MEd in Special Education

PSU offers a Master of Education (MEd) in Special Education (non-certification), which is the most flexible option for students who are not interested in pursuing certification (see the program of study below).

In addition to the major, students may choose from three concentrations:

Students may also pursue a post-master’s Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies (CAGS) in Educational Leadership with a concentration in Special Education Administrator K-12 Certification.

Throughout your coursework, faculty will address issues such as development and characteristics of learners, learning differences, instructional strategies, special education law, and language.

For more information, visit the Educational Leadership, Learning and Curriculum Department website.

Program of Study

  • Learning Theory Component – 6 credits
  • 3
    Knowledge and understanding of the commonly accepted research designs. Study of research instruments and statistics used in educational research. Wide reading in various types of research design. Critical analysis of research design.
  • 3
    An overview of current theories concerning the brain, development, and learning. Analysis of developmental concepts from birth through adolescence and adulthood. Discussion of language acquisition, thinking and learning styles, multiple intelligence, and creativity. Topics include teaching, learning, and assessment issues related to cultural diversity, technology, and learning differences.
  • - OR -
  • 3
    Participants will be introduced to core principles and the newest research findings related to the brain and learning. The course will focus on the key brain principles, neural networks (i.e., recognition, strategic, affective) and neurodevelopmental learning functions of the brain (e.g., attention, memory, language) and their impact on learning. It is expected that participants will already have an existing knowledge of child development theories; the neurodevelopmental framework will be layered with these theories to understand what a student can be expected to do at a given age. During the course participants will practice the skill of observing for evidence of learning strengths and weaknesses and linking them to academic performance through a case study. Participants must have access to a student/students on a regular basis as a large component of this course requires observation. This course is appropriate for anyone who works with students (child-adult).
  • General Special Education Component – 15 credits
  • 3
    This three-credit course will give participants a greater understanding of both federal and New Hampshire special education law. Time will be spent on Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. This course is designed and intended for teachers and special education administrators. You do not need to be a law student to succeed in this class. There is a heavy emphasis in this course on theory to practice, "practical news you can use" the next day in your profession. Students will review the most current cases and trends in special education law, analyze cases, and learn how to research both statutory and case law.
  • 3
    Focuses on the ethics of special education laws, regulations and policies. Students will use case studies that pose ethical dilemmas in order to understand the complex issues underlying such issues as inclusion, labeling, IDEA, least restrictive environment (LSE) compliance, due process, parent involvement, awareness of ethical responsibilities, ethical decision making, confidentiality, record keeping, and informed consent. The spirit versus the letter and the morality of special education will also be explored. A special focus will be on transacting an ethic of care in school best practices that promote democratic decision making, advocacy, and the empowerment of parents.
  • 3
    This introductory course will cover the following areas: definition of LD, reading problems, language deficits both oral and written, mathematics underachievement, social skills deficits, attention and behavioral problems, academic achievement, and comorbidity with other disabilities, prevalence, environmental factors, standardized, criterion referenced, informal reading, curriculum-based measurement, and testing. Educational approaches such as explicit instruction, content enhancement, and placement alternatives will be explored. Current issues and future trends in the field of LD will be discussed.
  • 3
    This course provides an in-depth look of the use of technology with diverse learners. An overview of two federal laws (IDEA and NCLB) and the examination of the research of learning technologies will be presented. Students will be engaged in hands-on experience with desktop software, online resources and specialized software designed to support diverse learners. Opportunities will be provided for students to develop classroom activities and curriculum planning guidelines for integrating technology tools into the content areas to accommodate a range of student learning differences.
  • 3
    This course is designed to assist participants in examining the nature of collaboration in organizations, the consultation process and essential leadership skills in special education. Students will learn about the nature of collaboration and examine examples of effective collaboration skills, as well as participate in guided practice of those skills. Emphasis will be given to concepts of intervention, management models and an analysis of the variety of special education needs. Prerequisites: SE 5300, SE 5400, SE 5600, SE 5770, and SE 6040.
  • Electives (choose 4 courses) – 12 credits
  • 3
    This course will examine the nature of first and second language acquisition and development. Topics include first language acquisition, second language acquisition by children and adults, bilingualism, and their applications to language teaching. The course provides an overview of current theories of language acquisition.
  • 3
    Provides prospective language teachers with an introduction to the study of language. Principal topics include sociolinguistic theories, language variation, and pragmatics; and the classroom implications of phonology, morphology, semantics and syntax.
  • 3
    Participants learn the foundations of communicative language teaching to non-native speakers in multicultural and homogenous classrooms. Topics include content-based instruction, teaching of the four skills, curriculum development, and lesson planning and execution. Participants acquire and practice the skills needed to teach language to students of all ages and abilities.
  • 3

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  • 3
    Attention and memory play key roles in learning. This course will provide an in-depth exploration of the components of attention and memory and specific impacts they have on learning. Participants will be introduced to ways to observe for breakdowns in memory and attention and instructional strategies to support completion of tasks. Prerequisite: ND 5000 and ND 5020.
  • 3
    Psychopharmacology and the Biological Basis of Mental Health course will explore the biological influences on mental illness. This will include an examination of the physiological basis of behavior, perception, emotion and self-regulation; the current theory and research on the relationship between biological events in the central nervous system and behavior; and psychopharmacological interventions.
  • 3
    This course will focus on administering, scoring, interpreting and reporting on achievement, special skill and diagnostic tests used in special education and school psychology. The emphasis will be on diagnosis and prescriptive writing. It is restricted to special education and school psychology students.
  • 3
    This course is designed to provide teachers with increased understanding of the needs of children who display maladaptive behaviors associated with conduct disorders in school settings. Students will investigate specific causes, diagnosis, assessment methods, interventions, etiology, co-morbidity, subtypes, pharmacotherapy, the role of the classroom teacher, and possible resources.
  • 3
    This course will deal with the specifics of cognitive impairment focusing on mental retardation, autism, Asperger, PDD, communication disorders and all their subgroups. Specific definitions, special education rights and legislation will be discussed in terms of these special populations. Assessment of intellectual functioning, assessment procedures, classroom adaptations, behaviors, causes and prevention, developing curriculum and goals, independent life skills, transitions to career and functional life skills will be discussed in detail.
  • 3
    This course provides an in-depth examination of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support (PBIS) with emphasis on school-wide approaches designed to enhance school climate and the emotional well being of all students. Students will learn how to create and nurture a leadership team of stakeholders who are responsible for school wide implementation as well as evidence based strategies for improving behavior and academic achievement. Topics include developing school wide expectations, creating a behavior matrix, designing teaching scripts to address prosocial behaviors, creating a school wide reinforcement system, determining office versus classroom referrals, designing a data-based system for behavior, and evaluating the universal system using data based decision making and utilizing data for improving practice.
  • 3
    This course exposes students to comprehensive, multi-system approaches designed to enhance the emotional well being and reduce the problem behavior of students with intense and chronic needs including those identified as emotionally disturbed under the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA). Using the PBIS approach to systems change, students will learn how to develop and implement, in collaboration with families and community partners, a process for addressing the behavior and functioning of students who are not experiencing success with universal and targeted interventions. Topics include wraparound planning for multiple life domains, interagency coordination, family involvement, community involvement, methods for changing behavior, affect and cognitions, and evaluating the intensive system using data based decision making.
  • 3
    This course addresses targeted methods designed to enhance the emotional well being and reduce the problem behavior of students who are at risk for school failure but who do not necessarily qualify for special education services. Using the positive behavioral interventions and support approach to systems change, students will learn how to create and nurture a problem solving team of professionals who are responsible for developing evidence based strategies for improving the behavior and academics of students for whom universal, school wide approaches have been insufficient. Topics include completing functional behavioral assessments of targeted students, creating behavior intervention plans based on functional behavioral assessment, designing and implementing targeted group interventions aimed at reducing problem behavior and increasing prosocial behavior and academic achievement of targeted students, and evaluating the targeted system data-based decision making for improving practice.
  • 3
    This course provides students with the collaboration and consultation skills necessary to enhance the emotional well being and reduce the problem behaviors of all students in schools, including those identified as emotionally disturbed under the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA). Within the context of a positive behavioral interventions and support model, student will learn how to be a school based PBIS coach in order to support the systems of change process in their schools. Topics include the process of systems change, collaboration with families and community agencies, team development and building, data based decision making and nurturing the PBIS initiative.
  • Capstone Experience
  • 3
    The purpose of the graduate capstone is to apply knowledge learned in previous coursework through an approved project. Capstone projects should focus on the following questions: How will the theories learned throughout the program be integrated into a coherent project or experience? How will this work enhance individual career goals? Who are the stakeholders and how will this work assist them? How does this work serve the professional community? How will this work help move the profession forward? Process: Students should plan for approximately 40 hours of work per credit to be earned. The total number of credits earned must be approved by their advisor and noted on their program contract. Candidates must submit Graduate Capstone Project forms with their registration and Capstone Projects must be approved by candidates' advisors and the Associate Vice President for Graduate Studies. Once completed, candidates are expected to present their final products to their adviser and/or PSU faculty members. Students who anticipate working on their project for more than one term should register for the appropriate number of credits in each term so that they remain registered throughout the course of the project.
  • - OR -
  • 3
    A course for teaching/administrative practitioners in which a local educational problem is examined from the standpoint of how it can best be studied and solved. A blueprint for solving the problem is prepared including: statement and purpose, scope, assumptions/hypotheses, limitations and essential definitions. Course culmination will include collection of data, analysis of that data, conclusions and recommendation preparation that follow appropriate form and style.
  • Total for MEd in Special Education – 36 credits

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