Master of Science Degree in Special Education
The Master of Science degree program in Special Education is a single degree program offering practicing educators and those intending to enter the teaching profession the opportunity to design a program of study to meet their interests and teacher licensure needs in the area of special education. The program emphasizes knowledge and skills in characteristics, assessment and evaluation, understanding and application of service delivery, curriculum and instruction, IEP/IFSP development and monitoring, transition, proactive classroom management and positive behavior support, and collaboration and teamwork. The goal of the program is to develop professionals who can work effectively with infants, children and youth with disabilities, ensure their academic and personal success through collaboration with families, general educators and other team members, and advocate for children, families and the profession to improve the quality of life for all children.
In close consultation with an advisor, students plan a program of study that includes a common core of 12 credit hours and an additional 18-19 credit hours selected from a menu of courses. Programs can be designed with licensure and non-licensure options. Those seeking initial teacher licensure may have to take 9 or more additional hours of supporting coursework. Internship experiences of 6-12 hours will also be required to obtain postgraduate professional licensure in one or more of the following areas: Special Education: General Curriculum, K-12; Special Education: Adapted Curriculum, K-12; Hearing Impairments, preK-12; Vision Impairments, preK-12; and Early Childhood Special Education, birth through age 5. The Master’s only, non-licensure option is intended for graduate students who already have initial teacher licensure in an area of special education or those who desire to enhance their knowledge and skills in diverse areas of special education.
A combination of the following factors will be used for determining acceptance to the graduate program in special education. Also see application requirements for Special Education.
- Submit application with all required documentation to the Graduate College: official transcripts, letters of recommendation, resume and personal letter of application;
- Minimum 2.75 GPA on all undergraduate coursework, and 3.0 on all graduate coursework, if taken;
- Three letters of professional recommendation speaking to the applicant’s success and capacity as a teacher of students with and/or without disabilities, and potential for success as a graduate student and professional in the field of special education. If the applicant is a teacher or in a field placement, one of the letters of reference must be from the most recent supervisor. The recommendation forms from the graduate college website may be submitted in lieu of letters as long as there are paragraphs in the comments section addressing the points above;
- A resume documenting all volunteer, internship, and work experiences with infants, children and youth;
- Personal letter of application/essay to the Special Education Program Area (typed, double-spaced, two pages in length) that includes the following:
- Why you believe you would be a good candidate for the Master’s degree in Special Education and what academic and personal strengths and experiences support your ability to complete a graduate program;
- The special education option you are considering and what past experiences and interests influenced your decision to apply to this specific program area;
- Your short- and long-term goals and career aspirations as they relate to this program
Applicants who do not meet all these admission criteria may still apply, but the applicant may be asked to submit additional compensatory application materials and may be required to interview with program area faculty. Documentation of successful teaching experience will be considered, as well.
Applicants choosing the licensure option will also be required to submit additional materials and pass all required tests for admission to the Teacher Education Program per Virginia Licensure Regulations, and may, upon transcript analysis, be required to complete deficiency coursework in Human Growth and Development, Foundations of Education, Foundations of Literacy, and Educational Technology.
Non-degree seeking students may not enroll in any graduate (600) level special education courses without permission of the director of the school or the graduate coordinator. It is the policy of Radford’s College of Graduate Studies and Research that no more than 6 credit hours taken as a non-degree seeking student may be petitioned for acceptance toward a degree.
The need for deficiency, prerequisite, and supporting coursework depends on the option chosen, and will be planned and documented on the program of study by the advisor and student.
Students must complete a comprehensive exam, either a written exam or submission of a standards-based portfolio, in the last semester of coursework prior to expected graduation. The exam may include an additional oral examination/defense.
Comprehensive examinations are administered during fall and spring semesters only. It is the student’s responsibility to inform his/her advisor of the intention to take the comprehensive exam in the first three weeks of the final semester and request and complete the necessary forms from the Graduate College.
If a student has no more than 6 hours of non-content area coursework needed for graduation, the student may take the exam in the spring semester and then complete that coursework to graduate in August.
Retention in the Program
Professional skills and dispositions that reflect general expectations for all professional educators are required of all graduate students in this program. Students will be expected to demonstrate and will be evaluated periodically on the following academic, personal, and professional characteristics and dispositions:
- Academic performance that is congruent with excellence in professional teaching practice;
- Effective oral and written communication skills. Students choosing the Hearing Impairments licensure option must demonstrate ASL proficiency;
- Behavior that is congruent with the Code of Ethics of the National Education Association, the Council for Exceptional Children, and the Radford University Honor Code (see The Standards of Student Conduct Handbook);
- Appropriate interpersonal skills evidenced in class activities and field experiences including respect for others, acceptance of constructive criticism, acceptance of diversity, and ability to maintain productive working relationships;
- Professional characteristics and skills evidenced in class activities and field experiences including effective cooperation and collaboration with other students and professionals, responsiveness to supervisors, colleagues and families, and the execution of professional duties without reprimand;
- Demonstrated psychological well-being sufficient to interact positively and professionally with students and colleagues including self confidence, enthusiasm, initiative, persistence, sound decision-making skills and the ability to handle stress inherent in the teaching experience;
- Demonstrated physical well-being sufficient to assume responsibilities associated with graduate work and field experience in a consistent and stable manner;
- Appropriate self-awareness and self-confidence including the ability to self-evaluate and accept and respond to constructive criticism;
- Appropriate professional conduct including consistent attendance and punctuality, reliability, dependability, social maturity, ability to handle stress, responsiveness to school policies, and adherence to professional standards of dress and grooming;
- The ability to apply knowledge of subject matter and pedagogy and research-based strategies and have a positive impact on student learning within direct practice in school settings.
Probation/Suspension/Dismissal Policies Specific to the M.S. in Special Education
- Any grade lower than a “C” will result in dismissal from the program;
- Two grades of “C” will result in dismissal from the program;
- Probation policies for the Graduate College will apply to all students whose GPA falls below 3.0 during any semester;
- Students engaged in coursework or field experience who receive an unsatisfactory rating in an area of Professional Dispositions and Characteristics will be placed on an improvement plan. Failure to address these concerns and make agreed-upon improvements will result in dismissal from the program.