Master's in Secondary Special Education

GW’s Secondary Special Education Masters degree program is nationally recognized. With a strong focus on social justice, this program will provide you with critical knowledge of legislative requirements and research, as well evidence-based practices and experience gained through a hands-on internship.

This program is focused on preparing teachers of students with Emotional and Behavioral Disabilities (EBD) in grades 6-12. If you are interested in working with students with EBD in grades K-8, please explore our Special Education for Children with Emotional & Behavioral Disabilities program.

Features of the Programs

  • One-year program (summer to summer) leading to a Master's Degree in Education and Human Development, as well as Teacher Licensure in Special Education
  • Concentration on working with and teaching students with emotional and behavioral disabilities and learning disabilities
  • "Hands-on," full school year intern teaching experience
  • Supportive mentorship and supervision from University faculty and staff, as well as school-based cooperating teachers
  • Small classroom environment, opportunities for individualization
  • Evening graduate classes

Professional Development School Model

A Professional Development School (PDS) model blends the theory and practice of learning to teach so that concepts learned in a university classroom can be applied the next day to work with students with EBD. In the PDS model, graduate students learn about best practice and research-based interventions through their coursework, while being able to apply them concurrently in their full-time, clinical internship in a therapeutic school setting. Currently, our program partners with both public and non-public schools throughout the DC, VA, and MD area. Graduate students are not only matched with a partnership school for internships, but also with a Cooperating Teacher, who serves as a mentor and support in the school building. University faculty and staff provide bi-weekly supervision and individualized feedback on teaching progress, as well as weekly seminars that provide a forum for professional growth and peer-driven emotional support.

  • Nationally Recognized: The program is nationally recognized by the Council for Exceptional Children, is accredited by Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), and has been training exemplary special educators for twenty years.
  • Social Justice in Action: Graduates learn more than classroom methods and techniques. They are trained as advocates to change the classroom experience for all students.
  • Theory to Practice to Reflection Pipeline: Graduates are able to directly apply the theory they learn in coursework to their day-to-day practice with students and then self-reflect on their personal and professional growth in weekly seminars and journals with supervisors.
  • Exceptional Employment and Retention Rates: Program graduates are highly sought after for post-program employment, as well as demonstrate teacher-retention rates many times higher than the national average.

33 credits in required courses and successful completion of a master’s comprehensive examination.

SPED 6201 Overview and Legal Issues in Educating Exceptional Learners
SPED 6203 Research and Practice: Diagnostic Reading for Exceptional Learners
SPED 6231 Curriculum and Instructional Methods in Special Education and Transition
SPED 6236 Introduction to Career and Career–Technical Education and Transition Services
SPED 6238 Issues in Educating Individuals with Learning, Emotional, and Intellectual Disabilities
SPED 6239 Analysis of Teaching and Collaboration for Professionals Working with Students with Disabilities
SPED 6280 Developmental Assessment of Adolescents
SPED 6288 Characteristics of Individuals with Learning, Emotional, and Intellectual Disabilities
SPED 6290 Affective Development and Behavior Management in Special Education
SPED 6992 Behavior Management Practicum: Adolescents with Disabilities
SPED 6996 Teaching Internship in Transition Special Education

Successful completion of a comprehensive examination is required of all students.

Assistant Professor
(202) 994-5986
Assistant Professor
(202) 994-1534
Associate Professor
(202) 994-1535
(202) 994-3291
Assistant Professor
(202) 994-9860
Career Outlook


Our graduates are Special Educators in both public and non-publics schools throughout the nation. In addition to classroom teaching, our graduates are also administrators of special education programs, advocates in the policy arena, researchers and faculty in higher education, and educational consultants.

Program Entry: Summer
Prerequisites:Bachelor's Degree
Campus:Foggy Bottom

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 MA in Secondary Special Education program located on campus (202-994-8411)

In the News

Dr. Joan Kester, along with two graduates of the online Secondary Special Education & Transition Services master's program (Everett Deibler and Christopher Nace), presented a session entitled Promoting Higher Levels of Youth Engagement at the 2016 Office of Special Education Programs Project Directors Meeting in Washington, D.C.