The Master of Arts in Special Education degree program with an endorsement in learning disabilities (LD) is designed for highly committed and competent teachers in K-12 settings who have the skills, knowledge and dispositions to become professional leaders, expert practitioners and effective collaborators. You will learn research-validated methods and evidence-based practices, but equally important, you will have opportunities to apply those methods in authentic contexts to foster deep understanding and critical reflection. Throughout the master's program, you will engage in clinical projects and practicums that provide opportunities to engage in inquiry and to reflect on teaching practice with the support, feedback and collaboration of the teaching faculty. Courses are taught by special education program faculty members who have extensive experience as researchers, teacher educators and special education classroom teachers.
Special Education Online Master's Degree and LD Endorsement Overview
The master’s degree with an endorsement in learning disabilities (LD) or master’s degree only programs will prepare educators to teach individuals with LD in K-12 grade settings. Students will learn research-validated methods and evidence-based practices that they will apply in authentic contexts to foster deeper understanding and critical reflection. Collaboration and consultation skills are the cornerstone of the LD program.
Through a combination of completing the program requirements and successfully passing the Michigan Test for Teacher Certification (MTTC), students will meet the requirements for a master’s degree in special education with an endorsement in LD.
Students will learn essential skills for teaching individuals with LD
Students will develop the pedagogical skills and instructional expertise to work with children and youth who exhibit learning disabilities. Students will connect theory, research and practice to inform educational decisions. They will develop the communication, collaboration and consultation skills that will enable them to work with children, youth, families, related service personnel, general educators and community agencies to create, implement and evaluate the highest quality programs possible. Students will attain the abilities to develop, implement and interpret accountability and outcome-based reporting systems involving the thoughtful use of assessment data from multiple sources and to communicate this information in meaningful ways. Students will foster inclusive learning environments that support diverse learners and meaningful access to the curriculum through the use of assistive technology, instructional supports and accommodations.
Application and Admissions Process
There are a variety of program sequences an individual can take to obtain the M.A. degree and LD endorsement. These sequences depend on a student’s previous education and teaching certification. Please see program tracks.
People who complete this track
Number of required credits
Typical time to complete
Students who are former students of MSU's special education program and are seeking a M.A. degree in special education w/out an endorsement
18 (+12 transferred from internship year)
Students who received their undergraduate degree at MSU in teacher education and are seeking a M.A. degree in special education w/out an endorsement
27 (+3 transferred from internship year)
Students who received their undergraduate degree from an institution other than MSU and are seeking a M.A. degree in special education w/out an endorsement
Students who received their undergraduate degree at MSU in teacher education and are seeking a M.A. degree in special education with an endorsement in learning disabilities (LD)
30 (+6 transferred from internship year)
Students who received their undergraduate degree in teacher education from an institution other than MSU and are seeking a M.A. degree in special education with an endrorsement in learning disabilites (LD)
See the LD program courses and learn about the program faculty.
For more information about applying to the program, please contact Dawn Therrian-Taylor, firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about the program and requirements, please contact Erin Hamilton, email@example.com.
Special Education LD Courses
CEP 801A: Collaboration and Consultation in Special Education
Offered in the spring semester. This course develops the knowledge, skills and professional dispositions related to effective collaborative problem solving. Special educators and general educators interact together in many collaborative activities both inside and outside of school to support students, families, and the community. This course explores evidenced-based practices in key collaborative spaces in schools, including (1) IEPs, (2) pre-referral intervention assistance teams (i.e., child study teams, student support teams), (3) Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports, (4) RTI teams, (5) behavioral consultation, (6) working with paraeducators, (7) transition planning, (8) collaborative teaching, (9) serving as an intervention specialist who helps create access to the general education curriculum and (10) home/school/community services. Undergirding the course is a focus on developing and applying key principles of effective collaboration and consultation while developing a critical content expertise about best practices in key collaborative structures.
CEP 803A: Assessment of Students with Mild Disabilities
Offered in the fall semester. Assessment serves as a cornerstone of special education, both in terms of eligibility determination and instructional planning. This course focuses on the wide array of assessment methods available for identifying students with disabilities and evaluating their responsiveness to instruction, including norm-referenced tests, criterion-referenced assessment tasks, curriculum-based assessments and measurement, and dynamic assessment. We examine assessments designed specifically for evaluating students' literacy skills, mathematics skills, behavior and intelligence. Students conduct an in-depth assessment project in which multiple assessment methods are used to evaluate an at-risk student or student identified with special needs in a particular domain and make recommendations for services and instruction.
CEP 804A: Literacy Instruction for Students with Mild Disabilities
Offered in the spring semester. This course develops the knowledge, skills and predispositions related to the effective assessment and implementation of reading and written language interventions for students with literacy related difficulties. Difficulties in reading, language and writing impede with the performance of students with disabilities across the school curriculum. This course is designed to help educators respond to these difficulties through an examination of methods that can be employed to: (1) observe and measure the reading and writing performance of special education students; (2) design interventions that address students' phonemic awareness, decoding, vocabulary, fluency, comprehension and motivation abilities; (3) develop and implement literacy interventions that improve the strategy knowledge and self-regulated performance of students as they read and write expository or narrative texts; (4) evaluate the literacy progress of students through frequent progress monitoring and (5) implement evidence-based teaching practices that promote students' deep knowledge, mastery and understanding of literacy principles and skills.
CEP 840: Policies, Practices, and Perspectives in Special Education
Offered in the summer semester. This course introduces the practice of special education in today's schools, with a focus on the United States. We will analyze characteristics of students with learning and behavior disabilities and the implications of learner differences for the legal and professional responsibilities of classroom teachers. We will survey general principles of instruction that can help improve students' access to the general education curriculum, including collaboration with other professionals, universal design for learning, response to intervention (RTI) and assistive technology. Each of these topics is covered in more depth in later courses. We also address multicultural considerations in the diagnosis and instruction of students with disabilities. The overall goal of the course is to expand your expertise and confidence in providing an inclusive classroom that effectively addresses the needs of the diverse population of students.
CEP 841: Classroom and Behavior Management in the Inclusive Classroom
Offered in the summer semester. This course is designed to provide teachers and other practitioners with a foundational knowledge in classroom management, behavioral intervention for mild/moderate behavioral challenges and knowledge of behavioral technologies to support classroom teaching with diverse students, including those with special needs. Especially salient to this course is the acknowledgement of prevention and intervention strategies conducted at multiple levels, including the macro-level of schools and communities and at the micro-level as teachers negotiate meaning with students on a moment-to-moment basis. Students will directly utilize a series of behavioral assessments in a variety of domains to build a technology of resources for identifying and successfully intervening with problematic behavior. The functional analysis of the etiology of behaviors will allow students to identify crucial factors that motivate, prompt and maintain the behavior. Students will then apply their principles and understanding of behavioral change to develop and implement behavioral, social and academic interventions.
CEP 842: Content Area Instruction for Students with Mild Disabilities Spring Semester
Offered in the spring semester. In this course, we will investigate instructional practices that can be used in general education classrooms to improve the learning and academic performance of students with mild learning problems and disabilities. We will focus on instruction in the content-area subjects of science, social studies and mathematics. Our goal is not to examine how to teach these subjects, but, rather how to design and differentiate instruction that is sensitive to individual learning needs and preferences. We also will address Universal Design for Learning, collaborative planning for instruction, secondary and transition services and creating a classroom climate in which all students have the opportunity to participate and succeed.
CEP 844: Applied Behavior Analysis I
Offered in the fall semester. This course will emphasize the concepts, principles, techniques, strategies,
interventions and research within the fields of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and
Positive Behavior Support when delivering instruction to students. The primary
objective of this course is to provide participants with the skills necessary to
complete a thorough functional behavior assessment, develop a function-based
behavioral intervention plan and implement the behavior plan with a student
diagnosed with ASD or other disabilities. Participants will learn to implement
antecedent strategies for the prevention of problematic behavior and
interventions designed to decrease problem behavior while increasing acceptable
alternative behaviors. The overarching goal of the course is to prepare course
participants to consider behavioral excesses and deficits within the context of
the environmental stimuli that precede and follow the behavior of interest and
to develop behavioral interventions by systematically changing the relevant
CEP 850: Technology and Literacy for Students with Mild Disabilities
Offered in the summer semester. This course will examine the use of technology to meet the needs of students who face challenges reading and comprehending text. We will examine ways in which technology can be used to support students' literacy acquisition and to improve their performance and independence as they read and write. We will consider students with literacy difficulties and students with mild disabilities (such as learning disabilities), and will examine technology applications that can be used in the general education classroom. Participants will examine a variety of technology-based applications online, choose applications that are relevant for the students they teach, and create a technology and literacy plan.
CEP 894G: Special Education Practicum: Children and Youth with Learning Disabilities
Offered in the fall and spring semesters. Field experience with students who have learning disabilities, coordinated to extend course content in CEP 804A and CEP 842. Includes planning, implementing, and critiquing instruction in elementary and secondary school settings.
CEP 893F: Special Education Internship: Teaching Students with Learning Disabilities
Offered fall semester. Supervised student teaching in elementary and secondary education programs for students with learning disabilities.
TE 846: Accommodating Differences in Literacy Learners
Offered in the fall, spring and summer semesters. There are very few classrooms in the United States today that do not have at least a few struggling readers and writers. More and more, teachers and schools are being held accountable for meeting these students' literacy learning needs. To meet these needs in a diverse student population, it is vital to make sure every instructional staff member understands how literacy is relevant to student success, regardless of content area, and can successfully integrate evidence-based literacy instructional practices into their teaching. Accordingly, this course is organized around five broad topical areas and associated literacy instruction and assessment practices: cultural and linguistic differences, individual motivation differences, neuropsychological differences, instructional arrangements to accommodate learning differences and core components of effective literacy instruction. Students in the course learn about the principles of instruction and remediation in reading and writing, classroom assessment techniques for reading and writing, and materials and adaptations for reading and writing instruction. They also learn how to critically evaluate materials, curricula, programs and practices used in literacy instruction, and how to select, modify and design literacy materials, tasks and teaching techniques to meet the specific needs of struggling readers and writers.
Important Forms, Handbook and Resources for Students
Plan Official Form
Each student and his/her advisor must prepare a program plan
before the student completes 10 semester hours. Degree candidates must obtain
final program approval from their advisor before the semester in which they
enroll for the final course in their program. This will help ensure that the
final degree certification is not delayed due to an outdated program plan on
admitted to the program should plan to meet with their advisor soon after
receiving their acceptance letter to the program. Together,
the M.A. student and advisor will develop a plan for completing the degree based
on student needs, interests and coursework that may be brought into the M.A.
program (such as MSU's 800-level intern courses or, for non-MSU interns,
appropriate credits that have not been applied to a prior degree).
must apply for graduation the first week of the semester he or she expects to
complete the degree requirements.
Application for LD MA Certifying Exam
Student must be enrolled in at least one credit the semester they take the M.A. exam. Send completed form to Missy Davis, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Student must apply for readmission if not enrolled for one
Extension of Time to Complete Degree Requirements
The time limit policy for completion of a master's degree—set by the Graduate School of MIchigan State University—is five (5) years. The five-year
window begins with the date of the earliest credits in the degree program; this
includes any transfer, LifeLong or graduate certificate credits transferred
into the degree program. Students who encounter events that make it difficult to
complete the degree within five years can speak to their advisor about applying for
a time extension.
to being able to use WebEnroll, Angel, MSU Mail and other secure sites at MSU;
students need to activate their MSU NetID.
online access to student records at MSU (financial, academic, personal
about MSU's main library plus online access to MSU's library catalog, other
e-resources and databases plus online assistance in research and additional
onsite and online services.
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