Master's in Interdisciplinary Secondary Transition Services

Improving Systems through Evidence-Based Practice

The Interdisciplinary Secondary Transition Services (ISTS) Master’s program equips professionals with the knowledge and skills needed to empower students and young adults with disabilities in successfully transitioning to postsecondary opportunities. Through course work in transition practices, curriculum, instruction, assessment, programmatic design, applied research methods and interagency collaboration, you will develop expertise in the design, implementation and continuous improvement of transition planning and programming within schools, districts, agencies and community organizations. With students representing a diverse range of professional roles in schools, agencies and community organizations, the ISTS program provides an environment for you to collaborate and take on new frontiers in transition services with fellow students across the country.

Designed by leaders in the field of secondary special education and transition, the ISTS course of study is aligned with the Council for Exceptional Children's Advanced Transition Specialist Standards for Preparation and Practice as well as current research-based models of practice, programming and service delivery.

Through its affiliation with the Transition Discoveries Initiative, the ISTS program is a leader in bridging the gap between research and practice through local, state and national partnerships. With an interdisciplinary team of faculty and staff with expertise in teaching, employment and applied research, the ISTS program provides students with rigorous field-based opportunities to develop their skills as educators, advocates and data-driven change makers.


Why GW’s online Master’s in Interdisciplinary Secondary Transition Services?

  • Flexible Learning: All course work is completed virtually through synchronous and asynchronous learning experiences. Synchronous sessions occur once a week in late afternoons and evenings (Monday-Thursday) to accommodate the schedules of working professionals, and for internship experiences. With the flexibility to begin in fall, spring or summer semesters, the program adjusts to your schedule and needs.
  • Interdisciplinary Collaboration: Embedded throughout the program curriculum, students have ongoing opportunities to engage in discussions and rigorous project-based learning experiences with peers, faculty and leading experts in the field of secondary transition.
  • Professional Leadership Development: The program imbeds a "train-the-trainers" leadership component enabling you to be recognized by your organization as a "transition leader" with respect to evidenced practices, programming and service delivery within K-12 education. employment and community settings.
  • Engage in Applied Research: Become a research savvy practitioner with the knowledge and skills needed to conduct, evaluate, and use inquiry to guide professional practice.
  • Scholar-Practitioner Faculty: Learning experiences and 1:1 mentorship from faculty who are current in the field and bring a diversity of professional experiences from the K-12 and adult service systems.
  • Field-Based Experiences: Unique among online programs, ISTS leverages its robust network of partnerships throughout the country to provide all students in the program with a field-based internship. In these experiences, students work 1:1 with a faculty mentor to identify and solve complex problems in the field through collaboration with youth, families and a broad range of transition stakeholders.

The online program requires 36 credit hours of graduate course work and school and community-based internship to apply learning to field-based professional practice and research.


The Interdisciplinary Secondary Transition Services Master’s program includes 36 credits, with two courses (6 credits) completed in a field specialization of supporting transition-age youth with autism spectrum disorder or traumatic brain injury. Students also complete a 3-credit field-based internship with 1:1 advising and mentorship from a faculty mentor. Students complete a capstone research project to demonstrate their knowledge and expertise. This project replaces the graduation requirement of a comprehensive examination.

  • Core Courses (30 Credits)
    • SPED 6210 Universal Design for Learning and Assessment (3 credits)
    • SPED 6214 Applied Research in Secondary Transition Practices (3 credits)
    • SPED 6222 Legal Issues and Public Policy for Individuals With Disabilities (3 credits)
    • SPED 6230 Vocational Assessment of Individuals with Disabilities (3 credits)
    • SPED 6231 Curriculum and Instructional Methods in Special Education and Transition (3 credits)
    • SPED 6233 Curriculum in Special Education (3 credits)
    • SPED 6235 Employment Models for Individuals with Disabilities (3 credits)
    • SPED 6236 Introduction to Career and Career–Technical Education and Transition Services (3 credits)
    • SPED 6255 Collaboration with Systems and Families (3 credits)
    • SPED 6995 School and Community-Based Internship in Special Education and Transition (3 credits)
  • Specialization (6 Credits, Select One Area)
  • Brain Injury and Transition
    • SPED 6223 Introduction to Brain Injury: Programs, Policies, and Resources (3 credits)
    • SPED 6224 Brain Function and Impact of Brain Injury on Learning and Education (3 credits)
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder Specialization
    Autism Spectrum Disorders and Transition
    • SPED 6253 Introduction to Autism Spectrum Disorders (3 credits)
    • SPED 6254 Autism Spectrum Disorders and Transition to Employment and Post-Secondary Life (3 credits)

Career Outcomes

The online Master’s in Interdisciplinary Secondary Transition Services is designed for passionate professionals like you who are ready to take a step forward in their careers with a challenging, practice-based online curriculum. After completing this master’s program, you will be prepared to work as a transition specialist across multiple disciplines:

  • Secondary educators (general/special education, career/tech education, guidance/career counselors)
  • Secondary transition educators (State Education Agencies, Local Education Agencies, transition consultants)
  • Agency transition professionals (public and private vocational rehabilitation, community providers, career one-stop centers, Medicaid waiver providers, Centers for Independent Living, parent advocates, youth advocates)
  • University positions (disability services offices, adjunct instructors)


Application Requirements

We encourage you to apply as early as possible for the next available start term. Please contact the admissions team with any questions.

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

*Additional application requirements may exist for international applicants For more information on any of these requirements, please visit our Admissions FAQ page.

Transformation Begins Here

Learn more about the MA in Interdisciplinary Secondary Transition Services program located online (202-994-9283) and