Special Education (MA)


2014-2015 GRADUATE STUDIES CATALOG
Effective 1 June 2014 through 31 May 2015

Please see the Graduate Catalog Archives for PDF versions of past catalogs.

This program offered by School of Education

Program Description

The master of arts (MA) program with a major in special education provides practicing educators, related professionals and other qualified individuals opportunities to study and research special education practices and services. Current issues and emerging trends are explored on a global level, with a strong focus on social justice and ethical themes at the local, national and or international level. The program emphasizes developmentally oriented theory and research in the areas of cognitive and socio-emotional development, and students are expected to use this knowledge to design and promote evidence-based interventions and instructional practices to enhance pupil learning, Candidates explore opportunities for collaboration and advocacy within their educational settings that are designed to improve the quality of life of individuals with disabilities in general. The program of study recognizes the rapidly changing dimensions of special education and promotes the philosophy of integrated and inclusive learning experiences for all children and youth.

The program offers students opportunities to individualize professional development by specializing in unique area of study. The emphasis areas are designed to provide flexibility within a structured sequence of coursework. Students may choose to specialize in inclusive education, , mild/moderate disabilities, severe disabilities, emotional & behavioral disorders, or Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports (PBIS). These emphases are designed to:

  • promote efforts to advocate for inclusive education for persons with disabilities.
  • offer practicing educators the learning opportunities that support teaching students with mild/moderate or severe developmental disabilities.
  • lead to increased understanding of specific educational disabilities in relation to the identification, assessment and evidence-based interventions.

Opportunities for practicing special educators seeking to demonstrate competency in core academic subjects, as needed for the “highly qualified” designation, may be designed individually with an academic advisor.

The master of arts in special education program does not lead to initial certification in special education. For more information about initial certification in special education (Mild/Moderate Disabilities), please refer to the Teacher Certification section under the MAT Mild/Moderate Disabilities section in the catalog.

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Learning Outcomes

Graduates of this program are able to:

    • analyze current issues and trends in special education on a global level.
    • promote legal and ethical policy and practice that supports high quality education in inclusive settings (as is appropriate to the individual student’s needs) and improves outcomes for individuals with disabilities, at a local, national, and international level.
    • actively design and improve effective, evidence-based instructional, curricular, and classroom management programs on an individual, school-wide, and systems level, based on a thorough understanding of up-to-date research in cognitive, social and emotional development of students with disabilities.
    • use scientifically-based methodology to research, evaluate and improve curriculum, instruction and interventions for students with disabilities.
    • use valid tools to evaluate progress of pupils in the general education curriculum and towards IEP goals.
    • advocate for and safeguard the human and civil rights of individuals with disabilities and their families, engage in professional and ethical practices and behavior, reflect on individual strengths and weaknesses as professionals, and pursue continuing professional development to refine skills and expertise in teaching and learning.
    • collaborate with families, colleagues and the community to improve programs and services.

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Program Curriculum

The MA special education majors are required to complete a minimum of 33 credit hours, 24 of which must be in special education. Students considering graduate study at the doctoral level are encouraged to complete six (6) credits of field research, and complete a thesis, for a program total of 36 credit hours.

Required Coursework:

The following courses are required, with a minimum grade of B- in each course, for all special education majors:

Global Citizenship, Teacher Leadership, and Policy

  • SPED 5318 Global Issues in Special Education (3 hours)

Program Development and Organization

  • SPED 5500 Socio-emotional Development: Children with Special Needs* (3 hours)
  • SPED 5660 Cognitive Development: Children with Special Needs* (3 hours)
  • Graduate level (5000) coursework (9 hours)

Assessment and Evaluation

One course from the following list:

  • SPED 5413 Assessment of Learning and Learning Problems (3 hours)
  • SPED 5830 Evaluation (3 hours)

Other emphasis courses in assessment may substitute for this requirement.

Professional and Ethical Practice

One course from the following list:

  • SPED 5270 Advocating for Persons with Disabilities (3 hours)
  • SPED 5330 Legal Issues in Special Education (3 hours)
  • SPED 5319 Ethics and Disabilities (3 hours)

Collaborative Practice

One course from the following list:

  • SPED 5880 Integrating Resources: Community, School, and Family (3 hours)
  • SPED 5290 Collaboration and Cooperative Teaching Research and Inquiry (3 hours)
  • EDUC 5080 Planning for the Inclusive Classroom (3 hours)
    (may not be used for the emphasis in Inclusive Education)
  • SPED 5704 PBIS/Systems Leadership: Staff Development & Coaching (3 hours)

Research and Inquiry

  • SPED 5800 Applied Research Methods (3 hours)
  • SPED 6000 Applied Field Research (3 hours)
    or SPED 6250 Thesis (for graduate students interested in doctoral studies) (6 hours)

Total coursework:  33 hours

* Required coursework from Webster University only

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Emphasis in Emotional and Behavioral Disorders

The emphasis area in emotional and behavioral disorders, in partnership with a local children’s residential treatment center, is designed for school-based mental health specialists, practicing teachers, counselors and other related services professionals, and advocates who are interested in expanding their expertise in working with children who require specialized, targeted, or one-to-one services. It offers an advanced program of study in the identification, assessment and evaluation, psycho-educational intervention and instruction of children and youth with severe emotional and behavioral disorders (both internalizing and externalizing).

The following coursework is required for an emphasis in emotional and behavioral disorders:

  • SPED 5315 Assessment, Evaluation, and Diagnosis of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders**
    or SPED 5413 Assessment of Learning and Learning Problems (3 hours)

Three of the following:

  • SPED 5314 Children and Youth with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders (3 hours)
  • SPED 5316 Instructional Methods for Students with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders (3 hours)
  • SPED 5250 Behavior Management for Children with Special Needs (3 hours)
  • SPED 5317 Therapeutic Interventions for Disturbed Students (3 hours)
  • SPED 5350 Enhancing Social Competency in Children with Special Needs (3 hours)
  • SPED 5331 Working with Difficult Students  (3 hours)
  • SPED 5220 Topics in Special Education (topic appropriate to emphasis) (3 hours)
  • SPED 5280 Attention Deficit Disorder (3 hours)
  • SPED 5702 Secondary Prevention: Targeted Group Interventions (3 hours)
  • SPED 5703 Applying PBIS: Functional Behavior Assessment/ and Behavior Support Planning/Implementation (3 hours)

** Core course requirement or substitute

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Emphasis in Inclusive Education

The emphasis in inclusive education is designed to provide inclusion facilitators, regular and special educators at the preschool, elementary, and secondary levels, and other qualified individuals with the knowledge base, practical applications, and strategies necessary for implementing a successful inclusive education program appropriate to the diverse needs of students in today's regular classroom. This emphasis enables practicing teachers to investigate issues and examine strategies that relate to the education of all students, regardless of ability, in their local school.

The following courses are required for the area of emphasis in inclusive education:

  • EDUC 5080 Planning for the Inclusive Classroom (3 hours)
  • EDUC 5090 Curricular and Instructional Adaptations (3 hours)
  • One SPED 5000 course (3 hours)

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Emphasis in Mild/Moderate Disabilities

The emphasis in mild/moderate disabilities is intended for certified educators who are interested in developing expertise in teaching students with mild/moderate (cross-categorical) disabilities. While the emphasis does not lead to an initial teacher certificate in Mild/Moderate Disabilities, the program of study offers currently certified teachers an opportunity to acquire the foundational knowledge in preparation for an endorsement in Mild/Moderate Disabilities: Cross-Categorical.

The following coursework is required for an emphasis in mild/moderate disabilities:

  • SPED 5030 Students with Mild/Moderate Disabilities (3 hours)
  • SPED 5240 Psycho-educational Assessment I** (3 hours)
    (may substitute for SPED 5413)
  • SPED 5380 Methods for Students with Mild/Moderate Disabilities I (3 hours)

One course from:

  • SPED 5250 Behavior Management for Children with Special Needs (3 hours)
  • SPED 5010 Methods of Teaching Mathematics for Disabled Learners (3 hours)
  • SPED 5040 Analysis and Correction of Reading Disabilities (3 hours)
  • SPED 5260 Career Preparation for Students with Special Needs (3 hours)
  • SPED 5300 Communicating with Families and Disabled Persons (3 hours)
  • SPED 5050 Language Development for Exceptional Students (3 hours)
  • SPED 5020 Assistive Technology for Students with Special Needs (2-3 hours)
  • SPED 5381 Methods for Students with Mild/Moderate Disabilities II (3 hours)
  • EDUC 5090 Curricular and Instructional Adaptations (3 hours)
  • SPED 5320 Learning Strategies: A Cognitive Approach to Exceptional Learners (3 hours)

** Core course requirement or substitute

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Emphasis in Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS)

The following coursework is required for an emphasis in PBIS:

  • SPED 5700 School-Based Prevention/Intervention: RtI and PBIS (3 hours)
  • SPED 5701 Universal School-Wide PBIS** (3 hours)
    (may substitute for SPED 5413)
  • SPED 5702 Secondary Prevention: Targeted Group Interventions (3 hours)
  • SPED 5703 Applying PBIS: Functional Behavior Assessment and Behavior Support Planning (3 hours)

** Core course requirement or substitute

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Emphasis/Certification Endorsement in Severe Developmental Disabilities

The emphasis in severe developmental disabilities offers a concentrated program of study in the assessment and instruction of children and youth with severe developmental disabilities. The program builds on the knowledge base of special educators who are qualified to teach students with mild and moderate disabilities, and extends the capabilities of special educators to provide individualized and appropriate educational opportunities to all children.

In order to apply for the advanced certification endorsement program in severe developmental disabilities, the applicant must hold a valid Missouri Teacher’s Certificate in Mild/Moderate: Learning Disabilities, Mental Retardation, Behavior Disorders, Physical and Other Health Impairments, or Cross-Categorical Disabilities.

The following courses are required for an emphasis in Severe Developmental Disabilities:

  • SPED 5311 Assessment of Functional Skills for Students with Severe Developmental Disabilities** (3 hours)
    (may substitute for SPED 5413) 
  • SPED 5312 Curriculum and Methods of Teaching Students with Severe Developmental Disabilities (3 hours)
  • SPED 5313 Augmentative and Alternative Communication for Students with SDD (3 hours)
  • SPED 5090 Special Education Practicum: Severe Developmental Disabilities (3 hours)

** Core course requirement or substitute

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Admission

Students who are interested in applying to this degree program should also see the Admission Section of this catalog for general requirements.

Admission Requirements

  • Receipt of official transcripts from the baccalaureate granting institution.
  • Undergraduate cumulative GPA of 2.5 or higher.
  • Successful completion of a three-credit course in Psychology of the Exceptional Students, or its equivalent, with a grade of B or better. Students may not use the credits from the Psychology of the Exceptional Students towards graduation requirements for the MA in Special Education.
  • Essay: "Why I Teach". If you do not currently teach, then describe why you want to be a teacher.

Send all required documents to the following address:

Webster University
Office of Admission
470 East Lockwood Avenue
St. Louis, MO 63119-3141

Completed application files will be reviewed by the Department of Multidisciplinary Studies.

Advancement to Candidacy

After completing 9 credit hours within a MA in special education and before twenty one (21) hours, all MA degree-seeking students with a major in special education are required to advance to candidacy. Please refer to the Advancement to Candidacy section in this catalog for other specific guidelines.

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Transfer of Credit

Students may transfer no more than six (6) hours of Webster University 4000 level coursework towards the MA in special education, if the coursework did not apply towards the requirements for another degree. Students may transfer no more than six (6) credits of graduate coursework from another accredited institution of higher learning. Students may apply no more than six (6) credits of SPED 5210/SPED 5410 to satisfy the requirements of the MA. Degree. Requests to transfer credit must be approved by the special education program coordinator.

The course(s) being transferred must meet the following criteria:

  • The course is required to achieve the program goals and is relevant to the student’s major.
  • The course carries graduate credit toward an accredited master’s degree program at the sponsoring institution.
  • The course was not used to fulfill requirements for another degree.
  • The course must carry a grade of A, B, or Credit.
  • The course must have been completed within five years before admission into the program.
  • Courses taken at other colleges or universities after admission to the program and MA In-Service courses ordinarily may not be transferred for credit. Waivers would require the following:
  • Prior approval by an advisor and relevant area coordinator must be granted on “prior permission form” before the course is taken.
  • The course does not duplicate one offered at Webster University. (Note: This does not refer only to courses offered in the current semester, but to any similar course Webster University offers.)
  • The student fills out a Request for Transfer of Credit form (available in the School of Education Office) and submits it, along with an official transcript of the course(s) being requested, to the School of Education Office. When the transfer hours have been approved and processed, the student will be notified.

Students may request approval of the transfer courses at any time after admission to the program. Approved transfer hours are not used in evaluating advancement-to-candidacy or probation and dismissal actions.

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