You don’t work in special education because it’s easy; you do it because it matters. You want to be an educator who makes a difference in your students’ lives. That’s what we want, too.

At PLNU, we are here for the same reasons you are: we truly believe in the power of education, and we care deeply about individuals—including you. Like you, we believe that every student, no matter their challenges or special needs, has value and promise.

When you earn one or more of our added authorizations or certificates, you will challenge yourself to be more effective in serving students with special needs. The Autism Added Authorization can be taken on its own or as part of a Master of Arts in Special Education

Everyone you encounter here will share your goal of better serving your students, from your admissions counselor to your professors. Rest assured, PLNU’s School of Education will take a personal interest in you and care about your concerns, experience, beliefs, and goals.  

Specialized to Your Interests

Learn to successfully serve specific populations and incorporate the latest, research-based and classroom-tested best practices in a highly focused program. Take certificates and added authorizations alone, in combination, or as part of a master’s degree to create your ideal combination.

Convenient for Your Life

Our online and hybrid formats make these authorizations and certificates work with your career and family obligations. Since PLNU is known for making education personal, you can be sure you will receive the attention and support you need.

Relevant to Your Needs

District partnerships ensure PLNU’s curriculum addresses current needs and topics facing educators. As a Christian university, PLNU equips you to integrate your beliefs, values, and goals with your teaching practice.​

An added authorization in autism spectrum disorder can help you to more effectively serve your students with ASD. With the dramatically increased number of students diagnosed with ASD, this authorization can help you advance both your classroom practice and your career. The Autism Spectrum Added Authorization can be taken on its own or as part of a Master of Arts in Special Education.

Expected Completion Time

16 weeks, two 8-week quads

Program FormatHybrid (online and face-to-face instruction)
Mission Valley
Needed Units to Graduate

9 (includes Instruction and fieldwork)

Program Start Date

Fall 2015:

Quad 2 - October 26, 2015

Spring 2016:

Quad 1 - January 11, 2016
Quad 2 - March 14, 2016

Summer 2016:

Quad 1 - May 16, 2016
Quad 2 - July 11, 2016

Not all programs offer entry for new students each quad, check with enrollment counselor for programs and start dates.


$595 (per unit) in San Diego & $580 in Bakersfield for the 2015 - 2016 academic year

Ready to get started?

Quality and Experience

Autism Added Authorization

Quality programs, caring people, and a guiding faith set Point Loma Nazarene University apart. Our forward-thinking, balanced approach to education will help you earn a well-respected degree while gaining confidence and a network of lifelong support.  

Learn More

Important Dates

Program Start Date(s):

Fall 2015:

Quad 2 - October 26, 2015

Spring 2016:

Quad 1 - January 11, 2016
Quad 2 - March 14, 2016

Summer 2016:

Quad 1 - May 16, 2016
Quad 2 - July 11, 2016

Priority Application Date(s):

Spring 2016:

Quad 1 - December 1, 2015
Quad 2 - February 16, 2016

Summer 2016:

Quad 1 - April 12, 2016
Quad 2 - June 7, 2016

Not all programs offer entry for new students each quad, check with enrollment counselor for programs and start dates.

The Selection Process

To be admitted into PLNU's education program, you must have a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution, as evidenced by an official transcript.

We understand that your application is not only a reflection of you as a student; it’s a reflection of you as a person. At PLNU, we holistically evaluate your academic history, work and life experience, background, and circumstances to determine admission into a graduate program. 

While your undergraduate GPA is an important piece of your application, if you do not meet the minimum GPA requirement of a 3.0 or higher, you may still be eligible for admission. Your application package and the exceptions policy for the program are key for the final determination of admission. Please contact your enrollment counselor, who will advise you regarding your qualifications and provide specific information about the admission under exceptions process.

If you have any questions about your qualifications or the program in general, we encourage you to contact your enrollment counselor.

Application Checklist

*Note: The application is completed entirely online with the exception of transcripts, which can be submitted electronically or directly to PLNU, and test scores, which should be submitted electronically.

  • Submit online application for admissions (includes $50 non-refundable application fee—fee waived if applicant is one of the following: PLNU alum, current or former military and their dependents, or PLNU employee). 
  • Submit official transcripts with proof of earned baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution. *If you have higher degree work, transcripts may be submitted but only the baccalaureate transcripts are required.
    • Official transcripts must be sent to: 
      Point Loma Nazarene University 
      Office of Graduate Admissions 
      3900 Lomaland Dr. 
      San Diego, CA 92106
    • Official electronic transcripts must be emailed to: gradprocessing@pointloma.edu
  • Submit personal essay. The essay should be 2-3 pages in length, double spaced. 
    • Describe your professional career goals for the next five years. 
    • Describe the variety of experiences that helped you determine these goals. 
    • Explain what motivates you to work in California’s diverse schools. 
    • Explain why you are applying to PLNU, a private Christian university.
  • Provide two professional recommendations—you will be asked to register your recommenders by providing their names, titles, and email addresses.
  • For credential seekers only: Submit basic skills exam (CBEST or equivalent) scores. This can be demonstrated by taking the CBEST exam. 
    • OR Multiple Subject CSET plus writing skills examination.
    • OR passage of the CSU Early Assessment Program or the CSU Placement Examination.
    • OR Proof of a Valid CA Teaching Credential.

Exceptions Policy: If you have below a 3.0 GPA in your baccalaureate degree, you will need to speak with your enrollment counselor for more information on the exceptions materials needed for this program.

Financial Aid

The Center for Student Success and Career Development is committed to assist you throughout your educational journey. Your Student Success Advisor will walk you through your payment options, which may include federal student loans, grants, employer tuition reimbursement, military benefits, and the Tuition Installment Plan. We encourage you to reach out to your Student Success Advisor to learn about the financial opportunities available to you.

Types of Aid

Types of aid available for master’s degree students:

Potential sources of aid may include:

  • Federal student loans
  • Grants
  • Employer tuition reimbursement process
  • Military and veterans benefits
  • Tuition installment plan

Visit Graduate Student Financial Services for more information.

Still have questions? Our enrollment counselors are here to help.

List of Courses

SPE 652 - Methods of Teaching Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (3)

This methodology course is designed to prepare education specialists for the successful teaching of students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Topics include instructional planning and social stories, evaluation techniques and functional behavior assessment, research trends and outcomes, working with repetitive behaviors, sensory and movement disorders, atypical language development, and atypical social development. This course includes intentional practice in partnering for special education and related services, supporting students in the general curriculum, and promoting friendships for students with ASD.

SPE 652F - Fieldwork for Autism Spectrum (1)

This fieldwork course requires 30 clock hours of observation and participation specific to teaching methods focused on students with ASD disabilities in school settings. Candidates are responsible for transportation to and from the school site. Graded Credit/No Credit.
Concurrent: Candidates must be concurrently enrolled in SPE 652

GED 656 - Shared Leadership, Legislation, and Due Process (2)

This course presents principles of organizational systems and systems change agent through examination of current legislation, theory, research, and practices in general and special education school reform. Exploration and development of shared leadership skills; advanced interpersonal communication; collaborative teaming and consultation; creative problem solving and conflict resolution; interagency coordination, and change agentry. Special emphasis is placed on legislative practices as they relate to special education due process proceedings, compliance, district and parental rights, and student advocacy. Candidates apply skills to address programmatic and systems change challenges in school and community settings.

Choose one of the following courses:

GED 622 - Advanced Special Education Assessment and Analysis of Behavior (3)

This course provides the candidate with advanced and applied strategies for students with disabilities impacting appropriate social and emotional functioning. The course addresses conceptual models of behavioral deficits, social, academic, and behavioral interventions, and current legal issues in special education. Special emphasis will be placed on conducting functional behavior assessments, designing data-driven instruction, working with individual and group problem solving skills, and understanding positive behavior supports by use of formal and informal assessments.


GED 650 - Universal Access: Equity for All Students (3)

Candidates examine principles of designing and implementing equitable and inclusive learning environments free of bias, the use of culturally responsive pedagogical practices, and the differentiation of state-adopted academic content, student product, and instructional process to maximize student achievement through the use of a variety of resources and the implementation of a variety of service delivery models. Candidates apply skills to address curricular, instructional, and assessment challenges in the school and community settings.


Why PLNU? No matter which PLNU program you decide is right for you, you'll discover the hallmark PLNU experience is designed to give every student the clear framework and professional tools to stand out in his or her field.

Established in 1902, PLNU is located in beautiful San Diego. Our small class sizes, focused faculty attention, and convenient online offerings are just a few of the powerful ways PLNU delivers real value to every student, no matter which physical or virtual campus he or she chooses.

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Top 5 "Best Value" among private California universities. 
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Autism Added Authorization


San Diego
Jessica Hill
(619) 563-2857 or 
(866) 692-4723

Stephanie Meier
(661) 377-4721
(866) 861-4723