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What Is an MSE in Special Education Degree?

Some teachers who work in general education classrooms find great satisfaction working with students who have exceptional needs. Some of these students struggle to keep up with their classmates; some learn more slowly or in a different way. When you earn a Master of Science in Education — Special Education, you will be well-prepared to help them succeed as you meet their academic, social and physical needs at school.

What Can I do With This Degree?

Educational systems and all levels of government are recognizing the need to accommodate students with needs that cannot be met in the general education setting. These students may have a condition or disorder that prevents them from accessing information and ideas the way their peers do. Perhaps a physical disability requires that a student have special equipment or additional time to succeed academically. In addition, students with behavior disorders often need supportive adult assistance to succeed at grade-level.

These students often learn best in smaller groups that target the specific needs of each one. Accommodating students with severe disabilities is often successful only in one-on-one settings. And all of these situations require skilled teachers.

Teachers with a master’s degree in special education are in high demand. Resource teachers provide support services to students in the general education classroom who need just a little extra attention. But students with more serious learning disabilities or behavior disorders do much better in a self-contained classroom that serves a small group. In some districts, interventionists work with small groups of students struggling in a very specific reading or math skill. School administrators often select these interventionists because of their training in special education.

What Will I Learn?

Qualifying for certification as a special education teacher requires intensive study. The University of Wisconsin-Superior designed the Master of Science Education — Special Education degree to make sure you are well-prepared. Below are three types of courses you’ll take in the online program.

1. Core Courses

There are three core courses in MSE special education online program. The first explores the needs and rights of the exceptional learner. The second investigates how behaviors impact learning and what can be done to help students with behavior disorders. The third course covers how to work with families and community agencies, how to help students transition from school to school, and how to help students and families transition out of the services provided by the public school systems.

2. Method Courses

Students are required to take four method courses. Two of them are dedicated to the skills and strategies necessary to reach students with challenges in reading and math. One course includes observing and researching how teaching materials and curriculum are adapted to meet the needs of students with mild to severe learning disabilities. The fourth class focuses on managing a classroom or caseload and collaborating with all of the stakeholders in the student’s life.

3. Certification Courses

Finally, there are two courses required for certification. One is the study and evaluation of assessments used to accurately identify students with special needs. The other is successful completion of a specific number of field-based hours teaching students with mild to severe needs.

Candidates for this master’s program must also complete a single-subject action research project, which counts as three credit hours.

How Long Does It Take to Complete This Program?

Candidates can complete all of the coursework required to earn an online Master of Science in Education — Special Education degree in as few as 12 months. Due to the online nature of the program, graduate students can work at their own pace and continue to teach full-time in their current positions. In addition, the multiple start-date calendar allows students to begin the program at several times throughout the year.

Highly qualified special education teachers are in demand. The number of students that need special attention, whether just a nudge or an entire day of support, is growing every year. When you earn a degree like the Master of Science in Education — Special Education from the UW-Superior, a whole new world of possibilities will open up to you.

Learn more about the UW-Superior online MSE Special Education program.


USA Today: Special Education Teacher Shortage Creates Opportunity for Students

U.S. Department of Education: Teacher Shortage Areas Nationwide Listing 1990-1991 through 2016-2017

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