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M.S. in Developmental Disabilities

Millions of children and adults in the United States have one or more developmental disabilities. Like anyone else, they deserve access to programs and services that help them lead full, active lives. You can help empower them.

A Master of Science in Developmental Disabilities at NSU will make a difference in your life, while you make a difference in the lives of others. You'll learn from faculty with professional expertise outside of the classroom and have hands-on opportunities to work with a diverse population of individuals from the young child to the senior adult. Your coursework will arm you with the knowledge you need to champion for solutions, so you can make a lasting impact.

Delivery Options

The Developmental Disabilities program is offered entirely online. The online format allows for the flexibility of completing your master's degree without interrupting your career.

Concentration Tracks

  • Leadership/Advocacy
  • Adult Services/Transition
  • Early Childhood
  • Applied Behavior Analysis Concentration Courses
  • Child Life Specialist

Who Should Apply

Individuals seeking careers in/as a Program Director (non-profit), Program Coordinator, Early Childhood Interventionist, Transition Specialist, Job Coach, Child Life Specialist (with Child Life Specialist concentration), Developmental Specialist, Case Manager, Vocational Counselor, Advocate, Behavior Analyst or Assistant Behavior Analyst (with ABA concentration)

Please note: 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.

The successful graduate of the M.S. in Developmental Disabilities program is expected to:

  • Apply knowledge of effective administrative and other leadership skills in the field of developmental disabilities through the use of case study analyses, research papers, and in-class assignments.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the different developmental disabilities and the challenges faced by these individuals across the lifespan.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the impact of the family, the educational system, and community services on the successful integration of individuals with developmental disabilities into the community.
  • Apply ethical and legal principles related to working with individuals who have developmental disabilities to real-world cases and settings.
  • Apply knowledge of developmental disabilities, organizational behavior, and strategic planning to the design and/or administration of human services organizations which provide services to individuals and families with developmental disabilities. 
  • Demonstrate research, analytic thinking, and writing skills when creating a program design or evaluation project on a relevant topic in the field.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the impact of health disparities experienced by individuals with developmental disabilities and the implications for healthcare and human services organizations.

M.S. in Developmental Disabilities SAMPLE Degree Plan (30 credits)

Year One
First Term HSDD 5000: Survey of Developmental Disabilities       (3 credits) HSDD 5100: Program Design and Evaluation (3 credits)
Second Term HSDD 5200: Disability and the Family Cycle (3 credits) HSDD 5300: Legal and Ethical Issues in Disability           (3 credits)
Third Term HSDD 5400: Healthcare Issues in Developmental Disabilities (3 credits) HSDD 5500: Disability Services Administration               (3 credits)
Year Two
Fourth Term Concentration course (excludes practicum/internship courses) (3 credits) Concentration course (excludes practicum/internship courses) (3 credits)
Fifth Term Concentration course (excludes practicum/internship courses) (3 credits) HSDD 6000: Developmental Disabilities Master's Research Project (3 credits)

Curriculum

Students enrolled in the Masters of Science in Developmental Disabilities are required to complete 21 credit hours of foundational coursework and 9 credit hours in one of the concentrations (excludes practicum/internship courses) at a minimum (30 credits total) to earn the degree.

COURSE NUMBER COURSE TITLE AND DESCRIPTION CREDITS
HSDD 5000 Survey of Developmental Disabilities 3
HSDD 5100 Program Design and Evaluation 3
HSDD 5200 Disability and the Family Life Cycle 3
HSDD 5300 Legal and Ethical Issues in Disability 3
HSDD 5400 Healthcare Issues in Developmental Disabilities 3
HSDD 5500 Disability Services Administration 3
HSDD 6000 Developmental Disabilities Master’s Research Project 3

Leadership/Advocacy

COURSE NUMBER COURSE TITLE AND DESCRIPTION CREDITS
HSDD 5110 Grant Writing 3
HSDD 5120 Leading for Change in Disability Services 3
HSDD 5130 Trends and Issues in Disability Advocacy 3

Adult Services/Transition

COURSE NUMBER COURSE TITLE AND DESCRIPTION CREDITS
HSDD 5310 Aging and Disability Across the Life Span 3
HSDD 5320 Students with Disabilities in Higher Ed 3
HSDD 5330 Employment and Independent Living 3

Early Childhood

COURSE NUMBER COURSE TITLE AND DESCRIPTION CREDITS
HSDD 5410 Early Identification and Assessment of Developmental Disabilities 3
HSDD 5420 Early Intervention in Developmental Disabilities 3
HSDD 5430 Integrating Children with Disabilities in Educational Settings  3

Applied Behavior Analysis (9 Credits)

The Association for Behavior Analysis International has verified the following courses toward the coursework requirements abai_vcs_program.jpgfor eligibility to take 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.

For those interested in learning and understanding the BCBA certification requirements, please visit the Behavior Analyst Certification Board's website: https://www.bacb.com/.

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.

COURSE NUMBER COURSE TITLE AND DESCRIPTION CREDITS
ABA 0711 Concepts and Principles of Applied Behavior Analysis I 3
ABA 0712 Concepts and Principles of Applied Behavior Analysis II 3
ABA 0721 Applied Behavior Analysis Assessment and Application 3
ABA 0731 Applied Behavior Analysis Assessment and Delivery Models 3
ABA 0741 Evaluating Interventions in Applied Behavior Analysis 3
ABA 0751 Supervision and Management in Applied Behavior Analysis 3
ABA 0756 Ethical and Professional Issues in Applied Behavior Analysis 3

Applied Behavior Analysis Elective Fieldwork – Optional – (9 Credits)

COURSE NUMBER COURSE TITLE CREDITS
ABA 0761 Fieldwork in Applied Behavior Analysis I 3
ABA 0771 Fieldwork in Applied Behavior Analysis II 3
ABA 0781 Fieldwork in Applied Behavior Analysis III 3

Child Life Specialist

The Association of Child Life Professionals (ACLP) has pre-approved the following courses toward the coursework requirements for eligibility to take the Child Life Professional Certification Examination.  Applicants will need to meet additional requirements before they can be deemed eligible to take the examination.

For those interested in learning and understanding the ACLP certification requirements, please visit the Association of Child Life Professional’s website: https://www.childlife.org/certification

COURSE NUMBER COURSE TITLE CREDITS
HSDD 5510 Foundations in Child Life and Family-Centered Care 3
HSDD 5515 Ethics in Child Life 3
HSDD 5100 Program Design and Evaluation 3
HSDD 5518 Family Systems and the Hospitalized Child 3
HSDD 5522 Theories of Child Growth and Development (Pre: HSDD 5510) 3
HSDD 5523 Theories of Adolescent Growth and Development 3
HSDD 5525 Medical Terminology 3
HSDD 5530 Interventions in Child Life (Pre: HSDD 5510) 3
HSDD 5532 Therapeutic Benefits of Play 3
HSDD 5534 Death and Dying 3

Child Life Clinical Training - Optional (9 credits)

COURSE NUMBER COURSE TITLE AND DESCRIPTION CREDITS
HSDD 5535 Child Life Practicum 3
HSDD 5550 Child Life Internship I (Prereq: HSDD 5510, HSDD 5530) 3
HSDD 5560 Child Life Internship II (Prereq: HSDD 5510, HSDD 5530, HSDD 5550) 3

Child Life Specialist Internship Information

Internship/practicum candidates may elect to request approval to complete university-affiliated training. Affiliation agreements between the training site and NSU must be established, prior to internship/practicum.  

  • Internship: Students must successfully complete 600 hours supervised clinical hours at a University approved site under the direct supervision of a Certified Child Life Specialist, who has a minimum of 4,000 hours of paid child life clinical experience prior to the start of the supervisory period. 
  • Practicum: Students must successfully complete a minimum of 100 hours supervised clinical training at a University approved site under the direct supervision of a Certified Child Life Specialist, who has achieved a minimum of 2,000 hours of paid work experience in the field. (Please note practicum training is not required to establish eligibility for the Child Life Professional Certification Examination) 

Application Requirements

To ensure that your application is complete, please use the checklist below and follow the detailed instructions provided for each item. All documents that are submitted to the University will need to include your name on each page.

  1. Complete online application form.
  2. $50 nonrefundable application fee
  3. Baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution with a grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or higher or a master's degree with an overall GPA of 3.0 or better.
  4. A personal statement of approximately 300 words, double spaced, single sided, typewritten pages. Include  why are interested in the program to which you are applying for, as well as your professional goals, your assessment of your abilities to manage the challenges of graduate school, and any other information you would like to provide.
    • *Students may choose to complete this requirement within the application or they may choose to submit it as a separate document.
  5. Official transcripts from all colleges or universities you attended need to be mailed directly to Enrollment Processing Services (EPS), including agency evaluation of foreign degrees for determination of U.S. equivalence (including Canadian transcripts). All applicants must hold a baccalaureate from a regionally accredited institution. International Students should visit International Students and Scholars for further information. *
  6. 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.
  7. Interview conducted via telephone
  8. International Student applicants should submit English proficiency scores, if applicable. International Students should visit International Students and Scholars for further information. *

 

Please Mail Items To

Nova Southeastern University
Enrollment Processing Services
Attn: Abraham S. Fischler College of Education
3301 College Avenue
P.O. Box 299000
Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33329-9905

 

Address without P.O. Box:
Nova Southeastern University
Enrollment Processing Services
Attn: Abraham S. Fischler College of Education
3301 College Avenue
Fort Lauderdale-Davie, Florida 33314
 
Official electronic transcripts must be sent to electronictranscript@nova.edu.
 
NOTE: EXTERNAL INSTITUTIONS ONLY.
 
If you have any questions about the admissions process, call (954) 262-8500 / (800) 986-3223, ext. 28500, or email to eduinfo@nova.edu.

International Students

Foreign nationals who reside outside the U.S. at the time of application, and whose native language is not English, must present evidence of proficiency in English by satisfactorily completing the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). Score requirements are the same as undergraduate admission and are as follows: minimum paper score =550; minimum computerized score = 213; minimum Internet score=79). A score of 6.0 on the International English Language Testing System (ILETS) exam is accepted in lieu of the TOEFL. Applicants who have attended foreign universities or colleges are required to have their academic credentials evaluated for U.S. institutional equivalence. While there are several credential evaluators, the most widely used companies are listed below or visit www.naces.org.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 intl@nova.edu, or visit our  International Students Page.

The NSU ABA Fellowship provides students the opportunity to accrue hours toward the Behavior Analyst Certification Board’s (BACB) concentrated supervised fieldwork category while employed at NSU’s Baudhuin Preschool. Fellows will be eligible for tuition reduction contingent upon six months of successful employment. 

Did you miss our chat with Professor Maribel Del Rio-Roberts and Asa & Priscilla Maass (of the popular FatheringAutism YouTube channel)?

fathering-autism-march-2019-video.jpg

Click on the image above to learn more about the early signs of autism and the diagnostic process.

 

Alumni Success Story

Sheresa Campbell

campbell-sheresa.pngM.S. Developmental Disabilities | Class of 2015

"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. With the advances in science and medicine, many individuals with both physical and developmental disabilities are living longer and are part of our communities. All of us need to know how to help them be valued individuals and reach their highest potential. We need to assure they receive appropriate education and medical treatment. In my experience, there has been very little training or education regarding caring for individuals with disabilities, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to expand my knowledge base in this important area.

The curriculum offered in the Master of Science in Developmental Disabilities program at Nova Southeastern University provides students with a very comprehensive education in the developmental disabilities field. Students will learn about disabilities that affect children and adults and will gain perspective on some of the challenges they and their families face on a daily basis. They will also learn what we can do, both in the field of education and medicine, to improve their outcomes.

The program is designed to allow for one to participate while continuing in their current field of work. The classes are so well organized and students are provided all the important dates on the syllabus at the beginning of each course. I was able to manage working full time, travel out of the country and provide for my family while I was completing this program. The online classes provide opportunities for interaction with the professors as well as other classmates. The professors were easily accessible and knowledgeable, engaging and enthusiastic about the courses being taught. There was much support and many resources available to assist in the projects assigned.

I found this program to be challenging and rewarding, and I have become even more passionate about caring for those affected by disabilities. I would recommend this program to anyone working with individuals affected by developmental disabilities. I gained a tremendous amount of knowledge and am so thankful I was able to participate in this important program."

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