Kinney SCHOLARS with a student

Kinney Center for Autism Education and Support

Students from all majors develop the professional skills needed to find career success in a neuro-diverse world. Our approach is twofold: educate and train the autism professionals of tomorrow while supporting and serving individuals and families affected by autism today.

The Kinney Difference


Percent of Kinney SCHOLAR graduates are employed or in graduate school (2018).


Percent average pass rate for the Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA) exam*


Percent matriculation rate for participants in the ASPIRE program.


Years of service in autism education and support.

*among those who undergo supervision at the center; compare with a national average of 65%


Since 2009, the Kinney Center for Autism Education and Support has been a pioneer in the autism field.

  • Undergraduate and graduate programs in autism studies

  • On-campus ASPIRE program in support of students with autism

  • First-of-its-kind autism break room in Hagan Arena to support families attending Saint Joseph's Hawks basketball games. 

We found the Kinney Center when Caleb was 4, and he’s been here ever since. Kinney has helped him with coping skills and flexibility and is a place where he’s formed and maintained friendships."

Shalom and her son Caleb outside of the Cardinal Foley Center on campus

Shalom Stratford

Kinney parent

Degrees & Certification

As diagnoses of autism spectrum disorder continue to rise, so does the demand for skilled support of this growing population. From master’s degrees to education endorsements, the Kinney Center offers a full range of educational offerings that combine classroom teaching with hands-on, practical experience. 

  • Autism Behavioral Studies Major and Minor

    Designed to meet the growing need for qualified, highly trained providers of autism services and treatment, this comprehensive program covers behavioral analysis and techniques; biology and neurophysiology; health policy; coping methods for providers and family members and more.  The major allows two tracks — Clinical and Research and Advocacy — to allow for further specialization. The minor allows students in related majors to augment their skill sets by exposing them to autism theories, techniques, treatment and therapies.

    BCaBA Certification

    By studying for a major or minor in autism studies and completing required supervised hours at the center or another location, you’ll be eligible to sit for the Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst examination, an important certification for professionals in the field.

  • M.S. in Special Education (PreK-8) or (7-12)

    Are you already a highly qualified educator? In this rigorous program, you’ll hone your expertise by learning to establish effective teaching and learning environments for children with special needs. Classroom instruction and field placement lead to a degree that prepares you for Pennsylvania certification.

    SJU offers the M.S. in special education both on campus and online.

    Applied Behavioral Analysis Concentration

    Prepare for a role in the growing field of behavior analysis. Graduate students in the health education, criminal justice or special education master’s programs can work in a variety of settings, from mental and behavioral health to geriatrics, business and higher ed. This concentration prepares and qualifies you to sit for the Board Certified Behavior Analyst exam.

    Autism Spectrum Disorder Endorsement

    This four-course (12-credit) endorsement focuses on assessment and research-based strategies. You will learn skill development and behavioral modification for students of all ages. 

    Complete this program — which includes hybrid courses — in as few as two semesters. The coursework qualifies for continuing education units and may also be completed as an added concentration within the M.S. special education program.

  • General Studies B.L.S.: Autism Concentration 

    Through online coursework and field experience, you’ll gain a solid introduction to autism theories, techniques, treatment and therapies. Completion of this eight-course sequence qualifies you to sit for the Board Certified Behavior Analyst examination — an important qualification in the field. 

  • Autism Studies Certification (Post-baccalaureate)

    Through a series of 10 courses, you’ll gain a firm understanding of autism theories, techniques, treatment and therapies. The program incorporates field experience to deliver specialized training in the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of individuals on the autism spectrum. By earning this certificate, you’ll qualify to take the Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst examination. (Note: Applicants also must log sufficient supervised hours to qualify to sit for the exam.) 

    Autism Spectrum Disorder Endorsement

    Educators gain a thorough foundation in the principles, ethics and best practices in ASD education for individuals of all ages. Develop teaching skills that fill a growing demand in the special education field. The Pennsylvania Department of Education has officially endorsed this program.

Autism Support

A full range of robust programming supports children, teens, college students and adults to master new skills and improve their lives. From dribbling basketballs to preparing meals, gardening to social interaction, we help people with autism to grow through doing.  


    For admitted SJU students with autism spectrum disorder, this program provides individual case management, academic support, mentoring, crisis intervention and prevention, time management strategies, independent living and social skills training and a supported work environment. The Kinney Center acts as an intermediary with faculty and residence life to support student success. 

    College-Bound Retreat

    This interactive seminar prepares students with high-functioning autism for the social and practical intricacies of college life. Participants identify schools that best support their needs, and they learn about living away from home, choosing an area of study and using social skills to navigate a college campus and relationships.

    College-Bound Retreat on the Road

    The Kinney Center offers College-Bound Retreats remotely at local high schools for groups of eight or more. Please email with inquiries.

  • Swimming Skills

    Athletes work one-on-one with a Kinney SCHOLAR to develop athletic skills and behaviors essential for good sportsmanship and socialization. Participants also practice swimming skills, such as floating, treading water and remaining safe in and around the pool.

    Basketball and Soccer Skills

    Working one-on-one with a Kinney SCHOLAR, athletes develop must-have skills and behaviors for success on the court and the field. These might include: greeting peers, following directions, asking for help, taking turns, eye contact and practicing skills such as dribbling, passing and shooting.

    Recreation Swimming

    Learners gain four weeks of supported access to the pool but will not be working to develop new skills.

  • Youth Social Skills

    Designed for children ages 2 through 12 with autism, this program teaches and improves social interaction in a group learning environment. Using the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis for both teaching and data analysis, each child receives an individualized set of skills that they work toward mastering throughout the semester. 

    Transitional Social Skills

    Created specifically for teenagers with autism, this program meets once a week to improve social interaction in a group learning environment. The program emphasizes life, vocational and social skills in different settings. Teens and their parents work together with staff to develop an individualized set of skills to begin mastering throughout the semester. 

    Adult Life and Social Skills

    Focusing on the development of both social and independent living skills, this two-hour program meets once a week. The curriculum includes money management and meal preparation skills, with a meal served and enjoyed family style. Adults and their parents work with staff to develop a tailored set of skills to begin mastering throughout the semester.

    Intensive Communication Support

    Does your child have limited means of communication? Do they often engage in tantrum behaviors or otherwise express frustration with their inability to communicate? This yearlong program is for individuals with higher-level needs who may benefit from consistency in staff and full program participation.

  • Transitional Day Program

    Working with an undergraduate, participants learn skills such as household chores, office tasks, money management, self-advocacy, relationship building, job readiness, organization and communication. The program supplements a typical high school curriculum with job readiness and vocational skills, with the goal of increasing independence after graduation.

    Adult Day Program

    A continuation of our Transitional Day Program, this program is for individuals who have aged out of the school system. Participants work with trained undergrads to learn and practice skills in the community, including a weekly field trip and daily gym time. Other activities include group meal preparation and dining, household chores, office tasks, and gardening.

  • Camp Kinney

    Children with autism spectrum disorder enjoy a traditional day camp experience alongside their neurotypical peers. Supported by a dynamic team of trained counselors, campers receive 20 hours per week of behavioral analysis services as they practice social skills, swimming, science, lunchtime and playground routines. Camp Kinney is accredited by the American Camp Association. 

Non-Degree Autism Training

From high school students to graduate assistants, the Kinney Center offers professional, high-quality training for almost anyone who wishes to support people with autism.

  • High School Volunteers

    Serve as a peer mentor for participants in Kinney Center youth and sports programming. You’ll act as a role model, helping students with autism to develop essential communication and social skills so that they can improve relationships with family members, teachers, therapists and peers. 

    Interested in becoming a Kinney High School Volunteer? Check out the full position requirements online.

    Consulting and Training

    Whether you’re an organization looking to become more autism-friendly or a school trying to better accommodate your students on the spectrum, the experts at the Kinney Center will create a training or consulting plan tailored to your needs. Previous clients include Chestnut Hill College, Alvernia University and the Philadelphia Zoo.

  • SCHOLARS Program

    Interested in more than just a work-study job? Kinney SCHOLARS provide one-on-one support to the individuals with autism who participate in our youth, transitional and adult programs. Undergraduates of all majors, from Saint Joseph's and other area schools, are welcome.

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    Incoming Students Apprentice Program

    Get involved with the Kinney Center before the school year begins. Jump-start your future career in autism-related fields with extensive training and hands-on experience working with individuals with autism via participation in Camp Kinney. Learn more on our FAQ page

  • BACB Supervision

    Pursuing BACB certification? Enrolled in an approved course sequence? Apply for a competitive internship to gain supervision and experience in center-based programming. You will get experience with diverse learner needs as you support youth, transitional, adult and recreation programming. Students who are supervised at Kinney have the highest pass rates in the country. This opportunity to be supervised is free for Saint Joseph's undergrads, while students from other institutions must pay a fee.

    Our supervision model also provides the opportunity to complete skill assessments, build data collections, analyze client progress and behaviors, and participate in the training and management of direct care staff. We can also tailor your experience toward desired outcomes within the skill set of the BACB Fourth Edition Task List.

    For details and deadlines, see the BACB Supervised Fieldwork and Practicum Internships page.

    Graduate Assistantships

    Maintain and grow quality programming at the Kinney Center. Mentor and advise Kinney SCHOLARS. In return for their service, graduate assistants receive financial support toward a Saint Joseph’s University master’s degree. Please read the full position requirements.

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