Master’s in Special Education – Moderate to Severe (NITL)

Master of Education in Special Education: Moderate to Severe (Does Not Lead to Initial Licensure)Initial Program – Does Not Lead to Initial Teacher Licensure

Offered By: College of Education

A Master’s in Special Education Program Designed for Graduates With Any Bachelor’s Degree

The Master of Education in Special Education – Moderate to Severe Non-Initial Teaching Licensure (NITL) program is designed for teaching candidates who are seeking to advance their careers with master’s level knowledge on educating students with exceptionalities. Because this program does not lead to teaching licensure, ideal candidates include current educators looking to teach in moderate to severe self-contained settings, para-educators in the field and non-educators who are seeking to work with students with moderate to severe disabilities in K-12 or residential settings that do not require licensure.

Individuals enrolled in the Master of Education in Special Education – Moderate to Severe program will have the opportunity to develop expertise on moderate to severe disability characteristics as well as cultivate skills to support students within this population in all areas of development. The curriculum in this program provides an initial examination of topics related to special education, specifically areas that affect individuals with moderate to severe disabilities, through graduate-level discussions and practical assignments.

Courses for both licensure and non-licensure education programs are taught by experts in their respective fields who share knowledge and experience. This non-licensure master’s in special education program is ideal for those who already have a teaching license and are looking to take the next step in furthering their knowledge of special needs education. This program does not include a student teaching component and therefore does not lead to licensure.

GCU also offers the Master of Education in Special Education – Moderate to Severe (Licensure) degree for new teaching candidates who are seeking to apply for their teaching license following completion. This licensure master’s degree in special needs includes the required student teaching component, making you eligible to apply for your license.

Course Topics You Will Study During a Special Education Master’s Degree Program

In your master’s in special education degree program at GCU, you will study various topics that will help you learn to best manage a classroom and help those with moderate to severe disabilities receive a fulfilling education. Some of the specific course topics you will cover include:

  • Ethical and legal practices
  • Adaptive communication
  • Planning for moderate to severe exceptionalities
  • Classroom management and behavior
  • Functional teaching methods
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Benefits of GCU’s Online Programs for Master’s in Special Education

With nearly 90,000 online students in Fall 2021, GCU specializes in online learning and strives to provide you with the quality education needed to get ahead coupled with the flexibility needed to thrive in today’s busy world. Behind GCU’s online degrees is a network of dedicated, experienced faculty, numerous resources and a learning management system that is designed for your success. Online programs are also an affordable option that offer you control over your schedule, helping you achieve balance in your personal and professional life.

What Can I Do With a Master’s in Special Education?

Graduates of the program are prepared to work with individuals with moderate to severe exceptionalities and implement individualized educational plans to accommodate various student needs. Graduates of this program are equipped to become a special education teacher in a public, private or charter school that doesn’t require certification. Job possibilities include:

  • Education teacher (postsecondary)
  • Special education teacher (kindergarten)
  • Special education teacher (elementary school)

Non-Licensure Master’s in Special Education Degree Program FAQs

The Master of Education in Special Education – Moderate to Severe Non-Initial Teaching Licensure program at GCU consists of 13 classes for a total of 39 credits. Online courses for this program are typically six weeks in length. With this timeline, you could get your special education master’s degree in less than a year and a half.

Other industry settings that those with a special education master’s degree may explore outside of teaching include:

  • Private or public organizations
  • Local, state or federal education departments
  • Residential settings
  • Community centers
  • Nonprofits

A degree in moderate to severe special education focuses on practices and implementation of strategies to provide specialized education to those with moderate to severe disabilities in a classroom setting. Moderate to severe disabilities include autism, moderate/severe intellectual disabilities, traumatic brain injury, emotional disability, specific learning disability, orthopedic impairments, developmental delay and/or other health impairments.1

GCU’s special education master’s degree is designed for those who already have a bachelor’s degree in another discipline. Those with a bachelor’s degree in any field – such as psychology – may be eligible for the program.

Depending on your career aspirations, there are various special education-related master’s degrees that may be complementary to a bachelor’s in special education. Degrees such as a Master of Education in Elementary and Special Education and Master of Education in Early Childhood Education and Early Childhood Special Education degree are all great options for those wanting to further a career in special education. A master’s in special education – moderate to severe is also a great option for those wanting to work with children with moderate to severe special needs and deepen their knowledge of the special education field.

1Retrieved from Arizona Department of Education, Requirements for the Standard Professional Moderate/Severe Disabilities Certificate – Grade K-12, in August 2022

TOTAL PROGRAM CREDITS & COURSE LENGTH:
Total Credits: 39
Online: 6 weeks
[More Info]
TRANSFER CREDITS:
Up to 12 credits or 1/3 of the total program requirements in transfer (whichever is less)
PROGRAM TUITION RATE:
Online: $580 per credit [More Info]

Course List

Major:
39 credits
Total Degree Requirements:
39 credits

Core Courses

Course Description

Teacher candidates will survey the philosophical, historical, and sociological influences upon which special educational theories and practices are constructed, and explore a variety of the common issues, trends, and opportunities that professional special educators face in the field. Special Education Teacher candidates will prepare for the graduate learning experience at Grand Canyon University by developing and strengthening the skills necessary to succeed as graduate students in the College of Education. Practicum/field experience hours: 6. 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 are introduced to the educational needs of students with moderate to severe exceptionalities including the definitions, characteristics, prevalence, causes and educational approaches to these disabilities and disorders. Candidates define low-incidence disabilities and identify cognitive, linguistic, social, emotional and behavioral patterns of learning and development for individuals with moderate to severe exceptionalities. Practicum/field experience hours: 3. Fingerprint clearance not required. Prerequisite: SPD-501.

Course Description

Teacher candidates survey professional ethical principles, professional practice standards, laws, and regulations that guide special educators. Candidates build upon this foundational knowledge to examine the multiple roles and complex situations of professional practice related to individuals with moderate to severe exceptionalities. Practicum/field experience hours: 3. Fingerprint clearance required. Prerequisite: SPD-506 or approved enrollment in the Graduate Certificate of Completion: Special Education, Moderate to Severe.

Course Description

Teacher candidates investigate diagnostic and assessment tools for determining student eligibility and monitoring for progress. Foundational knowledge is built regarding the use of multiple methods of assessment and data sources for diagnostic and educational decisions for individuals with moderate to severe exceptionalities. Candidates analyze assessment data and develop an individualized education plan (IEP) for a student. Ongoing collaboration with IEP team members and external stakeholders is emphasized. Practicum/field experience hours: 10. Fingerprint clearance required.

Course Description

Teacher candidates explore effective collaboration and communication techniques and strategies used in moderate to severe special education settings. Collaboration among teachers, other school professionals, families, and outside service agencies is analyzed to meet the individual needs of this special population. In addition, evaluation of the techniques and strategies used to meet the unique medical and educational needs of students within the moderate to severe classroom setting is addressed. Practicum/field experience hours: 6. Fingerprint clearance required. Prerequisite: SPD-556.

Course Description

Teacher candidates examine how instructional planning advances the learning of students with moderate to severe disabilities by creating a variety of specialized curricula aligned to content standards. Candidates are guided in designing engaging instruction that meets the needs documented in a student’s individualized education plan. Plans for accommodations, differentiated instruction, and strategies are identified in the lesson planning process. Formative and summative assessments are created to evaluate student progress and identify if instructional adjustments are necessary. Practicum/field experience hours: 10. Fingerprint clearance required. Prerequisite: SPD-558.

Course Description

Teacher candidates examine how to create safe, inclusive, culturally responsive learning environments through collaboration with colleagues and other professionals so individuals with disabilities become active and effective learners. Strategies to develop students' emotional well-being, positive social interactions, and self-determination are emphasized. Candidates focus on functional behavior assessments, behavior improvement plans, activities of daily living, and positive behavior interventions and supports. Practicum/field experience hours: 9. Fingerprint clearance required. Prerequisite: SPD-562 or approved enrollment in the Graduate Certificate of Completion: Special Education, Moderate to Severe.

Course Description

Teacher candidates examine curriculum needs of individuals with moderate to severe disabilities to develop and integrate the skills needed to transition students from the educational environment into successful postsecondary opportunities. Candidates focus on writing measurable postsecondary goals, creating aligned activities, and identifying the importance of family and interagency involvement. Practicum/field experience hours: 9. Fingerprint clearance required. Prerequisite: SPD-564.

Course Description

Teacher candidates examine typical and atypical language development, and associated disabilities and disorders. Coursework emphasizes research-based phonics development and the science of reading, including phonics, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension. Candidates investigate how speech-language pathologists, special education teachers and others assist individuals with moderate to severe exceptionalities in the use of augmentative and alternative assistive technology, modifications, and accommodations to enhance their communication skills and literacy development. Practicum/field experience hours: 9. Fingerprint clearance required. Prerequisite: SPD-566 or approved enrollment in the Graduate Certificate of Completion: Special Education, Moderate to Severe.

Course Description

In this course, teacher candidates examine the fundamentals of the legal, historical, and educational foundations of Structured English Immersion (SEI) 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. Through Universal Design for Learning they plan, deliver, and evaluate standards-based instruction for English language learners. Practicum/field experience hours: 15. Fingerprint clearance required.

Course Description

Teacher candidates build foundational knowledge on a variety of research-based instructional strategies to provide individuals with moderate to severe exceptionalities access to content areas. From this foundational knowledge, teacher candidates select and adapt research-based instructional strategies to plan lessons with a focused attention on functional mathematics and sciences. Practicum/field experience hours: 10. Fingerprint clearance required. Prerequisite: SPD-568 or SPD-569.

Course Description

Teacher candidates select and adapt research-based instructional strategies to provide individuals with moderate to severe exceptionalities access to language arts content. With this foundational knowledge, teacher candidates plan a functional approach to literacy instruction. In addition, disabilities, such as dyslexia, are reviewed to understand how they affect the acquisition of reading skills and how they vary in presentation and degree. Teacher candidates select, adapt, and use research-based instructional strategies and interventions in language arts to advance the learning for all students, including those with moderate to severe disabilities, with attention focused on reading. Practicum/field experience hours: 10. Fingerprint clearance required. Prerequisite: SPD-569.

Program 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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