Special Education

Helping those who need it the most

Do you dream of making a difference in the lives of young people? Make it a reality with an M.A.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction with a concentration in Special Education. Our program focuses on integrating theory, research and practice so that in one year, you’ll be ready to step into the classroom with the knowledge, skills and strategies to confidently teach students with varying disabilities (e.g., learning disabilities, emotional disabilities, intellectual disabilities, attention deficit hyperactivity disorders, autism spectrum disorders).

This program is designed as a full-time, 12-month (summer, fall, spring) program in which students complete all requirements as a cohort. This model provides for an intensive and rewarding experience and creates a strong network of support among students, faculty, cooperating teachers and university supervisors. Part-time options for program completion are also available.

Note: Applications for full-time study are considered with the January 15th application deadline date, and applications for part-time study are considered with the October 1 and January 15th deadline dates.


Graduate students in the Special Education complete a 37-semester hour program that includes educational foundations course work, methods courses in elementary school subject fields, and student teaching experiences. Visit the M.A.Ed. Special Education Program of Studies for course names and sequence. 

Field Experiences

In addition to your coursework, you will spend time in real classrooms throughout the program:

Fall and spring student teaching experiences: You’ll be placed in local schools with cooperating teacher mentors to complete an observation and interaction practicum followed by five weeks of full-time student teaching in both fall and spring semesters One semester you’ll be placed in an elementary setting; the next semester in a secondary school. Coursework is linked to the field experiences, with faculty supporting students as they become immersed in the classroom. The full-time teaching internships provide an intensive and critical component of your preparation as a special educator.

Licensure Requirements

Students who wish to teach Special Education in public schools must have a state license to do so. To be eligible for a state license, students must successfully complete a baccalaureate degree in arts and sciences, elementary education, or secondary education, complete the course requirements of the Special Education program, pass all testing requirements, and complete the specific subject area requirements required by the state. Students who are accepted into the M.A.Ed. program with undergraduate program deficiencies must complete course work to remove these deficiencies before they are eligible for licensure.


  • Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators Test: Reading, Writing and Mathematics or appropriate substitution
  • Virginia Communication and Literacy Assessment (VCLA)
  • Reading for Virginia Educators (RVE)

Virginia License

First Aid, CPR and AED Training

Students seeking licensure in Virginia will need to complete training in emergency first aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and the use of automated external defibrillators.  Students will need to provide documentation of completion of this training, which is usually an official card.  Training courses are offered by the American Red Cross and the American Heart Association.

Special Education Program Contact

[[vamcla, Ginnie McLaughlin]]
Chancellor Professor
(757) 221-2335

Download Program Fast Facts (PDF)