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. Those who select this degree will:  

  • Gain the knowledge and skills to have a positive impact on students in the K-12 classroom
  • Become part of a supportive network of fellow students, alumni and faculty that will inspire and sustain you throughout your career
  • Learn from expert faculty currently active in the K-12 classroom who are here to help you shape your path to your own classroom

What you can earn


When to start

  • Courses are offered year-round.


 License & MA

License: New Teachers: 37-41  |  Current Teachers: 23-27

MA:        New Teachers: 44-45  |  Current Teachers: 30-31


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 MA (add the following):

CIED 500   Principles of Educational Research
SPED 799   Special Education Final Project
SPED xxx   Elective

New Teachers: Add Standards of Effective Practice Coursework

Full course catalog with descriptions


Find current course offerings

How to Apply


  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.
    • Transcript Review: All Teacher Education applicants seeking licensure must have a transcript review completed.  Official transcripts from all previous institutions are required.  Please contact the Teacher Education Department to request a transcript review form.  Email to
  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.
    • 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.

Special Opportunities

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 in gifted and talented education at the biennial Gifted Education Conference, the College of Education, Leadership & Counseling provides lifelong learning opportunities. Most events include a CEU component. In addition to annual events, the department offers specialized summer institutes in the area of Supervising Paraprofessionals, Autism Spectrum Disorders and Twice Exceptional Education.


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 College of Education, Leadership & Counseling takes pride in engaging in innovative partnerships with a variety of organizations. Students in the College of Education, Leadership & Counseling 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.