Master of Arts in Special Education

The Master of Arts (MA) in Special Education is a professional degree that emphasizes research and leadership skills in an individually designed interest area of emphasis in the field of special education. The degree prepares professionals for employment in schools and other public and private agencies serving people with disabilities of all ages. Interest areas within the department provide students with an opportunity to learn from, and participate in, on-going research, demonstration, training, and clinical projects conducted by faculty.

Students pursuing the MA in Special Education may choose one of the following Interest Areas:

The program prepares individuals to provide quality early intervention and early childhood special education to young children, birth through kindergarten, who have been diagnosed with disabilities. Emphasis is placed on providing culturally competent, family-centered services through an interdisciplinary approach. Coursework and field experiences provide opportunities to use evidence-based and developmentally appropriate practices within inclusive infant/toddler and preschool settings/transitional kindergarten/kindergarten. Graduates of our program pursue a variety of jobs including teaching, early intervention, program administration, and non-profit work.

The program prepares individuals seeking teacher certification to work with students who have moderate support needs, including learning disabilities, English language learners with language/learning disabilities, emotional disturbances, speech and language disabilities, autism, visual or auditory processing difficulties, and mild intellectual disabilities. The Mild to Moderate Support Needs program provides instruction and applied experiences in legal issues, psychoeducational assessment, data-based decision making, instructional programming, behavior management, and collaboration and co-teaching among general and special educators. Credential candidates learn to develop close relationships with students and apply specialized techniques in numerous educational settings.

The program prepares teachers using research-based curricula and pedagogy to provide quality educational services to students from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. The program has as its foundation the assumption that special education services for students with disabilities should be implemented in the least restrictive environment. An ecological curricular framework, with a focus on quality of life outcomes, guides all educational activities. Credential candidates in this program must demonstrate their competence in providing quality educational services to students with moderate/severe disabilities using systematic, data-based approaches to instruction and models of curricular adaptation and social belonging. Competencies in interacting effectively with families and in developing educational goals using a transdisciplinary team approach are also essential components of the teacher preparation program. In addition, a three-semester sequence of supervised fieldwork ensures that teacher candidates are able to apply the knowledge and skills acquired through course content and assignments to the instruction of students with moderate/severe disabilities in urban school settings.

The program prepares professionals to teach people of all ages who have visual impairments (including those with multiple disabilities) how to navigate their environment safely and efficiently using a white cane or visual skills. The curriculum includes such things as independent travel in indoor and outdoor environments; sensory and motor development; daily living skills; use of low vision, GPS, and electronic devices in travel. Graduates take jobs in schools, adult rehabilitation centers, or work as private contractors. The Federal government currently lists O&M as an area of personnel shortage. SFSU has a 100% employment rate of its graduates and stipend money is available to help defray tuition costs. Part-time and full-time educational options are available.

The program prepares teachers to provide culturally diverse students from birth to 22 years who are blind or low vision access to core curriculum areas and additional skills needed to participate fully in school, home, and community settings through the school years and in transition to adult living. This includes research-based curricula and pedagogy in such areas as access technology, braille literacy, sensory efficiency skills with an emphasis on functional vision use, independent living skills, career education, and self-determination.