Special Education

Major: Special Education
Degree Awarded: Master of Science (MS)
Calendar Type: Quarter
Minimum Required Credits: 48.0
Co-op Option: None
Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) code: 13.1001
Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code: 25-2051; 25-2052; 25-2053; 25-2054; 25-2059

About the Program

The Master of Science in Special Education program is intended for those interested in gaining greater skills and expertise in special education and/or acquire a teaching certificate in the area of special education. 

The courses address all required state and federal regulations as well as the Pennsylvania General Standards for Special Education and the competencies and standards outline by the Council of Exceptional Children (CEC). Graduates seeking Pennsylvania special education certification must either have an active Pennsylvania Instructional I or II teaching certificate or select the initial certification concentration to gain eligibility while in the program. 

The Master of Science in Special Education prepares professionals who are equipped with the fundamental skills, knowledge, and competencies they need to meet the needs of students with disabilities. The program is a flexible, part-time graduate program consisting of a minimum of 48.0 credits: 27.0 credits in core special education certification courses, a minimum of 12.0 credits in concentration courses*, and 9.0 credits in capstone research*. Most courses have a field component that has the student apply what they are learning to classroom experiences.

Available Concentrations

Autism Spectrum Disorders
Within the past decade, the number of children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder has increased drastically. Consequently, the need for professionals trained in this specialized area has significantly increased. This concentration is designed for those who seek additional expertise in this critical need area. It will provide knowledge and skills for working with students with Autism Spectrum Disorder as well as effective teaching methods, interventions, and supports. Students who have an active PA Instructional I or Instructional II teaching certificate are eligible to apply for the PA Autism Spectrum Disorders endorsement upon completion of EDEX 555 and the concentration courses.

Collaborative Special Education Law and Process
Meeting the needs of children with disabilities through school-family-community collaboration is an ambitious goal of educational policy in the United States. An implementing objective is to develop highly qualified special education teachers and administrators in schools and the community, as well as to offer special education collaborative knowledge and practical skills training to parents and advocates. Their cooperative partnership is imperative to support the provisions for the successful learning of all students as incorporated and mandated in legislation such as Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEA).

Dyslexia Specialist
It is estimated that up to 20% of school age children experience difficulty with some aspect of literacy. This course sequence gives teachers the necessary skills to provide direct instruction in a multisensory, phonetic-based program to students with decoding deficits. With successful completion of the coursework, students are eligible for WILSON® Level 1 Certification. The Wilson Reading System® is recognized nationwide and is a highly desirable certification to have in special education.

Special Education Leadership
The courses in the Special Education Leadership concentration focus on change, finance, evaluation and assessment, and technology. Students must complete all courses and meet the prerequisite standards established by the PA Department of Education for recommendation for the PA supervisor of special education certification.

Applied Behavior Analysis
The ABA concentration prepares candidates with the background and knowledge related to applying behavior therapies in schools with a focus on behavior assessment, intervention, and consultation.             

Social Emotional Behavioral Wellness 
Social Emotional Learning is an empirically based approach to the non-academic barriers that students face in order to achieve a set of positive goals. Research shows that 1 in 5 students will experience some type of mental health issue during their time in school. This certificate is designed to help teachers and prospective teachers learn how to create positive classroom environments and how to execute evidence-based, age-appropriate strategies to foster social, emotional, and behavior wellness in PreK-12 students within a multi-tiered system of support. Students who have an active PA Instructional I or Instructional II teaching certificate are eligible to apply for the PA Social Emotional Behavioral endorsement.                                                                                                                                                                                           

*Students may take coursework to obtain a Pennsylvania teaching certificate while in the program. Students choosing this option will take core education courses in lieu of the concentration and capstone courses.               

Additional Information

For more information about this program, please visit the School of Education's website. 

Admission Requirements

Applicants for the program will follow the university standards for admission to graduate study. Prospective students must have earned a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution and have an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher to be considered for admission (graduate degree GPAs will be considered along with the undergraduate GPA).

In addition, prospective students are required to submit the following:

  • Completed application form including official transcripts from all universities or colleges attended
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Personal essay
  • Resume

The admissions committee will evaluate the applicant’s potential and commitment to succeed in graduate study in the online environment. The applicant’s potential to contribute to the overall quality of the program of study will also be considered.

Interviews, in person or by phone, may be conducted by the admissions committee with those applicants who meet Graduate Admissions' standard admissions criteria.

Degree Requirements 

The Master of Science in Special Education requires a minimum of 48.0 credits consisting of 27.0 credits in core special education certification courses, a minimum of 12.0 credits in concentration courses, and 9.0 credits in capstone research. For a certification in special education, students must have completed 9.0 prerequisite credits in special education accommodations to apply for certification in Pennsylvania.

A field component is required in most courses.

Program Requirements 

Required Courses
EDEX 536Special Education Law and Process3.0
EDEX 543Emotional and Behavioral Support of Individuals with Disabilities 3.0
EDEX 549Teaching Individuals with High Incident Disabilities3.0
EDEX 550Teaching Individuals with Low Incident Disabilities3.0
EDEX 552Integrating Technology for Learning & Achievement3.0
EDEX 555Teaching Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder3.0
EDEX 575Teaching STEAM in an Inclusive Environment PK-123.0
EDEX 578Special Education Practicum PK-123.0
EDEX 588Implementing Academic Interventions in Inclusive Educational Environments3.0
Total Credits27.0
Concentration Options
Students obtaining an initial certification will complete the following concentration:
Initial Certification Concentration24.0
Special Education Student Teaching Seminar
Fundamentals of Special Education
Inclusive Practices
Literacy and Content Skill Development PK-12
Adolescent Learners in Secondary Schools
Typical and Atypical Development in Early Childhood Education
Evaluation of Instruction
Students not obtaining an initial certification must complete one of the following Capstone options
EDU 780Capstone Research3.0
Students have the option to select from one of the Capstone tracks:6.0-7.5
Practitioner Capstone Course I
Practitioner Capstone Course II
Thesis Capstone Course I
Thesis Capstone Course II
Students not obtaining an initial certification must also complete one of the following concentrations:
Autism Spectrum Disorders 12.0
Characteristics & Methods: Autism
Characteristics & Methods: High Functioning Autism
Communication & Language Interventions: Autism Spectrum Disorders
Behavior & Sensory Support: Autism Spectrum Disorders
Collaborative Special Education Law & Process12.0
Family, School and Community Engagement in Special Education
Special Education Advocacy
Special Education Dispute Resolution and Skills Training
School Law & Policy in Special Education
Dyslexia Specialist Certificate *12.0
Applied Methods in Multisensory Reading Instruction
Multisensory Reading Instruction
Basic Word Study I
Basic Word Study II
Multisensory Practicum I
Multisensory Practicum II
Multisensory Practicum III
Special Education Leadership16.0
School Law & Policy in Special Education
Instructional & Curriculum Leadership in Special Education
Development, Supervision, & Support: Special Education Leadership
Organization & Administration of Special Education
Supervisor of Special Education Internship: Special Education Leadership
Supervisor of Special Education Internship: Instructional Leadership
Supervisor of Special Education Internship: Collaboration & Personnel
Supervisor of Special Education Internship: Finance & Management
Applied Behavior Analysis **31.5
Fundamental Elements of Behavior Change
Measurement and Experimental Design
Behavioral Assessment and Functional Analysis
Behavioral Interventions
Consultation, Systems Change and Supervision
Ethical Considerations and Professional Conduct
Applications of Fundamental Elements of Behavior Analysis
Social Emotional and Behavior Wellness12.0
Social Emotional Wellness and Evidence-Based Preventative School Practices
Understanding Social Emotional Disorders
Evidence-Based School Interventions and Trauma Informed Education/Care
Collaboration and Community Based Practices to Promote Social Emotion Wellness

The Dyslexia Specialist Certificate program courses fulfill certain requirements (but not all) for the Wilson Language Level I certification.


The Applied Behavior Analysis Concentration fulfills the coursework requirements for BCBA certification. Additional requirements are needed.


Sample Plan of Study

MS Special Education Plan of Study (students obtaining an initial certification)

First Year
EDEX 5423.0EDEX 5433.0EDEX 5493.0EDEX 5363.0
EDEX 5443.0EDEX 5503.0EDEX 5753.0EDUC 5223.0
 EDEX 5683.0EDUC 5213.0 
 6 9 9 6
Second Year
EDEX 5783.0EDEX 5146.0EDEX 5523.0 
EDEX 5883.0EDEX 5553.0EDUC 5153.0 
 6 9 6 
Total Credits 51

MS Special Education Plan of Study (for students not obtaining an initial certification)

Candidates pursuing Special Education Leadership Concentration will enroll in additional 1.0 credit Internship Courses in First Year, Spring Term (EDEX 721) and Summer Term (EDEX 722), and Second Year Fall Term (EDEX 723) and Spring Term (EDEX 724).

First Year
EDEX 5753.0EDEX 5433.0EDEX 5523.0EDEX 5363.0
Concentration Course3.0EDEX 5553.0Concentration Course3.0EDEX 5503.0
   EDU 7803.0
 6 6 6 9
Second Year
EDEX 5783.0EDUP 781 or EDUT 7813.0-4.5EDEX 5493.0 
EDUP 780 or EDUT 7803.0Concentration Course3.0EDEX 5883.0 
  Concentration Course3.0 
 6 6-7.5 9 
Total Credits 48-49.5

MS Special Education with Applied Behavior Analysis Concentration Plan of Study

First Year
EDEX 5523.0EDEX 5503.0ABA 6304.5ABA 6314.5
EDEX 5753.0EDEX 5553.0 EDEX 5883.0
 6 6 4.5 7.5
Second Year
ABA 6324.5ABA 6334.5ABA 6344.5EDEX 5363.0
EDEX 5783.0EDEX 5433.0EDEX 5493.0EDU 7803.0
 7.5 7.5 7.5 6
Third Year
ABA 6354.5ABA 6364.5  
EDUP 780 or EDUT 7803.0EDUP 781 or EDUT 7813.0-4.5  
 7.5 7.5-9  
Total Credits 67.5-69

Education Faculty

Jennifer Adams, EdD (Harvard University). Associate Professor. Comparative and international education; Poverty and education; Child welfare; Educational policy.
Ayana Allen, PhD (Texas A&M University ). Associate Professor. Urban education; Identity construction in school contexts; Urban school transformation.
Kristen Betts, EdD (George Washington University). Clinical Professor. Higher education administration and governance, online blended education, instructional design and educational technology, program assessment and evaluation.
Eric Brewe, PhD (Arizona State University). Associate Professor. Physics Education Research, introductory course reform, network analysis in learning, neuromechanisms of learning.
Stephanie Smith Budhai, PhD (Drexel University). Associate Clinical Professor. Teacher and higher education, culturally responsive teaching, equity and social justice, online learning, community engagement and service-learning, family involvement and partnerships, and learning technologies.
José Luis Chávez, EdD (University of Southern California). Clinical Professor. Higher education leadership and administration.
Rebecca Clothey, PhD (University of Pittsburgh) Associate Department Head. Associate Professor. Comparative and international education, education of ethnic and linguistic minorities, sociology of education.
James Connell, PhD (Louisiana State University) Founding Clinical Core Director and Research Fellow, A.J. Drexel Autism Institute. Associate Professor. Identifying the variables that influence adult behavior change in community settings; autism intervention; widespread dissemination of evidence-based interventions in school and community settings.
Kareem Edouard, PhD (Stanford University). Assistant Professor. Educational technology; internet-based STEM learning; equity and inclusion in STEM education
Salvatore V. Falletta, EdD (North Carolina State University). Clinical Professor. Human Resource intelligence (i.e., HR research and analytics practices); HRD assessment, measurement, and evaluation models and taxonomies; organizational diagnostic models; web-based employee and organizational survey methods, and computational modeling.
Aroutis N. Foster, PhD (Michigan State University) Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Graduate Studies. Professor. Educational psychology and educational technology, especially the following: Motivation; Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK); Immersive Interactive Digital Environments (simulation, games, virtual realities.
Rajashi Ghosh, PhD (University of Louisville, Kentucky) Department Chair for Policy, Organization & Leadership. Associate Professor. Mentoring and leader development, workplace Incivility, workplace learning and development.
John M. Gould, PhD (University of Pittsburgh) Harrisburg EdD Educational Leadership & Change Program. Clinical Professor. Change leadership, curriculum re-design, the impact of technology on learning.
Dominic F. Gullo, PhD (Indiana University). Professor. Studying the relative and long-range effects of early schooling experiences in prekindergarten and kindergarten on children's achievement and social adaptation to school routine.
H. Bernard Hall, PhD (Temple University). Assistant Professor. Hip-hop Pedagogy, English Education, Urban Teacher Education.
Penny Hammrich, PhD (University of Minnesota) Dean. Distinguished University Professor. Urban education; science education; genetics; gender equity; science knowledge for conceptual teaching; sport science.
Paul Harrington, PhD (University of Massachusetts, Boston) Director, Center for Labor Markets and Policy. Professor. Teen and young adult job access; economic outlook, college labor market; workforce development, planning, and development; vocational rehabilitation and job market transition.
Michael J. Haslip, PhD (Old Dominion University). Assistant Professor. Early childhood education, social and emotional learning, child guidance strategies, effects of public pre-school attendance.
Deanna Hill, JD, PhD (University of Pittsburgh). Associate Clinical Professor. Higher education, international education, education law, education policy
Erin Horvat, PhD (University of California, Los Angeles) Senior Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs. Professor. Urban education, access and equity, high school dropout, parent involvement/family involvement, community engagement in research.
Jennifer Katz-Buonincontro, PhD (University of Oregon) Associate Dean of Research. Associate Professor. Educational administration, leadership development, survey & instrument design.
Larry Keiser, PhD (Drexel University). Assistant Clinical Professor. Education and corporate/business leaders’ creativity and entrepreneurial mindsets; creative school/work environments; neuroscience of creativity; everyday creativity for teachers and educators.
Kristy Kelly, PhD (University of Wisconsin, Madison). Associate Clinical Professor. Sociology of gender and development; anthropology of policy; comparative and international education; qualitative research methods; Vietnam and Southeast Asia.
Cameron Kiosoglous, PhD (Virginia Tech University) Program Director. Assistant Clinical Professor. Coached on the USRowing National Team staff since 2002, including the 2004, 2008, 2012, and 2016 Olympic Games; coaching development; measuring coaching quality; self-insight and reflective practices; coaching leadership; conference presenter; published author.
Valerie Klein, PhD (Amherst College). Associate Clinical Professor. Mathematics learning and teaching; teacher's use of formative assessment in mathematics; creating opportunities for rich problem solving in the classroom; examining teachers growth and change; qualitative research methods.
Peggy Kong, PhD (Harvard University). Associate Clinical Professor. Comparative and international education, equity in education, family and community, Chinese education and society, sociology of education
Michael G. Kozak, Ed.D. (Rowan University). Assistant Clinical Professor. Leadership, STEAM, online and blended learning environments, systems thinking, experiential learning, K-12 education, and facilitating change
Amanda Lannie, PhD (Syracuse University). Assistant Clinical Professor. Applied behavior analysis and special education; School-based consultation; system-wide interventions as a mechanism for delivery supports to all students; Designing effective and efficient interventions for students with emotional/behavioral disorders.
Vera Lee, EdD (University of Pennsylvania) Department Chair for Teaching, Learning & Curriculum. Associate Clinical Professor. Practitioner Research in online courses to explore inservice/preservice teachers’ emerging understandings about issues of diversity; the development of information/digital literacies of urban youth; English language learners.
Bruce Levine, JD (New York University). Associate Clinical Professor. Educational policy, school law, public-private partnerships, intersection of business and education.
Kristine Lewis-Grant, PhD (Temple University). Clinical Professor. Experiences of students of African descent at predominantly white colleges and universities, college access and college student development, youth civic engagement in urban school reform, qualitative research and evaluation.
William Lynch, PhD (University of Maryland). Professor. Curriculum and educational leadership, educational technology, distance learning policy development, higher and adult education.
Constance Lyttle, PhD, JD (University of Pittsburgh, Duquesne University). Clinical Professor. Legal rights of gifted and talented children and children with disabilities; inclusive education of exceptional children; special education mediation; special education IEP/IFSP facilitation; resolution session facilitation
Joy Phillips, PhD (The University of Texas at Austin). Associate Clinical Professor. Visionary leadership in theory and practice, school reform as innovative problem-setting, thinking qualitatively about school reform. thinking about school reform by drawing, Educational Leadership Program Assessment.
Kathleen Provinzano, PhD (Marywood University). Assistant Professor. Educational administration.
Harriette Rasmussen, EdD (Fielding Graduate University). Assistant Clinical Professor. Educational leadership and change.
Lori Severino, EdD (Neumann University). Assistant Professor. Special education, differentiated instruction, reading, Wilson language, multi-sensory instruction, reading comprehension, assessment, adolescent literacy.
Jason Silverman, PhD (Vanderbilt University). Professor. Teaching and learning of advanced mathematical ideas (algebra and calculus); improving teachers' ability to orchestrate and sustain inquiry-based and discussion-based instruction; technology in mathematics education.
Janet Sloand, EdD (Duquesne University) Department Chair for Teaching, Learning & Curriculum. Associate Clinical Professor. Special Education Leadership, Trauma-informed care, Parent engagement in special education service delivery.
Toni A. Sondergeld, PhD (University of Toledo). Associate Professor. Cognitive and affective assessment development; program/grant evaluation; high stakes testing measurement; STEM education; urban education
Bridget Sweeney Blakely, PhD (Temple University). Assistant Clinical Professor. Consultation; Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS); Response to Intervention (Rtl); Systems-level change; performance feedback
Mary Jean Tecce DeCarlo, EdD (University of Pennsylvania). Associate Clinical Professor. Early literacy development, learning differences, knowledge construction, urban education.
Sarah P. Ulrich, EdD (Saint Joseph’s University) Associate Dean of Teacher Education and Undergraduate Affairs. Clinical Professor. Cross-cultural, language and academic development, school reform, teacher preparation, teacher retention, teacher residencies in urban contexts.
Sheila Vaidya, PhD (Temple University). Professor. Educational psychology, school psychology, research design.
Christina Vorndran, PhD (Louisiana State University) Program Director, Applied Behavior Analysis and Special Education. Clinical Professor. Designing effective and efficient community-based interventions, Severe behavior disorders, Functional behavior assessment
Christopher G. Wright, PhD (Tufts University). Assistant Professor. Engineering and science education, Urban education, elementary teacher education.

Emeritus Faculty

Mary Jo Grdina, PhD (Case Western Reserve University). Clinical Professor. Undergraduate studies, science education, curriculum design.
Joyce Pittman, PhD (Iowa State University of Science and Technology). Clinical Professor. Curriculum and instruction K-16; teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL); instructional design business education and administration; industrial and career technology; oral and written communication; research methodology; instructional and assistive technology assessment; online learning pedagogy
Fredricka K. Reisman, PhD (Syracuse University) School of Education, Founder, Drexel School of Education. Professor Emerita. Director, Freddie Reisman Center for Translational Research in Creativity and Motivation, Creator and Former Director-Creativity and Innovation Programs, Co-Director- Drexel/Torrance Center for Creativity and Innovation, Drexel University Named Recognition- Freddie Reisman Faculty Scholarly and Creative Activity Awards
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