Lead Special Education for Exceptional Young Children
Become an expert educator, advocate and leader with the Master of Education in Early Childhood Education and Early Childhood Special Education degree at Grand Canyon University (GCU). This program enables you to help each student grow to his or her full potential while advocating at the school and district level for children of diverse abilities.
Step into the high demand field of early childhood special education as a graduate of this master’s degree program, equipped with best-practice pedagogy and methodologies as well as expertise in the psychosocial and familial needs of exceptional children.
In addition to coursework, students complete 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).
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 program 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.
Strengthen Special Education Classrooms and Programs
Graduates of this early childhood special education graduate program are prepared as not only educators, but stewards of children. Learn 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.
What You Will Learn
Become Well-Versed in the Needs of Exceptional Children
In this early childhood special education 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
Deliver Expertise in Early Childhood Special Education
Graduates of the non-licensure Master of Education in Early Childhood Education and Early Childhood Special Education program are qualified to pursue many vocations including 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.
Program Core Courses
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This course examines the foundations for early language development for children, from Birth to Age 8/Grade 3. Teacher candidates focus on the use of technology with receptive and expressive language, early literacy development, and communication methods in early childhood education/early childhood special education. Practicum/field experience hours: None. Fingerprint clearance not required.
This course provides teacher candidates with a robust view of assessment, evaluation, and early identification for young children to develop IFSPs and IEP's, Birth to Age 8. Data are used to assess, monitor, and report the progress of young children, to include early identification of children with special needs. The practicum/field experiences for this course are in an inclusive K-3 setting. Practicum/field experience hours: 20. Fingerprint clearance required.
Teacher candidates research theories of child development and consider the characteristics of young children with and without exceptionalities and how they manifest in the classroom. The course emphasizes social/emotional development and behavioral/crisis intervention, with a focus on evidence-based practices for creating safe, inclusive, respectful, challenging, and positive classroom environments. Candidates create a classroom management plan and use student data to create a Behavioral Intervention Plan (BIP). The practicum/field experiences for this course are in an inclusive K-3 setting. Practicum/field experience hours: 20. Fingerprint clearance required.
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.
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.
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. This course examines instructional methodologies for teaching children with and without exceptionalities with an emphasis on language arts, social studies, and the arts instruction. Candidates use data to differentiate instruction to meet the individual needs of students. The practicum/field experiences for this course are in an inclusive K-3 setting. Practicum/field experience hours: 20. Fingerprint clearance required.
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 offers the most experienced leadership in delivering online degree programs. Full-time faculty members and fully trained adjunct instructors, equipped with strong academic backgrounds and practical experience in their fields, support you every step of the way. Designed with the career-oriented professional in mind, our online classes provide an intimate environment that stimulates engaging and challenging discussions. Choose from programs across our distinct colleges, in high-demand employment areas. Classes begin frequently.
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. Night classes are designed for a specific number of students, providing a warm and nurturing environment that supports an engaging experience. In an evening cohort, you will progress through your degree program with the same career-minded classmates, providing an opportunity to network and forge relationships that go beyond the classroom. Classes begin frequently at various locations, including our main campus.
* Please note that this list may contain programs that are not presently offered as program availability may vary depending on class size, enrollment and other contributing factors. If you are interested in a program listed herein please first contact your University Counselor for the most current information regarding availability of the program.