Special Education

Why Study Special Education

The Master of Education in Special Education program is designed to reflect the current knowledge base, including existing and envisioned practices in educational institutions, and clearly delineated models. Curricular coherence is strengthened through faculty study and dialogues on purpose, course content, and intended student-learning outcomes. The program also uses procedures and problem-solving techniques indicative of the reflective educator model.

Shippensburg University has been educating public and private school teachers for more than 120 years; thus, teacher education is part of the very fabric of the university.

Why Study Special Education at Ship

Shippensburg University’s MEd in Special Education has been designed to conform to the Special Education Standards of the Pennsylvania Department of Education, and to the standards and regulations for graduate education at Shippensburg University, National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), and the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC). Ship’s Special Education programs are now nationally recognized by NCATE/CAEP (Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation).

The purpose of the program is to equip special education teachers with the knowledge and skills needed to instruct students from several categorical areas:

  • Learning disabilities
  • Intellectual disabilities
  • Physical disabilities
  • Behavior disorders

Graduates of the Special Education program will possess the necessary skills to provide instruction to students with disabilities in the least restrictive environment. Your learning will reflect:

  • Historical and contemporary knowledge
  • Research
  • Theory
  • Experience
  • Practice meeting the academic, personal, and social needs of your unique clientele

Specifically, you will be equipped with knowledge about characteristics of children and adolescents with mild/moderate/severe learning disabilities intellectual disabilities/autism, and emotional/behavior disorders, and methods and strategies appropriate for instruction in the least restrictive environment regardless of the exceptionality category.

Our master’s in special education program combines theory, research and experience. This helps mold our students into well-prepared teachers who can meet the needs of 21st-century learners.

The Special Education faculty at Shippensburg University are highly sensitive to the impact of cultural diversity on the growth and development of children. While these factors are important in the development of curriculum in any educational program, they are especially critical in the educational planning for students with disabilities.

Career Opportunities and Salary Estimates

Employment of special education teachers is projected to grow 6 percent from 2012 to 2022, slower than the average for all occupations. A master's degree in special education gives you more options when planning career in education, including:

  • Child development specialist
  • Education consultant
  • Special education kindergarten and elementary teacher
  • Special education middle school teacher
  • Special education secondary school teacher

The average salary for special education teachers in PA is $38,000.

Program Requirements

Applicants for admission to any area of specialization in the Special Education program must meet the specific requirements for the area of specialization in addition to the general requirements for admission to graduate study including:

  • Have a prior certification in education (or are in progress of acquiring one) for admission to the Comprehensive Certification program. All candidates seeking certification in special education are required to obtain a second Pennsylvania teaching certification prior to completion of the program.
  • Have a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited college or university.
  • Present an official transcript showing at least a 2.75 cumulative grade point average for undergraduate studies. Those who do not qualify will be required to take either the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) or the Miller Analogies Test (MAT) prior to admission. Conditions for continuance in the program may be made at time of admission.
  • Have relevant experience working with individuals with disabilities and demonstrate dispositions appropriate to respectfully collaborating with others.

Each applicant will be required to:

  • Appear for an interview with special education faculty. Faculty interviewing the candidate will make observations relating to: experience in the field, maturity, career goals and appropriateness of our program for these goals.
  • Collaborate with faculty to develop a plan to meet specific requirements for full admission to the program (e.g., providing clearances, evidence of prior certification/requirements).
  • Respond to a writing prompt at the time of the interview to demonstrate ability to write clearly and logically.
  • Agree to a program of study developed during the interview process and sign a memorandum of understanding that changes in state regulations could impact degree requirements.
  • Submit three reference forms.
  • Fill out a questionnaire about his/her background and goals for the future.
  • Submit a resume.

You are encouraged to begin this process six months before they begin classes.

You will be provisionally approved until you provide evidence that the following are on file with the Office of Field Studies:

  • Pennsylvania Police Clearances
  • FBI Child Abuse
  • Pennsylvania Teaching Certification
  • Passing Praxis I and Praxis II scores

Special Education Tracks

Students who pursue a master’s in special education have a diverse range of interests. Our program gives you the opportunity to specialize in a specific area. Faculty focus on detailed, individualized curriculum. Each track’s curriculum better prepares you for a future special education career.

The Master of Education in Special Education degree has four tracks. You can earn comprehensive certification in special education while earning your master of education degree. Alternatively, someone holding special education certification or other educational certifications can pursue work in the specialty areas of behavior disorders, learning disabilities, or intellectual and developmental disabilities without certification.

The department offers the following graduate degree specializations in special education:

  • MEd in Special Education with Comprehensive Certification (PK-8 or 7-12)
  • MEd in Special Education with an emphasis in Behavior Disorders
  • MEd in Special Education with an emphasis in Learning Disabilities
  • MEd in Special Education with an emphasis in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

The master’s degree with certification requires a minimum of 33 credits of course work plus 9 credits of student teaching. It is designed for individuals who already hold either a Pennsylvania elementary (K-6, PreK-4), middle (4-8), secondary (7-12), or reading specialist (K-12) teaching certification. Applicants interested in special education certification must present transcripts that demonstrate the following courses or their equivalents have been taken at an undergraduate or graduate level:

  • Introduction to Exceptionalities (EEC273)
  • Inclusion of Students with Disabilities (EEC423)
  • Assessment of Students with Disabilities (EEC483)
  • English Language Learners (RDG413)

Additionally, applicants must hold a current Pennsylvania teaching certificate prior to applying for the special education certification. Applicants from other states must obtain a Pennsylvania certificate prior to applying for special education certification from PDE. The following certifications are approved as prerequisite teaching credentials for the special education certificates:

  • Early Childhood (PK-4)
  • Elementary (K-6)
  • Secondary (7-12)
  • Middle Level (4-8)
  • Reading Specialist (K-12)

The master’s degree without certification requires a minimum of 33 credits. This program is primarily for teachers who already hold special education certification or for regular education teachers who wish to develop skills for working with students who have disabilities who are in the general classroom. The special education master’s degree without certification provides flexibility in tailoring a graduate program based on the past learning experience of the student as well as his or her future personal and professional goals.

Research Opportunities

On campus, the university maintains the Grace B. Luhrs University Elementary School, one of the finest demonstration laboratories in the country. The school serves a heterogeneous group of children from preschool through fifth grade.

Additionally, the university network of educational facilities includes schools accommodating students with special circumstances such as those for the migrant workers community.

Learn more about graduate student research and grant opportunities at the University by contacting the Institute for Public Service.

Contact Info

Educational Leadership & Special Education
Shippen Hall 127, 1871 Old Main Drive, Shippensburg, PA 17257
(717) 477-1591
Department Website