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NAU’s Accredited Master’s Degree In Special Education

Start or advance your education career in as little as two years with NAU’s accredited master’s degree in Special Education. You’ll learn the best approaches to educating students with learning disabilities, emotional or behavioral disorders, mild-to-moderate intellectual disabilities, and orthopedic and health impairments. Choose to pursue this NCATE-accredited master’s degree in one of three degree options: 1) MED-Early Childhood Special Education with certification, 2) MED-Special Education: Cross-Categorical (Certification), or 3) MED-Special Education: Cross-Categorical (no certification). 

Be A Special Education Leader & Mentor

NAU’s NCATE-accredited master’s degree in Special Education leads to rewarding career opportunities as a director of special education, special education teacher, special education case manager, consultant, and others.

With job growth expected to increase by 17% by 2020, you can plan to start or continue your career in these Arizona settings:

  • K-12 Education
  • Preschool and Early Education
  • Private and Public Businesses

Catalog Information

Learn more about the program options by viewing the catalog information below. Catalog information is displayed for the 2021-2022 academic year.

Special Education - Cross-Categorical

Campus Locations

Show locations that offer this degree:
In-Person
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globe This program is available Online
Degree Information
Online
In-Person
Blended
MED
34 units
Maximum Transfer Units
0
34
Additional Admission Requirements - Additional Application
Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation

University Requirements

  • To receive a master’s degree at Northern Arizona University, you must complete a planned group of courses from one or more subject areas, consisting of at least 30 units of graduate-level courses. (Many master’s degree programs require more than 30 units.)

    You must additionally complete:

    • All requirements for your specific academic plan(s). This may include a thesis.
    • All graduate work with a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0.
    • All work toward the master’s degree must be completed within six consecutive years. The six years begins with the semester and year of admission to the program.
    The full policy can be viewed here.

     

Overview

In addition to University Requirements:

  • Complete individual plan requirements.

Candidates in this program are required to demonstrate content knowledge, pedagogical knowledge and skills, professional knowledge, and professional dispositions to be eligible to enter student teaching or internship placements. Content, pedagogical, and professional knowledge or skills, professional dispositions are demonstrated through candidate performance on key assessments embedded throughout the program of study.

Minimum Units for Completion 34 - 49
Additional Admission Requirements Admission requirements over and above admission to NAU are required.
Fieldwork Experience/Internship Required
Arizona Endorsement

Prepares student for Arizona Endorsement.

Student Teaching/Supervised Teaching Student Teaching/Supervised Teaching is required.
Some online/blended coursework Required
Progression Plan Link View Program of Study
Licensure

This program may lead to licensure.

Purpose Statement

The Mild to Moderate with certification MEd degree program leads to certification/licensure with the Arizona Department of Education (ADE).  The program is comprised of online, face-to-face, and blended courses. 

This graduate program prepares students to become a certified teacher of children and youth who have disabilities. This eclectic coursework in special education ranges from a foundational special education perspective to coursework in various methodologies related to teaching students with special needs. The program provides for an understanding of how the field of special education is an evolving and changing discipline based on philosophies, evidence-based principles and theories, relevant laws and policies, and diverse historical points of view. Through the varied coursework, the candidates demonstrate respect for their students first as unique human beings and demonstrate an understanding of the similarities and differences in human development and the characteristics between individuals with and without exceptional learning needs (ELN). Programmatic emphasis is placed on the importance of understanding the effects that an exceptional condition can have on an individual’s learning in school and throughout life that include beliefs, traditions, and values across and within cultures. Within the program, content is provided that helps the candidate select, adapt, and use these instructional strategies to promote positive learning results in general and special curricula and to appropriately modify learning environments for individuals with ELN. The program focuses on creating learning environments for individuals with ELN that foster cultural understanding, safety and emotional well-being, positive social interactions, and active engagement of individuals with ELN. The program also emphasizes the need to understand typical and atypical language development and the ways in which exceptional conditions can interact with an individual’s experience with and use of language. The program recognizes how assessment is integral to the decision-making and teaching and special educator candidates learn multiple types of assessment information for a variety of educational decisions. They also learn to use the results of assessments to help identify exceptional learning needs and to develop and implement individualized instructional programs, as well as to adjust instruction in response to ongoing learning progress. Emphasis is provided related to the teaching profession’s ethical and professional practice standards. Foundational to the program is the importance of how educators routinely and effectively collaborate with families, other educators, related service providers, and personnel from community agencies in culturally responsive ways.
 

Student Learning Outcomes

Outcomes align with Standards from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), and the Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (InTASC).

 
Learner Development and Individual Differences: Beginning special education professionals understand how exceptionalities may interact with development and learning and use this knowledge to provide meaningful and challenging learning experiences for individuals with exceptionalities.
  • Beginning special education professionals understand how language, culture, and family background influence the learning of individuals with exceptionalities.
  • Beginning special education professionals use understanding of development and individual differences to respond to the needs of individuals with exceptionalities
 
Learning Environments:  Beginning special education professionals create safe, inclusive, culturally responsive learning environments so that individuals with exceptionalities become active and effective learners and develop emotional well-being, positive social interactions, and self-determination.
  • Beginning special education professionals through collaboration with general educators and other colleagues create safe, inclusive, culturally responsive learning environments to engage individuals with exceptionalities in meaningful learning activities and social interactions.
  • Beginning special education professionals use motivational and instructional interventions to teach individuals with exceptionalities how to adapt to different environments.
  • Beginning special education professionals know how to intervene safely and appropriately with individuals with exceptionalities in crisis.
 
Curricular Content Knowledge: Beginning special education professionals use knowledge of general and specialized curricula to individualize learning for individuals with exceptionalities.
  • Beginning special education professionals understand the central concepts, structures of the discipline, and tools of inquiry of the content areas they teach , and can organize this knowledge, integrate cross-disciplinary skills, and develop meaningful learning progressions for individuals with exceptionalities
  • Beginning special education professionals understand and use general and specialized content knowledge for teaching across curricular content areas to individualize learning for individuals with exceptionalities
  • Beginning special education professionals modify general and specialized curricula to make them accessible to individuals with exceptionalities.
 
Assessment: Beginning special education professionals use multiple methods of assessment and data-sources in making educational decisions.
  • Beginning special education professionals select and use technically sound formal and informal assessments that minimize bias.
  • Beginning special education professionals use knowledge of measurement principles and practices to interpret assessment results and guide educational decisions for individuals with exceptionalities.
  • Beginning special education professionals in collaboration with colleagues and families use multiple types of assessment information in making decisions about individuals with exceptionalities.
  • Beginning special education professionals engage individuals with exceptionalities to work toward quality learning and performance and provide feedback to guide them.
 
Instructional Planning and Strategies: Beginning special education professionals select, adapt, and use a repertoire of evidence-based instructional strategies to advance learning of individuals with exceptionalities.
  • Beginning special education professionals consider an individual’s abilities, interests, learning environments, and cultural and linguistic factors in the selection, development, and adaptation of learning experiences for individual with exceptionalities.
  • Beginning special education professionals use technologies to support instructional assessment, planning, and delivery for individuals with exceptionalities.
  • Beginning special education professionals are familiar with augmentative and alternative communication systems and a variety of assistive technologies to support the communication and learning of individuals with exceptionalities.
  • Beginning special education professionals use strategies to enhance language development and communication skills of individuals with exceptionalities
  • Beginning special education professionals develop and implement a variety of education and transition plans for individuals with exceptionalities across a wide range of settings and different learning experiences in collaboration with individuals, families, and teams.
  • Beginning special education professionals teach to mastery and promote generalization of learning.
  • Beginning special education professionals teach cross-disciplinary knowledge and skills such as critical thinking and problem solving to individuals with exceptionalities.
 
Professional Learning and Ethical Practice: Beginning special education professionals use foundational knowledge of the field and their professional Ethical Principles and Practice Standards to inform special education practice, to engage in lifelong learning, and to advance the profession.
  • Beginning special education professionals use professional Ethical Principles and Professional Practice Standards to guide their practice.
  • Beginning special education professionals understand how foundational knowledge and current issues influence professional practice.
  • Beginning special education professionals understand that diversity is a part of families, cultures, and schools, and that complex human issues can interact with the delivery of special education services.
  • Beginning special education professionals understand the significance of lifelong learning and participate in professional activities and learning communities.
  • Beginning special education professionals advance the profession by engaging in activities such as advocacy and mentoring
  • Beginning special education professionals provide guidance and direction to paraeducators, tutors, and volunteers
 
Collaboration: Beginning special education professionals collaborate with families, other educators, related service providers, individuals with exceptionalities, and personnel from community agencies in culturally responsive ways to address the needs of individuals with exceptionalities across a range of learning experiences.
  • Beginning special education professionals use the theory and elements of effective collaboration.
  • Beginning special education professionals serve as a collaborative resource to colleagues.
  • Beginning special education professionals use collaboration to promote the well-being of individuals with exceptionalities across a wide range of settings and collaborators.

Details

Additional Admission Requirements
  • Admission requirements over and above admission to NAU are required.
    • NAU Graduate Online application is required for all programs. Details on admission requirements are included in the online application.
    • Undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution
    • Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.00 (scale is 4.00 = "A"), or the equivalent. 
    • Admission to many graduate programs is on a competitive basis, and programs may have higher standards than those established by the Graduate College.
    • Transcripts
    • For details on graduate admission policies, please visit the Graduate Admissions Policy
    • International applicants have additional admission requirements. Please see the International Graduate Admissions Policy 


    Individual program admission requirements include:

    • Prerequisites (one of the following, completed prior to enrolling in the program)
      • ENG 101 and 102 or ENG 105 (or equivalent) with a minimum grade of B. Math (College Algebra) with a minimum grade of C. Laboratory Science with a minimum grade of C, OR
      • Elementary Education Teaching Certificate
    • IVP Fingerprint clearance card
    • Privacy forms
Master's Requirements
  • This Master’s degree requires 34-49 units distributed as follows:

    • Education Coursework: 15 units
    • Required Special Education Certification Courses: 34 units


    Take the following 34 - 49 units in the following areas, which are organized into two blocks:
     
    Block A - Education Coursework (15 units)

    • Educational Foundations (3 units)
      Select one course from:

      Elementary Curriculum and Instruction (6 units)Structured English Immersion (3 units)Educational Psychology (3 units)
      Select one course from:Courses taken in Block A are required for those candidates entering the program without an education degree. These candidates could be eligible for certification in Special Education Mild to Moderate Disabilities upon completion of the degree requirements and earning a passing score on the State Certification Exam(s).
       
      Candidates with an education degree will be evaluated by the department prior to admission. Upon transcript and prior completed coursework evaluation, requirements in Block A may be considered met and/or transfer credit may be applied.

       

    • Note: EDF 500 and EPS 605 are strongly recommended if you did not complete an undergraduate education degree or certification program.

      For the Structured English Immersion (SEI) endorsement, candidates who have full SEI endorsement at admission must provide proof of the full endorsement. If proof of the full SEI endorsement is not presented at admission, the candidate is required to take the BME course (i.e., BME 631) as part of their program of study.
       

  • Block B - Required Special Education Certification Courses (34 units)


    Before being accepted to student teaching, candidate must successfully complete required state and university training modules.

    All courses must be selected with the written approval of a special-education faculty advisor. Deviations from these guidelines for individual candidates must be approved in writing by the advisor and the department chair on this official form. In addition, you must be admitted to this degree program before finishing your first 12 units of graduate work.
     
    ESE 634 and ESE 655 are only offered during Summer.
     
    Please Note:
    Candidates must also pass the required Arizona Educators Exams: NES Professional Knowledge Special Education Exam and meet State requirements on Federal and State Constitutional knowledge for Arizona Teacher Certification.
     
    Be aware that Arizona state teacher certification requirements leading to Institutional Recommendations may change at any time, and may impact program of study requirements.

     

  • Be aware that some courses may have prerequisites that you must also take. For prerequisite information click on the course or see your advisor.
     

Special Education

Emphasis Select from 2 Emphasis:

Campus Locations

Show locations that offer this degree:
In-Person
Click a pin on the map at the left or search/select:
globe This program is available Online
Degree Information
Online
In-Person
Blended
MED
30 units
Maximum Transfer Units
0
30
Additional Admission Requirements - Additional Application
Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation

University Requirements

  • To receive a master’s degree at Northern Arizona University, you must complete a planned group of courses from one or more subject areas, consisting of at least 30 units of graduate-level courses. (Many master’s degree programs require more than 30 units.)

    You must additionally complete:

    • All requirements for your specific academic plan(s). This may include a thesis.
    • All graduate work with a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0.
    • All work toward the master’s degree must be completed within six consecutive years. The six years begins with the semester and year of admission to the program.
    The full policy can be viewed here.

     

Overview

In addition to University Requirements:

  • Complete individual plan requirements.

Minimum Units for Completion 30
Additional Admission Requirements Admission requirements over and above admission to NAU are required.
Emphasis or Certificate Required

An emphasis or certificate is required for this degree.

Fieldwork Experience/Internship Optional
Progression Plan Link View Program of Study

Purpose Statement

The purpose of the MEd in Special Education Continuing Professional Program is to prepare professionals to meet the needs of individuals with disabilities in human service agencies. Students gain knowledge and skills to develop and expand their leadership and practice in meeting the needs of individuals with learning and behavior challenges. Building upon a foundation in research and a common understanding of individuals with disabilities, students select an emphasis area aligned with professional goals. Students in the mild/moderate emphasis area will develop effective learning and behavioral interventions, differentiate instruction, provide ability-appropriate accommodations, and collaborate to help individuals with disabilities meet their full potential. The Early Childhood emphasis explores the same areas, but for children from birth to age eight years. The Positive Behavior Support emphasis focuses on principles and tactics for improving quality of life for individuals of all ages who exhibit challenging behaviors, and consists of the six courses required by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board for individuals who want to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). Students also may select to develop their skills and knowledge in the areas of Assistive Technology, Autism Spectrum Disorder.  This program does not lead to teacher certification.

Student Learning Outcomes:

  1. At the completion of the program, students will be able to:
  2. Analyze the social, cultural, and educational underpinnings of disability, and describe their influences on growth and identity;
  3. Evaluate the impact that disabilities may have on the individual, and facilitate appropriate experiences that lead to emotional and social well-being;
  4. Identify, examine, and apply evidence-based practices that effectively and efficiently address the needs of individuals with disabilities;
  5. Explain the influence of current issues, diversity, and ethical standards on professional practice; and
  6. Demonstrate effective collaboration with professionals, peers, and families.
The five learning outcomes are common across the three emphasis areas (Mild/Moderate Disabilities, Early Childhood Special Education, and Positive Behavior Support). Some of the performance indicators will be assessed in courses that are common across the emphasis areas. Other performance indicators may be evaluated in courses unique to an emphasis area, although the signature assignments measure the same learning outcomes. 
 
Emphasis Area 1: Mild/Moderate Disabilities
  1. Explain and apply knowledge of effective communication with families of culturally and linguistically diverse students.
  2. Create safe, inclusive, culturally responsive learning environments to engage individuals with exceptionalities in meaningful learning activities and social interactions through collaboration with general educators and other colleagues.
  3. Identify and discuss the etiology and characteristics of learning disabilities and language disorders in regard to how they interact with learning.
  4. Understand how foundational knowledge and current issues influence professional practice.
  5. Modify general and specialized curricula to make them accessible to individuals with exceptionalities.
 
Emphasis Area 2: Early Childhood Special Education
  1. Demonstrate an understanding of the developmental principles and patterns for young children ages birth to eight.
  2. Design positive classroom environments and effective behavioral interventions when needed.
  3. Conduct appropriate assessments of young children that inform IEP development and implementation and progress monitoring.
  4. Describe how services are delivered to young children birth to eight eligible for services under IDEA and their families.
  5. Collaborating with others, develop and implement IEPs for students and plan instruction that is grounded in recommended practices.
  6. Design appropriate accommodations and interventions for young children with disabilities ages birth to five.
 
Emphasis Area 3: Positive Behavior Support
  1. Demonstrate a functional understanding of operant and respondent conditioning and how each contributes to the development and maintenance of challenging behavior;
  2. Develop systems for collecting and analyzing data to determine functional relations between the individual's behavior (including verbal behavior) and surrounding environmental events across settings and activities;
  3. Utilize the principles and applications of applied behavior analysis (e.g., discrimination training, shaping, chaining, fading, differential reinforcement, self-management, planned generalization) for making problem behavior irrelevant, inefficient, and ineffective, while increasing the individual's ability to accomplish goals in socially acceptable ways;
  4. Design behavior monitoring systems to track changes in behavior/skills over time and summarize the results of those observations in visual (graphic) format to facilitate understanding and data-based decision making among all team members; and
  5. Describe a problem-solving process in which ethical dilemmas can be identified and resolved using the BACB Professional and Ethical Compliance Code for Behavior Analysts (2014).

 

Details

Additional Admission Requirements
  • Admission requirements over and above admission to NAU are required.
    • NAU Graduate Online application is required for all programs. Details on admission requirements are included in the online application.
    • Undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution
    • Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.00 (scale is 4.00 = "A"), or the equivalent. 
    • Admission to many graduate programs is on a competitive basis, and programs may have higher standards than those established by the Graduate College.
    • Transcripts
    • For details on graduate admission policies, please visit the Graduate Admissions Policy
    • International applicants have additional admission requirements. Please see the International Graduate Admissions Policy 


    Individual program admission requirements include:

    • IVP Fingerprint clearance card
    • Teaching certificate (if the applicant has one)
Master's Requirements
  • This Master’s degree requires 30 units distributed as follows:

    • Core Requirements: 12 units
    • Emphasis or Graduate Certificate, plus electives as applicable: 18 units
      • Mild/Moderate Disabilities Emphasis:  18 units
      • Early Childhood Special Education Emphasis:  18 units
      • Positive Behavior Support Emphasis:  18 units
      • Graduate Certificate, plus electives as applicable:  14-21 units


    Take the following 30 units:

    Core Requirements (12 units)

  • Emphasis Areas or Graduate Certificate (Select One):

    • Mild/Moderate Disabilities Emphasis (18 units)
  • Please Note:
    • If students choose to earn a certificate, you may have to take an additional 3-6 units of electives (for a total of at least 18 units). 
    • This program of study is appropriate for students who are not seeking certification in special education.
    • Students cannot apply for teaching certification under this program of studies.
  • Be aware that some courses may have prerequisites that you must also take. For prerequisite information click on the course or see your advisor.
     

Department Information
Learn more about this program and the Department of Educational Specialties.