Top of PageSkip to main content

Curriculum

Students enrolled in the Masters of Science in Developmental Disabilities are required to complete 18 credit hours of foundational coursework, 9 credit hours in one of the Concentrations, and 3 credit hours of a Developmental Disabilities Master's Research Project. Following is a sample of a degree plan for full-time students. Degree plans will be modified based on a student's enrollment date and pace of study. Additional credits may be required for Applied Behavior Analysis and Child Specialist concentrations.

HSDD 5000: Survey of Developmental Disabilities (3 credits)

This course provides an overview of the various types of developmental disabilities as experienced throughout the lifespan. Students will have the opportunity to develop a working knowledge of the unique challenges faced by individuals with developmental disabilities, including problems associated with transitional periods in development. In addition, the course will provide an understanding of the assessment process in diagnosing developmental disabilities, as well as how to select the services that will meet the unique needs of individuals and assist them and their families in developing and implementing an individual plan. The course will also address cultural factors in the experience of developmental disabilities and in service provision.  The course will also outline strategies for working with families in order to improve access and engagement in services.

HSDD 5100: Program Design and Evaluation (3 credits)

This course familiarizes students with the different components of program design such as developing a program philosophy, mission and vision, marketing and budgeting. In addition, the process of program evaluation, including needs assessment, formative research, process evaluation, impact assessment, and cost analysis will be covered. Students will gain practical experience through a series of exercises involving the design of a conceptual framework, development of indicators, and development of an evaluation plan to measure impact. In addition, the course covers experimental, quasi-experimental, and non-experimental study designs, including the strengths and limitations of each.

HSDD 5200: Disability and the Family Life Cycle (3 credits)

This course focuses on disability viewed from the perspective of lifespan development and the family life cycle. The course will discuss a wide range of issues in this area including: the sociology of the family; the experience of family members of persons with a disability; the educational system and its impact on outcomes of children with disabilities; characteristics of successful inclusion efforts, and the relationship between inclusion and school reform. Transitional issues from youth to adult life for individuals with disabilities will also be discussed.  These will include: family life of adults with disabilities such as, marriage, parenting, and caring for aging parents; the importance of social networks and support in the lives of people with disabilities; and approaches to challenging dynamics, such as individuals dually diagnosed with intellectual disabilities and mental illness. Finally, the use of various treatment approaches and support options for individuals with disabilities will be discussed. Prerequisite: HSDD 5000

HSDD 5300: Legal and Ethical Issues in Disability (3 credits)

This course discusses current laws related to disabilities such as ADA and IDEA as well as contemporary issues affecting the lives of individuals with disabilities and the daily responsibilities of disability professionals. This course further examines the application of ethical principles to matters associated with genetics, treatment decisions, and competency. Prerequisite: HSDD 5000

HSDD 5400: Healthcare Issues in Developmental Disabilities (3 credits)

Provides an introduction to the health disparities experienced by individuals with developmental disabilities. This course will cover the Declaration on Health Parity for Persons with Disabilities issued by the American Association of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AIDD). Challenges faced by individuals with disabilities in access to appropriate medical, dental, and mental health services will be discussed as well as the importance of health promotion for those with developmental disabilities. The significance of attention to inclusion of the impact of developmental disability upon individuals, families, schools, and other organizations and agencies in the education of health professionals will be addressed. Prerequisite: HSDD 5000

HSDD 5500: Disability Services Administration (3 credits)

The application of management and leadership theory and research in non-profit and public agencies will be addressed. This course will focus on strategic planning, employee motivation, recruitment, retention, fiscal management, long-term planning, board development and succession planning. In addition, effective communication skills will be addressed and strengthened through interactive exercises with feedback.

HSDD 6000: Developmental Disabilities Masters Project (3 credits)

In this course, students are expected to work with a faculty member advisor to complete a research project in which they will design a social service program targeting individuals with developmental disabilities or will evaluate an existing program that serves developmentally delayed individuals. Program design and evaluation methodology, analytic thinking, and writing skills will be infused throughout the curriculum to prepare students to complete this research project. Specific deadlines will be provided so that the student can complete the project in a timely manner. Prerequisite: HSDD 5000

HSDD 5110: Grant Writing (3 credits)

Students in this course will learn the basic principles of grant writing and will develop the critical thinking and writing skills required to effectively define a problem or recognize an opportunity (Assessment), map a viable plan (Proposal Writing), weigh funding options and create funding relationships (Grant Development) and communicate information and leverage collaboration (Report Generation).

HSDD 5120: Leading for Change in Disability Services (3 credits)

This course will examine the role that public policies currently in place play in providing quality services to individuals with developmental disabilities, as well as analysis of the costs of these services. Organizational factors will examine the impact of program administration in public and private agencies servicing individuals with disabilities. Also, the design and evaluation of community-based services are addressed.

HSDD 5130: Trends and Issues in Disability Advocacy (3 credits)

This course provides insight into disability policy through the examination of policy making. The course will focus on different political/ideological approaches to disability policy. In addition, examines how the federal government addresses discrimination against individuals with disabilities in public (e.g. transportation, housing education, and employment).  Participants will gain basic skills and knowledge in: contextual analysis; problem/issue identification; analysis and prioritization; power mapping; goal/objective setting; analysis of advocacy arenas and strategies; message development, writing reports and working with the media; engaging in public outreach and mobilization; lobbying and negotiation; advocacy leadership and coalition building; and assessment of program success.

HSDD 5310: Aging and Disability Across the Lifespan (3 credits)

This course will provide an interdisciplinary focus on aging and disability from different theoretical perspectives. The dynamics of aging across the lifespan will be addressed and specific challenges faced by young adults, middle age individuals, and older adults with developmental disabilities will be reviewed. Students will be able to apply knowledge obtained to specialized population and be able to assume leadership roles and engage in support efforts for these individuals as demonstrated through paper and presentations.

HSDD 5320: Students with Disabilities in Higher Education (3 credits)

Examines the experience of students with developmental disabilities in higher education and crucial components related to their full participation in college life. Knowledge of demographic trends of students with developmental disabilities in higher education, awareness of important transition issues of students from K-12 to postsecondary education, strategies for increasing retention, and understanding the different types of accommodations typically required of students with developmental disabilities will be covered.

HSDD 5330: Employment and Independent Living (3 credits)

This course provides an analysis of the integration of individuals with developmental disabilities into the community and within institutions. Challenges faced by individuals with developmental disabilities in obtaining and maintaining employment and independent living will be addressed as well as strategies for promoting successful community integration.

HSDD 5410: Early Identification and Assessment of Developmental Disabilities (3 credits)

This course will provide students with the opportunity to obtain knowledge of the assessment, evaluation, and diagnostic skills of young children with developmental disabilities from an interdisciplinary perspective. Risk factors and early warning signs of atypical development will be reviewed. Students will be exposed to commonly used assessments to identify developmental delays in various fields and will be exposed to different diagnostic approaches such as the DSM-IV, ICD-10, and Zero to Three. Prerequisite: HSDD 5000

HSDD 5420: Early Intervention in Developmental Disabilities (3 credits)

This course helps students apply their knowledge of challenging behaviors such as aggression, self-injury, tantrums, etc. and of different modalities of intervention typically applied with individuals with developmental disabilities such as developmental (speech, physical, occupational), behavioral [Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), Relationship Development Intervention (RDI), and Floortime], and educational supports through case analysis and discussion. Factors that contribute to treatment success will be addressed. Prerequisite: HSDD 5000

HSDD 5430: Integrating Children with Disabilities in Educational Settings (3 credits)

This course will focus on historical approaches to the education of children with disabilities. It will address current models utilized in educational settings such as inclusion, mainstreaming, and self-contained classrooms. Supports that can be provided to children with developmental disabilities to promote successful educational outcomes will be assessed. The common approaches to providing supports including individualized education plans, frequency assessments of behavior, behavioral intervention plans, and the role that they each play in the educational system will be critiqued. Prerequisite: HSDD 5000

The Behavior Analyst Certification Board, Inc.® has approved the following course sequence as meeting the coursework requirements for eligibility to take either the Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA) or Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) Examination. Please check with an advisor about course selection.

*Please be advised that students completing the Applied Behavioral Analysis concentration cannot be placed in practicum sites within the states of North Carolina and New York due to state licensure regulations.  

HSDD 0710: Principles of Applied Behavior Analysis

This course will focus on the basic tenets of the science of applied behavior analysis that are the underpinnings of effective teaching strategies. Students will study the philosophy and science of applied behavior analysis, an overview of the areas of the field of ABA and its relation to education and psychology, basic vocabulary and concepts in the field, strategies for measuring behavior, basic strategies for increasing and decreasing behaviors of students, and ethical considerations in the application of ABA in a variety of settings.

HSDD 0720: Applications of Applied Behavior Analysis

This course will extend the Basic Principles and Concepts course to include application of the principles of applied behavior analysis in educational and other therapeutic settings. It will focus on behavioral intervention strategies and change procedures, evaluation and assessment strategies, and methods of accountability in ABA interventions. In addition, focus will be placed on the ethical use of intervention strategies and making decisions regarding ethical treatment for individuals with a variety of challenges. The course will emphasize applications in applied behavior analysis in education as well as other areas of study. Prerequisite: HSDD 710

HSDD 0730: Behavioral Assessment Models in Applied Behavior Analysis

This course will focus on the variety of delivery models for services within the ABA model. Areas of focus will include the behavioral models of development disabilities, treatment of autism, organizational behavior management, school psychology, sports psychology, and education. Principles and research in each area will be addressed and participants will employ a variety of strategies from each area in the course assignments. Prerequisite: HSDD 710

HSDD 0740: Evaluating Interventions in Applied Behavior Analysis

This course will focus on evaluation strategies used in both research and in the ethical provision of interventions. It will cover a variety of measurement and assessment strategies for determining the effectiveness of interventions on a single-subject and small group design. Additional focus will be placed on the interpretation of the research literature to make sound decisions about assessment and intervention strategies for a variety of populations.

HSDD 0750: Professional Issues in Applied Behavior Analysis

This course will focus on issues of professionalism and ethics for the practice of applied behavior analysis in research and clinical settings. It will also address issues of working with systems to effect positive change in organizations and for individuals through consultation and collaboration with other professionals. Using applied behavior analysis to provide systems support and change to enhance work as a consultant will be the underlying basis for the course. Prerequisite: HSDD 710

HSDD 0790: Ethical Conduct for Applied Behavior Analysts

This course will focus on the ethical practice of applied behavior analysis across clinical, research and professional settings. The Behavior Analyst Certification Board’s Guidelines for Responsible Conduct for Behavior Analysts and Professional Disciplinary and Ethical Standards will be reviewed, explored and applied. Additional focus will be given to common ethical dilemmas that may arise during clinical research and practice in applied behavior analysis and strategies and guidelines for resolving ethical issues. Prerequisite: HSDD 0710

HSDD 0614: Seminar on Advanced Topics in ABA (Elective)

This course will provide a comprehensive guided review of the necessary content required to fulfill Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) requirements. As such, it is designed to prepare students for this type of professional certification. Students will enhance their knowledge and skills of the following areas of applied behavior analysis (ABA): principles of behavior analysis, evaluating interventions, professional issues, behavioral assessment models, and applications of ABA.

This course will focus on the ethical practice of applied behavior analysis across clinical, research and professional settings. The Behavior Analyst Certification Board’s Guidelines for Responsible Conduct for Behavior Analysts and Professional Disciplinary and Ethical Standards will be reviewed, explored and applied. Additional focus will be given to common ethical dilemmas that may arise during clinical research and practice in applied behavior analysis and strategies and guidelines for resolving ethical issues. Prerequisite: HSDD 0710

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

HSDD 0760: Practicum in Applied Behavior Analysis I (Elective)

This introductory practicum is designed to meet the supervision requirements for the BCBA or BCABA certification. Students must be engaged in practicum activities at least 20 hours per week in a job that requires the application of ABA principles. Supervision will take place weekly in both group and individual formats and will address both increasing and decreasing behaviors. Students will be expected to collect and share data on their cases and employ strategies of behavioral assessment and intervention with input from their supervisor. Prerequisite: HSDD 0710

HSDD 0770: Practicum in Applied Behavior Analysis II (Elective)

This course is designed to continue the supervision begun in HSDD 760 and has similar requirements. Students will be expected to provide written reports and intervention plans as part of their supervision. Students must be engaged in practicum activities at least 20 hours per week in a position that requires the application of ABA principles. Supervision will take place weekly in both group format and individual formats and will address both increasing and decreasing behaviors. Prerequisites: HSDD 0710, HSDD 0760

HSDD 0780: Advanced Practicum in Applied Behavior Analysis I (Elective)

This advanced practicum is designed to meet the supervision requirements for students seeking their BCBA and will continue the work begun in the previous two practicums. Students must be engaged in a position requiring the application of ABA principles at least 20 hours per week. Supervision will take place weekly or bi-weekly in a group or individual format and will address both increasing and decreasing behaviors. Students will be expected to collect and share data on their cases and employ strategies of behavioral assessment and intervention with input from their supervisor. Prerequisites: HSDD 0710, HSDD 0770

Certification

The ABA course series in the MS in Developmental Disabilities program meets the Behavior Analyst Certification Board eligibility requirements. Applicants who provide verification that they have completed this approved course sequence will not have to provide course work documentation. The academic course work is offered through the ABA concentration. Clinical training experience requirements for certification can be met through elective practica in the academic program or the student may seek supervision on his or her own. Following completion of academic coursework and supervision, students will still need to pass the certification exam offered by the Behavior Analysis Certification Board. More information about certification requirements can be found at Behavior Analysis Certification Board.

*Please be advised that students completing the Child Life Specialist concentration cannot be placed in internship sites within the states of North Carolina and New York due to state licensure regulations.

HSDD 5510: Foundations of Child Life and Family-Centered Care

This course will provide an introduction to the spectrum of child life practice in direct and non-direct services in pediatric health care including a historical review of the profession and its development in the evolution of children's healthcare. Students will develop an understanding and affirmation of the values of supporting individual development, family-centered care, therapeutic relationship and developmentally appropriate communication. Additionally, students will learn to represent and communicate child life practice and psychosocial issues of infants, children, youth and families. This course will provide students with the knowledge and effective strategies to assess and support healthy interactions between families and outside institutions. Continuous engagement in self-reflective professional child life practice will also be a focus of this course.

HSDD 5520: Child and Adolescent Growth and Development

This course will examine issues in human development that are especially relevant to infants, children and adolescents. It is designed to present theory, research and evidence-based practice concerning the physical, cognitive, emotional, and social development of children. Typical versus atypical developmental progress, as well as factors that threaten to impede typical development will be addressed. This course will also emphasize cultural competence when working with children and families in a collaborative context.

HSDD 5530: Interventions in Child Life

This course will introduce students to theories and intervention techniques that help children and families cope with stress from hospitalization or other life events that disrupt normal development. Strategies to assist with issues such as pain management; adjustment to chronic illness and long-term hospitalization; and adherence to medication management and routine medical care will be covered. Students will learn to assess and implement developmentally appropriate interventions, based on empirical data, to create individualized treatment plans in collaboration with the treatment team. The central role of play therapy in child life services will be emphasized, along with the provision of a safe, therapeutic and healing environment. Prerequisite: HSDD 5510

HSDD 5540: Professional Issues in Child Life

This course will provide students with training necessary to identify and manage ethical and professional issues within an interdisciplinary approach in clinical and research settings. It will emphasize knowledge and understanding of the official documents of the Child Life Council (CLC) including the Code of Ethical Responsibility, Child Life Competencies and Standards of Clinical Practice, the child life mission, values and vision statements, and the Code of Professional Practice. Students will also develop the ability to evaluate child life services and make recommendations for program improvement. As part of this course, teaching and supervision of students and volunteers will be addressed. Prerequisite: HSDD 5510

HSDD 5550: Child Life Internship I (Elective)

Students will be required to successfully complete a specified number hours of child life clinical experience under the direct supervision of a Certified Child Life Specialist who meets specific qualifications at an approved setting. During that time, the students will be expected to increase their competence in the areas of basic interviewing, assessment, and intervention skills. Furthermore, integration of ethical, legal, and professional issues inherent in child life service delivery will be addressed. Best practice and conflict resolution issues will also be incorporated. Prerequisite(s): HSDD 5510, HSDD 5530

HSDD 5560: Child Life Internship II (Elective)

Students will be required to successfully complete a specified number hours of child life clinical experience under the direct supervision of a Certified Child Life Specialist who meets specific qualifications at an approved setting. During that time, the students will be expected to increase their competence in the areas of basic interviewing, assessment, and intervention skills. Furthermore, integration of ethical, legal, and professional issues inherent in child life service delivery will be addressed. Best practice and conflict resolution issues will also be incorporated. Prerequisite(s): HSDD 5510, HSDD 5530, HSDD 5550

Child Life Specialist Internship Information

Internship:

Students may elect to complete their internship at an NSU approved child life specialist site. During their training, students are expected to complete a minimum of 560 clinical training hours under the supervision of a Certified Child Life Specialist. NSU's clinical training representative is available to assist students in securing internship opportunities.

Certification:

The child life concentration offered in the M.S. in Developmental Disabilities program is designed to prepare students for certification as a child life specialist. For detailed information regarding certification requirements and application, please visit the Child Life Council.

Return to top of page