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Master's degree in Special Education and Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)

Drexel University School of Education

Now, more than ever, schools are looking for highly trained professionals who can understand, analyze, and guide students with behavioral disorders. The benefit of earning a master's degree in special education and applied behavior analysis is that it allows educators to lead welcoming classrooms where children on the autism spectrum can thrive. Drexel’s online master’s degree program in Special Education and Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) combines two of Drexel master’s programs into a single degree that provides students with two highly desirable credentials. Through our BACB-accredited curriculum, graduate students complete the prerequisites needed to sit for the Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) Exam. The master's program also prepares students to apply for Pennsylvania’s special education certification.


  • Earning a master’s in two relevant areas presents a great cost savings opportunity
  • All courses are taught online in small cohorts, giving students flexibility in their studies
  • Students gain valuable experience in the field through partner locations including the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute

What can you do with a Master’s Degree in Special Education and Applied Behavior Analysis?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Applied Behavior Analysis field has grown significantly over and is expected to continue to grow over the next 5 years. Through the program, graduates will develop knowledge and skills to guide change in human behavior. Students will also be certified to teach and lead special education programs in schools. 

Graduates of the Special Education/Applied Behavior Analysis Master's degree program have boundless career opportunities, and a competitive edge in the job market. Career opportunities include:

  • Special Education teacher
  • Behavior Analyst
  • Administrator of Special Education programs
  • Behavior Support Specialist
  • Special Education advisor for departments of education
  • Autism Support Specialist
  • Autism Consultant Teacher

Upon completion of the coursework, Drexel University will recommend students for special education certification. Graduates will also be eligible to take the BACB exam, provided they have completed the necessary practicum hours.The program takes about two and a half years to complete.

Special Education/Applied Behavior Analysis Master's Program Options

As the only master’s degree program of its kind, the Special Education/Applied Behavior Analysis Master's program is a part-time program and is 100% online. Drexel is a pioneer in online education, offering students with BCBA accredited dual degree options and opportunities to work with autism spectrum disorders (or ASDs) first-hand in classroom settings. Our ABA/Special Education courses are flexible and tailored to meet the needs of today’s students. Graduates of the program earn the same high-quality degree as students who attend programs on-campus. Online students also have access to Drexel’s world class resources and facilities, including the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute.

Special Education and Applied Behavior Analysis Master's Program Eligibility

Below are a list of requirements for students wishing to enroll in the program. Transfer credits are evaluated on a case by case basis by the program manager.

Admissions Criteria

  • Students must have a PA Instructional 1 teaching certification in order to earn special education certification
  • A bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution
  • Undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher (graduate GPA will be considered along with the undergraduate GPA)
    • If you do not meet this requirement, you’re still encouraged to apply and your file will be reviewed on an individual basis by the Program Director

Required Documents

  • A completed application
  • Official transcripts from all universities or colleges and other post-secondary educational institutions (including trade schools) attended
  • Two professional letters of recommendation
  • Personal Essay that addresses the following:
    • Why you are interested in this field
    • Why you are interested in attending the program at Drexel University
    • What are your career goals and how will Drexel’s program help you achieve those goals?
    • How does this program relate to your previous education and/or work experience?
  • Additional requirements for International Students

Special Education/Applied Behavior Analysis Master's Courses and Curriculum

The courses for Drexel’s Special Education/Applied Behavior Analysis MS degree program are separated into four 10-week terms per year. This allows students to complete more courses in a shorter period of time. The online master's degree curriculum incorporates cutting edge research and technology, with practical real-world experience to prepare students to be leaders in their field.

Our online Applied Behavior Analysis courses have been certified by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board, an international non-profit organization responsible for outlining professional standards in the behavior analysis field.

The program consists of:

  • 24 Special Education credits
  • 27 Applied Behavior Analysis credits
  • 15 professional elective credits
  • 9 capstone credits

Capstone Courses

Students in the Special Education/Applied Behavior Analysis MS program complete a research capstone course where they are introduced to various types of research designs and learn to be both consumers and producers of research. Following completion of the research course, students will complete a capstone experience by selecting one of the two-course multi-disciplinary sequence options below:

  • Thesis (Part I and II) - Students who select this option will be required to complete a master’s thesis which consists of a well-written research paper, comprised of five chapters that posits a research question and uses logical arguments & data to address/answer a gap in research
  • Lesson Study (Part I and II) - Students who select this option will be required to complete a research-based lesson design and analysis project
  • Practitioner Course (Part I and II) - Students who select this option will be required to complete a master’s project. Examples include: A reform initiative narrative, program or grant proposal, white paper or policy analysis, or program evaluation

Course descriptions may be found in the Drexel University Course Catalog.

How to Apply to the Special Education/Applied Behavior Analysis Master’s Degree

The Special Education/Applied Behavior Analysis Degree program is offered 100% online. You can get started by filling out the Drexel Online application. Questions? You can request more information or schedule an appointment with a program manager here.