Master's in Special Education for Children with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders

Become a Licensed Special Educator

The role of a special educator goes beyond the daily impact they make in the lives of students with disabilities- it is also the role of an advocate, impacting social barriers and changing communities.

Graduate students in the Special Education for Children with Emotional and Behavioral Disabilities (EBD) program gain the knowledge and skills necessary to become highly qualified special educators working with a diverse population of students with learning, emotional, and behavioral challenges. Graduates of the program will be eligible for teacher licensure in Special Education - Emotional Disturbance (ED), Learning Disability (LD), and Intellectual Disabilities (ID).

A Professional Development School (PDS) model is emphasized in the EBD program, blending 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 this 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.

Graduates of this program are highly sought after for post-program employment, as well as demonstrate teacher-retention rates many times higher than the national average.

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


Why a GW Master's in Special Education for Children with Emotional & Behavioral Disabilities?

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.
Convenient Schedule: Courses are scheduled once a week in late afternoons and evenings (Monday-Thursday) to accommodate internship experiences in schools.
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.


Sample Program Plan (subject to change)

First Summer Semester

SPED 6239 – Analysis of Teaching and Collaboration for Professionals Working with Students with Disabilities
SPED 6201 – Overview and Legal Issues in Educating Exceptional Learners
CPED 6224 – Diagnostic Teaching of Reading: K-6

Fall Semester

SPED 6288 – Characteristics of Individuals with Learning, Emotional, and Intellectual Disabilities
SPED 6290 – Affective Development and Behavior Management in Special Education
CPED 6412 – Elementary School Curriculum and Methods: Humanities (2 credits)
SPED 6990 – Internship in Teaching Children with Emotional and Behavioral Disabilities: Assistant Teacher

Spring Semester

SPED 6238 – Issues in Educating Individuals with Learning, Emotional, and Intellectual Disabilities
SPED 6260 – Developmental Assessment in Special Education
CPED 6412 – Elementary School Curriculum and Methods: S.T.E.M. (2 credits)
SPED 6991 – Internship in Teaching Children with Emotional and Behavioral Disabilities: Co-Teacher

Second Summer Semester

SPED 6202 - Researching Current Trends in Special Education: Teacher Decision Making

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

Assistant Professor
(202) 994-5986
Associate Professor
(202) 994-1535
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.

"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, program graduate


Program Entry: Summer, Fall (part-time)
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 FAQ page.

We encourage you to submit your application as early as possible.  For the best chance of admission, submit your application by January 15, 2021.  The second round deadline for Summer and Fall 2021 enrollment is March 15, 2021.

Transformation Begins Here

Learn more about the Master's in Special Education for Children with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders program located on campus (202-994-9283).

In the News

GSEHD alumnus Topher Kandik (master's, English and special education) published a piece on the Education Post's blog entitled Every Book You Teach Is a Political Choice. Make It a Step Towards Social Justice. Mr. Kandik was also the 2016 Washington, D.C. Teacher of the Year.

Dr. Joan Kester and several special education and disability studies doctoral and master's students presented at the 2017 PA Community on Transition Conference. Amanda Szczerba, a master's student, co-presented with Dr. Kester in a session featuring her capstone project, "Career Development Opportunities for Students with Disabilities." Eric Duer, a recent master's graduate, presented "Entrepreneurship on a Budget." Dr. Kester and doctoral student Matthew Flanagan collaborated with Temple University and the PA Youth Leadership Network to present research findings in a session entitled "Transition Discoveries: Tools & Resources to Improve Transition Practices." Dr. Kester co-presented with Julie Stella and Matthew Flanagan, doctoral students, a session entitled "Digital Inclusion: Let's Brainstorm!"

Dr. Joan Kester attended the United Nations World Autism Awareness Day Autism Advantage Luncheon with current GSEHD student Carol Salter (master's, special education and disability studies) at the United Nations headquarters in New York. Ms. Salter is Assistant Vice President of Workforce Solutions, Easter Seals, Inc.

Dr. Beth Tuckwiller, Dr. William Dardick, and special education doctoral student Elisabeth Kutscher's manuscript, "Profiles of and Correlations Among Mindset, Grit, and Optimism in Adolescents with Learning Disabilities: A Pilot Study," was accepted for publication in the Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies in Education.

For more information, please request information or contact our admission office at or 202-994-9283.