Earn an Online Master’s Degree in Special Education (NITL)
Grand Canyon University’s Master of Education in Special Education (NITL) program is a non-licensure program that prepares teacher candidates for a career in special education with a focus on K–12 students with mild to moderate disabilities. This program aims to help graduate students master the knowledge and cultivate skills necessary that support the development of exceptional children and high schoolers.
Offered by the College of Education, its rigorous curriculum teaches how to adapt instructional strategies to meet each student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP), while building upon strengths that a teacher already possesses. This program helps teacher candidates increase their familiarity with mild to moderate disabilities, while advancing expertise in assessment, intervention and transition planning. This program does not lead to teaching licensure.
In this program students will:
- Learn to apply critical thinking
- Discover innovative techniques to engage students with diverse learning abilities in the least restrictive environment (LRE)
- Find ways to enhance academic experiences for those with disabilities
- Gain field experience and learn to apply theories, research, concepts and strategies learned throughout the course
- Learn how to implement plans to accommodate various learning needs
Should I Get a Master’s in Special Education Non-Licensure?
Education professionals who are passionate about making a difference in the lives of diverse children and elevating the special education field will benefit from earning GCU’s master’s in special education degree. The program is based on the Interstate Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (InTASC) principles and meets Council for Exceptional Children Standards. The program is regionally accredited and approved by the Arizona State Board of Education. Courses are led by knowledgeable and experienced instructors who are experts in their respective fields and in areas such as learning, emotional and behavioral disabilities, along with physical and cognitive impairments.
Teacher candidates who choose to earn their graduate degree at GCU will complete field experience assignments within each course. These assignments guide candidates through 96 hours of practice-based and observational experiences. Access to a K–12 classroom is required to complete the program assignments. The classroom setting must represent mild to moderate disabilities and impairment categories that range from emotional, physical and health to learning and intellectual.
Online is often the preferred modality for earning a master’s degree because of its convenience and flexibility. GCU’s online program is tailored to meet the needs of adult learners who may also be working professionals, so they can learn at the times and locations best for them.
What is the Difference Between the Licensure and Non-Licensure Program?
Candidates who seek the non-licensure route (NITL) with this program will not need to complete the 15-week student teaching component. Therefore, those who cannot complete this requirement may choose to pursue this degree. In addition, the program completion will be a semester shorter, as this route has 36 total credits, as opposed to 44 credits with the licensure route. Please note that candidates who take this route cannot obtain an Institutional Recommendation (IR) from GCU.
What Can I do with a NITL Master’s Degree in Special Education?
Common careers and teaching areas are: K-12 special education teacher, school resource instructor, child advocate and disability services consultant. Potential workplaces include private, charter and public schools, as well as colleges, higher education institutions and social service organizations.
Program Core Courses
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.
Teacher candidates are introduced to the educational needs of students with mild to moderate disabilities and their families, including the definitions, characteristics, prevalence, causes and educational approaches to these disabilities and disorders. Teacher candidates will identify cognitive, linguistic, social and emotional patterns of learning and development for students with mild to moderate disabilities. Teacher candidates also survey the special education process involving the application of various laws and regulations. Practicum/field experience hours: 6. Fingerprint clearance not required.
Teacher candidates survey professional ethical principles, professional practice standards, law and regulations that guide special educators. Teacher candidates build upon the foundational knowledge to understand the multiple roles and complex situations of professional practice that require attention to a variety of legal, professional, and ethical issues. Practicum/field experience hours: 6. Fingerprint clearance not required. Prerequisite: SPD-500.
Teacher candidates survey theories and models for effective collaboration and communication with students with exceptionalities, colleagues, other school professionals, families and community members. In addition, teacher candidates apply collaboration and communication theories and models, incorporating technology, across a wide range of contexts to ensure active involvement in the education process for students with exceptionalities. Practicum/field experience hours: 6. Fingerprint clearance required. Prerequisite: SPD-510.
Teacher candidates will investigate diagnostic and assessment tools. Teacher candidates will build foundational knowledge regarding the use of multiple methods of assessment and data-sources for diagnostic and educational decisions for individuals with mild to moderate disabilities. Practicum/field experience hours: 6. Fingerprint clearance required. Prerequisite: SPD-500.
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 create safe, inclusive, culturally responsive learning environments through collaboration with colleagues so that individuals with disabilities become active and effective learners and develop emotional well-being, positive social interactions, and self-determination. Teacher candidates focus on behavior management, functional behavior assessments, adaptive behaviors, positive behavior interventions and supports, and behavior improvement plans. Practicum/field experience hours: 9. Fingerprint clearance required. Prerequisite: SPD-500.
Teacher candidates will examine how instructional planning advances the learning of students with mild to moderate disabilities by drawing upon knowledge of central concepts, structures of the discipline, and tools of inquiry of the academic subject-matter content areas and a variety of specialized curricula. Teacher candidates build foundational knowledge about individualized education plans and transition plans for a wide range of settings and different learning experiences. Teacher candidates engage in organizing knowledge, integrating cross-disciplinary skills, and developing meaningful individualized learning progressions through drafting an IEP. Practicum/field experience hours: 9. Fingerprint clearance required. Prerequisite: SPD-510.
Teacher candidates examine typical and atypical language development, and associated disabilities and disorders. Teacher candidates investigate the use of augmentative and alternative assistive technology, modifications and accommodations to enhance the communication skills of students with mild to moderate disabilities. Practicum/field experience hours: 9. Fingerprint clearance required. Prerequisite: SPD-510.
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.
Teacher candidates build foundational knowledge on a variety of research-based instructional strategies to encourage individuals with mild to moderate disabilities to develop understandings and connections within content areas, and to build skills to apply knowledge in meaningful ways. From this foundational knowledge, teacher candidates select, adapt and use research-based instructional strategies and interventions in academic and specialized curricula to advance the learning of students with mild to moderate disabilities with focused attention upon mathematics. Practicum/field experience hours: 12. Fingerprint clearance required. Prerequisite: SPD-550.
Teacher candidates select, adapt and use research-based instructional strategies and interventions in academic and specialized curricula to individualize meaningful and challenging learning for students with mild to moderate disabilities, with an emphasis on literacy. Practicum/field experience hours: 12. Fingerprint clearance required. Prerequisite: SPD-550.
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.