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Autism Specialist Endorsement Certificate

  • Credits for Licensure:
  • Degree:
    Post-Master's Certificate

Program Description

As a DESE endorsement, this Autism Specialist Endorsement Certificate recognizes specialized study in Autism by individuals with an Initial or Professional license and two years of teaching experience. This program provides educators in special education with a contextual and practical understanding of the Autism Spectrum and how to support families and schools while meeting the needs of students. The endorsement is not required for licensure or employment in schools. This program requires four courses and a 150-hour field-based experience.

The program and coursework are all online/hybrid.

Autism Specialist Endorsement Certificate Learning Outcomes

Graduates of the Autism Specialist Endorsement Certificate are able to meet the unique and complex educational needs of students on the Autism Spectrum, assist public schools in including students on the Autism Spectrum in developing and implementing IEPs and participating in regular education settings, and can assist families of students on the Autism Spectrum to participate meaningfully in their children’s education.

Careers and Further Study

Career options are defined by the educator’s original certificate. However, the Autism Specialist Endorsement indicates that the educator has acquired specialized knowledge and skill in assisting students on the Autism Spectrum. School districts have the authority to require candidates to hold or be eligible for the Autism Specialist Endorsement in addition to the original license.



Courses required may vary based on transcript analysis, reviewed by Program Chair. Courses already taken in this program at Cambridge College will be accepted. One 3-credit graduate-level course from another college or university will be considered.

Please note: If students have already completed ESP607 outside of this program, students are instead required to take ESP630: Social and Psychological Perspectives in Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism: History, Prevalence, Diagnosis and Characteristics
ESP 610 3 credit(s)
This course explores the evolving landscape of autism. It delves into the history of autism and debates its controversial causes. Students will trace the diagnostic shifts and understand core deficits' influence on daily life. Treatment modalities, the impact of technology, and the media's role in shaping societal perspectives, laws, and access to care are highlighted.
Behavior Management- ASD
ESP 625 3 credit(s)
Individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders and diagnoses with similar characteristics frequently manifest challenging behaviors that inhibit learning and access to many life long opportunities. This course will introduce students to the functional behavior assessment (FBA) process and intervention through the use of positive behavior intervention and support (PBIS). The dynamic intervention formats utilize the scientifically supported techniques of PBIS across a three tier level of need that includes school wide support, secondary support for at – risk students, and individual interventions. Individual interventions will be developed utilizing the principles of applied behavior analysis (ABA). The course will emphasize the use of least restrictive, non-aversive, researched supported techniques that take into account a whole child perspective, intervention for teaching functional equivalent skill deficits, increasing appropriate behavior, and decreasing challenging behaviors.
Communication Disorders - ASD
ESP 616 3 credit(s)
Communication-based disabilities are a diagnosing criteria of Autism spectrum disorders, diagnoses with similar characteristics, and are commonly seen in severe levels of developmental delay. Not only do communication difficulties greatly impact life-long educational, social, and vocational opportunities, they are closely associated with the presence of challenging behaviors such as aggression and self-injury. Following a review of typical and atypical language development, physiological, environmental, and psychological theories of language development will be presented. This course will examine criterion-based and peer-normed communication assessments, effective language-based teaching strategies for children with severe disabilities, and alternative communication forms such as picture exchange communication system, sign language, and other non-vocal communication systems. In addition, students will be introduced to the following: Provision of family-centered services; impact of culture on work with individuals with disabilities and their families; and recommended practices/framework for assessment and facilitation of communication for individuals with ASD.
Field Experience Internship and Seminar: Autism Specialist Endorsement
ABA 702 3 credit(s)

This is a supervised 150-hour field-based experience, 75 hours of which will be completed in a Massachusetts public school, approved private special education school, or educational collaborative. An additional 75 hours will be completed in any school setting working with students with autism. Candidates will also be observed, mentored and assessed during practicum. Seminar includes opportunities to share best practices and learn effective transitions systems, strategies, and supports that produce quality programming/services. Prerequisite: All other requirements and courses in the program must be successfully completed and the practicum setting must be approved.

Psycho-Educational Assessment for Teaching Exceptional Students
ESP 607 3 credit(s)
This course prepares candidates to assess various educational test instruments, understand outcome data, analyze various data sets and make hypotheses, and formulate academic goals and objectives. Candidates develop a conceptual framework to understand student's academic needs and develop appropriate interventions based upon testing outcome data. Test construction is introduced for evaluating various assessment instruments and the appropriateness of their use. Students utilize formal and informal assessments, standardized instrumentation, and screening instrumentation to gather data and formulate appropriate interventions and accommodations for various educational plans. Specific practices include formative assessment, academic feedback, and questioning. Pre-practicum hours of directed field-based training required.


  • Admission Test:

    No standardized graduate school tests required for admission into non-licensure programs

  • Admissions Office:
  • Application Form:
  • Application Fee:
    $50 ($100 for international students)

Program Requirements

Candidates are expected to enter the program based on prerequisite criteria to ensure that they have the prerequisite skills to be effective in the licensure role:

  • Valid Massachusetts initial or professional license as: Teacher of Students with Moderate Disabilities, Teacher of Students with Severe Disabilities, Teacher of Visually Impaired, Teacher of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.
  • School of Education requirements for certificate programs.

Other educators interested in participating in these courses are welcome, but will not receive the DESE endorsement unless they meet the requirements listed above.

Health Requirements for Massachusetts Students 

The Massachusetts Health Department and Cambridge College require the following of students in Massachusetts:

Immunizations – All students in Massachusetts are required to get certain immunizations before you can register for your first term. See form

Health Insurance – In Massachusetts, undergraduate students taking nine or more credits/term and graduate students taking six or more credits/term must enroll in the College’s health insurance plan. Students who have insurance with comparable coverage may request a waiver. See information and enroll or waive.

School Requirements

International Students 

International students need to provide supplemental documentation:

  • Official demonstration of English language proficiency
  • Supplemental documentation for issuance of I-20
  • International transcripts, evaluated by an accepted evaluation service

Transfer Credit 

Please complete the transfer credit request form if you wish to have prior course work evaluated for transfer. Learn more about transferring credits.



Credits: 15

Cost per Credit: $200

Application Fee: $50

Health Insurance Fee: $3,308 - Required for Massachusetts students. See waiver details on Tuition & Fees page.


Note: Rates are as of July, 2022, and are subject to change without notice. Rates apply to all students, unless otherwise noted.

Financial Aid

Cambridge College offers financial aid to students in our degree programs who are enrolled at least half time. Undergraduate students must be enrolled in at least 6 credits each term. Graduate and doctoral students must be enrolled in at least 4 credits each term. Learn more

Grants, Scholarships and Loans

Cambridge College welcomes the opportunity to support your efforts to pay for college.  Federal, state and local resources in the form of grants, scholarships, loans and work-study, including Cambridge College Scholarships, are available to help defray the cost of tuition. Learn more

Getting Your Company to Help

Many companies have tuition assistance programs, designed to help their employees with their professional development. Learn more

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