Online MS in Special Education (Instruction)

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This 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. Special education (SPED) certified teachers are in high demand in both inclusive and more restrictive classrooms.

This program is only for individuals holding valid teaching certification. Upon completion of this program, a student receives a Master of Science in Special Education degree and is eligible to apply to ACSI for a Special Education certificate if additional ACSI requirements are met.

Program Highlights

  • Program can be started in any semester and completed in as few as seven semesters, including two summers.
  • PA Special Education Certification available for qualified individuals; certification from other states may be possible. See below for details.
  • 50% tuition discount for educators working in Christian schools.
  • Field experience integrated into multiple courses.
  • 39 total credits.
  • Advance standing may be granted for Bible/theology credits.
Applied Behavioral Analysis Certificate

Program Curriculum

Semester 39 TOTAL CREDITS:
30 Required + 3 Elective + 6 Bible/Theology
Fall #1 SPE 661 Foundations of Special Education
SPE 721 ABA for Autism and Other Disabilities I
Spring #1 SPE 723 Interventions for Autism/Other Disabilities
SPE 764 Teaching Children with Lower Incidence Disabilities
Summer #1 SPE 714 Diagnosis & Evaluation of Exceptional Learner
SPE Elective1
 Fall #2 SPE 724 Single Subject Research
SPE 763 Teaching Children with Higher Incidence Disabilities
Spring #2 SPE 761 Inclusionary Practices
SPE 762 Developmental and Diagnostic Reading Interventions
Summer #2 THE 601 Overview of Christian Theology
Fall #3 BIB 621 Biblical Integration for Educators
EDU 781 Teaching Practicum (Certification Track only; 4-week student teaching)
SPE 793 Special Education Research Project (Non-Certification Track only)
1Certification Track: Select SPE 791 Special Education Practicum I (1 credit) and SPE 792 Special Education Practicum II (2 credits); must first apply; discuss with advisor which semester to take SPE 791 and SPE 792.

Tracks and Options

Special Education Certification Track

  • Individuals holding PA-issued teaching certification are also eligible for PK-8 or 7-12 PA Special Education certification if the following certification coursework is also completed: (1) fulfill the 3 elective credits through two practicum courses, SPE 791 and SPE 792 and (2) complete EDU 781 rather than SPE 793. The Special Education PECT modules for the appropriate grade band must also be passed.
  • Teachers certified by another state are not eligible for PA Special Education Certification. However, if all coursework necessary for state certification is completed, they may qualify to meet their state’s special education certification requirements but are advised to check with their state’s Department of Education.
  • Qualifying teaching experience may reduce the number of practicum hours required per University approval
  • Students not residing within an hour from the Langhorne campus and intending to meet all certification coursework requirements should first ensure they are able to fulfill additional placement criteria required for SPE 791, SPE 792, and EDU 781.

Non-Certification Track

  • Complete the 3 elective credits through Special Education or Educational Technology courses (except SPE 791 or SPE 792).
  • Select SPE 793 rather than EDU 781.

Note: Completion of this program leads to a document of completion but does not lead to Special Education certification other than the aforementioned certification from PA or other states or ACSI certificate for eligible individuals.

Option to fulfill Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) coursework requirements

  • Additional ABA courses required: SPE 722, SPE 725, SPE 726 (1 credit), SPE 727 (2 credits), and SPE 728.
  • Students in Special Education Certification Track: Add 12 credits to complete the additional ABA courses.
  • Students in Non-Certification Track: Apply the 3 elective credits and add 9 credits to complete the additional ABA courses.
  • Additional requirements must be met for BCBA exam eligibility. See for details.


  • To enter the program, the candidate will:
    • Apply and complete Cairn University’s Graduate Program enrollment process
    • Hold a bachelor’s degree (with a cumulative GPA of 3.0) from an accredited undergraduate institution and submit proof in the form of official transcripts
    • Hold valid teaching certification and submit acceptable proof including state or government-issued teaching certification or ASCI teaching certificate. Other teaching certificates are subject to University evaluation
  • To complete the program, the candidate will:
    • Successfully complete all required coursework with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0
    • If Special Education Certification Track, successfully complete all practicums and student teaching

For more information about the online MS in Special Education degree program, contact Kristina O’Connell, Admissions Counselor, at

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