Academic Behavioral Strategist (A.B.S.) teaching licensure & M.Ed.

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Academic Behavioral Strategist (A.B.S.)
teaching licensure & M.Ed.

Become certified to teach students with mild to moderate disabilities, then specialize in one area of moderate to severe

Each student with a disability has a unique set of academic, behavioral, social, emotional, communication, and functional needs. The academic behavioral strategist (ABS) licensure program will prepare you to meet the needs of young people -- kindergarten through age 21 -- with mild to moderate disabilities. During the program, you'll receive your initial ABS license. Then, you'll choose a specialty in moderate to severe autism, developmental disabilities, emotional/behavioral disorders, or learning disabilities to add to your license.

U.S. News & World Report recently rated our program #8 in the nation among special education graduate programs.

We were recently ranked the #6 "Most Innovative" master's degree by Masters in Special Education Program Guide.

How to apply


Graduates of the academic behavioral strategist (ABS) licensure program:

  • Teach in classrooms, resource rooms, or 18-21 transition programs
  • Provide consulting to general classroom teachers
  • Work with students and their families directly as itinerant teachers
  • Serve students from kindergarten through 21 years old from a variety of cultural, linguistic, and socio-economic backgrounds


All classes are offered in the evening to allow students to maintain full time employment while completing course requirements. Most courses are taught in person on the Minneapolis campus.

The ABS licensure and special education M.Ed. program require the completion of 30 to 42.5 credits. Your total number of credits required may vary based on previous educational experience or licensures. Additional credits will be required if you choose to add an advanced license through this program (see "License Requirements").

University Catalog: Special Education M.Ed.

Licensure requirements

According to MN State licensing requirements, you will need to add an advanced license within 5 years of receiving the ABS. Thus, once enrolled in our program, you are strongly encouraged to choose an area of moderate-severe disabilities to add to your ABS (listed below). Depending on the license you choose, an advisor will work with you to select specific certain Electives referenced in the University Catalog link above.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) (12 credits)

  • EPSY 5632 – Module 2: Evidence-Based Methods for Augmentative and Alternative Communication Assessment and Intervention (2cr)
  • EPSY 5633 – Module 3: Speech Generating Devices and High-Tech AAC (1cr)
  • EPSY 5661 – Introduction to Autism Spectrum Disorders (3cr)
  • EPSY 5663 – Assessment and Intervention for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (3cr)
  • EPSY 5702 – Practicum in Autism Spectrum Disorders (3cr)

Developmental disabilities (12 credits)

  • EPSY 5621 – Assessment and Instructional Design for Students with Developmental Disabilities (3cr)
  • EPSY 5622 – Programs and Curricula for Students with Developmental Disabilities (3cr)
  • EPSY 5624 – Biomedical and Physical Impairments of Students with Developmental Disabilities (2cr)
  • EPSY 5636 – Sensory Impairments of Students with Developmental Disabilities (2cr)
  • EPSY 5706 – Practicum in Moderate/Severe Developmental Disabilities (2cr) or EPsy 5755/6 – Student Teaching: Developmental Disabilities (6cr)

Learning disabilities (12 credits)

  • EPSY 5627 – Seminar: Advanced Issues in Learning Disabilities (3cr)
  • EPSY 5628 – Characteristics of Moderate/Severe Learning Disabilities (3cr)
  • EPSY 5629 – Strategic Instructional Methods for Students Academically At-Risk (3cr)
  • EPSY 5707 – Practicum in Moderate/Severe Learning Disabilities (3cr) or EPsy 5752 – Student Teaching: Learning Disabilities (6cr)

License exam requirements

Minnesota Teacher Licensure Exam (MTLE) Requirements

Faculty & staff

Becca Pierce headshot

Becca PierceABS licensure & M.Ed. coordinator

  • Using the Internet as a venue of professional development for in-service teachers
  • Using curriculum-based measures to inform educational programming
Kristen McMaster headshot

Kristen McMasterSpecial education program coordinator | Lab

Create conditions for successful response to intervention of academically diverse learners by:

  • Promoting teachers’ use of data-based decision-making and evidence-based instruction
  • Developing individualized interventions for students for whom generally effective instruction is not sufficient


Program contact

Alicia Vegell, program staff special education


University contacts

Disability Services