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Home > Majors and Programs > Master of Science in Special Education
  • School of Social Sciences, Communication, & Education 

    The Master of Science in Special Education Program


    The Saint Vincent College Master of Science Degree in Special Education provides specialized training in educating students with disabilities. With increased   demands for special education teachers in our schools, this program is designed for certified teachers seeking additional Pennsylvania certification in special education Pre-K-8 or 7-12.  Candidates will explore assessment and instruction strategies and techniques for high-incidence, low-incidence and emotional support students with disabilities; develop skills for writing and implementing individualized education programs, evaluation reports and behavioral analyses; and investigate the laws and legislation relevant to special education. Candidates participate in dual-placement, high- and low-incidence practica to establish a firm understanding of the instructional concepts taught during the program. Candidates are given opportunities to collaborate as a community team member and as a pre-service teacher to encourage high- and low-incidence students and their parents to work together to produce and implement individualized education program goals, activities and objectives. Candidates will utilize research-based effective instructional strategies and diagnostic tools to demonstrate an understanding of child development while meeting the needs of various exceptionalities. Candidates graduating from this program will be prepared to take the Pennsylvania Educator Certification Tests (PECT): Special Education Pre-K to 8 or 7 -12. 



    • To provide quality instruction, scholarly achievement opportunities, best practices for the classroom, and diverse field practice for teaching and working with students with disabilities.

    • To offer opportunities to collaborate as a community team member and pre-service teacher to encourage high and low incidence students and their parents to work together to produce and implement individualized education program goals, activities, and objectives.

    • To provide the necessary methods and field instruction for certified teachers to feel confident and prepared for the challenges of special education preK-8 or 7-12.   

    Courses Required for Master Degree in Special Education (36 Credits):

    GCSE 607 Family and Professional Collaboration - 3 credits
    GCSE 617 Diagnosis and Evaluation of Students with High Incidence Disabilities - 3 credits
    GCSE 627 Theory and Practice of Teaching Students with High Incidence Disabilities - 3 credits
    GCSE 637 Methods of Instruction and Assessment for Students with Significant and Multiple Disabilities - 3 credits
    GCSE 647 Educating Students with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders - 3 credits
    GCSE 657 Technological Applications for Differentiated Instruction - 3 credits
    GCSE 667 Advanced Intervention Strategies in Reading, Writing, and Mathematics - 3 credits
    GCSE 687 Teaching Students with Autistic Spectrum and Developmental Disorders - 3 credits
    GCSE 697 (or elective*) Teaching Culturally Diverse Students with Limited English Proficiencies - 3 credits
    GCSE 707 Internship in Special Education (PreK-8 or 7-12) - 3 credits
    GCED 675 Inclusionary Education - 3 credits
    GCED 605 Statistics and Research Design - 3 credits

    *Candidates already having a 3-credit English Language Learners undergraduate or graduate course may take an elective. 

     Course Descriptions  

    Traditional Program Format
    The Special Education Master’s degree is traditionally designed to be an accelerated 36-credit hours that can be completed in approximately 21 months (12 required courses). The courses are conducted year around allowing students to enter the program each term. Most students take two courses per term one or two evenings per week. At the close of the coursework, students take a comprehensive exam which is offered each term, thus enabling students to graduate year around.

    Accelerated Program Format

    In response to requests to add a special education certification to their initial certification, the one-year “summer-summer” format was created.  To enroll in this 36-credit program, candidates must begin in May and follow the sequence of courses (four courses in summers and three courses fall and spring) until the following August.  The courses are held in a “cohort” year-around pattern, including one fall, one spring and two summer sessions.  The night courses enable candidates to hold daytime or full-time employment.  A comprehensive exam is taken in August. 

    Course Format  
    The Special Education Program offers 14 week courses throughout the school year that meet one evening a week from 6:30-9pm and 7 week courses during the summer semester.  


    Fieldwork and Special Education Mentoring Site Requirement 
    Upon acceptance into the M.S. in Special Education program, candidates must identify a special education mentor who will facilitate field experiences required while the previously mentioned courses are taken. A mentor will be assigned to those needing assistance. The mentor must be currently working in a special education classroom, have three (3) or more years of experience, and be in good standing with their school organization. The candidate must complete a minimum of 150 hours divided between courses and assignments. In addition to required embedded field hours, candidates will be supervised in a formal teaching practicum associated with GCSE 707. The professors, assignments, and special education mentor will verify that the candidate has successfully completed the fieldwork. Journals, projects, shadowing, teaching, etc. are examples of assignments that maybe required. 

    Obtaining Pennsylvania Teaching Certification with a Master of Science In Special Education 
    Students may add PA certification in Special through a two tracks program; Prek-8 (previously early childhood, elementary or middle grade certified candidates) or 7-12 (previously secondary or K-12 certified candidates). Candidates that are not certified may enter the post-baccalaureate certification program to earn initial certification and, complete the GCSE 707 Internship in Special Education after successfully completing their student teaching in an initial area.  All students pursuing certification must pass the state Praxis exam: Special Education.

    Regular Admission 
    Possess an earned Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution.  Official transcripts must be submitted from each institution attended to the Office of Graduate & Continuing Education. 

    1. Have a minimum overall grade point average of 3.0. For a GPA lower than 3.0, applicants will be reviewed for provisional acceptance. 
    2. Send three recommendations to the Office of Graduate & Continuing Education. 
    3. Personal statement explaining your desire to obtain a graduate degree. 
    4. Completed Application for Graduate Admission in Education

    Provisional Acceptance  

    If a student does not meet the above requirements for regular admission to the graduate programs in education, consideration will be given for acceptance on a provisional basis.  The student will be required to maintain a 3.75 GPA over the course of completing three graduate classes.  If the student is able to maintain a 3.75 grade point average he/she will be reviewed for regular admission. A student within this status will not be allowed to take more than 9 credits of graduate coursework.  If the student is not able to maintain a 3.75 GPA after completing 9 credits of graduate coursework, regular admission will be denied.  The provisional acceptance will still allow a student to qualify for financial aid if needed.    

    Graduate Non-Degree Status 
    If a student does not want acceptance to a graduate program but would like to register for graduate classes the student may apply as a graduate non-degree seeking student.  This allows the student to register for up to 9 graduate credits without applying or being accepted to a program.  In order to register under this status a student must complete the graduate non-degree application and submit official transcripts to the Office of Graduate & Continuing Education.  Once this information is received the student will be contacted regarding registration for classes. A student within this status is not eligible for financial aid. 

    **The Graduate Non-Degree Status also serves the student who decides to apply to a program right before the semester begins without ample time to complete the application.  The student can begin taking classes as a Graduate Non-Degree student while completing the application for admission.**