Graduate programs in Special Education prepare educators to meet national standards of excellence in communication skills, professional knowledge, and teaching competence. Programs of study are offered for both entry-level and experienced professionals and include certification and non-certification options.
Teacher of Students with Mild/Moderate Disabilities (M.Ed.)
This 45-credit hour program leads to state certification as Teacher of Students with Disabilities (K-8 or 7-12). It is designed for students who have a background in elementary or secondary education or have experience working with students with disabilities, and who can document competency and prior coursework in child/adolescent development and adapting instruction for students with disabilities (SED 402 or the equivalent). Applicants who have not met these prerequisites may be admitted for part-time study if they are currently employed in work with students with disabilities. Prerequisite coursework (child/adolescent development and SED 402 or the equivalent) must be taken prior to enrolling in courses for the M.Ed.
Educational Specialists for Students with Severe Disabilities (M.Ed.)
This 45-credit hour program leads to state certification as an Educational Specialist for Students with Severe Disabilities. It is designed for students who have a background in elementary or secondary education, but may be appropriate for students with undergraduate majors in related fields such as child development, psychology, communication disorders, occupational and physical therapy, and nursing.
Individually Designed Options (M.Ed. or C.A.S.)
Individually designed programs are for professionals who already hold certification in special education or are not interested in certification as a special education teacher. Potential candidates include:
• Experienced special educators who want to pursue more advanced study of a particular exceptionality (e.g., learning disabilities, behavioral disabilities) or domain (e.g., early literacy);
• General education teachers who want to increase their expertise in working with students with disabilities in general education classrooms; and
• Related services personnel who want to increase their understanding of educational policies and practices pertaining to students with disabilities (e.g., instructional strategies, educational assessments, special education law).
With a faculty advisor, students select courses around their unique needs and interests. Courses are drawn for Special Education and other areas in the College of Education and Human Development, although at least 50 percent of the student’s entire course work for the degree must be in Special Education. M.Ed. programs are structured around a common core (research, seminar, and practicum) and require a minimum of 33 credit hours of study. C.A.S. programs require a minimum of 30 credits beyond the M.Ed. and are also structured around a common core (research, seminar, and practicum).
Individually-designed programs typically comprise a 12 to 15 credit hour concentration and 12 to 15 hours of electives, selected with advisor’s approval. Examples of concentrations within the individually-designed option include:
Early Intervention Personnel
The Training Options for Early Intervention Personnel (TOP) project offers graduate study in early intervention/early childhood special education for practicing professionals in early intervention, early care and education and related fields. Participants in the TOP project can pursue programs leading to an endorsement as a Maine Teacher of Young Children with Disabilities – Birth to School-Age Five or to a master’s degree. Both options emphasize an interdisciplinary, family-centered, developmentally and individually appropriate and inclusive perspective. This 39-credit master’s degree program of study includes courses which provide a foundation in the field of early intervention/early childhood, as well as courses which emphasize preparation for leadership roles in the field.
Field Work and Internships
Field work and internships are an important component of all graduate programs in Special Education. Faculty and students are an integral part of the social and educational service community in Maine, and close relationships are maintained with public schools and community agencies. Faculty and students also have the opportunity to participate in projects sponsored by the Institute for the Study of At-Risk Students, the Center for Literacy, the Center for Research and Evaluation, and the Center for Community Inclusion, Maine’s University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research, and Service.
For admission to a graduate program in Special Education, students must meet basic standards of the Graduate School and professional eligibility requirements specific to the area, as described above. In addition, applicants seeking admission to programs that lead to certification must submit Praxis I scores with their applications. Candidates who are already certified in Maine and have taken Praxis I previously can submit a copy of their certificates to document that they have met state standards on the test. Applicants may be invited for a personal interview with the Special Education faculty. Students should request financial aid information from the University’s Office of Financial Aid. Special Education scholarships are sometimes available for candidates with documented financial need. To be eligible, applicants must have applied for financial aid through the University’s Office of Financial Aid.