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Information on Master’s Degree Programs in Early Childhood Special Education

Majors Overview August 17, 2015

This article talks about master’s degree programs in early childhood special education and their education requirements, coursework, career choices, job and wage outlook, and continuing education and certification choices.

Master’s Programs in Early Childhood Special Education

Assessment of children’s disabilities and provision of developmental instruction to children between infancy and age eight comprise the focus of early childhood special education. Students enrolled in Master of Science (M.S.), and Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) programs in Early Childhood Special Education learn the theoretical and practical skills necessary for working with children with disabilities. Most coursework focuses on the identification of disabilities and implementation of a treatment plan at the earliest possible time, and an internship and student teaching experience are completed by students. Licensure must be earned by teachers and administrators, through the passage of an exam or by completing a teaching internship.

Education Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a bachelor’s degree in education among other related fields. Completion of undergraduate coursework in statistics, developmental psychology, and research design may give applicants familiarity with some concepts that these programs cover.


Program coursework focuses on research and methods courses. Completion of field experiences and teaching internships is a requirement in many programs after they complete core coursework in subject areas such as:

•Special education behavior management
•Early education theories
•Disability screening and assessment
•Language development
•Dynamics of families with disabled children

Career Choices

Program graduates can seek employment that involves working with students or in administrative roles. These professionals can often find employment with school districts, schools, and independent rehabilitation and counseling facilities. They may choose from possible job positions such as:

•Special education case manager
•Early childhood special education teacher
•Early childhood disability assessment specialist
•Program implementation specialist

Job and Wage Outlook

Over the 2012 – 2022 decade, a job growth rate of 16% has been predicted for preschool special education teachers. Over the same period, teachers in kindergarten and elementary schools are expected to see a 6% job growth (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). In May 2014, special education teachers at the preschool level brought in an average annual wage of $57,860 (BLS).

Continuing Education and Certification Choices

Administrators employed in a public school system have to meet state licensure requirements. Licensure is obtainable through the passage of a written exam and completion of a supervised internship. Teachers must gain licensure by successfully completing an accredited teacher education program; they must also complete student teaching assignments and pass a state pedagogy test. A doctoral degree is a requirement for many advanced research positions in early childhood special education.

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