A growing number of children are diagnosed with autism, and there is an increased need for teachers that can support their learning and development. Graduate students in this program will receive comprehensive training in evidence-based assessment and intervention for children and youth with autism, with real world experience in applied settings. A research-to-practice approach is emphasized, and students receive interdisciplinary training across related fields, including special education, applied behavior analysis, communication and development, and educational psychology.

The MA in Special Education with Certification in Autism is an online program, and applicants must have prior teaching certification in special education. The University of Alabama’s online Special Education graduate program is ranked among the best in the nation by U.S. News & World Reports. For more information about the program, please visit https://online.ua.edu/degrees/ma-in-special-education/#overview

Program Coordinator:  Dr. Laci Watkins


The Center for Innovative Research in Autism (CIRA) provides research and training opportunities for faculty and students; serves as a collaborative foundation for autism researchers across the University, the State of Alabama, and the nation; and disseminates research findings to improve outcomes for children and adults with autism and their caregivers. Students in the autism program will have opportunities to be involved with CIRA. Information about CIRA can be found here: https://cira.ua.edu

Admission Requirements

An applicant whose credentials meet both of the following minimum requirements may be considered for admission:

  1. GPA: The applicant must have a grade point average of 3.0 overall, 3.0 in the last 60 semester hours in a degree program, or 3.0 for a completed graduate degree program.
  2. Admission Test Scores: The applicant must have a score on the appropriate admissions test (e.g. GRE, GMAT, MAT) that is acceptable for regular admission if required by the department or degree program to which the applicant is seeking admission.

An applicant may also be considered for admission if he or she meets EITHER the GPA requirement for admission (GPA of 3.0) OR the admissions test score requirement for admission (if required by the program). In situations where another part of the application is particularly strong, applicants may be considered for admission if both the GPA and admission test score are below the thresholds above. In cases where an admission test score or GPA are below the numbers stated above, permission to continue is granted at the end of the first 12 hours of graduate credit by earning a minimum GPA of 3.0.

Application Process

  1. Complete the Application Form.
  2. Pay the application fee. The application fee is $65 for U.S. citizens and permanent residents and $80 for international students. Please note that application fees are non-refundable. The application fee is waived for the following groups:
    • Veterans and current members of the US military (please email your DD 214 or current assignment orders to gradschool@ua.edu).
    • Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program students (please email gradschool@ua.edu for more details).
    • University of Alabama undergraduates applying to a graduate program in the same subject area. To qualify for this application fee waiver a student must have no time break between the undergraduate and graduate program and have an overall GPA of 3.0 or greater.
    • Applicants who have previously enrolled in Graduate School at The University of Alabama.
  3. Within 48 hours of completing steps 1 and 2 you will receive an email with your Campus Wide Identification (CWID) number. It is VERY important that you keep this number somewhere safe.
  4. Submit supporting documents and check application status by selecting Manage Documents.

Program Requirements


Dr. Lucy Barnard-Brak

Professor, Autism

Dr. Laci Watkins

Assistant Professor, Autism