Online MS in Special Education (ABA)

This 42-credit biblically-centered program equips professionals with teaching and intervention skills based on ABA principles. ABA is the most research-supported scientific treatment for autism and is highly effective for individuals with other disabilities as well.

Earn the MS in Special Education degree in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and concurrently fulfill requirements for the highly demanded Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) credential, Pennsylvania Behavior Specialist License (LBS), and Pennsylvania Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) endorsement.

Program Strengths

  • First Christian university program worldwide verified by the BACB that integrates extensive autism training
  • Program can be started in any semester and completed in as few as seven semesters
  • 50% tuition discount for educators working in Christian schools
  • Integrated field experience component
  • Advance standing may be granted for Bible/theology credits
  • Two tracks as determined by selection of 12 elective credits:
    • Intensive Practicum Track
      • Must take three 2-credit ABA Intensive Practicum – Group courses to fulfill 750 intensive practicum hours
      • Also select 6 elective credits of Special Education and/or ABA Intensive Practicum – Individual courses
    • Coursework-Only Track
      • Select 12 elective credits of Special Education and/or ABA Intensive Practicum courses
Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) credential
  • Course sequence verified by BACB as meeting coursework requirements for BCBA Exam eligibility
  • Intensive Practicum Track—all requirements met for BCBA Exam eligibility.
  • Coursework-Only Track—only BCBA coursework requirements met; experience requirements can be met through supervised independent fieldwork. Visit for details
  • Students are responsible to verify if this program meets the ABA licensing or certification requirements of the state and/or country where they intend to practice
MS in Special Education Degree in ABA
  • All requirements are met via either track
  • Does not lead to Special Education certification
Pennsylvania Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) Endorsement
  • All requirements are met via either track
  • Available only for certified or licensed educators, school psychologists, principals, guidance counselors, speech and language clinicians, occupational and physical therapists, and home and school visitors
  • Eligibility limited to US citizens or individuals intending to become US citizens
Pennsylvania Behavior Specialist License (BSL)
  • Meet all coursework requirements for the BSL upon passing the BCBA exam and receiving the BCBA credential.
  • Meet experience requirements using the same experience hours accrued to satisfy BCBA requirements and an additional semester of 250 intensive practicum hours or supervised independent fieldwork. See BSL Application for details.

Online Intensive Practicum Electives

  • Board Certified Behavior Analyst
    • Cairn’s ABA Intensive Practicum courses have been verified by the BACB as meeting the experience requirements for BCBA Exam eligibility
    • Students interested in applying for the BCBA Exam may meet experience requirements via one of the following avenues:
    • Intensive Practicum Track: Complete 750 hours of intensive practicum hours as follows:
      • Enroll in three semesters of online ABA Intensive Practicum-Group courses to receive group supervision
      • Concurrently complete about 250 intensive practicum hours per semester at a University approved site
      • Concurrently receive individual supervision each semester by enrolling in SPE 798 or arranging for an onsite or independent BCBA supervisor approved by the University
    • Coursework-Only Track: Intensive practicum courses are optional. Applicants can opt to fulfill all experience requirements by completing 1500 hours of supervised independent fieldwork or in combination with intensive practicum electives. Visit for details
  • Pennsylvania Behavior Specialist License (LBS)
    • Meet the experience requirements as stated here via one of the following avenues:
      • Intensive Practicum Track: Complete 750 hours of intensive practicum hours as indicated above and then complete an additional 250 intensive practicum hours by taking SPE 797 a second time. Must involve FBAs.
      • Coursework-Only Track: Complete 1,000 independent fieldwork hours or in combination with intensive practicum courses.
Portrait of a girl on a school bus.

Applying for the ABA Program


To enter the program, the candidate will:

To complete the program, the candidate will:

  • Successfully complete all required coursework with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0

For more information about the online ABA program, contact Luke Gibson, Admissions Counselor, at

Typical Program Curriculum

Semester 42 Credits: (24 Credits of Required Courses + 6 Bible and Theology Credits + 12 Elective Credits*)
Fall #1 SPE 681 Behavior Analysis and Autism Assessment
SPE 661 Foundations of Special Education
Spring #1 SPE 682 Behavioral Intervention in Autism
SPE 683 Behavioral and Instructional Models for Autism Intervention
Summer #1 SPE 781 Advanced Ethics and Supervision
SPE 684 Behavioral & Instructional Systems for Autism Support
Fall #2 SPE 782 Behavior Measurement and Experimental Design
SPE Elective*
Spring #2 SPE 793 Special Education Research Project
SPE Elective*
Summer #2 BIB 621 Biblical Integration for Educators
SPE Elective*
Fall #3 THE 601 Overview of Christian Theology
SPE Elective*
*For Intensive Practicum track, select ABA Intensive Practicum courses (SPE 795, SPE 796, SPE 797, & SPE 798) to fulfill 6–12 of the 12 SPE elective credits.
BACB Verified Course Sequence

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