What To Expect When You’re Getting Your Master’s in Special Education

graduateA career in special education is both challenging and extremely rewarding. In addition to state-level qualifications such as a PA teacher certification, a Masters in Special Education is a vital step on your career path. While requirements and coursework will vary somewhat from school to school, there are certain things a student can expect while studying for their Masters in Special Education (M.Ed.) such as:

What You Will Learn

Because the field of special education is rapidly evolving, a Masters in Special Education will teach you the latest teaching strategies and methodologies. You will learn how to apply these techniques to both your curriculum as a whole and in your classroom on a day to day basis.


There are several prerequisites a student must have before beginning a M.Ed. degree, the first of which is a bachelor’s degree. In some cases, students must also present a certification, such as a PA teacher certification for the state of Pennsylvania. There are four different types of PA teacher certifications including specializations for the visually impaired, the hearing impaired, and the speech-and-language-impaired. The PA teacher certification also includes a standard of good moral character (this is ascertained during the application process).

Other prerequisites usually include:

  • A minimum grade point average.
  • A minimum residence requirement.
  • A time limitation to complete the requirements for the degree.


The coursework undertaken for a M.Ed. involves a wide range of both academic and practical studies. Courses include topics such as special education research, literacy instruction, positive behavior support, classroom management, assistive technology and instructional strategies.

The practical side of M.Ed. coursework includes taking what you have learned through research and studies, and applying it in a real world classroom situation. Supervised practice creating lesson plans and teaching special education students is a fantastic opportunity M.Ed. students experience.

Finally, M.Ed. students must complete a paper and pass a comprehensive exam in order to receive a recommendation for the M.Ed. degree to be conferred.

How Long It Will Take

How long it takes to finish your Masters of Special Education degree depends partially, of course, on how much time you are able to devote to your studies. An M.Ed. can be earned in as little as two to three years but because of time limitations imposed by some schools, it should take no longer than six or seven years total.

Expect the Unexpected

Though you can anticipate which courses you will take and what it might take to complete them, what may come as a surprise is the deep sense of gratification and accomplishment your Masters in Special Education will bring as you make a world of difference in your students’ lives.

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