Certificate of
Specialization in Autism Spectrum Disorders

In 2005, several faculty members of West Chester University of PA met to discuss the need for and probability of offering a certificate in autism studies. Since that first meeting, faculty members from the departments of Early Childhood & Special Education, Communicative Disorders, Psychology, and Kinesiology have collaborated in the development of an interdisciplinary, empirically-based certificate in autism studies. The university is now proud to offer the Certificate of Specialization in Autism Spectrum Disorders. This Post-Baccalaureate Certificate program is geared towards community members who currently work with, or will work with, individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The 18-credit certificate provides students with the skill sets necessary to build and work within an interdisciplinary approach to effective and empirically-based treatment of individuals with autism spectrum disorders. Students learn strategies for implementing the interdisciplinary approach, as well as methods to assess the effectiveness of the approach, i.e. the effect of education/treatment on the person's quality of life. The program is be provided from the view point of several disciplines including psychology, special education, communicative disorders, and kinesiology.

Important information about the educational debt, earnings, and completion rates of students who attended this program.


The mission of this program is to provide professionals, parents, and other members of the community access to empirically validated educational approaches for teaching persons with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), strategies for implementing these approaches, as well as methods to assess the effectiveness of these approaches, i.e. the effect of education/treatment on the person's quality of life. The autism certificate program is based on the following assumptions:

  • People with ASD and their families have a wide range of disability-specific strengths and needs
  • Assessment and intervention must be based on evidence-based practices
  • Professionals who specialize in the treatment of individuals with ASD must understand the ASD profile, its history, and the challenges faced by families of individuals with ASD
  • Professional who support individuals with ASD must collaborate with each other
  • Specialization in autism requires course work, guided observation, and supervised clinical practicum

Curriculum (18 Credits)

The certificate program takes one full calendar year to complete. The first two courses of the certificate take place during the summer session. Four courses follow, 2 in the fall semester and 2 in the spring semester. The six course (18 credits) certificate includes:

  • EDA 544: Classroom Management
  • EDA 503: Family Systems - 30 hours field experience with a family living with an individual with autism
  • PSY 521: Dedicated to validated assessment and treatment
  • EDA 530: Detailing educational settings and interventions
  • SPP 565: Detailing communicative interventions and strategies
  • KIN 587: Dedicated to adapting physical education needs and recreational programs

In addition to Special Education, faculty members teaching courses in the certificate program come from the following departments: Communicative Disorders, Psychology, and Kinesiology.

Admission Procedures

  • Apply online at http://wcupa.edu/grad. If you need assistance call the Graduate Office at 610-436-2943
  • Arrange to have one (1) complete undergraduate transcript and proof of a baccalaureate degree sent to the Graduate Office. The transcript should include the cumulative grade point average of all undergraduate work.

For further information, please contact our Graduate Coordinators, Dr. Mary Houser, and Dr. Tara Guerriero at gradspecialeducation@wcupa.edu.