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Master of Arts (MA) Degree Program in Special Education Overview

Majors Overview July 27, 2015

This article talks about Master of Arts (M.A.) degree programs in Special Education and their educational requirements, coursework, career choices, job and wage outlook, and continuing education choices.

Master of Arts (M.A.) Programs in Special Education

Individuals who seek advanced knowledge in educational strategies and classroom intervention would benefit by enrolling into a Master of Arts (M.A.) in Special Education program. Bachelor’s degree holders enrolled in the program can create individually designed programs, focused on areas such as physical impairments, early childhood, hearing impairments, mild or moderate disabilities, intellectual disabilities or sensory disabilities. Students will gain skills in leadership, research, and analytical writing. They often need to complete supervised fieldwork to augment integrative projects, a comprehensive exam, and a thesis assignment. In many programs, classes are offered online.

Educational Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold an undergraduate teaching degree or a bachelor’s degree in an unrelated major, augmented by a certificate in teaching, in addition to submitting GRE scores and official transcripts.


Program coursework covers the fundamentals of special education, such as cognitive structures, behavioral theories, and development philosophies. Enrollees gain experience in rehabilitation methods, service delivery systems, and accessible technologies. Areas such as aspects of emotional disturbance, intervention strategies, and characteristics of autism spectrum disorder are in the coursework. Core coursework may cover topic areas such as:

•Bilingual education
•Assessment and evaluation
•Pedagogical foundations
•Family services
•Instructional planning
•Behavior disorders
•Language development

Career Choices

Armed with the knowledge and skills gained from a Master of Arts (M.A.) in Special Education, program graduates may seek career advancement. They may choose from available job positions such as:

•Community college instructor
•Disability Advocate

Job and Wage Outlook

Over the 2012 – 2022 decade, a job growth rate of 27% has been predicted for disability advocates (classified as healthcare social workers) (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). Postsecondary teachers are likely to witness a 19% growth, over the same period. In May 2014, healthcare social workers brought in an average annual wage of $53,090, while postsecondary education teachers working at junior colleges earned $74,040 per annum, on average (BLS).

Continuing Education Choices

Program graduates may seek continuing education in the field by enrolling in a relevant doctoral degree program that could lead to careers in education, research, or administration.

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