area.

Diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is on the rise, especially in children, so there is a greater need than ever for professionals who specialize in this area. An autism certificate program will typically cover the characteristics of individuals with ASD as well as strategies for supporting them.

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Many programs provide support techniques for practical scenarios for all age levels, from children to adults. Your coursework may include studying the foundation of ASD, behavior assessments, instructional methods, verbal communication strategies, and family-center practices.

Key topics that will likely be included in your autism certificate program include:

  • Current autism research
  • Behavior management
  • Verbal processing and communication
  • Instructional best practices
  • Assessment and evaluation
  • Support strategies
  • Applied behavior analysis
  • Student Advocacy

Some professionals earn this certificate to advance in their current career or to move fields. Others may put their certificate coursework toward a master’s degree in a related field.

A certificate program in this specialty could also help you prepare for autism specialist certification. Some careers that can benefit from this certification include:

  • Teachers
  • Psychologists
  • Speech-language pathologists
  • Therapists
  • School counselors
  • Interventionists
  • Paraprofessionals

The main focus of earning an ASD certificate is to develop skill sets and strategies for assisting individuals with autism.

Autism Careers & Salaries

Autism Careers & Salary

An autism graduate certificate program can be beneficial for working professionals in a variety of positions and fields. Teachers of all grade levels, special education teachers, counselors, psychologists, and paraprofessionals supporting educators are just a few of the careers that can benefit.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are the median salaries of potential career paths that might utilize the specialized study of autism spectrum disorder.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Psychologists $81,040
Speech-Language Pathologists $79,060
Instructional Coordinators $63,740
Special Education Teachers $61,820
Health Education Specialists $60,600
School and Career Counselors and Advisors $60,510
Social Workers $50,390
Marriage and Family Therapists $49,880
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors $48,520
Preschool and Childcare Center Directors $47,310

A wide range of careers can benefit from the completion of an autism certificate. The type of position you may qualify for could depend on a number of factors, such as your current position, level of experience, and prior education.

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An autism certificate program can also help you prepare for professional autism certification.

Autism Graduate Certificate Curriculum & Courses

group study of students taking Certificate in Autism

While courses vary from program to program, below are some common courses you may take when pursuing an autism graduate certificate program:

  • Foundations of Autism Spectrum Disorders: Students in this course will increase their understanding of verbal behavior and its role in learning and communication.
  • Behavior Analytic Assessment: In this course, you’ll learn to create goals for behavior change, to conduct assessments, and interpret assessment data.
  • Instructional Methods for Behavior and Learning: You’ll learn instructional approaches and methods for managing behavior both individually and in a classroom.
  • Measurement, Interpretation, and Experimental Design: This course focuses on increasing your understanding of individuals with autism and identifying challenges.
  • Verbal Behavior: Students in this course will apply essential elements of behavior change to social skill interventions for individuals in inclusive settings.
  • Communication, Language, and Sensory Aspects for Autism: In this course, you’ll focus on the visual and sensory aspects of communication.
  • Family-Center Practices: You’ll learn how to objectively identify problem behavior, conduct assessments, and develop recommendations for intervention.
  • Ethics of Applied Behavior Analysis: In this course, you’ll analyze ethical dilemmas that behavior analysts may encounter.
  • Characteristics of Autism Spectrum Disorder and Assessment: This course provides an overview of autism, including characteristics and criteria.
  • Consultation Frameworks and Issues: This course focuses on the role and activities of educational consultants working with families, professionals, and support personnel.

In addition to the above courses, some programs may offer electives on relevant and timely topics or specialized courses from visiting professionals.

Admissions Requirements

Man preparing requirements for Certificate in Autism

While admissions criteria vary by school, below are some common admissions requirements for pursuing an ASD certificate program:

  • Official undergraduate transcripts
  • Personal statement explaining your interest in the program
  • Resume detailing your education and work experience
  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited school
  • GRE or GMAT scores (not required by all schools)

In addition to the above criteria, programs typically require the submission of an online application as well as an application fee.


University offering Certificate in Autism Programs

Accreditation is the process of ensuring that a school meets a predetermined standard of quality. Regional accreditation is the most widely accepted type of accreditation.

The accreditation status of your school can potentially affect everything from your additional education opportunities to your employment. Many employers and graduate programs seek applicants with academic credentials from regionally accredited schools.

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Your certificate courses might also apply to related graduate programs if your certificate program is from a regionally accredited institution. For additional school accreditation information, you can visit the US Department of Education’s website.

Autism Licensure and Certifications

Special Education Teacher with autistic certification

There are two main autism certifications offered by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES):

  • Autism Certificate (AC): This credential recognizes professionals who specialize in working with individuals with autism spectrum disorder, and it requires recertification every 2 years.
  • Certified Autism Specialist (CAS): The CAS credential is for professionals who specialize in ASD and hold a master’s degree in a related field, such as social work, psychology, or education.

Both certification options typically require applicants to have completed ASD coursework and training and to pass the Autism Certificate Competency Exam.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Certificate in Autism financial aid

As you explore autism certificate programs online, you might also research different financial aid opportunities that may be available to you.

If you are currently employed in a related field, such as education or counseling, your employer may offer financial benefits to help with tuition. You could also look into funding that’s available through state and federal loans or grants. While loans usually need to be repaid, grants do not.

You can also explore work-study programs that allow you to work part-time to help pay for your program. Scholarship programs are additional aid options to look into. You can visit the Federal Student Aid website for more information about potential financial aid options.

What Can You Do with a Certificate in Autism?

Special Education Teacher guiding an autistic student

Graduates who have earned an autism graduate certificate may have numerous opportunities where they can apply their specialized skills and knowledge.

Educators, counselors, psychologists, family therapists, speech-language pathologists, special education teachers, and paraprofessionals are all types of professionals who can benefit from this training.

A graduate certificate in this specialty might help you advance your current career or move into a new field. Plus, your certificate coursework might count toward a masters degree program in a related field. An autism certificate program could also be beneficial for family members of autistic individuals.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Autism Certificate Online?

student completing her Autism Certificate online

While the exact completion time will vary by program, many autism certificates can be completed in less than 1 year with full-time study. Some graduate certificate programs can be completed within a semester. Online programs often have accelerated options with semester terms that last 8 weeks.

Many online programs offer flexible courses that allow you to work on your own schedule with no set log-in times, completing work on your schedule and pace. Part-time enrollment will often lead to longer completion times.

Is a Graduate Certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorders Worth It?

Psychologist with certificate of autism

Yes, a graduate certificate in autism spectrum disorders is worth it for many professionals. There are a wide variety of careers that can benefit from this specialized field of study.

For instance, educators or paraprofessionals working with students in a classroom or an individual setting may develop educational best practices for helping students with ASD. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for special education teachers is expected to grow 4% over the next ten years, as fast as most occupations.

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Specializing in ASD can also be beneficial for counselors, therapists, speech-language pathologists, and healthcare professionals.

Universities Offering Online Graduate Certificates in Autism Programs

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.

Arizona State University

Arizona State University campus

Arizona State University offers an Autism Spectrum Disorders Graduate Certificate. The program can be completed fully online, and the certificate earned online is the same as the one earned in its on-campus counterpart. The program requires the completion of five classes for a total of 15 credit hours. Each class is 7.5 weeks long. Potential courses include Family-Centered Practices and Verbal Behavior.

Arizona State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Ball State University

Ball State University campus

Ball State University offers a Graduate Certificate in Autism that can be earned fully online. The program requires the completion of five classes for a total of 15 credit hours. Courses are offered in 8 and 16 week formats. Credits can potentially be applied toward a master’s in special education. A potential course in the program is Field-Based Experience in Autism.

Ball State is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of Central Florida

University of Central Florida campus

U.S. News & World Report named the University of Central Florida among the most innovative schools in the country. The school offers a Graduate Certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorders. The program is available entirely online and requires the completion of 12 credit hours. The credits earned from the certificate may be applied to an undergraduate or graduate degree.

The University of Central Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of Kansas

University of Kansas campus

U.S. News & World Report ranked the University of Kansas as having the best online master’s in special education. KU offers a Graduate Certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorder. The program is fully online and can potentially be completed in 8 months. Courses are asynchronous and offered in an 8 week, accelerated format.

The University of Kansas is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of North Dakota

University of North Dakota campus

EDsmart named the University of North Dakota the #2 school in the country for online graduate programs. UND offers an Autism Spectrum Disorders Graduate Certificate that can be earned fully online. The program requires the completion of 12 credit hours. It can potentially be finished in 12 months. Courses are asynchronous.

UND is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Getting Your Certificate in Autism Online

Man getting Online Certificate in Autism

Pursuing an ASD graduate certificate online could help you develop the skills and knowledge to best support individuals with autism in various settings and careers.

An autism graduate certificate could be beneficial for current counselors, educators, paraprofessionals, and healthcare workers, among others. Specializing in ASD may allow you to further your career or pursue a masters degree in a related field. This type of program could also help you work toward professional autism certification.

If you wish to support children or adults who have autism spectrum disorder, an online graduate certificate program in ASD could help you develop your professional expertise. You could start exploring accredited universities today to find the program that’s right for you.

Ready to start your journey?
Kathryn holds a Bachelor's degree in English Education from the University of Delaware, and an ESL certificate in Teaching English as a Second Language from Duke University. Kathryn has spent her entire career in education, with a focus on helping students of all ages ensure they have the necessary skills to maximize their educational opportunities.