2015-2016 Course Catalog 
    Jun 20, 2018  
2015-2016 Course Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Special Education, M.A.

Also see

Early Childhood Education/Special Education, M.A.  
Autism and Applied Behavior Analysis, M.S.  
Special Education Cross-Endorsement (Graduate)  (non-degree)
Graduate Teacher Licensure in Special Education K-12  


The Department of Special Education prepares highly effective practitioners whose work is grounded in current research, theory, and evidence-based practice. This is accomplished through close faculty mentorship, rigorous coursework, and supervised fieldwork. Candidates develop professional skills and dispositions to effect positive change for students with specialized learning needs.


  • Special Education focus
  • Special Education with Teacher Licensure
  • Special Education with Cross-Endorsement

Program Outcomes

The student will:

  • Be a critical thinker and effective problem solver who is concerned with the social, emotional, and intellectual issues of all children and adolescents in contemporary educational settings
  • Apply advanced pedagogy in curriculum, instruction, and assessment to engage all students in reaching their potential as people and as learners
  • Develop the capacity to influence and advance positive change for students, professionals, and the profession in a complex global society

Acceptance Requirements

  1. Graduate admission application and nonrefundable admission fee
  2. A conferred bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution
  3. A minimum cumulative undergraduate GPA of 2.5; cumulative GPA of 2.67 for teacher licensure
  4. Two sealed official transcripts of all undergraduate work and any prior graduate work
  5. Two letters of recommendation from individuals who can attest to the candidate's suitability as a prospective teacher or to work with children and families, accompanied by the Graduate School's cover form on the University website
    Note: Recommendations must be from individuals who are not family members, personal friends, or members of the USJ School of Education
  6. Immunization record using the Graduate School form on the University website
  7. A planned program of study developed by the candidate and the faculty advisor, approved by the department chair

Continuation Requirements

Students must earn a grade of B or better after completing their first six graduate credits to continue in a program in the School of Education. Only courses with a B or better at any point in the program will be accepted as graduate work. After the first six credits, a course with less than a B may be repeated only one time.

There are additional requirements for acceptance into a Graduate Teacher Licensure  program.

Exit Requirements

Eligible candidates for the Master of Arts degree take a comprehensive exam in February or July. The application for the comprehensive exam is available from the School of Education and the School of Graduate and Professional Studies. It is the candidate's responsibility to obtain his/her faculty advisor's signature and to submit the application to the office manager of the School of Education by the due date.

Comprehensive Exam

All students must pass a written comprehensive examination after having completed all of Special Education courses and 80% of their planned program, except for Special Education with Teacher Licensure, which requires 100% completion of the planned program.

Special Education Focus

This option is open to general and special educators who seek a master's degree and wish flexibility in creating a program of study that reflects their professional interests. Three courses are required and the remaining 7 courses selected to complete the planned program of study are selected in collaboration with an advisor.

Areas of focus within special education include: 

  • Reading and writing disabilities
  • Inclusion
  • Social-emotional learning
  • Autism

All courses in special education use assessment to inform instruction, consistent with a response to intervention framework. Advanced coursework provides additional opportunities for focus, including courses in technology and working with culturally and linguistically diverse learners.


May be satisfied by previous coursework or documentation of  passing Foundations of Reading Exam-090

Electives (15 credits)

Special Education with Teacher Licensure

This program is designed for candidates who want a master of arts in Special Education with initial Special Education teacher licensure. Candidates interested in teaching at the elementary level are encouraged to pass the Praxis II tests in elementary education. To become recognized as "highly qualified" in a content area, special education teachers at the middle and secondary levels need to have a bachelor's degree or a master's degree (typically 30 credits) in Mathematics, English, or a science, or pass the Praxis II test in one of these content areas.

Special Education with Cross-Endorsement

This option is available for licensed teachers interested in obtaining an M.A. degree while simultaneously working towards a cross-endorsement in Comprehensive Special Education (K-12), license #165. Courses that fulfill degree requirements have been approved by the state. The courses address competencies needed to meet the academic and social learning needs of K-12 students who have disabilities.

Licensed candidates seeking a cross-endorsement in Special Education must apply directly to the Connecticut State Department of Education, which has the exclusive authority to issue cross-endorsements. A state consultant will review your transcripts and provide a written response. This letter and a copy of the initial teaching license are required to apply. You must meet with an advisor in Special Education and complete a planned program of study, which must include the cross-endorsement licensure requirements outlined in the state education department's review.

Following successful completion of all coursework, student teaching, and Praxis II, you will apply directly to the state education department for the endorsement.

Licensed teachers seeking cross-endorsement in Special Education have the option to complete the required summer practica (no less than 5 weeks per practica). Two summer practica are required, but the state has granted a single practica waiver if you have successfully completed an on-campus section of SPEC 542 - Reading Disabilities: Connecting Assessment and Instruction  or SPEC 554 - Research-Based Math Interventions . They include field-embedded, faculty supervised experience.

The state education department's missing credentials letter will be used to select courses that simultaneously count toward cross-endorsement and a master's degree. These courses may be completed initially to expedite cross-endorsement. This M.A. requires 30 credits and does not include practica.



This is a non-degree, graduate credit-bearing program for licensed teachers who do not want a formal master's degree program. Coursework fulfills specific requirements provided by the Connecticut State Department of Education for a Comprehensive Special Education (K-12) license, #165.
Benefits of program:

  • No need for matriculation to the graduate school
  • Customized, value-added advisement. Licensed teachers select courses that simultaneously fulfill requirements, while focusing on their own professional interests in reading, writing, inclusion, autism or social-emotional learning
  • Required student teaching practica can be taken during the summer with two different exceptionalities, without interruption to school year employment

Application Requirements:

  • A copy of the written response from the state education department consultant, based on an individual transcript review, with additional requirements needed for cross endorsement
  • A copy of current teaching license
  • Application to student teach in summer is required by February 1 of that year. For student teaching, you must have completed all credits required by the state in the identified regulatory areas.

Student Teaching:

  • Practica is open only to candidates who have completed at least 12 graduate credits at USJ approved for cross-endorsement
  • To student teach in the summer, you must apply by February 1

Other Opportunities In Education


Licensed teachers who wish to add an additional area of endorsement to their teaching credentials have several options. Only the Connecticut State Department of Education can determine required coursework. To pursue cross-endorsement, please contact the Connecticut Department of Education, Bureau of Educator Preparation and Licensure, to obtain a list of required courses for the desired cross-endorsement.

Laboratory Schools

The School of Education benefits from two laboratory schools. The Gengras Center, an on campus school for students with significant disabilities, and the School for Young Children, an early childhood school nearby, offer opportunities for on-site observations, field work, practicum, internships and course-related applications.

Kappa Delta Pi Honor Society

Kappa Delta Pi International Honor Society in Education has been active at USJ since 2009. The society has a long-standing commitment to "recognizing excellence and fostering mutual cooperative, support, and professional growth for educational professionals." Letters of invitation are sent in February to students eligible for membership informing them of a March orientation meeting and an initiation ceremony in the spring.


The School of Education has partnerships with several school districts and agencies, which provide candidates the opportunity to interact with K-12 students under faculty supervision. Longstanding partnerships include: Bloomfield School District, Connecticut Department of Children and Family Services, and West Hartford Schools. Candidates are provided authentic opportunities to assess, teach and collaborate with others.


Literacy Internship

This internship is for licensed teachers. Selected interns, with a minimum GPA of 3.25, receive 15-30 credits of coursework plus a stipend for working in a school district as a reading tutor for up to two years. The program places an emphasis on developing candidates' reading intervention skills. This program is directed by the teacher licensure officer. Also see Education - Literacy Internship, M.A.  for details.

Internship in Pre K-12 Schools

The University of Saint Joseph provides opportunities for students completing graduate studies or licensure courses to serve as interns in public school classrooms during the school year. The participating schools provide 18 graduate credits that the intern may apply to tuition costs at the University of Saint Joseph. In addition, a small stipend is provided for books and materials each semester. Contact the director of student teaching and clinical experiences for more information.