Make a Difference: Prepare to Teach Students With Exceptionalities
The Master of Education (MEd) in Special Education degree from Grand Canyon University can prepare you to become a special education teacher. This master’s in special education program is designed for any type of graduate student, including those who are changing careers and need to pursue a teaching license or for those currently working in education. This master’s degree in special education is for professionals who are passionate about working with K-12 children with mild to moderate exceptionalities.
Every child in the U.S. has the right to a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) that meets their unique needs and provides them with an education that is comparable to that provided to students without disabilities.1 Future special education teachers have the opportunity to put themselves in a position to be instrumental in safeguarding the rights of the children in your classroom, and in helping them overcome barriers to academic success and independence. This MEd in Special Education can qualify you to pursue licensure so that you can work toward making a positive difference in the lives of children with disabilities.
Pursue Your Special Education Master’s Degree From GCU
Special education can be a rewarding field. Beyond the professional benefit of obtaining a master’s degree in special education, specialized competencies in education can be of great service to your students. Students with exceptionalities need access to educators with special education competencies, along with classroom and learning station modifications, modified assessments and educational aids, such as assistive technologies.3 In this MEd in Special Education program, you will be taught to design appropriate learning environments, communicate effectively and otherwise adapt teaching methodologies to meet the unique needs of students with exceptionalities.
Strategies and Skills Designed to Support Students With Special Needs
In this master’s in special education program, you will be taught teaching and classroom strategies, and skills that suit the needs of special education students. These tools and skills can help prepare you to teach any subject, from math to language arts, to students with mild to moderate disabilities. These teaching methods will take into account the language, emotional development and physical and cognitive disabilities of each student.
Some examples of teaching strategies and skills taught in this program for special education classrooms include:
- The design of lesson plans and teaching aids for students with exceptionalities
- The modification of lesson plans to suit individual students with unique needs
- Environment and lesson plan design that enhances student focus
- The establishment of clear behavioral and academic expectations
- Student assessments and progress monitoring
- Classroom management for students with behavioral and emotional differences
Special education master’s program students will be taught how to impact populations with mild to moderate disabilities in culturally and linguistically diverse environments. In addition, you will focus on developing and implementing individual education programs (IEPs) for students with special learning needs.
Topics and Study Areas of This Master’s in Special Education
Special education teachers need to know how to teach all subject areas while also supporting students with special needs. This specialized education is the cornerstone of the MEd in Special Education program. You will be immersed in theory and research that examines the implementation of specialized instruction, including how to adapt, modify and accommodate learning based on the needs of a student with mild to moderate disabilities.
Throughout the program, you will be taught how to become an advocate for your own students. Common areas of study in the special education master’s degree program include:
- The educational needs of students with mild to moderate disabilities
- Professional ethical principles, professional practice standards, laws and regulations that guide special educators
- Theories and models for effective collaboration and communication
- Assessment strategies
- Learning environments and classroom management strategies
- Behavior management and improvement, functional behavior assessments, adaptive behaviors, positive behavior interventions and support
- Instructional and transition planning
- Typical and atypical language development, and associated disabilities and disorders
- The use of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) assistive technologies to supplement and enhance the communication skills of students with mild to moderate disabilities
- The legal, historical and educational foundations of Structured English Immersion (SEI)
- The selection, adaptation and use of research-based instructional strategies and interventions in academic and specialized curricula
Career Paths for Master’s Degree in Special Education Graduates
The coursework and experiential learning components of this master’s in special education program can equip you to pursue potential roles as a:
- Middle school special education teacher
- Secondary school and all other special education teacher
- Elementary school special education teacher (including kindergarten)
- Special education teaching assistant
- Postsecondary education teacher
GCU Proudly Offers Institutionally Accredited Master of Education Programs
The College of Education at GCU places a strong emphasis on delivering quality instruction. Therefore, GCU holds institutional accreditation which shows our dedication to preparing effective educators.
Master’s in Special Education FAQs
Whether you’re currently working as a teacher or you’re thinking of transitioning into a teaching career from another field, making any career-related move can be a significant decision. The following frequently asked questions and answers can help guide your decision-making process.
Teachers hoping to work with students with special needs have big hearts and the drive to make a difference. Join your fellow special educators in the Master of Education in Special Education degree program at GCU today.
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 Office for Civil Rights. (2023, July). Free appropriate public education for students with disabilities: requirements under section 504 of The Rehabilitation Act of 1973. U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved September 5, 2023.
2 Whitmore, R. (n.d.). Best Online Master’s In Special Education. Online Schools Report. Retrieved September 5, 2023.
3 National Science Teaching Association. (2017, February). Students with exceptionalities. National Science Teaching Association. Retrieved September 5, 2023.
4 Excluding observational and practice-based experiences, and student teaching.
5 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2022, October 4). How to become a special education teacher. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Retrieved September 5, 2023.
6 The earnings referenced were reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (“BLS”), Special Education Teachers as of May 2022, retrieved on September 27, 2023. Due to COVID-19, data from 2020 and 2021 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.