Master's Program in Autism Studies

Master of Science in Autism Studies

Admissions Requirements
Transfer Credit
Part-Time Study and Non-Degree Status
Graduate Advisor
Degree Requirements
Thesis Option
Bachelors to Master's Program

Admission Requirements

The Autism Studies graduate program at the University of Massachusetts Lowell is designed not only for recent college graduates but also for older and non-traditional students with experience in a variety of educational and work settings.

In addition to the requirements for graduate admission, admission requirements for the Autism Studies graduate program include these factors:

  1. A Bachelor’s degree. 
  2. A grade point average of at least 3.0. 
  3. A minimum of 4 courses in psychology and one course in statistics in your undegraduate coursework. Students should have some background in the psychology of child development, and we are especially interested in students with coursework in some of the foundational areas of psychology (e.g., developmental, learning, behavior analysis, biological bases of behavior, research methods, cognitive psychology, etc.). 
  4. Work experience and other activities outside of school. 
  5. Official Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores, on both verbal and quantitative sections. Alternatively, you may submit scores from the Miller Analogies Test (MAT).  The GRE/MAT requirement is waived for (1) applicants who graduated from UMass Lowell within the past five years with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better or (2) those who have successfully completed the Behavioral Intervention in Autism certificate. 
  6. At least three letters of recommendation, including at least one, and preferably more than one, from recent or current professors. 
  7. A personal statement. This detailed statement should describe your background, explain your interests in our program, and tell us how you believe the program will help you meet your own career goals. 
  8. International students must submit official TOEFL scores.

These criteria may be applied or weighted differently for different students. For example, for students just receiving a Bachelor's degree, greater attention will be paid to recent grades. For students out of school for some time, work background and experience will count relatively more.

Transfer Credit

Matriculated students in Autism Studies who come to UMass Lowell with prior graduate work at other schools or who have completed the 4-course graduate certificate in Behavioral Intervention at UMass Lowell may transfer a maximum of 12 credit hours. An assessment will be conducted to determine how those courses proposed for transfer map onto our courses with respect to BACB requirements. Such transfer credit is subject to the approval of the Graduate Coordinator and the Registrar's Office and must meet the University's Graduate Tranfer Credit requirements.

Part-time Study and Non-Degree Status

While the program in Autism Studies provides for full-time study, part-time students are encouraged to apply. Many courses are offered online, while on-campus courses are usually offered at late afternoon and evening hours to accommodate students who are employed. Students not pursuing an advanced degree or who wish to begin their graduate study without first applying for matriculated status are invited to register as non-degree students for specific graduate courses on a space-available basis. Such students need meet only the first two of the admissions requirements listed above.

If a non-degree student later applies for acceptance into the Master’s program, his/her application will be treated equally with those of other new applicants, though performance in graduate courses taken on campus will be used as an additional admissions criterion. Non-degree students accepted as matriculated students may apply to transfer a maximum of 6 graduate credits earned at the University of Massachusetts Lowell with a grade of "B" or better toward the Master’s degree.

Graduate Advisor

Each newly matriculated student in the program will be assigned to an advisor from among the faculty of the graduate program. The student will meet with his/her advisor on a regular basis throughout the years of study to discuss course selections, planning for practicum, and the development of the thesis or project (optional). Once a student selects a faculty supervisor for his/her thesis or project, this faculty member takes over as graduate academic advisor.

Degree Requirements

A total of 42 academic credits, at least 30 of which must be taken at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, is required for the completion of the degree.  No more than two courses (6 credits) may have an earned grade of less than B (3.0). The 42 credits for the Master’s degree are divided as follows:

Required Courses - 27 credits
Required Supervised Practicum - 6 credits
Electives, or Elective and Thesis - 9 credits

Students may select from any the eight elective courses in Psychology, almost all of which are offered at least once every two years. Students may also, when appropriate, request permission to take related courses from other graduate programs at UML. In their choice of electives, students have the option of completing a Master's Thesis, which typically involves original empirical research. 

Total must equal 42 credits.

Required Courses (27 credits total):

Foundations (9 credits)

47.571 Autism and Developmental Psychopathology
47.500 Introduction to Community Social Psychology
47.572 Legal and Ethical Issues in Professional Practice

Methods (6 credits)

47.512 Applied Research Methods
47.565 Measurement and Experimental Design in Behavioral Intervention

Behavioral Interventions (12 credits)

47.561 Introduction to Behavioral Intervention in Autism
47.562 Teaching and Positive Behavioral Support in Autism
47.566 Functional Analysis and Treatment of Challenging Behaviors
47.568 Behavioral Intervention Program Models in Autism

Required Supervised Practicum (6 credits total; 2 credits each)

47.671 Introductory Supervised Practicum in BIA
47.672 Intermediate Supervised Practicum in BIA
47.673 Advanced Supervised Practicum in BIA

Electives (9 credits total; choose any three of the following):

47.501 Applied Developmental Psychology
47.504 The Family System
47.508 The Child in the Community
47.522 Psychology of Diversity
47.545 Community and Organizational Change
47.611 Program Evaluation
47.661 Social and Community Interventions in Autism
47.663 Experimental Analysis of Behavior

Thesis Option (6 credits)

47.743 Master’s Thesis

To earn the 42 credits needed for the Master's degree, all matriculated students in Autism Studies have the option of completing a Thesis. The Thesis will always be a piece of quantitative and/or qualitative research, involving a review of literature, a clear statement of a research question, the design of an appropriate method for collecting data, and the analysis of results as the basis for drawing conclusions. The Thesis must:

  • be completed over the course of two semesters (usually consecutive), counting for 6 credits toward the degree, 
  • involve a Thesis Committee of three faculty, 
  • be written in accordance with University guidelines, and 
  • be defended by the student in front of the Thesis Committee at a public meeting.
  • Students selecting the Thesis Option will complete 6 Thesis credits and 3 elective credits. 

Bachelors to Master's Program

Undergraduate psychology majors at the University of Massachusetts Lowell who have a GPA of 3.0 or better are invited to apply to the BA/MA program, allowing students to begin graduate level coursework in our Autism Studies Master’s program while still pursuing their bachelor's degree. Up to 6 credits of graduate (500 level or higher) courses completed with a B grade (3.0) or better may be used by the student to count toward both the Bachelor’s and Master's degrees.

Application to the BA/MA Program

Application is typically submitted during the student's second semester of their junior year to allow adequate time for the student to take maximum advantage of the opportunity to take graduate courses and double-count these graduate credits, while still staying within the maximum of 45 psychology credits allowable for the undergraduate degree in psychology. Although it is highly recommended that students submit their application during their junior year, application materials can actually be submitted at any time prior to graduation.  Applicants are requested to use the standard paper application form and submit requisite materials to the Office of Graduate Admissions (Dugan Hall - UML south). Application forms and details on applying to graduate school can be accessed from the Graduate Admissions website.

As additional advantages, students applying under the BA/MA option do not have to pay the standard application fee and do not have to take any of the standardized tests usually required of applicants.  The decision to accept a BA/MA applicant is based on 3 factors:

  1. A solid undergraduate record, with an overall GPA of 3.0 or better. 
  2. Strong letters of recommendation: three are required, and it is expected that at least two letters should be from psychology faculty at UMass Lowell. 
  3. A personal statement that clearly describes the student's interest in the Autism Studies program and how it fits with the students educational and professional goals.

Additional Information from Graduate Admissions for BA/MA Students:

  1. Students admitted to the BA/MA program are accepted on a conditional basis with the requirement that students receive their bachelor’s degree at the end of their senior year and graduate with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0.  If students do not meet this requirement, their master’s degree candidacy will be voided and they would be required to re-apply via the traditional application process. 
  2. BA/MA students must complete their bachelor’s degree first before graduate admissions can change their status to that of a fully matriculated graduate student. 
  3. BA/MA students may defer their graduate matriculation for up to one year following their graduation for the bachelor’s degree. A request for deferral must be made to the Graduate Admissions Office in writing. After one year of deferral, failure to register for graduate classes will invalidate their acceptance into the master’s program.

Additional information on the Bachelor's/Master's Program.


The Center for Family, Work and Community

The goal of The Center for Family, Work, and Community is to promote the mental health and well being of individuals, families, and communities through education, training, and consultation. Its aim is to provide opportunities for University of Massachusetts faculty, community members, and practicing professionals to work together to integrate theory, research, and practice. The Center sponsors community-based training, professional development workshops, consultation, and research.

Center for Women and Work

The Center for Women and Work is an interdisciplinary center at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. Since the Center is designed to support a wide range of projects, there are exciting opportunities for student involvement in both research and community-based action projects relevant to the theme of women and work.

Laboratory for Autism Spectrum Disorders

The Laboratory for Autism Spectrum Disorders focuses on two main avenues of research involving adolescents and young adults on the autism spectrum.  The first avenue seeks to further our understanding of the processing of emotional stimuli among those with ASD by examining physiological responses and memory for emotion provoking stimuli.  The lab's second main research avenue focuses on evaluating various intervention programs for those with ASD.  A number of interdisciplinary programs specifically for high functioning adolescents and young adults on the autism spectrum are run through the lab in collaboration with other faculty at UMass Lowell.  These include a social skills program, a music program, a fitness program and a movie club.  These programs provide a critically needed service to members of our community and their families impacted by ASD.

Laboratory for Children and Families

The Laboratory for Children and Families is located in the Department of Psychology at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. The Laboratory provides a site for research on the development of infants and children in the context of their families and communities.

The Laboratory for Immigrant Research

The Lab is committed to research that investigates the impact of culture on the psychological, social, and health development of ethnic minority immigrant individuals, families, and communities. Both quantitative and qualitative methods and approaches are utilized to understand the immigrant experience. The ultimate aim of the Lab is to produce information that will be useful for intervention development in immigrant communities.