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Special Education, BSE - Autism and Severe Disabilities Area

Special Education Bachelor of Science in Education - Autism and Severe Developmental Disabilities Concentration

Learn how to confidently connect with, engage and educate high-needs children in the state’s only undergraduate Special Education Teaching degree for Autism and Severe Developmental Disabilities. 

This concentration within the University of Central Missouri’s Special Education Bachelor of Science degree program prepares you to work with K–12 students who have severe developmental disabilities. Successfully educating these children requires multiple teaching strategies. At UCM, you’ll acquire these differentiated learning techniques and learn how to create safe spaces that support the diverse needs of your future students.

This Special Education degree program will qualify you for Missouri Teacher Certification in Severe Developmental Disabilities K–12, which will enable you to become a public school teacher for children of all ages who have severe developmental disabilities.

What is special education for children with autism and severe disabilities?

Severe developmental disabilities are fairly uncommon among K–12 students, but autism is not. The CDC reports that 1 in 36 children are affected. Elementary and high school special education teachers qualified to work with these students are in strong demand. UCM’s undergraduate Autism and Severe Developmental Disabilities degree — the only one of its kind in the state — trains you to help these children succeed.

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State’s only undergraduate ASDD program

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Develop an in-demand specialty

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Accredited by CAEP and CEC

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Small classes and caring mentorship

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Excellent value Special Education degree

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Respected program since the 1960s


What you will study

UCM’s Special Education degree, with a concentration in Autism and Severe Developmental Disabilities, will prepare you to teach K–12 students with significant intellectual or physical disabilities. Our Special Education programs include teacher training to develop the specialized skills you’ll need for working with your future students. 

The University of Central Missouri’s Special Education programs are fully accredited by the Council for Exceptional Children, meeting rigorous standards. Your coursework will include topics such as:

  • Evaluation of Abilities and Achievement: This course provides you with the tools to answer the question, “what is special education, and when is that track right for a student?” Learn to administer and interpret intelligence tests and diagnostic procedures and to design curricula that address individual needs.
  • Physical and Health Care Needs of Students with Autism and Severe Developmental Disabilities: High school and elementary special education teachers of children with significant disabilities must be able to accommodate their students’ diverse physical needs in the classroom. This core course of your degree program will help you understand how to create an educational plan that supports the whole child.
  • Augmentative and Alternative Communication: Teaching children with autism and significant disabilities can require adaptive communication techniques. In UCM’s Special Education Teaching degree program, you’ll learn to use a variety of tools, including American Sign Language and communication devices.


Excellence in Special Education

  • UCM's Special Education programs are accredited by the Council for Exceptional Children.
  • The College of Education is fully accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation.
  • Top 15%: Most Focused Colleges for Education (College Factual, 2022)
  • Top 6%: Most Popular Colleges for Education (College Factual, 2022)
  • A Best Value Bachelor’s Degree College for General Special Education (College Factual, 2022)


Unique learning opportunities in special education for students with autism and severe disabilities

The University of Central Missouri’s Warrensburg campus provides convenient access to a variety of school settings. Gain hands-on experience working in urban, suburban and rural classrooms, building your confidence as a future elementary or high school special education teacher.

Experience the benefit of UCM’s student-centered learning with personalized attention in small classes, mentorship from professors who genuinely care about your success and many opportunities for experiential learning:

  • Active peer network: UCM is home to a chapter of the Student Council of Exceptional Children (SCEC). By joining SCEC, you can support individuals with disabilities on campus and in the community. In addition to professional development opportunities, you can build a lifelong, enriching network of future high school and elementary special education teachers.
  • Learn by doing: Many of the classes for your Special Education degree include practical application, putting you in the classroom to work directly with children who have autism or significant developmental disabilities.
  • Experience running a classroom: UCM’s Special Education Teaching degree, with a concentration in Autism and Severe Developmental Disabilities, concludes with a semester of student teaching, ensuring that you start your new career as a high school or elementary special education teacher with real-world experience.


What can you do with a Special Education degree from UCM?

UCM’s accredited Special Education programs are highly respected. Our graduates are actively sought out by regional school districts and often hired before they complete their student teaching experience. Many receive signing incentives, reflecting the current demand for teachers trained to work with students with autism or significant disabilities.

What is special education’s career path, though? K–12 educators typically receive their undergraduate special education teaching degree, qualify for state certification in their focus area — such as Severe Developmental Disabilities — and take a job as a high school or elementary special education teacher immediately after graduation. 

A rewarding career as an educator for children with significant disabilities is possible with only an undergraduate Autism degree. However, if you decide to pursue graduate study or additional certification, UCM’s standards-led Special Education programs are excellent preparation.

What is Special Education’s current job market?

There is a nationwide shortage of qualified elementary and high school teachers for Special Education programs. Graduates of UCM’s Autism and Severe Developmental Disabilities concentration enjoy a 100% employment rate. Use the interactive tool below to see employment and compensation trends for job seekers with a Special Education Teaching degree.




Financial assistance options for your Special Education teaching degree

The Special Education programs at the University of Central Missouri represent extraordinary value. Our graduates, taught to CEC standards, are sought-after around the state. UCM’s commitment to low student debt means your in-demand job skills come with affordable tuition and an extensive range of financial aid options.

In fact, 94% of our undergraduate students receive financial aid. As a student of Special Education in the Autism and Severe Disabilities area, you may be eligible for these additional funds to help finance your college education:

  • Coonley-Guth Scholarship in Special Education
  • Dr. Don Rice Scholarship in Special Education
  • Cleary Scholarship in Special Education

Learn more about program-specific scholarships by using the UCM Scholarship Finder.


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Take your degree further.

Once you’ve earned your Bachelor of Science Education in Special Education, you may consider one of UCM’s related graduate degrees:

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Explore programs related to teaching students with autism and severe developmental disabilities.

UCM offers additional concentrations within the Special Education Bachelor of Science degree program:



UCM is the longest continuously CAEP accredited public institution in Missouri

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The program is nationally recognized by the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), the leading advocacy organization for special education in the country.


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