Online MS in Special Education (Instruction)

Complete the MS in Special Education (Instruction) program at Cairn University and fulfill requirements for Pennsylvania Special Education Certification. Candidates who meet additional requirements by the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI) are also eligible to apply for ACSI Certification in Special Education. A non-certification track is also available.

This 42-credit, biblically integrated program equips educators with expert knowledge and best practices to competently engage students with special needs in enriched and meaningful skill development and growth in all areas of life. Professionals with special education certification are in high demand in both inclusive and more restrictive classrooms. This program is designed for individuals already holding or pursuing teaching certification.

Program Distinctives

  • Program can be started in any semester and completed in as few as 7 semesters
  • 50% tuition discount for educators working in Christian schools
  • Field experience integrated into multiple courses
  • Advance standing may be granted for Bible/theology credits
  • Option to complete practicums and preservice teaching in self-located school in candidate’s local region with University-approved arrangement
  • Two tracks as determined by selection of 6 elective credits and an additional course as applicable:
    • Special Education Certification Track
      • Choose one 3-credit Applied Behavior Analysis course (SPE 682, SPE 683, or SPE 684) as an elective.
      • Must complete SPE 791 (1 credit) and SPE 792 (2 credits) practicum courses to fulfill remaining three elective credits
      • Must add EDU 781 Teaching Practicum (6 credits) to the program, resulting in a total of 48 credits
      • Special Education certification eligibility limited to US citizens or individuals intending to become US citizens
    • Non-Special Education Certification Track
      • Select any two ABA courses (SPE 682, SPE 683, or SPE 684) to fulfill 6 elective credits.
      • Practicum courses are optional and can be applied to elective credits.
  • Option to fulfill coursework requirements for the Pennsylvania Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) endorsement and Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA) credential
    • For Special Education Certification Track: Add 2 remaining ABA courses not already selected as electives.
    • For Non-Special Education Certification Track: Add 1 remaining ABA course not already selected as elective.
    • See ASD Endorsement (ABA) Program for more information on these additional credentials.

Program Curriculum

Semester 42 TOTAL CREDITS:
30 Credits of Required Courses + 6 Elective Credits + 6 Bible/Theology Credits
Special Education Certification Track must add EDU 781 (6 credits) for a total of 48 credits
Fall #1

SPE 661 Foundations of Special Education
SPE 681 Behavioral Analysis & Autism Assessment

Spring #1

SPE 764 Teaching Children with Lower Incidence Disabilities
Special Education Elective

Summer #1

SPE 664 Issues in Special Education for School Leaders*
SPE 714 Diagnosis & Evaluation of the Exceptional Learner

 Fall #2

SPE 762 Developmental & Diagnostic Reading Interventions
SPE 763 Teaching Children with Higher Incidence Disabilities

Spring #2

SPE 782 Behavior Measurement and Experimental Design
Special Education Elective

Summer #2

THE 601 Overview of Christian Theology
EDU 781 Teaching Practicum (6 credits; 4 weeks; for Special Education Certification Track only)

Fall #3

SPE 793 Special Education Research Project**
EDU 712 Curriculum Theory/Design/Assessment

Spring #3

BIB 621 Biblical Integration for Educators

* Or SPE 761
** Requires access to classroom/clinical setting with at least one or more clients who are potential research participants

For more information about the online Special Education Certification, contact Luke Gibson, Admissions Counselor, at



Cairn is the official university sponsor of ASCI’s 2017 Professional Development Forums. Learn more and register here.

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