TU introduces Autism Studies doctoral degree

By: Caitlyn Freeman, Editor in Chief
Towson University will begin offering an Autism Studies doctoral degree in fall 2023, the University announced Monday.

The program, housed under the College of Health Professions, is the first in Maryland, the University said.

Lisa Plowfield, dean of the College, said the program would provide students with immersive education to expand autism research.

“Our college has a core value of inclusivity for all people on our campus and in our community, and with the wealth of expertise in autism across campus, we are well prepared to offer this program,” Plowfield said in a press release.

The University is currently working towards obtaining an R-2 Carnegie Classification, which would mean the University spends at least $5 million on research and graduates at least 20 doctoral students annually.

The new program aligns with Towson’s research goals and desires to be an “anchor institution” for the state, the University said.

“As a nationally recognized destination for graduate studies, Towson University is proud to expand our doctoral programming with this innovative new Ph.D. in Autism Studies,” Interim-President Melanie Perreault said in a statement. “Students of this collaborative program will have the opportunity to work with experts across disciplines and conduct world-class research regarding autism and neurodiversity.”

The program, which will require 60 credits to complete, will allow students to focus their studies based on interest areas such as speech-language pathology and audiology and occupational therapy. Students can take courses in other colleges that relate to the program as well.

Program Director Kaitlyn Wilson said the interdisciplinary structure allows students to analyze and provide new research.

“We will bring the autistic voice and voices of all related disciplines to the conversation to produce thoughtful and informed scholars that will impact the world in many different ways,” she said in a statement.

In addition to Towson, The University of Texas at Austin and Teachers College at Columbia University have similar doctoral programs focused on Autism.

This story may be updated.


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