Academic Behavioral Strategist

‌Educators who are Academic Behavioral Strategists (ABS) evaluate and specially design instruction for children and youth from kindergarten through age 21. They work to assist children and youth with mild to moderate needs in the areas of academics, behavior, social, emotional, communication and functional performance. These students come from the primary disability areas of autism spectrum disorders, developmental disabilities, emotional behavioral disorders, other health disabilities and learning disabilities.

Join us soon for an online information session to learn more about all the ways you can pursue a Special Education licensure or degree!

What you can earn


Where you will learn

  • Minneapolis campus
  • Metro Locations
  • Online

When to start

  • Courses are offered year-round.
 License & M.A.

License:   New Teachers: 40-44  |  Current Teachers: 23-27

M.A.:        New Teachers: 46-47  |  Current Teachers: 30


For the License:

SPED 750   Survey of Exceptionality
SPED 785   Behavior Management
SPED 714   Collaboration Skills for School Professionals
SPED 716   Fundamentals for Students with Mild to Mod. Needs
SPED 645   Educational Assessment
SPED 717   Elementary Academic Interventions
SPED 718   Secondary Academic Interventions and Transitions
SPED 719   Social, Emotional and Behavioral Interventions
SPED 720   Clinical Practice and Seminar

For the M.A. (add the following):

CIED 500   Principles of Educational Research
SPED xxx   Elective (as needed)

New Teachers: Add Standards of Effective Practice Coursework

Full course catalog with descriptions


Find current course offerings


  1. Candidates for this degree have:
    • A Bachelor's Degree from a regionally accredited institution
    • A cumulative minimum undergraduate G.P.A. of 3.0 (4.0 scale). If below 3.0, please reference our special admissions policy.
  2. Submit the following application materials:
    • Application form
    • Two positive letters of reference from non-related individuals
    • Official transcripts for all undergraduate and graduate work (unless that work was completed at the University of St. Thomas)
      • Submit transcripts to: Graduate Admissions, University of St. Thomas, Box 5, 1000 LaSalle Ave., Minneapolis, MN 55403
    • Personal statement.
  3. Submit the supplementary materials:
    • Initial Licensure: MTLE Basic Skills required by the end of an initial teacher licensure candidate's first semester of coursework.
    • Official test score
      • Each of our programs uses an assessment to assist in making admissions decisions. Specific requirements can be found here.
      • If you have questions regarding this requirement, please email us directly at
    • International Applicants:
    1. Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) required for any candidate whose primary language is not English.
    2. Transcript Review: All international transcripts must be reviewed by an accredited evaluation service to determine U.S. equivalency of the degree awarded and the institution awarding the degree. Applications will not be reviewed for admissions until the official review is submitted.

We offer anchor licenses in Development Disabilities, Learning Disabilities, Emotional Behavioral Disorders and Autism Spectrum Disorders. After a transcript review of your ABS coursework these are the additional courses to complete license:

Autism Spectrum Disorders

SPED 777   Effective Literacy Instruction for Students with DD
SPED 702   Social/Communication Skills: Autism Spectrum Disorders
SPED 703   Methods/Materials: Autism Spectrum Disorders
SPED 704   Clinical Practice: Autism Spectrum Disorders

Learning Disabilities

SPED 705   Advanced Basic Skills Instruction: LD
SPED 788   Instructional Strategies: Mild/Moderate Disabilities
SPED 790   Practicum: Learning Disabilities

Emotional Behavioral Disorders

SPED 733   Interventions: Emotional and Behavioral Disorders
SPED 755   Adolescents with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders
SPED 734   Practicum: Emotional and Behavioral Disorders

Development Disabilities

SPED 777   Effective Literacy Instruction for Students with DD
SPED 754   Methods and Materials: Significant Developmental Disabilities
SPED 751   Positioning and Handling and Augmentative/Alt. Comm. Str.
SPED 756   Practicum: Developmental Disabilities

Ongoing Professional Development

The Department of Special Education and Gifted Education offers a wide variety of professional development opportunities throughout the year. Whether networking with leaders in the field at the annual Education for Everyone Event series or simply catching up on the latest tools and techniques, the School of Education provides lifelong learning opportunities. Most events include a CEU component. In addition to annual events, the department offers specialized summer institutes in the areas of Autism Specrum Disorders and Learning Disabilities.


Mentored Clinical Practice

The dedicated faculty in the Special Education and Gifted Education programs will work with you to ensure that your clinical practice experience (student teaching) will meet your needs and facilitate your growth, both personally and professionally. Throughout your time student teaching, regularly scheduled seminars with faculty and peers offer the opportunity to form a strong professional network as you prepare to enter the field and have a positive impact on K-12 students.


Community Partnerships

The School of Education takes pride in engaging in innovative partnerships with a variety of organizations. Students in the School of Education will find many opportunities for professional growth as a result of working with these organizations. Partnership examples include the Northwest Suburban Integration District, FAIR School and the Collaborative Urban Educators program.