Enrollment in Ball State University's Teachers College has hit a record high due to demand for analysis and treatment of autism spectrum disorder.
The Teachers College expected 150 students at most when it began offering an online-only master's degree in applied behavioral analysis with an emphasis in autism six years ago, The Star Press of Muncie reported.
The program's enrollment climbed to nearly 1,560 by the fall of 2016, and it's at nearly 1,610 this spring. The college is planning to add an undergraduate degree in ABA-autism.
"The estimate is 1 in 68 children is identified with autism, so there is a great need out there for professionals to work with kids and adults in clinics, hospitals and other settings," John Jacobson, dean of the Teachers College, said. "We got out in front of it and are still riding that wave, because every semester our enrollment keeps going up. We thought it would level out, but it just keeps going."
Graduates of the program must complete 1,500 hours of field work in a school, mental health center, hospital or group home before taking the exam to become board-certified.
"Online education is the story here," Jacobson said. "Online education basically allows us to be a campus for the world, not just a campus in Muncie or Fishers or Indianapolis. It's worldwide now."
The program's students come from 49 states, including more than 100 from California and more than 50 each from Texas, Florida and Pennsylvania, as well as several foreign countries.