Master's in Early Childhood Special Education

Advocacy with Impact

The GW Early Childhood Special Education program focuses on preparing educators to improve the experience and success for diverse populations of pre-school and elementary aged children by understanding the causes and characteristics of their disabilities. Coursework will enhance your understanding and use of psychoeducational tests for pre-school and elementary aged children, prepare you to evaluate results and translate the data into instructional programming and behavior management strategies with the goal of improving the experience and success for pre-school and elementary aged children.

The program requires two field placements, where students will develop key competencies in implementing effective educational strategies with appropriate instructional materials, including the ability to design and develop teaching materials to support your classroom experience.

Program graduates possess knowledge and skills in the following specific content areas: child development and learning; curriculum development and implementation; routine-based intervention in natural environments; family-centered services deliver models; child assessment, evaluation, and progress monitoring; cultural, linguistic, and economic diversity; and field-based practicum and internships. Settings our graduates work in include public and private school special education classes, inclusive classes, early intervention programs, Head Start and Early Head Start, public and private child care, the home, hospital settings and specialized agency programs.


Why a GW Master's in Early Childhood Special Education?

NAEYC and DEC: Our program is approved by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and the Division of Early Childhood (DEC) of the Council for Exceptional Children.
Location: Unique to the the DC, Maryland, Virginia (DMV) area, our location gives students in the Special Education & Disability Studies Department access to urban or suburban; public, charter, or private schools. This allows students to examine, compare, and contrast schools with widely different student populations, structures, and demographics.
Internship and Immersion: The program requires two field placements to strengthen knowledge and skills and advance professional interests.
Faculty Nationally recognized researchers and practitioners with extensive experience leading research and professional organizations in early childhood special education.


The following requirements must be fulfilled: 39 credits

EDUC 6114: Introduction to Quantitative Research
SPED 6222: Legal Issues and Public Policy for Individuals With Disabilities
SPED 6240: Family Support and Guidance in Special Education OR SPED 6100: Selected Topics.
SPED 6261: Practicum: Methods and Materials for Young Children with Disabilities
SPED 6266: The Development of Language and Literacy
SPED 6268: Development of Children and Youth with Disabilities
SPED 6269: Etiology, Symptomatology, and Approaches to Intervention with Children with Disabilities
SPED 6290: Affective Development and Behavior Management in Special Education
CPED 6623: Foundations of Reading Development
SPED 6260: Developmental Assessment in Special Education
SPED 6262: Formal Assessment of Young Children with Disabilities
SPED 6993: Internship: Teaching Young Children with Disabilities (taken for six credits)

Master of Arts in Education and Human Development comprehensive exam required
Completion of the relevant teacher licensure assessments (i.e., PRAXIS) required by the District of Columbia Educator Licensure Services Office

Associate Professor
(202) 994-9061
Assistant Professor
(202) 994-8108
Career Outlook


Graduates are prepared to work with children in multiple settings including classrooms, inclusive classes, early intervention programs, Head Start and Early Head Start, public and private child care, the home, hospital settings and specialized agency programs.



Program Entry: Summer, Fall
Prerequisites: Bachelors Degree
Campus: Main Campus

Application Requirements

  • Online Application
  • Resume
  • Statement of Purpose
  • 2 Letters of Recommendation
  • Transcripts (unofficial)
  • Application Fee

*Additional application requirements may exist for international applicants

For more information on any of these requirements, please visit our Admissions page.

Transformation Begins Here

Learn more about the Master's in Early Childhood Special Education program located on campus (202-994-8411).

In the News

The Early Childhood Special Education Master's Program held its annual Professional Networking Conference on April 26. Student interns presented findings from their action research projects, which they conducted in their classrooms under the mentorship of Visiting Instructor Susan Jaffe. Students examined a variety of topics, such as improving communication skills of young children with disabilities and building positive relationships between children in general and special education classrooms.

Professor emeritus Dr. Mary Futrell and current GSEHD student Demetria Clark (master's, early childhood special education) were highlighted in GW Today's Donors and Students Meet, Celebrate Achievements. Ms. Clark is the recipient of a scholarship established by the National Education Association (NEA) and various donors in honor of Dr. Futrell, a former GSEHD dean and NEA president.

Dr. Karin Spencer, alumna and adjunct professor within the Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) program, and Dr. Lorelei Pisha, Project Director within the ECSE program, presented at the Division for Early Childhood Conference in Louisville, KY. The presentation focused on the use of universal design for learning for physically active play in inclusive settings and was titled From Bystander to Mover and Shaker: Physical Activity for All Young Children.