College of Education and Human Development

Department of Educational Psychology

Special education academic and behavioral strategist MEd and licensure program

Teach students with mild to moderate disabilities and specialize in one area of moderate to severe with a University of Minnesota academic behavior strategist (ABS) teaching licensure and MEd.

2.5 Average years to complete
100% online courses (with in-person field experiences)
July 15 deadline to apply
Sept. 3 Next cohort starts

Start your journey

    Become licensed to teach students with mild to moderate disabilities

    Each student with a disability has a unique set of academic, behavioral, social, emotional, communication, and functional needs. The academic and behavioral strategist (ABS) licensure program prepares you to meet the needs of young people—kindergarten through age 21. The program prepares you to be recommended for an ABS license, which qualifies you to work with students in K-12 school systems with a broad array of mild to moderate disabilities in the following areas:

    • Autism spectrum disorder
    • Developmental disabilities
    • Emotional and behavioral disorders
    • Learning disabilities
    • Other health disparities


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

    • Teach in K-12 classrooms, resource rooms, or 18-21 transition programs
    • Collaborate/consult with general classroom teachers
    • Work with students and their families directly as itinerant teachers
    • Serve students from a variety of cultural, linguistic, and socio-economic backgrounds

    Admissions requirements

    • Undergraduate GPA of at least 2.8 
    • Graduate school application 
    • Application fee 
    • Transcripts 

    Non-native English Speakers: TOEFL, IELTS, etc. test scores 


    Visit the College of Education and Human Development's Tuition and Financial Aid page for information on tuition.


    Scholarships and awards through school districts for employees

    Ask your employer if they have funding to support your education.

    Special Education Pipeline Grant is a partnership between educator preparation programs and K-12 schools to recruit and prepare employees to become fully licensed Tier 3 or Tier 4 special education teachers.

    Grow Your Own Program is similar to the Pipeline program, but is not limited to special education and often includes a focus on diversifying the teacher workforce.

    Come Teach in Minnesota allows school districts to offer hiring and retention bonuses to eligible individuals when they move to Minnesota and enroll in a teacher preparation program.

    Grants for eligible, enrolled students

    TEACH Grants

    TEACH Grants are part of a federal program to provide financial support to students who will teach in a high need area at a low-income school for at least four years. Application information is available from Onestop on their grants and waivers page.

    Scholarships, fellowships and awards through the University

    Financial aid

    Visit OneStop Student Services for more information on available financial aid.


    This is a hybrid program, meaning all courses are offered online (with traditional in-person options available if preferred) and all field experiences are in person at a program/school in your community.

    The ABS licensure program with a MEd in special education requires completion of 50 credits. For additional licensure candidates (who already hold a teaching license in another area), fewer credits are required. For completion of a MEd only without licensure, 30 credits are required, with opportunities to select courses suited to your interests.

    Sample Course Schedule 
    *Note: This plan is an example only. You’ll work with your advisor to develop a course schedule specific to your needs

      • CI 5645 – Methods for Teaching English Learners (3 credits)
      • MTHE 5355 – Mathematics for Diverse Learners (3 credits)
      • EPSY 5604 – Transitions from Work to School or Community Settings for Persons with Special Needs (3 credits)
      • EPSY 5605 – Collaborative Practices for the Special Educator (3 credits)
      • EPSY 5613 – Foundations of Special Education (3 credits)
      • EPSY 5614 – Assessment and Due Process in Special Education (3 credits)
      • EPSY 5616 – Classroom Management and Behavior Analytic Problem Solving (3 credits)
      • EPSY 5617 – Academic and Social Interventions for Students with Mild to Moderate Disabilities (3 credits)
      • EPSY 5618 – Specialized Interventions for Students with Mild/Moderate Disabilities in Reading and Written Language (3 credits)
      • EPSY 5631 – Module 1: Introduction to Augmentative and Alternative Communication (1 credit)
      • EPSY 5657 – Interventions for Behavior Problems in School Settings (3 credits)
      • EPSY 5704 – Field Experience in a Special Education Classroom #1 (1 credit)
      • EPSY 5705 – Field Experience in a Special Education Classroom #2 (1 credit)
      • EPSY 5706 - Field Experience in a Special Education Classroom #3 (1 credit)
      • EPSY 5741 – Student Teaching: Academic Behavior Strategist (6 credits)

      Required for initial licensure and MEd

      EPSY 5699 – Experimental Teaching Seminar (2 credits)


      Required for additional licensure and MEd or MEd only

      EPSY 5991 – MEd Paper/Project Independent Study (2 credits)

      • OLPD 5005 – School and Society ( 2 credits)
      • OLPD 5009 – Human Relations (1 cr)
      • CI 5307 – Technology (2 credits)
      • EPSY 5001 – Learning Cognition and Assessment (3 credits)

      As a student in the ABS program, you have the option to add an online autism spectrum disorder (ASD) certificate to your licensure and/or degree. The specialized training you’ll receive related to assessment and treatment practices for children with ASD will lead to a certificate in ASD.

      As a student in the ABS program, you have the option to add an emotional or behavioral disorder teaching licensure to your licensure and/or degree.


      Amy Kunkel

      Assistant teaching professor, special education licensure coordinator, ABS program lead

      Laura Paczkowski

      Academic advisor

      Kathy Seifert

      Teaching associate professor