College of Education and Human Development

Department of Educational Psychology

Special education academic behavior strategist BS and licensure

Earn your bachelor’s degree and a teaching license for academic behavior strategist (ABS) through flexible in-person and online course options.

87% pass rate on the edTPA
94% would recommend the U of M to others
100% Job placement after receiving license

Start your journey

    Earn your degree and academic behavior strategist (ABS) teaching license

    Become an expert at meeting students’ needs by providing individualized instruction to students with disabilities in grade K through age 21. The program leads to an Academic and Behavioral Strategist (ABS) teaching license, which qualifies you to teach students with mild-moderate disabilities in the following areas:

    • Autism spectrum disorders
    • Developmental disabilities
    • Emotional and behavioral disorders
    • Learning disabilities
    • Other health disabilities
      • You are a freshman applicant if you are still in high school or have graduated high school but not enrolled in any other college, university, or school after high school.
      • The program will take four years and primarily offers in-person courses.
        • You are a transfer applicant if you graduated from high school and already took classes at another college, university, or trade school that might transfer to the UMN for your bachelor’s degree.
        • This includes individuals with an associate’s degree.
        • The program will take closer to two or three years to complete and includes online course options for working professionals.


        View a sample plan of classes or a complete list of program requirements.

        Program plans will likely vary for transfer students (i.e, those who have already completed some college credits, including those with a two-year degree). We are happy to provide you with an individualized program plan based on your transcripts.

        Coursework includes educational and child psychology and academic and behavior interventions using research-based practices. Gain experience working with students with a variety of disabilities through elementary and secondary field experiences in your community each semester.

        Your BS coursework can be applied to advanced licenses in early childhood special education (ECSE) and Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH). Should you choose to apply for your master of education (MEd) degree, additional requirements for these advanced licenses will be fulfilled as part of your master's coursework.


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

        Financial aid

        North Star Promise (NSP) Scholarship Program

        The NSP Scholarship program is a tuition and fee-free pathway to higher education for Minnesota residents with a family income under $80,000. Eligible undergraduates at the University of Minnesota will receive full coverage for the balance of tuition and fees remaining after other scholarships, grants, stipends and tuition waivers have been applied.

        Scholarships and awards through school districts for their employees

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

        Special Education Teacher Pipeline Program. If you are working as an educational assistant or paraprofessional in the state of Minnesota, you may be eligible to receive funding from your school district to cover some or all of the cost of your licensure program. Please check with your employer to see if you can access their Special Education Teacher Pipeline Funding.

        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

        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 and awards through the University

        Special education scholarships, fellowships, and awards

        Incoming first-year students who are interested in special education are automatically considered for the Campbell Scholarship for Education. Visit the Office of Admissions scholarships page for more information on this and additional CEHD scholarships available to incoming first-year students.

        Learn more about teaching scholarships available to undergraduates in the College of Education and Human Development.


        Robert Henery

        Senior lecturer and emotional and behavioral disorders (EBD) program lead

        Amy Kunkel

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

        Charissa O'Neill

        Field placement coordinator

        Kathy Seifert

        Associate teaching professor


        Laura Paczkowski

        Academic advisor

        Amy Kunkel

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