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A Master of Science in Developmental Disabilities is designed to prepare researchers, advocates, administrators and policy makers to be leaders in community-based or governmental agencies that address the confluence of issues associated with developmental disabilities throughout the life span. This degree program's body of knowledge will allow graduates of the M.S. program to pursue doctoral-level training in human services, counseling, and public policy, among others. In addition, this degree will provide professionals from disciplines such as nursing and education with the necessary skills to be effective leaders and advance in the field.

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.

This program is designed for individuals seeking a career in or as:

  • Program Director (non-profit)
  • Program Coordination
  • 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)

Program Format

The master's program is offered entirely online. The online format allows for students to participate in courses from anywhere in the world where Internet access is available. In addition, it allows for the flexibility of completing your master's degree without interrupting your career.

Master's students are provided NSU computer accounts including email and Blackboard, but must obtain their own Internet service providers, use their own computer systems and have a usable web camera. Online students use the web to access course materials, announcements, email, distance library services, subscription library databases, and other information, and for interaction with faculty and fellow students. Online, interactive learning methods are based on the use of Blackboard as a course management system. Online activities facilitate frequent student-to-faculty and student-to-student interaction. They are supported by threaded discussion boards, white boards, chat rooms, email, and multimedia presentations. In addition, Blackboard enables students to submit assignments online in multimedia formats and to receive their professors' reviews of assignments online in the same formats.


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.

Foundational coursework:

  • HSDD 5000: Survey of Developmental Disabilities (3 credits)
  • HSDD 5100: Program Design and Evaluation (3 credits)
  • HSDD 5200: Disability and the Family Life Cycle (3 credits)
  • HSDD 5300: Legal and Ethical Issues in Disability (3 credits)
  • HSDD 5400: Healthcare Issues in Developmental Disabilities (3 credits)
  • HSDD 5500: Disability Services Administration (3 credits)
  • HSDD 6000: Developmental Disabilities Masters Project (3 credits)


Visit the Developmental Disabilities M.S. page on the Nova Southeastern University website for more details!




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