Prepare to Teach Elementary Students Including Students With Exceptionalities
The Master of Education (MEd) in Elementary and Special Education non-licensure program at Grand Canyon University is designed for candidates interested in the education of children in elementary (K-8) and mild to moderate special education (K-12) settings. Courses are designed to cover a broad range of content areas, from ethical and legal practices to instructional planning and beyond.
Within the program, opportunities are provided to allow you to apply concepts and research through 113 hours of observational and practice-based field experiences. These include both K-8 general education and K-12 special education in mild to moderate settings.
Earn Your MEd in Elementary and Special Education From GCU
Every student in the U.S. has the legal right to a free appropriate public education (FAPE).1 Students who have mild to moderate exceptionalities, such as learning disorders, can be empowered to overcome obstacles. As an educator, you have an opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of all children, encouraging them to strive toward greater independence and to become productive members of society in the future.
This master’s in elementary special education will explore strategies for inclusive classrooms, examine child and early adolescent development, and delve into classroom management best practices as you work toward earning your master’s in elementary education.
Licensure vs. Non-Licensure Elementary Education MEd Programs
Courses for both licensure and non-licensure MEd in Elementary and Special Education programs are taught by knowledgeable faculty in their respective fields. Non-licensure MEd programs are typically designed for adult learners who are already licensed or certified teachers working in the field and who are interested in expanding their career qualifications. A non-licensure MEd is also designed for those who are interested in non-licensure teaching positions or non-teaching education careers. Non-licensure programs, such as this master’s in elementary education and special education, do not contain the in-classroom teaching and student experience component necessary to obtain a teaching license.
In contrast, MEd programs that lead to initial teacher licensure are designed for aspiring educators who hold a bachelor’s degree in an area other than education or who completed a non-licensure bachelor’s degree in education. These teacher candidates must meet state requirements for obtaining a teaching license or certification. If you are interested in learning more about the initial licensure version of this program, visit the MEd in Elementary Education and Special Education licensure page.
All courses are directly aligned with Interstate Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (InTASC) principles and Council for Exceptional Children standards.
Areas of Focus in This Master of Education Program
This MEd in elementary and special education is designed to provide opportunities that help you develop competencies that can help equip teachers to tackle modern challenges in general education, special education and inclusive classrooms. The elementary special education courses cover a range of content areas, including:
- Educational theories and practices including philosophical, historical and sociological influences
- How children and early adolescents develop across cognitive, linguistic, social, emotional and physical areas
- The educational needs of students with mild to moderate exceptionalities including characteristics of disabilities
- Ethical principles and practice standards including laws and regulations for special education teachers
- Planning instructional and assessment strategies for inclusive classrooms
- Methods of teaching specific subject areas, including math, science and health, in inclusive or special education settings
Although this non-licensure MEd does not include a student teaching component, some of the courses do require practicum/field experience hours. These experiential learning components may help you apply concepts from your coursework to practical situations.
Potential Career Paths for Master’s in Elementary Education and Special Education Graduates
Graduates of the program may have the opportunity to work closely with students and to implement individualized educational programs (IEPs) to accommodate various learning, behavioral and social needs. With a firm foundation in elementary special education competencies taught in this program, you may be prepared to teach in K-8 general education and K-12 special education (mild to moderate) settings if you already have an active teacher’s license or certification. If you do not have licensure, you may choose to pursue work in private schools that do not require certification.2
Alternatively, an MEd may teach you the advanced skills that can prepare you to pursue non-teaching careers, including roles that may perform the following duties:3
- Design instructional materials
- Analyze policies
- Assist in developing curriculum and standardized tests
- Contribute to educational research
- Support admissions and educational consultants
GCU Offers Institutionally Accredited Master of Education Programs
The quality of your education as a working professional is important. As an accredited university, GCU is proud to continue our tradition of offering academically comprehensive degree programs that prepare graduates to confidently enter the workforce. At GCU, you can earn your master’s in elementary education under the guidance of knowledgeable instructors who are committed to supporting their students.
Master’s in Elementary Education and Special Education FAQs
Before choosing a degree program that fits your career goals, you may wish to conduct further career-related research. Use the following frequently asked questions and answers to get started.
Prepare to equip elementary students to overcome challenges and become thriving young adults. Fill out the form on this page to request more information about GCU’s master’s in elementary education.
1 Office for Civil Rights (2010, August). Free appropriate public education for students with disabilities: requirements under section 504 of The Rehabilitation Act of 1973. U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved on Oct. 5, 2023.
2 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2023, September 6). How to become a special education teacher. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Retrieved Oct. 5, 2023.
3 Indeed (2022, June 24). 31 non-teaching careers for candidates with a master’s in education. Retrieved on Oct. 5, 2023.
4 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2023, Sept. 6). Special Education Teachers. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Retrieved on Oct. 9, 2023.
5 The earnings referenced were reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (“BLS”), Special Education Teachers as of October 2023, retrieved on Oct. 9, 2023. Due to COVID-19, data from 2020 may be atypical compared to prior years. The pandemic may also impact the predicted future workforce outcomes indicated by the BLS. BLS calculates the median using salaries of workers from across the country with varying levels of education and experience and does not reflect the earnings of GCU graduates as special education teachers. It does not reflect earnings of workers in one city or region of the country. It also does not reflect a typical entry-level salary. Median income is the statistical midpoint for the range of salaries in a specific occupation. It represents what you would earn if you were paid more money than half the workers in an occupation, and less than half the workers in an occupation. It may give you a basis to estimate what you might earn at some point if you enter this career. You may also wish to compare median salaries if you are considering more than one career path. Grand Canyon University can make no guarantees on individual graduates’ salaries as the employer the graduate chooses to apply to, and accept employment from, determines salary not only based on education, but also individual characteristics and skills and fit to that organization (among other categories) against a pool of candidates.
* 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.