Master of Science in Special Education
701-858-3050/ 1-800-777-0750 ext. 3050
Mission of the MS in Special Education Program
MSU's graduate program in Special Education: 1) provides exemplary learning experiences to prospective and practicing educators; 2) provides technical assistance and service to schools, families, and other agencies; 3) disseminates current and relevant information to state and local agencies; and 4) conducts credible, practical research.
Vision Statement of the MS in Special Education Program Students who complete one of MSU's graduate special education programs will be reflective decision makers, who provide exemplary educational services to people with disabilities.
MSU students and faculty value all students, respect their families, and hold these core beliefs:
- All people with disabilities deserve the respect, rights, and responsibilities afforded all people.
- All children and youth can learn AND have a right to be in school learning with their peers as often as possible.
- Teachers help students work toward independence, selfsufficiency, and realization of their dreams.
- Special educators are agents of positive change assisting individuals, organizations, and systems.
- Special education teachers' educational decisions result in programs that promote student success and learning.
Principles of the MS in Special Education Program
- Special education faculty members seek to prepare teachers who will promote student independence, celebrate diversity, and foster inclusion in a technological, literacyintensive global community.
- MSU's program prepares graduate students to teach children with disabilities using validated materials and practices. Current research informs class content and focuses practica experience.
- Special education teachers develop and implement successful special education programs using careful and thoughtful application of professional knowledge, skills, and experience.
- Successful special education teachers evaluate the efficacy of their work in terms of observable student behavior. MSU's graduate programs teach techniques for systematic data collection, analysis and data-based decision-making.
MSU's college of education has adopted "Professional Educator as Reflective Decision Maker" as the conceptual framework for all its professional education programs. Reflective decision-making is characterized by proactive, not reactive practice. Reflective decision makers: contemplate possible long-term consequences of professional actions; evaluate the appropriateness of these actions and the effects of these actions on student performance; and maintain an informed perspective concerning all aspects of teaching, instruction and student learning. MSU's model is consistent with both historical educational thought and the special education faculty's researchbased curricular principles. It is also consistent with Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) standards which are intended to foster: high-quality teaching and learning, equal educational opportunity, and improved student achievement.
Student Learning Outcomes
MSU's graduate special education program seeks these student outcomes:
- Students will describe the philosophical, historical and legal foundations of special education.
- Students will describe the characteristics of learners with and without disabilities.
- Students will demonstrate appropriate assessment, diagnosis and evaluation procedures and strategies for individuals with disabilities.
- Students will use appropriate instructional content and practices for individuals with disabilities.
- Students will plan and manage the teaching and learning environment for individuals with disabilities.
- Students will engage in and facilitate appropriate communication and collaborative partnerships.
- Students will demonstrate professional and ethical practices.
Planning Your Graduate Program of Study Students considering a graduate degree in special education should understand that the structure of MSU's graduate programs differs from the structure of our undergraduate programs. In general, graduate programs are more flexible. Graduate students enter our program with different training and experience. For example, the undergraduate transcript of a student who completed the University of Mary's elementary/ special education program differs significantly from that of a fellow student who completed a secondary/chemistry teaching major at NDSU. Our graduate program can accommodate students with different undergraduate preservice training experiences from within and outside the state.
MSU's Master of Science program can also be tailored to accommodate state-specific license requirements. The program of a student seeking a North Dakota teaching endorsement may not be the same as that of a fellow student seeking Iowa's version of the same endorsement.
To be eligible for a North Dakota special education endorsement, students may need to complete additional undergraduate courses.
When students apply to graduate school, they must submit an official undergraduate transcript. The advisor will examine the transcript(s) and develop a preliminary program of study. After a few classes are completed the student will select a graduate committee and a committee chairperson. Together, the committee chairperson and the student will finalize the student's program of study.
Special Education Degree Core Requirements
Special Education faculty members believe that graduate study should provide a strong foundation in theory, research, writing skills, and measurement. Therefore, all students seeking MSU's Master of Science Degree in Special Education must include these core courses in their program of study:
SPED 501 Introduction to Graduate Study 3 SH SPED 531 Theoretical Aspects of Exceptional Children 3 SH SPED 533 Clinical Practice 1 SH SPED 550 Special Education Assessment 2 SH PSY 503 Statistics I 3 SH
All students seeking the Master of Science Degree in Special Education at MSU must successfully complete an approved program of study and either complete a thesis (SPED 599) or a research project (SPED 598).
Program Emphasis Areas
Most Master of Science in Special Education students in the MSU program seek a North Dakota special education teaching endorsement. These endorsements may focus on individual programs of study in one or more emphasis areas. Minot State University has authority to offer a special education graduate degree that emphasizes these special education interest areas:
- Deaf or Hard of Hearing.
- Specific Learning Disabilities
- Early Childhood Special Education
- Special Education Strategist
- Developmental Disabilities/Autism Spectrum Disorder
Most graduate students' programs of study include classes that satisfy the requirement of some state endorsements. A brief discussion of each program emphasis area follows. Each discussion includes an example that shows classes that MIGHT be in an hypothetical student's program of study. Students should understand that their program of study may not be the same as the examples. A program of study may be modified at the discretion of the student's graduate committee, as long as those changes do not violate core department or graduate school requirements.
Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE)
Students earning a Master of Science in Special Education with an Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) emphasis learn to work with young children, and the families of children, with or at risk for developmental delays. Successful ECSE students learn to assess young children with suspected developmental delays, develop appropriate intervention programs, and coordinate a variety of service programs such as Parts C and B Programs, ECSE programs in public schools, or inclusive community programs.
ECSE programs of study typically include course work and supervised practicum experiences in assessment, program development and evaluation, family and community support systems, typical and atypical child development, management of the environment, and research. Trainees complete a thesis as the final program requirement.
MSU's ECSE courses emphasize a responsive family approach to early intervention. Trainees gain experience in a variety of service delivery settings including home based, center based, and combination service delivery programs. Practica sites may include: the Minot Infant Development Program, Early Head Start, community child care programs, area special education unit ECSE programs, and Head Start.
ECSE admission recommendations. Graduate students should be eligible for a North Dakota professional educator's license. The faculty recommends that potential students complete a four-year degree in a related field (nursing, early childhood, psychology, etc.) from an accredited college or university.
Sample: ECSE program of study Special Education Core Requirements 12 SH ECSE Coursework SPED 504 Introduction to Preschool Children with Disabilities 3 SH SPED 509 Infant/Toddler Development 3 SH SPED 530 Physical & Medical Needs of Persons with Severe Disabilities 3 SH SPED 543 Methods and Materials in ECSE 3 SH SPED 563 Family and Community Systems in Early Intervention 3 SH Field Experience: SPED 515 Practicum 6 SH Culminating Experience: SPED 599 Thesis 3 SH Total Graduate Program Credits 36 SH
Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD)
Students earning a Master of Science in Special Education with an emphasis in Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD) learn to provide effective instructional services in public schools. Their coursework focuses on the theoretical and practical aspects of learning disabilities. Throughout the SLD graduate experience, students participate in intensive, competency-based handson experiences that translate current research into effective teaching. These experiences culminate in a supervised practicum where successful students must demonstrate competence in assessment, program planning and teaching of students who have specific learning disabilities.
Public schools employ various models to deliver appropriate educational services to students with SLD in the least restrictive environment. The team teaching model, consultation model, and itinerant teacher model require consultation and collaboration. Therefore SLD coursework and practica pay considerable attention to improving students' consultation and collaboration skills.
SLD admission recommendations. The faculty recommends that graduate students who choose to pursue an MSU Special Education Masters Degree that focuses on SLD should be eligible for a North Dakota professional educator's license.
Sample: SLD program of study Special Education Core Requirements 12 SH SLD Coursework SPED 505 Consultation and Supervision in Special Education 2 SH SPED 561 Behavior Problems of Exceptional Children 3 SH SPED 572 Methods of Teaching the Learning Disabled 3 SH ED 540 Reading: Advanced Diagnosis & Remediation 2 SH Field Experience: SPED 515 Practicum 8 SH Culminating Experience: SPED 599 Thesis 3 SH Total Graduate Program Credits 31 SH
Developmental Disabilities/Autism Spectrum Disorders (DD/ASD)
Students earning a Masters of Science degree in Special Education in the area of Developmental Disabilities/Autism Spectrum Disorders (DD/ASD) may choose a program of study that prepares them to: coordinate school service programs for children with autism spectrum disorders and developmental disabilities including intellectual impairments, physical and/or multiple disabilities. They will be prepared to collaborate with non-educational social service agencies, or serve as an educational consultant working for medical and diagnostic agencies in clinical settings.
The DD/ASD graduate program prepares students to serve people with a variety of severe disabilities including: autism spectrum disorders, intellectual impairments, and physical disabilities. This program will also prepare students to work with individuals with high-functioning autism or Asperger Syndrome and other derivatives of the spectrum.
Subsequently, the DD/ASD program of study will typically include coursework in: assessment, behavior management, program development, program implementation, provision of physical care, habilitative techniques, assistive technology and alternative systems of communication, social skills training, parent training, and the use of various team planning models. After demonstrating mastery of core competencies, trainees may get practical hands-on experience using various service delivery methods in: public schools, community-based service agencies, home-based service settings, and residential service settings.
Finally, to supplement the core competencies delivered in online format, students will be given the opportunity to participate in two (2) on-campus residencies. Residencies will comprise of hands-on assessment practices and inter-agency collaboration for students with DD/ASD throughout the lifespan.
DD/ASD admission recommendations. The faculty recommends that graduate students who choose to pursue a MSU Special Education Masters Degree that focuses on DD/ ASD should first earn bachelor's degree and a major in special education, intellectual/developmental disabilities/autism, or intellectual/developmental disabilities from an accredited college or university.
Sample: DD/ASD program of study Special Education Core Requirements 12 SH DD/ASD Coursework SPED 502 Studies in ASD 2 SH SPED 505 Supervision and Consultation in SPED 2 SH SPED 529 DD/ASD Comm. & Asst. Tech 2 SH SPED 530 Physical and Medical Needs of 3 SH Persons with Severe Disabilities SPED 542 Methods/Materials In DD/ASD 3 SH SPED 544 Social Skills Strategies 2 SH SPED 546 Intensive Naturalistic Methods 2 SH SPED 561 Behavior Problems of Exceptional Children 3 SH Field Experience: SPED 538 Final Practicum (in DD) 2 SH SPED 549 Practicum in ASD 2 SH Culminating Experience: SPED 599 Thesis 3 SH Total Graduate Program Credits 38 SH
Special Education Strategist (SES)
The Master of Science in Special Education for the Special Education Strategist (SES) emphasis area is designed to prepare teachers as rural special education generalists. Students who complete an SES degree will be trained to work with students who have intellectual/developmental disabilities, serious emotional disturbance, and specific learning disabilities. SES classes provide a firm foundation in theory, methods, assessment, and practical implementation of appropriate programming. Since SES students are generalists, they typically complete more practica experiences than students in other emphasis areas.
SES admission recommendations. The faculty recommends that graduate students who choose to pursue an MSU Special Education Masters Degree that focuses on SES should be eligible for a North Dakota professional educator's license.
Sample: SES program of study Special Education Core Requirements 12 SH SES Coursework SPED 505 Supervision and Consultation in Special Education 2 SH SPED 520 Introduction to Behavior Disorders 3 SH SPED 524 Methods of Teaching Individuals with BD 3 SH SPED 572 Methods of Teaching the Learning Disabled 3 SH SPED 561 Behavior Problems of Exceptional Children 3 SH Field Experience: SPED 523 Field Seminar in LD/BD 4 SH SPED 515 Practicum 4 SH Culminating Experience: SPED 599 Thesis 3 SH Total Graduate Program Credits 37 SH
The Education of the Deaf Program at MSU prepares educators to effectively teach students who are deaf or hard of hearing in a variety of educational settings. The MSU program embraces a comprehensive approach to preparing teachers with a goal toward providing educators with the knowledge and skills to work with children and their families from a diversity of perspectives and backgrounds. The emphasis is on appropriately meeting the individual needs of children and youth, rather than promoting a specific philosophy. Students graduating from MSU will be prepared to work in a wide range of programs.
EdDeaf admission recommendations. The faculty recommends that graduate students who choose to pursue an MSU Special Education Masters Degree focusing on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing should be eligible for a North Dakota professional educator's license.
Students accepted into the program may have to complete the following coursework:
- Introduction to Special Education
- Introduction to Deaf and Hard of Hearing Education
- Manually Coded English
- ASL I
- ASL II
- Language Development
- Aural Rehabilitation
- Clinical experience in a deaf and hard of hearing education program
Sample: EdDeaf program of study Special Education Core Requirements 12 SH Ed Deaf Coursework SPED 505 Consultation & Supervision in SPED 2 SH SPED 513 Deaf Studies 3 SH SPED 565 Early Intervention Deaf/HH 3 SH SPED 583 Teaching Speech to Deaf/HH Students 3 SH SPED 584 Teaching Language to Deaf/HH Student 4 SH SPED 585 Advanced Aural Rehabilitation 3 SH SPED 586 Teaching Reading/Academics to Deaf/HHng 4 SH Clinical Practice: SPED 515 Practicum 8 SH SPED 516 Diagnostic Practicum 2 SH SPED 533 Clinical Practice 1 SH Culminating Experience: SPED 599 Thesis 3 SH Total Graduate Program Credits 48 SH