Online MS in Special Education

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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.

At a glance

Program Credits


Standard Completion Time

2.5 yrs

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 (Effective Fall 2019)

Semester 39 TOTAL CREDITS:
30 Required + 3 Elective + 6 Bible/Theology1
Fall #1 SPE 721 ABA for Autism and Other Disabilities I (S1)2
SPE 661
Foundations of Special Education (S2)
Spring #1 SPE 764 Teaching Children with Lower Incidence Disabilities (S1)
SPE 723
Interventions for Autism/Other Disabilities (S2)
Summer #1 SPE 763 Teaching Children with Higher Incidence Disabilities (S1)
SPE Elective3
 Fall #2 SPE 761 Inclusionary Practices
SPE 762 Developmental and Diagnostic Reading Interventions
Spring #2 SPE 766 Research Methods (Non-Certification Track only)
SPE 714 Diagnosis & Evaluation of Exceptional Learner (S2)
Summer #2 EDU 781 Student Teaching (Certification Track only; 4-week student teaching)
BIB 621 Biblical Integration for Educators (S2)
Fall #3 THE 601 Overview of Christian Theology (S1)
SPE 724 Single Subject Research (S2)
SPE 790 Comprehensive Exam
1If prerequisite of 3 credits or 90 hours on instructional needs of English Language Learners not met prior to entering program, must take TSL 611 in first year.
2S1 = first 7-week session; S2 = second 7-week session
3Certification Track students should select SPE 791 Special Education Practicum I (1 credit; 2 weeks/60 hours) and SPE 792 Special Education Practicum II (2 credits; 3 weeks/90 hours)

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 is also completed:
    1. Fulfill the 3 elective credits through two practicum courses, SPE 791 and SPE 792.
    2. Complete EDU 781 Student Teaching rather than SPE 766.
    3. Pass the Special Education PECT modules for the appropriate grade band.
  • 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.

Non-Certification Track

  • Students who are unable or do not prefer to complete SPE 791, SPE 792, and EDU 781 may select the Non-Certification track and fulfill the following:
    • Complete the 3 elective credits through Special Education or Educational Technology courses (except SPE 791 or SPE 792).
    • Complete SPE 766 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.


  • 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
    • Have met the prerequisite of 3 credits or 90 hours on instructional needs of English Language Learners prior to entering the program. Otherwise, the prerequisite must be met during the first year of the program by completing TSL 611.
  • To complete the program, the candidate will:
    • Successfully complete all required coursework with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0
    • Successfully complete all practicums and student teaching if the Special Education Certification Track is selected

For more information about the online MS in Special Education degree program, email

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