Study Format

  • Online
  • On Campus

Program Length

  • 30 Credit Hours
  • 12 or 24 Months

Application Deadlines

Aug, 19

Domestic Students

Fall 2020 Completed File Due. Classes start August 24, 2020.

Jul, 06

International Students

Fall 2020 Completed File Due. Classes start August 24, 2020.


The Master of Arts Degree in Special Education is designed for the licensed educator who desires to become an accomplished special education teacher as well as earn an Illinois* LBS1 endorsement. This program is designed to provide teachers interested in special education the knowledge and skills to work in a continuum of special education services (e.g., self-contained through inclusive). Graduates will be prepared to demonstrate competency and proficiency as a special education teacher regarding Individualized General Curriculum and Individualized Independence Curriculum (CEC, 2015). Emphasis on methods, assistive technology, and assessment for the following learners with disabilities' access needs includes: learning disabilities, social/emotional disabilities (internationally known as, and otherwise known as, emotional/behavioral disorders), intellectual disabilities (internationally known and formerly known as, mental retardation), physical disabilities, autism spectrum, multiple disabilities, other health impairment, and traumatic brain injury. This program provides an LBS1 endorsement that matches the grade level on the student’s existing Illinois* Professional Educator’s License (PEL).

*The LBS1 Endorsement requires Illinois licensure. Students with out-of-state licensure are welcome to enroll in the MA Special Education program, but are not eligible for the Illinois LBS1 Endorsement. Questions regarding reciprocity by state should be directed towards the student’s state of licensure, or ISBE.net (Illinois State Board of Education).

Learning Objectives

This program will enable candidates to:

  • Build and strengthen a theoretical understanding of the foundations of special education.
  • Increase knowledge and skills in evidenced-based assessment methods, curriculum, instructional design and practice.
  • Examine issues of the continuum of special education services, inclusion and least restrictive environment, special education educational systems, and special education policy and law.
  • Apply strategies and skills developed in coursework through practicum experiences.
  • Conduct research to answer questions related to special education practices and successfully meeting the needs of all learners.

Program Requirements

  • Two years of teaching acquired prior to completion of the graduate program 
  • Hold a valid initial or existing Professional Teaching License (PEL)
  • Completion of 30 credit hours of course work 

Endorsement Process

Students must pass the Illinois Content Area Test for Special Education (Learning Behavior Specialist 1 Test 155). Students apply for endorsement through the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) via their Regional Office of Education. ISBE Form 73-52, official transcripts, and any fees must be submitted to the state before the endorsement is given. This endorsement allows the endorsement holder to teach Special Education students within the age and grade limits of the new ISBE grade level regulations established in 2014 It is recommended that students take and pass the LBS1 test prior to beginning Practicum 1. 

Note: successful completion of the MA in Special Education provides an LBS1 endorsement which matches the grade level on the student’s existing Professional Educator’s License (PEL).


Program Information

The first six courses fulfill the State of Illinois requirement for LBS 1 Special Education endorsement*

Psychology and Methods of Teaching the Exceptional Learner*

Identification of characteristics of exceptional learners, applicable laws and policies, educational program development based on empirically-supported instructional techniques, assessment and record-keeping procedures, and transition planning.  Includes 10 hours of field experience.

Characteristics and Learning Needs of Students with Academic and Physical Challenges*

This course is designed to identify the characteristics of individuals ages 3-21 with moderate and severe developmental, physical and multiple disabilities.  The course will examine the impact of language disorders, processing deficits, and behavioral/emotional and sensory disabilities on the development of individuals with cognitive and physical disabilities.  The course will examine opportunities to support learning social, personal daily living, and vocational needs of students. Includes 10 hours of field experience.

Instructional Strategies for Students with Academic and Physical Challenges*

This course is designed to examine the curriculum, instruction and materials for teaching students with moderate and severe developmental disabilities and students with physical disabilities.  The course will also examine strategies for activities of daily living and the use of adaptive technology.  Includes 10 hours of field experience.

Characteristics and Learning Needs of Students with Learning and Behavioral Disorders*

This course is designed to identify the characteristics of individuals ages 3-21 with specific learning disabilities and emotional disabilities.  The impact of characteristics on the cognitive, academic, language, and social development of individuals will be examined.  Includes 10 hours of field experience.

Instructional Strategies for Students with Learning and Behavioral Disorders*

This course is designed to examine the organization and implementation of curriculum, materials and management to facilitate acquisition, maintenance, and generalization of skills for students with learning disabilities.  The course also examines the organization of the classroom and school environment for teaching and facilitating social, behavioral and emotional needs of students with emotional disorders.  Also included are instructional planning and design, instructional and community goals. Includes 10 hours of field experience.

Curriculum-Based and Educational Measurement of Exceptional Learners*

This course is designed to examine the diagnostic procedures that guide instruction of exceptional learners within the least restrictive environment.  The course will also include use and analysis of standardized and curriculum based assessment and assessment techniques to support the learning of students.  Includes 10 hours of field experience.

Assistive Technology Principles and Practices

This course will address the use of assistive technology (AT) within a teaching and learning environment. It will present research and trending developments on how specific technologies address the academic and access needs of individuals with cultural/linguistic, sensory, social, emotional, cognitive, and physical disabilities. Topics include defining and differentiating assistive and educational technologies; identifying the legislative policies connected with such technologies; exploring ethical and legal ramifications of assistive technology usage; and collaboration and implementation of assistive technology-enhanced materials and teaching/learning opportunities for all learners.

Research in Education

Principles of action research. Focus on development of basic action research skills for improved teacher practice. Skills for interpreting published research are also emphasized.

 

Capstone Experience

Special Education Practicum 1: Content Area Learning and School Collaboration

This practicum experience focuses on effective teaching practices for students with learning and emotional disorders, and will occur in one of the following school settings: general education classroom, special education classroom, or resource room. It is designed to provide educators with opportunities to demonstrate effective collaborative practices, teaching strategies, assessment practices, progress monitoring techniques, behavior management practices. Includes 20 practicum hours.

Special Education Practicum 2: Content Area Learning and Community Collaboration

This practicum focuses on effective teaching practices for students with academic and physical challenges and will take place in one of the following settings: elementary or high school, therapeutic day school, residential school/facility, homebound instruction, or hospital or treatment facility. Educators will spend four weeks serving the needs of students with physical disabilities, and four weeks serving students with academic challenges including autism, traumatic brain injury, and intellectual disabilities. It is designed to provide educators will opportunities to demonstrate effective collaborative practices, teaching strategies, and assessment and progress monitoring techniques for individual or small groups of students with physical and academic challenges. Includes 20 practicum hours.

Seminar in Higher Education (EDU 6015)

In addition to the base program curriculum, international students attending face-to-face classes on the CUC campus are required to take the Seminar in Higher Education, a 3-credit course.

Course Description

This course will serve as an introduction to the U.S.-based higher education learning environment. Students will work to understand Concordia University Chicago’s academic conventions, technological systems and communication culture while developing English grammar, reading, writing, speaking and listening skills.

The Seminar in Higher Education is an excellent opportunity for students to further develop critical skills to help them to be successful in their academic program. This 3-credit course is mandatory for international students attending face-to-face classes on the CUC campus. 

Course Objectives

  • Developing knowledge about local and academic culture
  • Building grammar, reading, writing, speaking and listening skills
  • Conducting graduate-level research with the use of electronic and library resources
  • Developing note-taking strategies for coursework
  • Reflecting on the U.S.-based education system

Academic support for work in students’ current coursework will also be provided during or after class. Guest speakers include representatives from the campus library, writing center and technology services.

Student feedback for the Seminar in Higher Education

  • After taking the Seminar, I have the ability to perform more professionally in my assignments.

  • The instructor was very dynamic and a good listener. He gave feedback and made sure all the students understood.

  • The hands-on activities after the lessons helped my learning experience.

  • The professor truly cares for the students. He helps students individually and encourages us to support our peers.


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