SpecialEd
Graduate

Special Education

Preparing students for successful careers in teaching students with special needs in both inclusive and non-inclusive classroom environments. The program also strives to educate its graduate students to exemplify good character and integrity in all aspects of their professional lives.

TestNanho S. Vander Hart, Ph.D Director

At Assumption, we prepare compassionate special educators and related school professionals. Our rigorous, comprehensive program has been “approved with distinction” by Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE)!

Our goal is to help beginning special educators to achieve success, and to provide experienced teachers with an opportunity to extend and refine their knowledge and skills. Therefore, our program offers lasting, powerful tools that will help you become an expert and leader in the field. You will learn practical, evidence-based practices, and establish your foundation for success. Enjoy small classes, personal attention, and accessible faculty. You will receive close mentoring throughout the program with systematic monitoring of your progress by faculty, practicum supervisors, and the program director. Follow in the footsteps of successful graduates who are teachers and administrators in urban and suburban communities, as well as in public and private schools. Come study at Assumption University where you bridge the gap between theory and practice. You will learn from professors who are experts in the field. Your field experiences during the program will fully prepare you to become a competent special educator and a leader in helping students with special needs maximize their potential in school and in life.

Graduate Virtual Information Sessions



Special Education Program Contact

Nanho S. Vander Hart, Ph.D

Associate Professor, Education, Director of Special Education, Director of Transition Specialist Program
508-767-7380 Kennedy Memorial Hall - Room 157

Sabine Prizio

Administrative Assistant to Graduate Programs
508-767-7297 Kennedy Hall - Room 169

An Ideal Place to Learn

DESE
Comprehensive program modeled on MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) guidelines
GRE not required
Receive mentoring throughout the program
Learn practical, evidence- based strategies

Program Curriculum

    1. Students will demonstrate conceptually sound lesson planning derived from evidence-based methods.
    2. Students will employ effective instructional strategies to meet the needs of all pupils.
    3. Students will effectively communicate subject matter knowledge.

    CAGS in Positive Behavior Supports: 

    1. Students will demonstrate advanced, specialized knowledge in Positive Behavior Supports.
    2. Students will employ specialized skills of Positive Behavior Supports by assessing need and developing a data-based action plan.
  • Required Courses

    EDU 502

    OR

    EDU 515

    Teaching English Language with and without Special Needs

     

    Diversity in Schooling

    EDU 512 Introduction to Research in Education
    SED 560 Foundations of Special Education
    SED 561 Individualized Education Planning: A Collaborative Approach
    SED/PSY 566 Assessment of Special Learning Needs of Children and Adolescents
    SED/PSY 568 Behavioral Assessment and Interventions
    SED 570 Inclusion: Theory and Classroom Practice
    EDU 552

    OR

    EDU 572

    Foundations of Teaching Reading

     

    Teaching Reading to Diverse Learners (prerequisite: EDU 325, EDU 552, or equivalent course OR evidence of passing score on the MTEL Foundations of Reading Test)

    EDU 574 Teaching Mathematics to Diverse Learners
    SED 555 Pre-practicum I: Teacher of Students with Moderate Disabilities (PreK-8, 5-12)
    SED 565 Pre-practicum II: Teacher of Students with Moderate Disabilities (PreK-8, 5-12)
    SED 590* Practicum and Seminar: Teacher of Students with Moderate Disabilities
    Oral Examination or Case Study

    All students in the Master of Arts in Special Education program are required either to pass an oral examination or present a case study to complete requirements for the degree.

    * Those degree candidates who do not seek Massachusetts teacher licensure must substitute an approved elective for the performance assessment; they may not enroll in the performance assessment.

  • Required Courses

    SED 660 Critical Issues in Special Education (prerequisite: SED 560 or equivalent)
    SED 571 Curriculum and Methods for Students with Moderate Disabilities (PreK-8; 5-12)
    SED 591 Performance Assessment and Seminar: (PreK-8; 5-12)
    SED 599 Thesis: Guided Evidence-Based Instruction (Prerequisite: EDU 512 or 703)
    SEVEN ADDITIONAL COURSES FROM THE FOLLOWING (must be approved by the Director of Special Education)
    EDU 512

    OR

    EDU 703

    Introduction to Research in Education

     

    Advanced Research Seminar

    EDU 515 Diversity in Schooling
    EDU 572 Teaching Children and Adolescents with Reading Difficulties
    EDU 575 Seminar: Strategies in Teaching Mathematics to Students with Moderate Disabilities
    SED 567 Seminar: Advanced Assessment of Special Learning Needs
    SED 580 Learning Disabilities
    SED 585 Educating Students with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders
    SED 586 Students with Severe Disabilities
    SED 600 Special Topics in Special Education
    SED 700 Directed Study
  • The Special Education program offers a special five-year program that enables an Assumption University undergraduate student to complete requirements for both the Bachelor of Arts degree in an area of the liberal arts and sciences and the Master of Arts in Special Education degree leading to eligibility for the Massachusetts Initial License for Teacher of Students with Moderate Disabilities (PreK-8 or 5-12). Students enrolled in this program will be eligible for Massachusetts licensure as an elementary, middle, or secondary teacher and teacher of students with moderate disabilities. Undergraduate students who are admitted to the graduate program on early decision must be eligible for an Initial License as an elementary, middle, or secondary teacher. If admitted to the program, they may begin taking graduate courses during the senior year and complete the master’s degree requirements in the fifth year of study at the University.

    Assumption undergraduate students who are considering early admission for the fifth-year master’s program should consult with the 5th year program advisor during the spring semester of the junior year to discuss eligibility and application procedures and to plan a course of study.

    Assumption University undergraduates who seek early admission to the Master of Arts in Special Education program must meet the following standards:

    • Have at least a 3.3 cumulative GPA and a 3.0 GPA in their major field of study.
    • Have a major in one of the core academic subjects taught in 5-8 or 8-12 for which the Massachusetts Department of Education issues a license and for which the University has a state-approved program.
  • The Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study in Special Education provides specialized knowledge and skills in Positive Behavior Supports (PBS) for educators and other school professionals who hold a Master’s Degree. It is awarded upon completion of 18 credits beyond the Master’s degree in Education and Special Education.

    However, those students who have not met prerequisites prior to being admitted to the program may be required to take more than 18 credits hours in order to earn their certificates.

    Students who are enrolled in the Initial Licensure program may be able to take CAGS courses, if eligible, thereby earning their CAGS in addition to their master’s degrees. The CAGS credits may be used toward their Professional Licenses.

    Learn more: Special Education C.A.G.S.: Positive Behavior Supports

  • The Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study (C.A.G.S.) in Special Education: Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) program is an 18-credit program which has been developed closely aligned with the state guidelines and the best practice recommended by the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC). Graduates of the program will be better able to understand students with ASD, to conduct assessments, to collaborate with other school professionals effectively, and to provide evidence-based practice to their students with ASD through field-based experiences.

    The program will offer two paths:

    • CAGS with autism endorsement
    • CAGS only

    Learn more: Special Education C.A.G.S.: Autism Spectrum Disorders (with Endorsement option)

  • The Transition Specialist Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study (C.A.G.S.) is an 18-credit program which provides training to individuals interested in helping 14 – 22-year-old students with disabilities explore and develop career identities as well as develop the skills needed to successfully transition into post-secondary educational, training, and employment after completing high school. The program focuses on the educational, functional and social/emotional needs of students.

    The program will offer two paths:

    • CAGS with Transition Specialist Endorsement
    • CAGS only

    Learn more: Transition Specialist C.A.G.S. (with Endorsement option)

  • For the Massachusetts Initial License

    In most cases, students are considered eligible for the practicum once they have successfully completed all prerequisite courses or when they take such courses concurrently. A candidate’s eligibility for and enrollment in the practicum will be determined by the Special Education Program Director based upon:

    1. A review of the student’s transcript, existing teacher licensure, and professional experience;
    2. Successful performance in required graduate courses, and;
    3. Evidence of passing scores on all of the Massachusetts Test for Educator Licensure (MTEL) required for the Initial License for Teacher of Students with Moderate Disabilities.

    The practicum is a semester-long (i.e., 14-week) commitment governed by criteria outlined in the state regulations. Accordingly, candidates must complete at least three (3) weeks, if not all of the practicum in an inclusive classroom setting. They must be prepared to spend full days at the practicum site(s) during the practicum semester.

    Performance Assessment for Massachusetts Professional License

    Students are considered eligible for the performance assessment once they have successfully completed all prerequisite courses or when they take such courses concurrently. A candidate’s eligibility for and enrollment in the practicum will be determined by the Special Education Program Director based upon:

    1. A review of the student’s transcript, existing teacher licensure, and professional experience (the Commonwealth of Massachusetts requires at least three (3) years of teaching experience under the Initial License in order to be eligible for a Professional License);
    2. Successful performance in required graduate courses;
    3. Evidence of passing scores on all of the Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure (MTEL) required for the Initial License for Teacher of Students with Moderate Disabilities.

    The performance assessment is a semester-long (14-week) commitment governed by criteria outlined in the State regulations. Accordingly, candidates must complete a portion, if not all, of the performance assessment in an inclusive classroom setting. They must be prepared to spend full days at the teaching site(s) during the semester.

    For information concerning Commonwealth of Massachusetts educator licensure, contact the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education:

    Office of Educator Licensure
    75 Pleasant Street
    Malden, MA 02148
    (781) 338-3000
    www.doe.mass.edu

  • How many credits is the Special Education program?
    The Special Education program is a 36-credit program.

    What is the cost of the program?
    You can find current cost per credit and fee information on our website at www.assumption.edu/gradfinaid.

    Do you have both full-time and part-time options?
    Yes, students can take our program full-time or part-time.

    What is the average length of time to complete the program?
    Our program can be completed in one year (including summer) full-time.

    What is a typical class size?
    Our class size varies between 4 and 15.  A typical class size is 10.

    How many classes do students take per semester?
    Part-time students take 1-2 classes per semester. Full-time students take 3+ courses. It is important to know that in order to be eligible for Federal Financial Aid in the form of student loans, students must be enrolled in at least 2 graduate courses (6 credits) per semester.

    Are courses held online or on campus?
    The program meets online and in-person (blended).

    What time and how often do courses meet?
    Courses meet Monday – Thursday once weekly in late afternoon or evenings.

    When does the practicum start and what support is offered in finding a placement site?
    Students take the practicum during their last semester of the program. When a student needs support finding a practicum site, the placement coordinator fully supports her/him with finding an appropriate site.

    What are the requirements for practicum?
    The practicum requirements are in accordance with those of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (i.e., Candidate Assessment of Performance). Teacher candidates must work with pupils with moderate disabilities (PreK-8 or 5-12) at least 400 hours. In addition, teacher candidates must spend at least 75 hours (for PreK-8 license) OR at least 150 hours (for 5-12 license) in inclusive settings. More detailed requirements will be provided throughout the program.

    Can I do my practicum at the place where I work?
    It depends. If your classroom/school is an appropriate placement according to the Massachusetts educator licensure regulations, you may do the practicum at your school. If not, the placement coordinator will assist you with finding an appropriate practicum site.

    Can you complete the practicum while working full-time?
    It depends. You are required to be at your practicum site full time throughout the semester. In addition, you will be attending a weekly seminar in the evening. If you work at your practicum site or during non-school hours, you may be able to work full-time during the practicum.

    Do I have to take the MTELs before I am admitted into the program?
    No, you do not have to take the MTEL prior to enrolling in the program.

    Do you offer preparation for the MTEL exam?
    Our educator preparation programs offer a variety of MTEL preparation sessions to our teacher candidates, free of charge.

    What are the start terms for the program?
    The program begins in the Fall, Spring and Summer semesters.

    What are the deadlines to apply?
    Application deadlines will vary by program and can be found on the upper left column on the main program page.

    Do applicants need to take the GMAT/GRE to apply to a graduate program?
    We do not require the GRE/GMAT. Our applications are reviewed more holistically focusing on an applicant’s academic transcript, letters of recommendation and personal statement.

    Do you offer financial aid to graduate students?
    Federal Financial Aid is offered in the form of unsubsidized student loans. Students must be enrolled in a minimum of two courses per semester to be eligible.

    Is your program state approved?
    The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has granted Assumption’s Special Education program “Approval with Distinction.” This is the highest level of approval awarded by the Department, and Assumption is just one of four schools in Massachusetts to receive this prestigious designation.

    What are the GPA/application requirements?
    A 3.0 GPA is required. However, along with your official transcript, all application materials are considered including three professional letters of recommendation, personal statement and resume. Refer to the program page for specific admissions information.

    How long does it take to receive a decision after applying?
    Typically applicants will be notified within a few weeks after application completion (including the submission of all materials). This is an approximate time and may vary.

Faculty

Nanho S. Vander Hart, Ph.D
Program Director Associate Professor, Education Director of Special Education Director of Transition Specialist Program
Jessica Audet de la Cruz, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Education
Donald Briere
Lecturer, Special Education Graduate Program
Kathleen Dion, M.A.
Lecturer, Education Programs
Samantha Goldman, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Special Education Department Chair, Education
Eileen Harvey
Lecturer, Special Education Graduate Program
Calvin R. Hill, Ph.D
Lecturer, Rehabilitation Counseling and School Counseling Graduate Programs
Lisa Hughes, Ed.D.
Lecturer, Special Education Graduate Program
Paula Lea
Lecturer, Special Education Graduate Program
Jean Lindquist-Grady
Lecturer, School Counseling and Special Education Graduate Programs
Cinzia Pica, Ed.D.
Chair, Department of Human Services and Rehabilitation Studies Director of the Women’s Studies Program Professor, Human Services & Rehabilitation Studies

Graduate Admission Events and Ways to Connect With Us

We invite you to learn more about our graduate programs - either through a visit to campus, attending an information session or by scheduling a phone or virtual conversation with an admissions team member or one of our program directors.


Admissions Requirements

General Graduate Studies Admissions Requirements

  • Graduate Application
  • Three Letters of Recommendation
  • Official Transcript(s)
  • Personal Statement
  • Current Resume
  • TOEFL or IELTS for applicants whose native language is not English

Apply today

Special Education-specific Admission Requirements

Enrollment in the Special Education program is open to any qualified individuals who meet the admissions standards. Individuals may enroll in the master's program whether or not they seek Massachusetts teacher licensure. Candidates for the graduate program in special education may submit an application at any time. Please note that a grade point average of 3.0 or better is expected of students who enter the program. Exceptions to this policy are not common. When extenuating circumstances exist, the admissions committee can recommend to the Special Education director that a student is permitted to take courses as a special student. In these cases, formal admission to the graduate program is deferred until a candidate has successfully met criteria specified by the admissions committee.
All Candidates for Initial Licensure must meet the following criteria
  • Possess a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree;
  • Have a minimum undergraduate grade point average (GPA) of 3.0
  • Candidates for the Massachusetts Initial License for Teacher of students with Moderate Disabilities (PreK-8 or 5-12) are not required to have passed the Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure (MTEL) prior to applying to the program, however, to be eligible to enroll in the practicum, students must submit evidence of passing scores on all MTEL required for licensure.
Candidates seeking a license for PreK-8 must pass the following tests:
  • Communication and Literacy Skills;
  • Foundations of Reading OR Reading Specialists; and
  • General Curriculum, including two subtests (i.e., multi-subject and mathematics subtests).
  • Candidates seeking licensure for 5-12 must pass the following tests:
Candidates for the Initial License who do not already hold a Massachusetts teacher license may be required, at the discretion of the special education faculty, to take additional coursework in the content areas and/or curriculum and methods of teaching prior to enrollment in the practicum. NOTE: Individuals who complete approved programs are eligible for licensure reciprocity with the approximately 45 other states that are parties to the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC) Interstate Agreement, 2010-2015.
All candidates for Professional Licensure must meet the following criteria
  • Possess a Bachelor of Arts of Bachelor of Science degree;
  • Have a minimum undergraduate grade point average (GPA) of 3.0;
  • Possess an Initial license as a Teacher of Students with Moderate Disabilities or Elementary Education from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts;
  • Have at least one year of full-time employment in an educational setting.
For information concerning the Commonwealth of Massachusetts teacher licensure, contact the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education: Office of Educator Licensure 75 Pleasant Street Malden, MA 02148 (781) 338-3000 www.doe.mass.edu Note: The following is required for a Professional License. For more information, visit www.doe.mass.edu/Educators
  • 3 years of employment under an Initial License
  • Completion of a teacher induction program
Candidates Who Do Not Seek Massachusetts Educator Licensure (non licensure students)
Prospective students for the MA program only must meet the following criteria:
  • Possess a Bachelor Of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree;
  • Have a minimum undergraduate grade point average (GPA) of 3.0
Tuition & Financial Aid


Special Education Dual Degree Program

Apply as a high school senior into the dual degree program with one application and, if admitted, you will be enrolled in both the undergraduate and graduate programs. You'll also benefit from being considered for a $2,500 Dual Degree Scholarship (per year for your 4 undergraduate years) and a $1,000 Dual Degree Scholarship for every term you are enrolled at least part time in your graduate program at Assumption. Learn more about all of the University's dual degree offerings.

Graduate Research Symposium

Assumption University Graduate School Annual Symposium showcases research, innovative projects, successful case study, and creative work of graduate students and recent alums from every graduate program. We offer all graduate students in every program an opportunity to present their excellent work on diverse topics.

Veterans at Assumption

Assumption University recognizes that servicemen and women have demonstrated great courage and made tremendous sacrifices in service to our nation and its people. The University has introduced a number of programs and services to assist veterans during the application process and while veterans are attending Assumption. We also have a lounge designated only for our veteran students. Assumption University is committed to maintaining recognition as a Military Friendly institution.  We strive to eliminate barriers to success for our Service Members, Veterans, and their qualified dependents.

Resources


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