The program is designed in partnership with various area public schools and community agencies. The curriculum reflects an interdisciplinary and collaborative approach that emphasizes linking school, community and post-secondary systems.
GW’s Special Education Transition Services degree program is nationally recognized and meets the Transition Guideposts of the U.S. Department of Labor National Collaborative on Workforce & Disability for Youth (NCWD-Youth) and the CEC Advanced Knowledge and Skills Base for Transition Specialists. 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.
In this program, you will design strategies that inspire youth to envision, own and lead their own futures—including careers, post-secondary education, living alone and other hallmarks of maturity. You will graduate prepared to become a transition specialist, skilled in the design of effective youth development programs and poised to help youth, families and communities now and in the future.
GW’s Master’s in Secondary Special Education and Transition Services is a 39-credit master’s degree and can be completed in as little as 2.5 years.
The program requires 39 credit hours of graduate course work and school and community-based internship to apply learning to field-based professional practice and research.
As a student in GW’s Master's in Secondary Special Ed & Transition Services, you will have a unique opportunity to engage in research, scholarship, publishing and leadership activities. The program enables you to:
As a graduate of the Master’s in Secondary Special Education and Transition Services from the George Washington University (GW), you will be prepared to advance your career as a transition specialist for youth with disabilities in a wide range of professional settings. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that job growth in special education will reach 6% overall by 2022.1 Better screening and identification of various disabilities in children are expected to increase the demand for special education services.
Within special education, transition services is an area of particular growth. Public vocational rehabilitation professionals and Centers for Independent Living are now mandated under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014 to provide extensive transition services. These legislative changes are increasing the need for a broad range of transition professionals to help provide services that improve the post-school outcomes of youth with disabilities.
1Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/special-education-teachers.htm
This intensive, one-year, full-time master’s program prepares graduate students to be highly qualified educators of students with learning, emotional, and behavioral challenges. This program is focused on preparing teachers of students with Emotional and Behavioral Disabilities (EBD) in grades 9-12. If you are interested in working with students with Emotional and Behavioral Disabilities in grades K-8, please explore our Special Education for Children with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders program.
Secondary Special Education and Transition Services for Students with Emotional and Behavioral Disabilities (SSETS-EBD) is an intensive, one-year, full-time master’s program that prepares graduate students to be highly qualified educators of students with learning, emotional, and behavioral challenges. Using a Psychoeducational approach, graduate students in the program gain the knowledge, skills, and dispositions necessary to facilitate effective instruction and improve outcomes for students in this unique and challenging population.
Graduate students begin the program in Summer Session (typically late June) by participating in full-time coursework throughout the first summer. In the fall and spring semesters, students are placed in a Professional Development Partnership School for a full-time teaching internship and attend evening courses. The program concludes with coursework in the final summer. Students earn both a Master’s Degree in Education and Human Development, as well as their initial teacher licensure in special education.
The hallmark of the program is its emphasis on clinical preparation, as graduate students have the opportunity to work directly with students with disabilities in a therapeutic school throughout the school year. The program offers graduate students the opportunity to apply their coursework directly to practice in the classroom while being mentored by school-based cooperating teachers and university faculty and staff. Using a Professional Development School model (see below for description) university faculty and staff work closely with the schools to provide a supportive and enriching environment to gain the skills necessary to teach in this high need field of education.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.
Graduation Requirements: Master of Arts in Education and Human Development Comprehensive Exam. Completion of the relevant teacher licensure assessments (i.e., PRAXIS) required by the District of Columbia Educator Licensure Services Office.
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.
"The professors taught me more than instructional methods and behavior management strategies; they taught me how to be self-reflective and to always ask ‘whose needs are being met?’ I left this program not only a better teacher, but also a better person." - Brian Ernest, alumni
"This program gave me the gift of self-reflection. Without this skill, my career as a teacher, instructional coach, mentor, adjunct professor, business owner and scholar would not grow. GSEHD suggests, ‘Transformation Begins Here.’ However, it is because of this program that I will never stop growing." - Adelaide Kelly-Massoud, alumni
The George Washington University's (GW) Fairfax Partnership Program is a long-standing partnership between GW and Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS). The program focuses on preparing teachers to work in secondary schools and results in teacher licensure and a master's degree in Secondary Special Education and Transition Services. In response to the need for high quality content area teachers, participants focus on one content area (e.g., English, mathematics, social studies, biology, etc.), with the goal of gaining a secondary license in a content area.
Each June a small cohort of 6-8 students begins the program. Small cohort sizes mean that pre-service teachers get a significant amount of individualized attention from program faculty and high quality graduate classroom experiences. Participants work as teaching interns in a full-day, unpaid, year-long internship with 1-2 master special educators in a secondary school in Fairfax, VA. Internship classrooms support students with mild to moderate disabilities such as: learning disabilities, emotional and behavioral disabilities, intellectual disabilities, and autism spectrum disorders.
The full-time internship model provides participants an experiential learning lab in which they implement and experiment with what they are learning in their coursework, as well as learn directly from expert teachers. Within this structure, they are exposed to a plethora of experiences such as effective teaching methods, how to utilize curriculum and pacing guides, behavior management strategies, grading methods, IEP development and case management. Participants receive guidance and support through structured observations from master GW educators and complete coursework in the evenings at GW's campus in Arlington, VA. The following school year, participants work as provisionally-certified, full- time special educators earning a full teaching salary, while also completing one final GW course, which is specifically designed to increase teacher retention by supporting the growth and development of new educators.
Two foci of the GW-Fairfax Partnership Program are intensive classroom observations with systematic feedback loops and bi-weekly seminars. Both occur throughout the program to provide developing teachers structures to translate what they are learning in their coursework into the work they do in the classroom. Bi-weekly seminar experiences allow interns to revisit topics learned in coursework and contextualize what they learned into their classroom experiences. Conducted by expert educators, intense classroom observations during their internship year, as well as their first semester as a first year teacher, provide developing teachers with formative feedback and reflective feedback loops. This process supports their personal development and transformation as they problem-solve and reflect to hone the skills and dispositions needed to be effective special educators. The self-reflection and self-evaluation skills participants develop through these experiences are hallmarks of master teachers and skills that GW-Fairfax Partnership-trained teachers carry with them throughout their careers.
Participants in the GW-Fairfax Partnership Program take 11 courses during the first “year” of the program. This “year” consists of four semesters: the summer prior to their internship year, fall and spring of their internship year, and the summer prior to being hired provisionally in Fairfax.
As first year teachers, participants work as provisionally-certified, full-time special educators earning a full teaching salary. In the fall, participants take one final course designed to support new special educators
As a graduate with a Master’s in Secondary Special Education and Transition Services from GW, you will be a highly skilled special educator, prepared to work in a variety of educational settings. Many of our graduates have long careers as classroom educators, while others go on to educational leadership roles such as department chairs, principals, and policy experts. The vast majority of our program graduates stay in the field of special education, demonstrating career retention rates high above the national average for special education teachers.
Since the vast majority of our graduates earn teacher certification in both Special Education AND a content area (such as English, mathematics, biology, or history), they are not only well-rounded educators, but also are highly desirable job candidates given their level of knowledge of the general education curriculum. This skillset allows our graduates the ability to teach the general education curriculum to students with disabilities, giving students greater access to educational opportunities.
GW offers a Graduate Certificate in Transition Special Education online. Should you wish to pursue the Graduate Certificate, you have the option to transfer all 12 credit hours into the Master's program.
GW also offers a Master’s in Rehabilitation Counseling program and a Certificate in Job Development Job Placement. The master’s program is accredited by the Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE) and is ranked 6th in the nation by U.S. News and World Report.
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.