Special Education, Instruction M.S. [Online]

The Master’s in Special Education degree prepares educators with a deep understanding of the issues related to teaching and learning conditions for children with mild to moderate disabilities.

co ms special education
36

Credit Hours

2.3

Years (Avg.)

Next Start Date

January 9, 2023

Class Type
100% Online,  7-Week Terms, Asynchronous

Scholarships/Aid
Available

Accreditation/Approvals

MSCHE, NC-SARA

Help Design the Future of Special Education from a Biblical Worldview

The M.S. in Special Education equips professionals 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 who already hold a teaching certification.

Competencies

The curriculum is designed to develop the following competencies in students. The goal is that the graduate is able to:

  1. Describe and identify the special education system in the United States.
  2. Summarize, identify, and implement processes and services for individuals with disabilities.
  3. Design, implement, and modify instruction for individuals with disabilities based on their cognition, development, academic and functional performance, and Individual Education Program and aligned with state academic standards.
  4. Design and implement data collection systems and tools to assess, monitor progress, adjust and plan instruction, and refer and place individuals with disabilities in special education based on their unique abilities and needs.
  5. Identify, design, and implement evidence-based instructional models and specially designed instruction in math, literacy, content areas, social, behavioral, communication, language, and secondary transition domains in inclusive and more restrictive environments.
  6. Identify and apply biblical, professional, and ethical practice and law.
  7. Synthesize, evaluate, and conduct educational research and apply technology integration to enhance instruction and learning.
  8. Apply a personal special education philosophy based on an integrated biblical worldview.

Why a Master’s of Science in Special Education from Cairn?

Faith and Truth Matter

While you will study the same teaching and curriculum design concepts you would expect from any quality Master’s in Special Education program, all instruction is grounded in the timeless Truth of God’s Word. No matter what your intended career path or field of study, Cairn is committed to helping educators think about their current and future work in education through a biblical worldview.

Committed Faculty Mentors

Our online courses are taught by faculty who are committed to your professional and spiritual growth. Students don’t just have professors, they have mentors who invest in them throughout the program and often remain connected long after graduation.

Integrated Field Experience

Field experience has been integrated into multiple courses.

Prior Learning Credits

At the discretion of the program advisor, three to six credits for prior learning (“CPL”) can be awarded for students with extensive background in areas addressed by specific courses.

Advance Standing for Bible or Theology Courses

Advance standing may be granted for Bible or theology credits earned at an accredited Bible college, Christian liberal arts college or university, or seminary. Credits will be granted on a course by course basis.

Affordable

Cairn University students earn more than a professional credential – you develop a solid foundation for all of life and learning. Wherever you go after you graduate from Cairn, you go prepared and ready to make a difference in your workplace, your community, your church, and around the world. And our competitive tuition rates and financial aid packages help to keep your education costs reasonable.

Educators working in Christian schools receive a 20% tuition discount.

Program Curriculum

This program is only for individuals holding a teaching certificate. Upon completion of this program, a student receives a Master of Science in Special Education degree.

Individuals desiring PA Special Education PK-12 certification must take SPE 791 (1 cr) and SPE 792 (2 cr) as their Education Elective. In addition, SPE 789 (4 cr) and TSL 611 (3 cr) must be taken. (TSL 611 may be fulfilled with an equivalent undergraduate or graduate course). The student is also eligible to apply to ACSI for a special education certificate if additional ACSI requirements are met. Students desiring only ACSI Special Education certification may fulfill the 3 elective credits with SPE 788 (3 cr) upon confirming with ACSI that it is needed.

PA Special Education PK-12 Certification

Candidates can be recommended to the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) for PA Special Education PK-12 certification upon fulfillment of the following:

  • Successful completion of the MS in Special Education plus PA Special Education PK-12 certification program, including two practicums and full-time student teaching.
  • Cumulative GPA of 3.0 or above.
  • A passing score on the PA Special Education PK-12 Certification Test and the Fundamental Subjects: Content Knowledge Test.
  • U.S. citizenship or permanent resident immigrant visa status that permits working and residing in the U.S. and filing of a completed Declaration of Intent to Become a Citizen of the United States form (also see Foreign-Educated Teacher Certification Applicants).
  • Submission of an application on TIMS (Teacher Information Management System); information may be obtained from the School of Education Logistics and Certification Officer. Certification is not automatically issued.
  • Fulfilling the above requirements meets certification requirements in Pennsylvania but may or may not meet certification requirements in other states. Interested students are strongly recommended to contact the Department of Education in their state to inquire about its requirements. Please visit Education Programs Licensure and Certification for the link to each state’s Teacher Certification page.

Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI) Certification

Candidates may be eligible to apply to ACSI for the Special Education certificate upon fulfillment of the following:

  • Successful completion of:
    • Either M.S. in Special Education plus PA Special Education PK-12 certification program, including two practicums and full-time student teaching.
    • Or M.S. in Special Education degree program and fulfillment of elective using SPE 788 Special Education Teaching Experience (contact ACSI to verify if SPE 788 will meet student teaching requirements as this varies based on prior teaching experience).
  • Other requirements as indicated on the ACSI website. See Certification Documents and Requirements for more information.
  • Submission of an application on ACSI’s website in coordination with the School of Education Logistics and Certification Officer. Certification is not automatically issued.

The Cairn M.S. in Special Education program has been designed with input from our expert faculty in the School of Education ensuring you graduate with the in-demand skills and knowledge that employers are looking for. The program requires 6 credits from the Special Education core curriculum courses, 6 credits from Bible or theology, and 24 credits from specialization courses in instruction. View a sample curriculum sheet to give you clearer picture of the courses you will complete.

EDU 713 – Educational Research OR SPE 724 – Single Subject Research
EDU 713: A course that includes the study and application of methods used to design, execute, report, and evaluate educational research using current technology. This course is an integral part of the writing and research process for the Instructional Design Project (EDU 791) and Action Research Project (EDL 791).

SPE 724: A course designed to develop competencies in behavioral measurement and single subject research. Areas of focus include types of behavioral measurement, data graphing and interpretation, validity and reliability, and single subject experimental designs

SPE 661 – Foundations of Special Education
A course designed to introduce the regular classroom teacher to the philosophical, historical, legal, and ethical foundations of special education. Students engage in a study of the categories of disabilities, educational adaptations, and family and life span issues. Includes a field experience practicum in a more restrictive setting to observe and develop competency in working with exceptionalities.

SPE 794 – Special Education Comprehensive Exam
An exam designed to assess candidates’ understanding, application, and synthesis of significant content and process areas within their MS in Special Education degree program. Passing the comprehensive exam is a graduation requirement. Online exam proctoring is used. 0 credits.

Advanced standing may be granted for Bible/Theology credits earned at an accredited Bible college, Christian liberal arts college or university, or seminary. Credits will be granted on a course-by-course basis.

THE 601 – Overview of Christian Theology
An introduction to the major doctrines of the Bible.

BIB 621 – Biblical Integration for Educators
A course designed to develop the ability of educators to integrate the Bible into their teaching and their own lives.

ELECTIVE COURSES (3 CREDITS REQUIRED)
Any graduate course not already required with the prefix of ECH, EDU, HPE, SPE, or TSL. See the course catalog for details.

SPE 761 – Inclusionary Practices
A course designed to study the methodology for teaching exceptional children in inclusive education settings. Multidisciplinary teaming, collaboration, management, instructional strategies, and home/school partnerships are examined. Cultural and learning diversity are addressed in the context of an inclusive education setting. Includes a field experience practicum in an inclusive setting to observe and develop competencies in working with exceptionalities in the regular classroom.

SPE 714 – Diagnosis and Evaluation of the Exceptional Learner
A course designed to acquaint students with the procedures used in a comprehensive appraisal and assessment system based upon federal and state guidelines for students with disabilities. Application of diagnostic results to classroom instruction is a focus. Issues in the evaluation of special-needs students are addressed.

SPE 721 – ABA for Autism and Other Disabilities I
A course designed to introduce the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and their application in improving learning and behavior among individuals with autism or other disabilities. Areas of emphasis include philosophical assumptions, core concepts and principles of behavior, functional behavior assessment, and positive behavior support plans.

SPE 723 – Interventions for Autism and Other Disabilities
A course to develop competencies in designing and implementing Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) interventions among individuals with autism or other disabilities. Areas of focus include shaping, chaining, stimulus and response prompts, modeling, discrete trials, token economy, and group contingencies.

SPE 762 – Developmental and Diagnostic Reading Interventions
A course designed to examine and practice using research-validated literacy programs that incorporate evaluating and monitoring systems and instructional strategies to target deficiencies and increase language and literacy proficiency.

SPE 763 – Teaching Children with Higher Incidence Disabilities
A course designed to develop instructional strategies, modifications, and accommodations required to meet the needs of students with high incidence disabilities in a regular classroom setting. Included in this classification are learning disabilities, emotional/behavioral disturbances, speech and language impairments, intellectual disabilities, and ADHD. Transdisciplinary teaming, social service agencies, professional organizations, and family and lifespan issues are examined.

SPE 764 – Teaching Children with Lower Incidence Disabilities
A course designed to develop instructional strategies, modifications, and accommodations required to meet the needs of students with low incidence disabilities in regular education and alternative settings. Included in this classification are hearing impairment, visual impairment, multiple disabilities, orthopedic impairment, deafness, deaf-blindness, traumatic brain injury, and other health impairment. Transdisciplinary teaming, social service and professional agencies, and family and lifespan issues are examined. Includes a field experience to observe and develop competency in working with exceptionalities.

Receive credit for previous experience and coursework: At the discretion of the program advisor, three to six credits for prior learning (CPL) can be awarded for students with extensive background in areas addressed by specific courses.

Cairn Online Frequently Asked Questions

The tuition for post-secondary education has become expensive in general. However, Cairn Online programs rank amongst the most affordable online bachelor’s and master’s programs. While the tuition costs vary by program level, the rate is typically $425 per credit or 12K per year for A.A. and B.S. programs and $300-$725 per credit for graduate programs. 

The current tuition rates are available from this page. Scholarships and financial aid are also available. 

Currently there are over 6 million online learners in the United States, and those numbers are growing every day. Online degrees that have regional accreditation are held to the same standards as traditional universities, ensuring that students earn a valuable degree that will prepare them with the skills and credentials for their career. Do research to find an online degree that is accredited and reputable, such as those offered at Cairn University.

Cairn Online courses based on Cairn’s 100+ years tradition of excellence in biblical education. Our on faculty has carefully designed them taking into consideration what works best for the online learner. The modular design and asynchronous delivery enable you to complete your studies while you pursue your career, ministry and spend time with your family.

Courses typically contain seven units and are delivered in 7-week terms*. Each unit contains 5-7 modular activities. Each learning activity includes instructional videos accompanied by reflections, quizzes, discussion forums and other assessments. Courses also utilize adaptive learning technologies such as Cerego for long-term retention of concepts and VoiceThread for enhanced collaboration.

The asynchronous delivery provides flexibility around your daily busy schedule. In most courses, interactive activities are typically due by Wednesday while the rest of the unit’s work is due by Sunday night. The MBA, M.A. in Music and Criminal Justice programs use the 7RD2 process and require the completion of certain activities daily to optimize learning.

Our own Cairn faculty intentionally participate in the course throughout the week to provide you with an incarnational experience.

*Few capstone courses are intentionally offered in 14 weeks to optimize student learning.

A.A. programs usually take 2 years and B.S. and B.A. programs typically take 3-4 years to complete.

Graduate programs vary in length by program. As an example, Cairn’s traditional MBA typically takes 20 months to complete but then there is also the accelerated One-Year MBA that you can complete in 12 months.

If you are looking to complete your program sooner, you can consider taking more 7-week courses at a time. 

All courses are developed by one or more course developers and taught by our own faculty. The instructors are also intentionally involved in the course throughout the week by providing direction in the course activities, participating in the forum discussions, grading the student work and providing substantive feedback. Most courses also offer optional office hours weekly via Zoom or similar video conferencing tools.

Our instructional design team works very closely with the course developers and carefully plans the courses to balance the technology requirements. Most courses use the eLearning platform for hosting the course materials, Panopto for video capture and storage, VoiceThread for enhanced discussion forums, and Cerego for adaptive learning. Zoom is used at times for virtual office hours. These sessions are optional.

Except for the Hebrew and Greek language courses for the B.S. in Biblical Studies program, typically there are no required meeting times for the completing the course activities.  

The course transfer depends on where you are transferring from, and what program you are transferring to. If you are coming to Cairn Online from another institution, it is very likely you will have some credits that will transfer. Because there are so many options, we encourage you to talk to an enrollment counselor. If you are transferring out, Cairn is a regionally accredited school and some credits should transfer with relative ease. Each college sets their own transfer criteria, so be sure to check their policies for specifics.

Cairn Online offers a variety of options for prior learning and experience. You can receive up to 6 credits for prior learning for graduate programs. At the discretion of the program advisor, three to six credits for prior learning (CPL) can be awarded for students with extensive background in areas addressed by specific courses. Additionally, advance standing may be granted for Bible or theology credits earned at an accredited Bible college, Christian liberal arts college or university, or seminary. Credits will be granted on a course by course basis.

Cairn is approved to offer financial aid because of its regional accreditation. There are many options available and typically students qualify for at least one type of federal aid. Many students receive scholarships and grants that make earning their degree even more affordable. Cairn offers a variety of scholarships and discounts in addition to options for loans and grants. Please refer to this page for details. 

The requirements depend on the program you are considering. Please refer to this page for details. 

Program Details

Additional Information

NC-SARA Approved InstitutionCairn Online has been approved to participate in the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA), which regionally oversees postsecondary online education.

Additional Accreditation Information