For Aspiring and Current Educators: Two Degree Paths to a Master’s Degree in Special Education Friday, May 8, 2020
"Our School of Education faculty who teach special education courses hold expertise in the field and have held numerous positions as special educators."
Discuss the two paths Point Park University offers to earning a master’s degree in special education.
At Point Park University, we offer the following two paths to earn a master’s degree in special education.
Our Master of Arts in Special Education with PreK through 12th grade certification is a 30-credit program designed for teachers who currently hold a Pennsylvania Teaching Certification and want to add a special education teaching certification. This fully online program allows students to teach, study and balance their educational and personal lives while earning a master’s degree. Our program is aligned and fully accredited for Instructional I certification through the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE).
Also offering PreK through 12th grade certification is our 42-credit Master of Education in Special Education program. This program is designed for candidates who hold a bachelor's degree and are seeking an initial teaching certification in special education. Like our M.A. in special education degree, this program is aligned and fully accredited for Instructional I certification through PDE.
What makes Point Park’s special education program unique?
In 2013, PDE eliminated the option of a person obtaining a stand-alone special education certification in favor of requiring that a person must first be certified in a content area/grade bands and then can add special education certification onto that existing certification. In 2018, Act 82 was enacted where first-time applicants for special education certification will be issued special education PreK through 12th grade certificates as of Jan. 1, 2022.
At Point Park University, we have redesigned our curriculum/coursework so that teacher candidates will be able to meet the new certification requirements. Teachers who were once limited to a PreK through eighth grade or seventh grade through 12th grade certification will now be able to teach PreK through 12th grade.
Also, we have added a Secondary Transition course that will be blended into the curriculum. In addition, because classrooms today are rich with diversity, Point Park has added a course on culturally responsive schools. Depending on the program that the teacher candidate enters, there will either be a culminating Student Teaching Practicum or a Practicum course designed for field experiences in special education classrooms.
Our School of Education faculty who teach special education courses hold expertise in the field and have held numerous positions as special educators. These experiences our faculty members bring to the classrooms adds to the overall collegiate experience for our students. Additionally, our faculty does a great job at providing specific feedback, additional resources and other support to our teacher candidates throughout their time in the program.
How will special education graduates broaden their career options?
In United States schools, approximately 13 percent of students require special education services and the overall number of students with disabilities is increasing each year. Students with disabilities require specially-designed instruction, accommodations and modifications to be included in public schools in order to meet the Free and Appropriate Public Education requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. A special educator is trained to have the expertise to work with this unique population of students.
With a master's degree in special education and a teaching certification, teachers can hold positions such as special education teacher, substitute teacher, teacher assistant or case manager in a variety of settings including public schools, private licensed facilities, private schools, special education centers, mental health facilities, hospitals, residential therapeutic camps, sheltered workshops and nonprofits. Also, special educators with master's degrees can add administrative certifications or endorsements to add to the variety of job opportunities available to them.