Master’s in Early Childhood Special Education (Non-Licensure) Degree

Master of Education in Early Childhood Education and Early Childhood Special Education (Does Not Lead to Licensure)Initial Program – Does Not Lead to Initial Teacher Licensure

Offered By: College of Education

Become a Leader for Children with Diverse Abilities

Transform into a skillful and knowledgeable educator, advocate and leader with the Master of Education in Early Childhood Education and Early Childhood Special Education at Grand Canyon University (GCU). This program can empower you to help each student grow to his or her full potential while advocating at the school and district level for children in their early years of education.

Prepare to enter the field of teaching as a graduate of this non-licensure education degree program, equipped with best-practice pedagogy and methodologies as well as expertise in the psychosocial and familial needs of exceptional children.

This version of the Master of Education in Early Childhood Education and Early Childhood Special Education degree does not lead to initial teacher licensure. This non-licensure education degree is recommended for educators seeking to enhance their career specialization or preparing for roles that do not require certification, such as within private or parochial organizations. GCU also offers an initial licensure version of the Master of Education in Early Childhood Education and Early Childhood Special Education for those seeking licensure.

Benefits of the Early Childhood Special Education Master’s Degree Program (Non-Licensure) 

In addition to coursework, you will complete a minimum of 104 hours of field experience within birth through grade 3 classrooms, in both special and general education environments. All courses are directly aligned with national teaching standards as prescribed by the Interstate Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (InTASC), International Society for Technology in Education Standards for Teachers (ISTE-T), Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) and the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).

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For learners who prefer to study at their own pace and from the comfort of their own home, this program offers an accessible and flexible online learning opportunity. The online modality of this early childhood special education master’s program provides the convenience of balancing your studies with other personal and professional commitments, allowing you the opportunity to gain valuable skills and knowledge while maintaining flexibility in your schedule.

Skills Acquired in the Master’s in Early Childhood Special Education Non-Licensure Program

As a seasoned special educator seeking to elevate your expertise, this master’s in early childhood special education program can provide an avenue for ongoing professional growth. This program will focus on helping you acquire valuable leadership skills, foster and maintain effective teaching strategies, embrace collaboration and teamwork efforts and implement evidence-based practices. By honing these skills, you can empower yourself to create enduring influences on your students' educational journeys.

Topics Covered to Help You Become Well-Versed in the Needs of Exceptional Children

In this early childhood special education master’s program, you will examine the following topics and concepts: 

  • Early childhood growth and development 
  • Family and community advocacy
  • Instructional methodologies for language, literacy, social studies, the arts and behavioral intervention
  • Classroom engagement and management for typical and atypical behaviors
  • Assessment, monitoring and tracking special needs in young children
  • Philosophical, professional and historical foundations of early childhood education

Career Paths for MEd in Early Childhood Special Education (Non-Licensure) Graduates

Graduates of this early childhood special education graduate program are prepared as not only educators, but stewards of children. You will be taught how to make ethical decisions in the classroom, as well as advocate at the school, district and policy level. Focus is placed on your ability to recognize and assess special needs, initiate family and community collaboration, and promote the education of young children with and without exceptionalities.

This non-licensure education degree master’s program equips graduates with the qualifications to embark on various career paths, such as teaching, administration, program coordination and policy making. The non-licensure track is advantageous for those seeking roles that do not require teacher certification, including those within charter, private and early learning school environments. Other potential career paths include child development center leadership, family services and program consulting.

Master’s in Early Childhood Special Education (Non-Licensure) FAQs

If you have questions about pursuing an early childhood special education master’s degree that does not lead to licensure, we’ve gathered a few of the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) to provide clarity.

The prerequisites for the non-licensure version of the MEd in Early Childhood Special Education master's program can vary by institution. Applicants are expected to have a bachelor's degree, with relevant coursework or experience in early childhood education or special education being beneficial. There is a minimum GPA requirement. Specific prerequisite courses may be required in some programs. It's advisable to consult the institution offering the program to determine their specific prerequisites for admission.

Practical experience can be highly valuable in the field of early childhood special education as it allows you to apply your knowledge in practical settings, gain hands-on skills and develop a deeper understanding of working with young children with special needs.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook estimates job growth for kindergarten and elementary school teachers to increase by about 4% from 2021 to 2031, accounting for an estimated increase of 60,200 jobs in the field.1

This non-licensure education degree requires a total of 33 credits for completion. Most of the classes are six weeks in length. Fill out the form on this page to speak to a university counselor to better understand how long it takes to earn your master’s in early childhood special education degree.

There are several compelling reasons why individuals passionate about working with young children with exceptionalities should consider pursuing a Master's in Early Childhood Special Education, as it may bring benefits and value to their professional journey, such as:

  • Heightened proficiency of child development, inclusive practices, instructional strategies and more
  • Expanded career opportunities
  • Positive impact on children and families
  • Professional networking opportunities
  • Stay current with research and best practices

Ready to take your career in early childhood special education to the next level? Discover our master’s in special education non-licensure program to potentially open doors to new opportunities. With the option of a flexible online format and a comprehensive curriculum, you will be taught knowledge and skills to help make a positive impact on the lives of children with exceptionalities.

If seeking licensure or certification, applicants to the program are responsible for contacting their state department of education for licensure requirements and program approval. In addition, fingerprint and background clearance is required.

1 COVID-19 has adversely affected the global economy and data from 2020 and 2021 may be atypical compared to prior years. The pandemic may impact the predicted future workforce outcomes indicated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as well. Accordingly, data shown is effective September 2022, which can be found here: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers, retrieved on August 8, 2023.

TOTAL CREDITS & COURSE LENGTH:
Total Credits: 33
Online: 6 weeks
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TRANSFER CREDITS:
Up to 12 credits or 1/3 of the total program requirements in transfer (whichever is less)
TUITION RATE:
Online: $590 per credit [More Info]

Course List

Major:
33 credits
Degree Requirements:
33 credits

Core Courses

Course Description

This course begins by acquainting candidates with the GCU learning management system, while preparing them to be successful graduate-level students and future teachers. The course places primary focus on the fundamental basis of the field of early childhood education and early childhood special education, Birth to Age 5/Pre-K to K to Age 8/Grade 3, including historical and philosophical foundations, current practices, ethics, models of teaching, and application in early childhood education/early childhood special education settings. Additionally, professional preparation requirements and professional development opportunities in the field are explored. Practicum/field experience hours: None. Fingerprint clearance not required.

Course Description

Candidates examine the United States Constitution, and the constitution of the State of Arizona. From this foundational review, candidates will explore application of the United States Constitution and the constitution of the State of Arizona in educational contexts. Practicum/field experience hours: 3. Fingerprint clearance not required.

Course Description

Teacher candidates examine how to teach foundational skills to develop proficient readers with the capacity to comprehend texts across a range of texts and disciplines. Teacher candidates build additional knowledge regarding print concepts, phonological awareness, phonics and word recognition, and fluency to promote early literacy and independent readers. Practicum/field experience hours: 6. Fingerprint clearance required. Prerequisite: ELM-530 or ECS-501 or ELM-555.

Course Description

This course explores child growth and development, including developmental milestones that must be met with regards to physical, cognitive, and social-emotional development. The course emphasizes health, safety, and nutrition with a focus on special health care needs for young children. The candidate will use data to analyze the development of the whole child and consider best practices for family involvement. Practicum/field experience hours: None. Fingerprint clearance not required.

Course Description

This course examines historical foundations, theories, and models of child development, including family characteristics, diversity, multicultural factors, and community relationships. Teacher candidates identify community organizations that support children with exceptionalities and their families. Candidates also identify ways to use those resources to advocate for children and their families. Practicum/field experience hours: None. Fingerprint clearance not required.

Course Description

This course explores the foundations of early language acquisition and literacy development for children Birth to Grade 3/Age 8. Teacher candidates focus on the essential components of oral language development and early literacy in the context of creating research-based instruction that is developmentally appropriate for the early childhood special education setting. In addition, teacher candidates explore assistive technology, including the use of augmentative and alternative communication systems, to enhance communication and learning. Practicum/field experience hours: None. Fingerprint clearance not required.

Course Description

This course provides teacher candidates with a robust view of assessment, evaluation, and reporting in early childhood education, including for early identification and developing IFSPs and IEPs for young children, Birth to Grade 3/Age 8. Data are used to assess, monitor, and report the progress of young children with and without exceptionalities. The practicum/field experiences for this course are in an inclusive K-Grade 3 setting. Practicum/field experience hours: 20. Fingerprint clearance required.

Course Description

Teacher candidates research theories and models of classroom management and consider the development and characteristics of young children with and without exceptionalities. The course emphasizes data collection, social/emotional development, and behavioral and crisis intervention, with a focus on evidence-based practices for creating safe, inclusive, respectful, challenging, and positive classroom environments. Candidates create a classroom management philosophy and plan and use student data to create a behavioral intervention plan (BIP). The practicum/field experiences for this course are in inclusive birth to Grade 3 settings. Practicum/field experience hours: 20. Fingerprint clearance required.

Course Description

Teacher candidates research instructional methodologies to include inquiry-based and hands-on learning for teaching children with and without exceptionalities with an emphasis on STEM content (science, technology, engineering, and math) instruction. Candidates use data to differentiate learning outcomes to meet the needs of individual students and develop a unit plan that incorporates all STEM components. The practicum/field experiences for this course are in an inclusive K-3 setting. Practicum/field experience hours: 20. Fingerprint clearance required.

Course Description

In this course, teacher candidates continue to examine the fundamentals of the legal, historical, and educational foundations of Structured English Immersion and other instructional programs for English language learners. Theoretical principles of language acquisition and the role of culture in learning are examined. Methods of assessment are identified and analyzed. Teacher candidates identify strategies to promote English language development and improve student achievement. They plan, deliver, and evaluate instruction for English language learners. Practicum/field experience hours: 15. Fingerprint clearance required.

Course Description

This course examines cross-content instructional methodologies for teaching language arts, social studies, and the arts to children with and without exceptionalities. Candidates consider the developmental continuum of literacy instruction based on student data and individual needs. Emphasis is placed on creating project-based instruction that integrates language arts, social studies, and the arts. The practicum/field experiences for this course are in an inclusive preschool-grade 3 setting. Practicum/field experience hours: 20. Fingerprint clearance required.

Locations

GCU Online Student


Pursue a next-generation education with an online degree from Grand Canyon University. Earn your degree with convenience and flexibility with online courses that let you study anytime, anywhere.

GCU Evening Student


Grand Canyon University’s evening programs cater to the demands of working professionals who prefer an in-person learning environment. Our night classes meet just once per week and offer the interaction and discussion of a typical college classroom.

* Please note that this list may contain programs and courses not presently offered, as availability may vary depending on class size, enrollment and other contributing factors. If you are interested in a program or course listed herein please first contact your University Counselor for the most current information regarding availability.

* Please refer to the Academic Catalog for more information. Programs or courses subject to change.

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