The Master of Arts in Special Education program is designed to prepare certified teachers to teach students with special needs in a variety of settings.
The program provides opportunities for students to understand the nature and causes of disabilities, become familiar with agencies and resources for persons with disabilities, and learn the best practices and materials for teaching students with disabilities. This knowledge base, combined with a variety of shared and individual field-based experiences, provides opportunities for teachers to develop their expertise and become confident in their ability to work with students with special needs and become leaders in meeting the challenges of diverse classrooms.
The M.A. in Special Education program comprises a sequence of coursework that includes courses required for a New Jersey Teacher of Students with Disabilities Endorsement.
For individuals who are currently prepared to teach in general education settings, a 39-credit course sequence is designed to strengthen their preparation to meet the needs of all children, particularly those with disabilities. Students who currently hold a regular New Jersey instructional certificate in another field and successfully complete the program will be eligible for the New Jersey Teacher of Students with Disabilities Endorsement.
Those who already hold New Jersey Teacher of the Handicapped or Teacher of Students with Disabilities certification, a 33-credit sequence is available to provide opportunities for them to further develop their knowledge base and become experts in the field of special education.
M.A. in Special Education
Michele Wilson Kamens, Ed.D.
Memorial Hall 102J
Program Website: Special Education
Associated Department: Department of Graduate Education, Leadership, and Counseling
Special Education (M.A.) Program Requirements
Candidates entering with an undergraduate degree in education and teacher certification will be required to take the following courses in each area listed. Several of the special education courses in Group II (Core Courses) must be completed in order based on prerequisites.
|Group I - Introductory Courses|
|SPED 512||Psychology of Exceptionality||3|
|SPED 514||Positive Behavior Support||3|
|Group II - Core Courses|
|SPED 523||Inclusive Educational Practices||3|
|SPED 525||Transition to Adult Life||3|
|SPED 531||Assessment for Instruction in Special Education||3|
|SPED 535||Instructional Practices for Students with Severe Disabilities||3|
|SPED 539||Instructional Practices for Students with Mild Disabilities||3|
|SPED 540||Seminar in Collaboration, Consultation, and Inclusive Classroom||3|
|SPED 542||Literacy and Students With Special Needs||3|
|or LITR 502||Curriculum, Instruction and Supervision in Literacy|
|Group III - Educational Research and Foundations|
|EDUC 500||Introduction To Research||3|
|EDSO 510||Sociological and Cultural Foundations of Education||3|
|Group IV - Electives|
|Select one of the following:||3|
|Assistive and Augmentative Technology|
|Cognitive Processes and Learning|
|Strategies for Curriculum Development, Design, Innovation and Change|
|Supervised Internship in Special Education|
|Group V - Capstone Course|
|SPED 590||Professional Seminar in Special Education||3|
- Meet general master’s degree requirements.
- Successful completion of all academic and field requirements.
- Completion of 39 (33 for those with existing New Jersey Teacher of the Handicapped or Teacher of Students with Disabilities certification) graduate credits with a minimum GPA of 3.00 on a 4.00 scale.
- Successful completion of a required sequence of field experiences.
- Candidates must successfully pass a comprehensive examination covering knowledge and skills related to the field of special education.
- Successful demonstration of professional dispositions and behavior.
Courses and Descriptions
SPED 500 The Inclusive Classroom: Effective Practices for General Education Teachers 3 Credits
This course is designed to introduce general education teachers to special education and the inclusive classroom. Students will explore current research, issues and practices in special education. Assignments and activities will enable students to develop the knowledge and skills to design and manage the instructional environment for diverse learners in inclusive and classroom setting. Attitudes and behaviors that influence children with special needs will be addressed.
SPED 504 Assistive and Augmentative Technology for Autism Spectrum Disorders and Other Disabilities 3 Credits
This course will emphasize the use of assistive technology, augmentative communication modalities, visual supports, and related instructional strategies that maximize the learning of all individuals including those with exceptional learning needs. Students will learn how to effectively customize materials and adapt learning environments using computer technology. Students will become familiar with the use of high-tech, low-tech solutions that support the individualized needs of learners with a wide range of disabilities.
SPED 512 Psychology of Exceptionality 3 Credits
This course provides opportunities for the study of school psychological issues associated with supporting students with exceptionalities. Philosophical, historical, and legal foundations of special education, and the characteristics of students with disabilities will be examined. Special education policy, legal foundations, and evaluation procedures are discussed. Current issues related to inclusive practice and intervention strategies are examined from a psychological and sociocultural perspective. An experience in the field will enable candidates to apply knowledge in a realistic classroom setting. This course, or its equivalent, will be the prerequisite for all other SPED courses.
SPED 514 Positive Behavior Support 3 Credits
This course is designed to provide extensive knowledge and practice in meeting the behavioral challenges of individuals. Candidates will receive instruction in a problem-solving approach to identify the possible function(s) of problem behavior and the design of proactive, positive behavior intervention plans that emphasize the teaching of appropriate alternative skills. An emphasis is placed upon behavior change strategies, which intervene on antecedent events, teach appropriate alternative skills, and provide supports in the natural environment. Multicomponent interventions also are designed to include the interest and preferences of the target student. Legal and ethical considerations are considered. An experience in the field will enable candidates to apply knowledge in a realistic classroom setting.
SPED 523 Inclusive Educational Practices 3 Credits
This course will emphasize planning and instructional strategies that maximize the learning of all students including those with exceptional learning needs in the general education classroom. Students will consider their role as curriculum makers and how to effectively plan a course, a unit, and a lesson for a wide array of diverse learners. The organization of the learning environment also will be discussed so as to guide learning. Teaching methods that enhance content for all learners and the design of learning strategies to help students learn how to learn will be introduced. An experience in the field will enable students to apply knowledge in a realistic classroom setting.
SPED 524 Collaboration and Inclusive Practice for Students with Mild and Severe Disabilities 3 Credits
This course will emphasize curriculum planning, learning environments, materials, and modifications for students with mild and severe disabilities. Instructional and behavioral strategies to maximize learning of all students, including those with exceptional learning needs in the general education classroom will be examined. Inclusive educational practices including collaboration, communication and positive behavior supports and co-teaching will be discussed and applied for diverse learners. An experience in the field will enable students to apply knowledge in a realistic classroom setting.
Prerequisite(s): SPED 512.
SPED 525 Transition to Adult Life 3 Credits
This course is designed to provide students with an understanding of theoretical and applied models of transition in special education. Information on the application and interpretation of specialized assessment tools will be presented. Transition planning, including understanding, formulating and implementing the ITP, will be taught. Knowledge of and collaborative interactions with the wide variety of school and community personnel and agencies with a role in transition will be emphasized. Strategies for developing student self-advocacy and independence in the transition process will be presented. Legal information and ethical issues will be noted. An experience in the field will enable students to apply knowledge in a realistic classroom setting.
SPED 531 Assessment for Instruction in Special Education 3 Credits
In this course, standardized and functional assessments are emphasized. Students are introduced to basic educational assessment procedures, norm-referenced, criterion-referenced, and individually-referenced assessment in this course. An emphasis is placed on gathering information to answer specific referral questions, and the use of assessment tools, which meet legal and ethical guidelines. A model of academic assessment most consistent with classroom practices is emphasized. Students are expected to measure an individual’s performance (e.g., current level of functioning) and provide recommendations for instruction and learning goals and objectives. A field experience will enable students to apply knowledge to practice.
Prerequisite(s): SPED 512.
SPED 535 Instructional Practices for Students with Severe Disabilities 3 Credits
The course will provide students with the knowledge and skills needed to provide systematic, individualized instruction to students with moderate to severe disabilities. Knowledge and training in the use of task analysis, prompting hierarchies, discrete trials, systematic instructional plans and routines will be offered across all domains of a life skills curriculum. Based upon a student’s assessment data, students will be able to develop an appropriate individual educational plan with specific goals and objectives. In addition, strategies to modify and/or adapt goals to provide instruction in an inclusive setting will be explored. An experience in the field will enable students to apply knowledge in a realistic classroom setting.
Prerequisite(s): SPED 531.
SPED 536 Instruction and Transition for Autism and Severe Disabilities 3 Credits
The course will provide students with the knowledge and skills to support individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders and those with moderate to severe disabilities. Strategies to address instruction, transition, behavior, and communication and will be emphasized across domains of life skills, inclusion, and transition. Transition planning, including understanding, formulating, and implementing the Individual Transition Plan will be taught. Collaborative interactions with school and community personnel and agencies will be addressed. An experience in the field will enable candidates to apply knowledge in a realistic classroom setting.
Prerequisite(s): SPED 512.
SPED 539 Instructional Practices for Students with Disabilities 3 Credits
This course will give students the opportunity to evaluate, select, develop, and adapt instructional and assessment materials for individuals with mild to severe disabilities. Using various case studies, students will have the opportunity to develop an Individualized Education Program (IEP) and synthesize assessment information to make appropriate instructional decisions. Curriculum planning, learning environments, modifications, and materials for diverse learner needs will be examined. Students will experience the collaborative process and develop their ability to function as part of an educational team. A field experience portfolio will be completed in this course. A field experience with children with disabilities will enable students to apply knowledge in a realistic classroom setting.
Prerequisite(s): SPED 512.
SPED 540 Seminar in Collaboration, Consultation, and Inclusive Classroom 3 Credits
This course is designed to provide students with the knowledge and skills to facilitate successful inclusion programs. Students will develop the ability to design and manage the instructional environment in an inclusive classroom setting. Through the use of research, case studies, and classroom interactions, students will develop effective communication, conflict resolution, and collaboration skills for professional interactions. Students will become familiar with appropriate models for collaborative consultation. Attitudes and behaviors that influence the success of children with special needs in the general education classroom will be addressed. An experience in the field with children with disabilities will enable students to apply knowledge in a realistic classroom setting.
Prerequisite(s): SPED 539.
SPED 542 Literacy and Students With Special Needs 3 Credits
The course will provide an overview of theories, assessment, and intervention techniques for the literacy development of students with special instructional needs. Students will explore research validated methods for literacy development and instruction, including current strategies for teaching comprehension, composition, vocabulary, and language study. Management of literacy instruction is studied in a workshop setting. An experience in the field will enable students to apply knowledge in a realistic classroom setting.
Prerequisite(s): SPED 512.
SPED 580 Supervised Internship in Special Education 3 Credits
This supervised internship experience will provide students with an opportunity to connect theory and practice in special education during the summer. Students will work full-time in a setting with individuals with disabilities. After a brief period of orientation to the setting, the intern will assume a full load of teaching and/or supervisory responsibilities appropriate to the context of the experience. Seminar meetings will be required. Permission of the program advisor is required.
SPED 590 Professional Seminar in Special Education 3 Credits
This course addresses the current issues in the field of special education. Candidates will synthesize research and literature from the field of special education to address current issues and practice. Collaboratively, students will examine one area of special education through research and presentation. A reflective comprehensive view of special education including assessment, instruction, inclusive practice, assistive technology, Autism Spectrum Disorder, behavior, literacy etc. will be shared. Students are expected to complete a comprehensive exam in these related special education topics and submit a cumulative portfolio of supervised field hours. This course should be taken in the final semester of the MA program as it is the culminating reflective course of study.
Prerequisite(s): Permission of instructor.
SPED 600 Independent Study and Research in Special Education 1-3 Credits
The content of the course varies with the academic research interests of students who wish to engage in independent study related to topics in special education.