Special Education (PreK-8) or (7-12)

The M.S. in special education prepares highly qualified educators to establish effective teaching and learning environments for children with special needs in their school and community.

Individuals who hold Level I Certification in Early Childhood, Elementary, Middle School or Secondary Education and wish to obtain a certification to teach in special education classrooms and programs may choose between two grade level certifications, PreK-8 or 7-12, both of which prepare the candidate for Pennsylvania certification. Both classroom instruction and field placements offer our graduate students a rigorous and well-rounded curriculum addressing critical areas of special needs instruction.

Already a recognized leader in the field, in 2012 Saint Joseph’s special education program received recognition from the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) and has also been identified as one of only nine programs internationally to meet the rigorous standards of the International Dyslexia Association (IDA). In addition to the traditional part-time evening program, Saint Joseph’s offers an innovative five-year teacher-scholar program designed for recent undergraduates to earn a master’s degree through a combined online and face-to-face course work and 12 credits of clinical experience during mornings at the Academy in Manayunk (AIM) or Melmark. Professionals experienced in fields other than teaching who wish to develop special education careers may enroll first in the M.S. in education program leading to Level I Certification and apply to add the special education certification once the initial certification has been obtained.

There are also customized master’s degree options in special education designed for students who already hold special education certification on the undergraduate level but wish to further their study of special education with added concentrations in autism spectrum disorder specialist endorsement, supervisor of special education curriculum, or teaching deaf and hard of hearing (N-12) certification.

Key features of the Special Education Graduate Program include:

  • Experienced faculty - Expertise in urban teaching, inclusive education and assistive technology.
  • Urban focus - Culturally responsive teaching for students from diverse backgrounds.
  • Evening and hybrid classes - Learning formats that meet the needs of adult learners.
  • Cutting-edge programs and training based on research.
  • Assessment-based research practices.
  • Intensive experiential learning through field experiences.
  • Customizable master’s degree with additional certification program and endorsement options based on individual student goals.

Graduates of Saint Joseph’s special education graduate program are in high demand in the region because of the rigorous research-based curriculum and the clinical field experiences they gain working hands-on with children who have high and low incidence disabilities in various classroom environments. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics identifies special education teaching positions as poised for a continued growth rate of 17 percent between 2008-2018. Saint Joseph’s University Special Education graduates have secured positions in some of the most prestigious and innovative schools in the city of Philadelphia,  throughout the Greater Philadelphia region and across the country.

This program of study is approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE), and leads to an instructional certification in special education. Candidates who complete all degree and certification requirements may apply to PDE for certification.

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