Help Others Reach Their Potential While You Reach Yours

Millions of children and adults in the United States have one or more developmental disabilities. Help empower them to lead full, active lives with a master's degree from Nova Southeastern University.

Gain the skill set to manage and improve the programs and services that they depend on. This program will mold you into a leader who can address relevant issues head-on at community-based and governmental agencies. With flexible curriculum offerings, advance your career as you advocate for others.

Choose the Applied Behavior Analysis concentration to prepare for the Board Certified Behavior Analyst® (BCBA) examination.

The Master of Science in Developmental Disabilities program at Nova Southeastern University provided me with tremendous knowledge and ability to serve individuals and families affected by developmental disabilities. In my role as a nurse practitioner, I use the information gained in this program on a daily basis.

Sheresa Campbell | M.S. Developmental Disabilities

Quick Facts


Visit the Tuition and Fees page for more information. Discounted rates are available through our employer tuition program.


NSU's M.S. in Developmental Disabilities program consists of 30 total credits and can be completed in as little as 18 months.

Start Dates

The M.S. in Developmental Disabilities is available to start in August, January, and May. Applications for admission are accepted online and on a rolling basis throughout the calendar year

Delivery Options

Coursework for the Master of Science in Developmental Disabilities is conducted entirely online.

What Can You Do With a Master’s Degree in Developmental Disabilities?

Prepare for a rewarding career in private, public, and nonprofit sectors as a: 

  • Program Director/Coordinator
  • Early Childhood Interventionist
  • Developmental Specialist
  • Case Manager
  • Behavior Analyst
  • Child Life Specialist
  • Vocational Counselor
Development Disabilities graduate doing activity with child

Earning Potential

Nonprofit Program Director

$116,885 Average Salary Per Year

Board Certified 
Behavior Analyst

$61,270 Average Salary Per Year

Early Childhood 
Intervention Specialist

$42,730 Average Salary Per Year


M.S. in Developmental Disabilities Curriculum

This graduate degree offers a comprehensive curriculum that examines different developmental disabilities, the challenges disabled individuals face during their life, and the support systems they depend on. Gain a scholarly foundation to build on as you focus your degree with a concentration. Apply what you learn to real-life cases and settings through fieldwork opportunities.

This master's program comprises 30 credits: 21 credits (7 courses) of core curriculum and 9 credits (3 courses) of a specialty concentration. If you wish to prepare for national certification, additional practicum or internship courses may be required.

To see real-time course offerings, view NSU’s entire course catalog on Course Wizard.

Required Courses (21 credits)
HSDD 5000
Survey of Developmental Disabilities (HSDD 5000 / Credits: 3 )
HSDD 5100
Program Design and Evaluation (HSDD 5100 / Credits: 3 )
HSDD 5200
Disability and the Family Life Cycle (HSDD 5200 / Credits: 3 )
HSDD 5300
Legal and Ethical Issues in Disability (HSDD 5300 / Credits: 3 )
HSDD 5400
Healthcare Issues in Developmental Disabilities (HSDD 5400 / Credits: 3 )
HSDD 5500
Disability Services Administration (HSDD 5500 / Credits: 3 )
HSDD 6000
Developmental Disabilities Master’s Research Project (HSDD 6000 / Credits: 3 )

Concentration Tracks

Garner an understanding of different theoretical perspectives on aging and disability; how students with developmental disabilities experience higher education and how to better access outcomes; and how to help those with developmental disabilities live independently and thrive in society.


Required Courses for Concentration (9 Credits Total)
HSDD 5310
Aging and Disability Across the Lifespan (HSDD 5310 / Credits: 3 )
HSDD 5320
Students with Disabilities in Higher Education (HSDD 5320 / Credits: 3 )
HSDD 5330
Employment and Independent Living (HSDD 5330 / Credits: 3 )
Receive a comprehensive understanding of applied behavior analysis concepts and principles and prepare for the 5th Edition Board Certified Behavior Analyst® examination.


Choose Three Courses (9 Credits)
ABA 0713*
Behaviorism and Philosophical Underpinnings (ABA 0713* / Credits: 3 )
ABA 0714*
Concepts and Principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA 0714* / Credits: 3 )
ABA 0721*
Applied Behavior Analysis Assessment and Application (ABA 0721* / Credits: 3 )
ABA 0731*
Applied Behavior Analysis Assessment and Delivery Models (ABA 0731* / Credits: 3 )
ABA 0741*
Evaluating Interventions in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA 0741* / Credits: 3 )
ABA 0751*
Supervision and Management in Applied Behavior Analysis (Choose between ABA 0751 or ABA 0752) (ABA 0751* / Credits: 3 )
ABA 0752*
Organizational Behavior Management (Choose between ABA 0751 or ABA 0752) ( ABA 0752* / Credits: 3 )
ABA 0756*
Ethical and Professional Issues in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA 0756* / Credits: 3 )
ABA 0761
Fieldwork in Applied Behavior Analysis I (ABA 0761 / Credits: 3 )
ABA 0771
Fieldwork in Applied Behavior Analysis II (ABA 0771 / Credits: 3 )
ABA 0781
Fieldwork in Applied Behavior Analysis III (ABA 0781 / Credits: 3 )

*Courses required fulfill BACB certification eligibility requirements.

This course sequence has been verified by the Association for Behavior Analysis International as meeting coursework requirements for eligibility to sit for the 5th Edition Board Certified Behavior Analyst® examination. Applicants will need to meet additional requirements before they can be deemed eligible to take the examination. Learn more about the BCBA certification requirements at

Click here for more information about the BCBA examination pass rate. Please note, pass-rate data are not published for sequences with fewer than six first-time candidates in a single year or for sequences within their first four years of operation.

Gain an understanding of child life practices within pediatric health care; ethical issues within pediatric health care; working with families in health care settings; theories regarding child and adolescent development; and other theories and practices that are necessary to learn to provide care in a pediatric health care setting.
ACIP logo


Choose Three Courses (9 Credits)
HSDD 5510*
Foundations of Child Life and Family-Centered Care (HSDD 5510* / Credits: 3 )
HSDD 5515*
Ethics in Child Life (HSDD 5515* / Credits: 3 )
HSDD 5518*
Family Systems and the Hospitalized Child (HSDD 5518* / Credits: 3 )
HSDD 5522*
Theories of Child Growth and Development (HSDD 5522* / Credits: 3 )
HSDD 5523*
Theories of Adolescent Growth and Development (HSDD 5523* / Credits: 3 )
HSDD 5525*
Medical Terminology for the Child Life Professional (HSDD 5525* / Credits: 3 )
HSDD 5530*
Interventions in Child Life (HSDD 5530* / Credits: 3 )
HSDD 5532*
Therapeutic Benefits of Play (HSDD 5532* / Credits: 3 )
HSDD 5534*
Death and Dying (HSDD 5534* / Credits: 3 )
Elective Clinical Training
HSDD 5535
Child Life Practicum (HSDD 5535 / Credits: 3 )
HSDD 5550
Child Life Internship I (HSDD 5550 / Credits: 3 )
HSDD 5560
Child Life Internship II (HSDD 5560 / Credits: 3 )
*Courses required for ACLP Child Life Professional Certification Exam eligibility

The Association of Child Life Professionals (ACLP) has pre-approved these courses toward Child Life Professional Certification Examination requirements.  Applicants will need to meet additional requirements before they can be deemed eligible to take the examination. Learn more about certification requirements at

Learn how to treat young children with developmental disabilities and provide early intervention so they can overcome difficulties and thrive. Also learn about the historical and current practices in integrating students with developmental disabilities into the classroom.


Required Courses for Concentration (9 Credits Total)
HSDD 5410
Early Identification and Assessment of Developmental Disabilities (HSDD 5410 / Credits: 3 )
HSDD 5420
Early Intervention in Developmental Disabilities (HSDD 5420 / Credits: 3 )
HSDD 5430
Integrating Children with Disabilities in Educational Settings (HSDD 5430 / Credits: 3 )
Gain a comprehensive understanding of grant writing and learn how to effectively develop critical-thinking and writing skills; how public policies affect people with developmental disabilities and their access to services; and current trends affecting disability policies and policy making.


Required Courses for Concentration (9 Credits Total)
HSDD 5110
Grant Writing (HSDD 5110 / Credits: 3 )
HSDD 5120
Leading for Change in Disability Services (HSDD 5120 / Credits: 3 )
HSDD 5130
Trends and Issues in Disability Advocacy (HSDD 5130 / Credits: 3 )

Additional Information

Students seeking to establish eligibility for the Board Certified Assistant Behavioral Analyst (BCaBA), Board Certified Behavioral Analyst (BCBA), or Association of Child Life Professionals (ACLP) exams have the option of taking additional courses as needed in the Applied Behavior Analysis and Child Specialist concentrations.

Related Degrees

Looking for a degree that will allow you to better your organization or community? Check out these programs.

Admission Requirements

Ready for the Next Step?

We’re thrilled you’re applying to NSU’s M.S. in Developmental Disabilities degree program.

Applications for admission are accepted online and on a rolling basis throughout the calendar year.


Apply Now

Have the following items ready to submit with your online application:

  • $50 application fee
  • Transcripts from all schools attended
  • Submit two letters of recommendation from current professors, employers, supervisors, or similar people most familiar with your professional experience (letters of recommendation must be less than one year old)
  • Personal statement of approximately 300 words, double-spaced, single-sided, typewritten pages—include why you are interested in the program you are applying for; your professional goals; your assessment of your abilities to manage the challenges of graduate school; and any other information you would like to provide

Applicants who have attended foreign universities or colleges are required to have their academic credentials evaluated for U.S. institutional equivalence. Please visit the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services for more information. International students are encouraged to contact the Office of International Student Services at (954) 262-7240 or 800-541-6682, ext. 27240, or by email at, or visit the Office of International Students and Scholars.

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Fellowship

With NSU’s ABA Fellowship, accrue hours toward the Behavior Analyst Certification Board’s (BACB) concentrated supervised fieldwork category while employed at NSU’s Baudhuin Preschool. As a fellow in this program, you will be eligible for tuition reduction contingent upon six months of successful employment.

This two-year fellowship lets you immediately bridge theory to practice with the oversight of the University. Two fellows will be selected for each two-year cycle, with the next cycle beginning Fall 2025. This two-year tenure will align with the Broward County Public Schools academic and extended school year calendars.

At the conclusion of the fellowship, fellows will have accumulated the necessary fieldwork hours toward Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) certification exam eligibility.

Students enrolled in NSU’s master’s-level ABA concentrations are eligible to apply for the ABA Fellowship Program.

Applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • Demonstrated interest and commitment to working with children and families
  • Articulated motivation to pursue a career in ABA
  • Preference will be given to applicants with a grade point average (GPA) of 3.2 or higher in the last 60 semester hours of undergraduate coursework
  • Ability to work full time in the United States throughout the course of the fellowship (2 years)
  • Ability to pass both Broward County Fieldprint Fingerprinting and Department of Children and Families (DCF) Clearinghouse level-2 background checks
  • Ability to pass the 90-day probationary period; extensions of the probationary period will be granted only in exceptional circumstances when there are extraordinary reasons beyond the student’s control and have been discussed with the Program Supervisor in advance of the probation deadline
  • Ability to maintain satisfactory academic standing and work performance throughout the duration of the ABA fellowship


Preferred Skills:

  • Experience with children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Applications must include all of the materials listed below. Incomplete or late applications will not be considered.

Email completed packages using the subject line “Fellowship Application: Last Name, First Name” to

March–May: NSU accepts application

May 1, 2025, 11:59 p.m. (ET): All application materials due

May 1, 2025 – June 1, 2025: Finalist selection and interviews

June 2, 2025: Selected Fellows notified

June 14, 2025: Deadline for Fellows to accept or decline the offer

June 15, 2025: Onboarding of Fellows

August 1, 2025: Estimated Start Date


NSU ABA Fellows must successfully complete 45 hours of Child Care Training within six months of employment, participate in all ESE Teacher Aide trainings, and maintain a 3.5 GPA and satisfactory employee performance throughout the course of the fellowship.

For more information, contact Dr. Tara Sheehan
NSU graduate in cap and gown smiling

Get the NSU Edge

As a student at NSU, you’ll have a competitive advantage among your peers with a flexible, individualized learning experience, funding for your tuition, community connections to career opportunities, and access to a globally established alumni network. Graduate with the edge you need to better the lives of those with developmental disabilities.

Learn More about the NSU Edge