Online MS in Special Education (ABA)

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This 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 (ABA) and concurrently fulfill requirements for the highly demanded Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) credential and meet partial course requirements for the Pennsylvania Behavior Specialist License (BSL).

Program Highlights

  • Ranked 5th in Top 15 Best Online ABA Programs and 7th in 10 Best Online ABA Master’s Degree Programs
  • First Christian university program worldwide, with extensive autism training, that has been verified to meet coursework and experience requirements for eligibility to take the BCBA Exam®
  • May be started any semester and completed in as few as seven semesters
  • 50% tuition discount for educators working in Christian schools
  • Unique 5th edition course sequence verified to meet coursework requirements for the 5th edition BCBA exam and 4th edition BCBA exam (if SPE 726 is replaced by SPE 731)
  • Advance standing for Bible/theology credits available
  • Intensive Practicum (IP) Track and Coursework-Only Track available
  • Requirements of two other credentials fully or partially met as listed below
Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) credential
  • BCBA credential eligibility requirements include a Master’s degree in Education, Psychology, or ABA; meeting coursework and experience requirements; and passing the BCBA exam. Visit for details and other requirements.
  • The 4th edition exam is available through November 2021 and the 5th edition exam is available starting January 2022.
  • Intensive Practicum (IP) Track: Fulfill 9 elective credits through 3 semesters of SPE 891 ABA Practicum Group Supervision course to receive online group supervision while accruing intensive practicum hours at a self-arranged site per University approval.
  • During each semester of IP, individual supervision must also be provided by onsite or self-hired BCBA supervisor. Or take optional SPE 892 ABA Practicum Individual Supervision course at additional credits beyond the program.
  • 750 IP hours required for 4th edition exam; 1500 IP hours required for 5th edition exam. Any remaining hours not accrued through 3 semesters of IP courses must be completed independent of the University. For experience requirement details, visit BACB’s Experience Standards for 4th edition and Experience Requirements for 5th edition.
  • Coursework-Only Track: No practicum required. Meets only BCBA coursework and Master’s degree requirements. All 9 elective credits can be fulfilled through Special Education electives. Does not lead to BCBA exam eligibility unless additional requirements are met.
  • Both tracks do not lead to Special Education certification
  • 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
  • BCBA exam pass-rate data are not published for sequences with fewer than six first-time candidates in a single year or for sequences within their first four years of operation.
Pennsylvania Behavior Specialist License (BSL)
  • Most BSL coursework requirements fulfilled; remaining course requirements may be met through courses provided by PA State at no cost (availability per PA State)
  • Coursework requirements fully met upon obtaining BCBA credential
  • Experience requirements partially met through practicum courses
  • See the BSL Application for details on the above and other requirements.

Typical Program Curriculum

Semester 39 Total Credits = 24 Required Credits + 9 Elective Credits + 6 Bible/Theology Credits
Fall #1 SPE 721 ABA for Autism and Other Disabilities I
SPE 722 ABA for Autism and Other Disabilities II
Spring #1 SPE 723 Interventions for Autism/Other Disabilities
SPE 725 Principles of Behavior
Summer #1 SPE 726 Secondary Transition Assessment and Intervention (1 cr.) 1
SPE 727 Supervision/Management (2 cr.)
SPE 728 Ethics for Behavior Analysts
Fall #2 SPE 724 Single Subject Research
SPE Elective2
Spring #2 SPE 793 Special Education Research Project
SPE Elective2
Summer #2 THE 601 Overview of Christian Theology
SPE Elective2
Fall #3 BIB 621 Biblical Integration for Educators

1If taking 4th edition exam, replace SPE 726 with SPE 731 ABA for Daily Life.
2Take SPE 891 ABA Practicum Group Supervision for up to 3 semesters if Intensive Practicum Track.



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 MS in Special Education (ABA) degree, contact Kristina O’Connell, Admissions Counselor, at

Learn about the time and technical requirements for Cairn University online programs.

“In my favorite class, I learned many different interventions and had a lot of hands-on assignments such as making our own work bin activity. The interventions were what I had seen during my practicum at an autism clinic and I had wanted to learn more about them. This practical course helped to bring everything together and gave me great confidence in using them.”

Helen Kang
Master of Arts (ABA)

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