Prepare to Empower: Online and In-Person M.A. in Developmental Disabilities

Program Overview

The M.A. Program in Developmental Disabilities at Teachers College is unique in its interdisciplinary approach to the study of developmental disabilities. The program responds to the growing need for highly skilled professionals who are prepared to work with individuals with developmental disabilities in a variety of settings and across the lifespan.

Candidates gain expertise in identifying and evaluating evidence-based approaches to promote success for individuals with developmental disabilities and their families.

A new online program option is offered in addition to the traditional in-person program. Both programs provide the same curriculum and opportunities to study with faculty at Teachers College who are leaders in the field. The online program includes the added flexibility of an asynchronous format.

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The Curriculum

Students will engage in interdisciplinary coursework in special education and in other disciplines, including psychology, health and leadership. Students work closely with faculty to design an interdisciplinary specialization to serve their professional goals. Examples include coursework in applied behavior analysis, clinical psychology, developmental psychology, school psychology, health behavior, adult learning and leadership, educational technology and statistics.

The program provides specialized expertise in designing effective programming for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) at all ages.

Coursework and practical experiences are designed to provide students with the knowledge and skills needed to negotiate the multiplicity of perspectives found in high-need communities.

Program Coursework

The M.A. in Developmental Disabilities is a 32-credit program that can be completed in one year of full-time study (or part time). Both the online and in-person programs follow the same curriculum.  


The program provides:

An understanding of the historical, philosophical, and empirical foundations of work with special needs populations

Comprehensive knowledge about the developmental characteristics and individual differences of individuals with developmental disabilities across the lifespan

Research base and skills needed to provide effective, individualized support for individuals with developmental disabilities across the full range of abilities and in a variety of settings

Preparation to collaborate effectively with families and other members of the community, applying the highest ethical standards of the profession

Admissions Requirements

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.  Applicants are evaluated according to the following criteria:

  • Academic record and potential (a minimum GPA of 3.0)

  • Excellent letters of recommendation

  • Personal statement demonstrating relevant background and experience, relevant plans and career goals, a commitment to working with individuals with developmental disabilities

  • Adequate English-language proficiency and writing skills (TOEFL score of at least 100), if applicable


Core coursework includes:

  • Introduction to Special Education (HBSE 4000)
  • Instruction & Curriculum for Students w/ and w/o Disabilities (HBSE 4002)
  • Working w/ Families of Individuals w/ Disability (HBSE 4006)
  • Nature and Needs of Individuals w/ Intellectual Disability/Autism (HBSE 4010)
  • Education of Individuals w/ Intellectual Disability/Autism (HBSE 4011)
  • Assessment/Practicum in Evaluation of Exceptional Learners (HBSE 4082/4300)
  • Opportunities and Outcomes for People w/ Disabilities (HBSE 4880)

Courses in the following disciplines will meet the interdisciplinary elective requirement:

  • Applied Behavior Analysis
  • Educational Psychology
  • Developmental Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Counseling Psychology
  • Health Education and Nutrition
  • Adult Learning and Leadership
  • Context of Learning & Leadership
  • Statistics & Research Methods