Master of Science in Special Education

Admission Standards

The Master of Science in Special Education is an advanced degree intended for those who are already licensed teachers in special and/or general education. Candidates seeking admission to the Master of Science in Special Education program must complete the admission requirements of the Graduate School and have:

  • an overall GPA of 2.75 or 3.0 in the last 60 hours of coursework
  • a completed bachelor’s degree in special education or general education. Depending on the student's background, some corequisites may apply.

Admission applications are recommended to the Graduate School by the Special Education program director in consultation with program core faculty. Application due dates are posted on the Graduate School webpage.

Retention Policy

Students must maintain a 3.0 grade point average to remain in any Special Education program.

Academic Honesty

Academic honesty, including professional dispositions and ethics, is at the core of any professional program. Any behavior deemed as academically dishonest, including the use of artificial intelligence tools without citation, or not reflective of professional dispositions and ethical behavior by the Department of Special Education will result in disciplinary action including, but not limited to, a failing grade for the assignment and/or course, and/or dismissal from the program. Violations include, but are not limited to, the following types of behaviors:

  1. Misrepresenting another individual’s work as one’s own, e.g., plagiarism.
  2. Copying from another student during an exam.
  3. Altering one’s exam after grading for the purpose of enhancing one’s grade.
  4. Submitting the same paper to more than one class.
  5. Use of any material not approved by the instructor during an exam.
  6. Turning in reports intended to be based on field collected data but, in fact, are not.
  7. Failure to respect the confidentiality of students/persons served or studied.
  8. Failure to uphold the professional standards for ethical conduct as set forth by the MSU Teacher Education Unit and the Council for Exceptional Children.

Special Education Degree Core Requirements

MS in Special Education Core:
SPED 501Intro to Graduate Studies3
SPED 503Research Design and Methodology3
SPED 505Interdisciplinary Collaboration in Special Education3
SPED 510Law and Policy in Special Education3
SPED 515Practicum2
SPED 531Psychoeducational Aspects of Exceptional Children3
SPED 533Clinical Practice in Assessment1
SPED 599Thesis1-3
or SPED 598 Research Project
Total Hours19-21

Exit Requirements

Exit requirements for all candidates seeking the Master of Science in Special Education include a capstone Thesis or Research project and the Praxis II content exam for their program concentration area. 

Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE)

Students earning a Master of Science in Special Education with an Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) emphasis learn to work with young children, and the families of children, with or at risk for developmental delays. Successful ECSE students learn to assess young children with suspected developmental delays, partner with families to develop appropriate intervention programs, and coordinate a variety of services in educational and community settings.

Special Education Core Requirements19-21
SPED 504Introduction to Services for Young Exceptional Children3
SPED 509Infant/Toddler Development3
SPED 529Assistive Technology2
SPED 532Communication Development and Interventions3
SPED 543Assessment & Methods of Teaching ECSE3
SPED 563Family and Community Systems in Early Intervention3
Total Hours36-38

Special Education Strategist (SES)

The Special Education Strategist (SES) emphasis area is designed to prepare teachers as special education generalists. The SES program focuses on supports for students who have mild-moderate learning disabilities, intellectual disabilities and autism, and emotional/behavioral disabilities.

Special Education Core Requirements19-21
SPED 517Methods for Mild Disabilities3
SPED 529Assistive Technology2
SPED 561Classroom Management and Positive Behavior Support3
SPED 532Communication Development and Interventions3
SPED 555Explicit Academic Instruction3
Total Hours33-35

Deaf/Hard of Hearing (DHH) Education

The Deaf/Hard of Hearing Education emphasis area prepares educators to effectively teach students who are deaf or hard of hearing in a variety of educational settings. The emphasis is on appropriately meeting the individual needs of children and youth, rather than promoting a specific communication philosophy. Depending on their backgrounds, candidates may need to meet certain pre-requisite coursework such as sign language and/or introduction to deaf education.

Special Education Core Requirements19-21
SPED 513Deaf Studies3
SPED 565Early Intervention: Deaf/HH3
SPED 583Strategies to Support Listening and Spoken Language3
SPED 584Teaching Language to Deaf/HH3
SPED 585Advanced Audiology for Educators of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing3
SPED 586Teaching Reading/Academics to DHH4
Pre-Requisite of an Introductory Course (SPED 512) may apply.
Total Hours38-40

Special Education Leadership Concentration

MS in Special Education Required Core:19-21
ED 520Supervision and Mentoring of Preservice and New Teachers3
SPED 581Financial Administration in Special Education3
LEAD 510Leadership Communication3
LEAD 537Human Resource Management3
LEAD 540Organizational Leadership3
Total Hours34-36



Dr. Lori Garnes

Dr. Holly Pedersen
Special Education Graduate Program Director

Associate Professors

Dr. Evan Borisinkoff

Dr. Wenjing Zheng

Assistant Professor

Ms. Hilory Liccini