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Notre Dame College is offering a graduate-level autism education certificate that can be completed online in two semesters based on course availability.

The certificate consists of four, three-credit hour graduate-level courses and a practicum. Each course is eight weeks in length and offered completely online through College. The first class begins August 30, 2021. This advanced training is for working professionals in education, social work, occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech/language pathology, music therapy or any other touchpoint profession with students ages 3 to 21 who have autism spectrum disorders. Family members also can benefit from the program.

Candidates who successfully complete the course sequence will be eligible to sit for the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES) examination for Certified Autism Specialist (CAS). Notre Dame is pleased to partner with IBCCES to provide this certification.

Students need a bachelor’s degree and 10 years of experience or a master’s degree and two years of experience to take the CAS exam. Those who do not yet meet those requirements, can take an Autism Certificate exam and hold that certification until they meet the qualifications for the advanced exam.

Autism Acceptance

The Autism Society and its partners celebrate Autism Acceptance Month each April to increase awareness, improve acceptance of differences and create change for those with autism spectrum disorders. The prevalence of autism in the United States has risen from 1 in 125 children in 2010 to 1 in 54 in 2020, according to the society.

In addition, the U.S. Department of Education has reported shortages of special education teachers, including autism educators, in 48 states and the District of Columbia over the past several years. The demand for special education teachers is expected to continue to grow, with an 8 percent increase in vacancies by 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Notre Dame’s graduate certificate in autism education is provided through the College’s Office of Professional Development in conjunction with the Notre Dame Division of Professional Education. The program also now is available to students on campus or online in the College’s Master of Education program.

Distinctive Coursework

Those enrolled in the Notre Dame certificate program will learn how to create a model environment that respects and enhances the ecological learning needs of students with autism spectrum disorders. The curriculum encompasses evidence-based approaches to education as well as adaptive, communicative and other relevant contemporary technologies.

In their coursework, professionals will design both a resource guide for students in kindergarten through 12th grade and a transition proposal for students age 14 and older as part of an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). The certificate also covers data collected in a hypothetical Multifactored Evaluation (MFE) and sample Evaluation Team Reports (ETR) for students with autism spectrum disorders.

The program includes a field experience working with youth on the autism spectrum in a setting applicable to the professional seeking the certificate.

Campus Expertise

Notre Dame also is home to the nationally recognized Thrive Learning Center for students with documented learning differences

Since its founding in 2005, the Thrive Center, formerly the Academic Support Center for Students with Learning Differences, has become a signature program of the College and is distinctive among higher education services in offering assistance to students with learning disabilities beyond what is required by law. The program at Notre Dame provides students with documented learning differences, including those diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders, who are capable of performing college work, with an integrated campus experience that leads to graduation, successful lives and careers.

Contact Information

Details, including registration information, for the College’s graduate-level autism education certificate, are available online at

To learn more about the curriculum, contact Kelli Tibbitts, M.Ed., at Tibbitts is an Advanced Certified Autism Specialist, who is an assistant professor of education in the Notre Dame Division of Professional Education.

For assistance with enrollment, contact Tina Jurcisin at 216.373.6520 or or Kris Jensen at 216.373.5219 or in the College’s Office for Professional Development.

April 2021

About Notre Dame College

Notre Dame College is a private, Catholic, liberal arts college in South Euclid committed to teaching students how to make a good living and live a good life. Founded by the Sisters of Notre Dame in 1922, the college offers bachelor’s degrees in 30 disciplines plus a variety of master’s degrees, certification programs and continuing and professional development programs for adult learners on campus and online. For more information, visit