Special Education (M.S.Ed.)


Teaching children, adolescents and young adults with special needs is more than a job. It’s a calling, it’s a passion and it’s a reward. If this describes you, consider our M.S.Ed. in Special Education, which will enhance your preparation for a lifetime of nurturing and celebrating great accomplishments in your students. We offer two specializations: Advanced Special Education Practices and Learning Behavior Specialist I. We also offer certificates of graduate study in Applied Behavior Analysis and for Directors of Special Education. Ninety percent of our graduates are employed in the field within one year of completing our program, which is approved by the Illinois State Board of Education.

Choose Your Specialization

Pursue advanced studies in Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), Director of Special Education or Special Education endorsement. You also can design your own area of interest and create your own master's program.

  • SESE 592 Seminar in Special Education (3 credits) or
  • SESE 747 Advanced Seminar in Special Education (3 credits)
  • SESE 792 Seminar: Single Subject Research Methodologies in Special Education (3 credits)
  • Coursework in the major (12-15 credits)
  • Additional coursework approved by advisor (6-9 credits)

If you're seeking initial licensure as a special education teacher of individuals with disabilities (other than visual disabilities and deafness), you'll learn about teaching all students and including students into schools and communities. You'll also learn to incorporate common core standards into everyday instruction, how to develop individual education plans and how to use assistive technology in your classroom.

  • SESE 540 Foundations of Special Education (3 credits)
  • SESE 552 Assistive Technology for Multiple Disabilities (3 credits)
  • SESE 559 Planning for the Transition from School to Employment, Career and Postsecondary Education for Students with Disabilities (3 credits)
  • SESE 561 Methods for Teaching Individuals with Developmental Disabilities (3 credits)
  • SESE 601 Methods for Teaching Students with Mild Disabilities (4 credits)
  • SESE 602 Methods for Teaching Middle and Secondary Students with Mild Disabilities (3 credits)
  • SESE 603 Functional Analysis for Special Educators (3 credits)
  • SESE 605 Consultation, Collaboration, and Communication Skills for Special Educators (3 credits)
  • SESE 606 Methods for Teaching Students with Emotional/Behavioral Disorders (3 credits)
  • SESE 607 Special Education Capstone/ Pre-Student Teaching Seminar (1 credit)
  • SESE 608 Field Experience in Special Education: Learning Behavior Specialist I (2-6 credits)
    • With approval of the department, SESE 608 can be waived for candidates who have documented sufficient professional experience.
  • SESE 609 Elementary Practicum: Learning Behavior Specialist I (3-6 credits)
    • Students take this course for three semester hours.
  • SESE 610 Secondary Practicum: Learning Behavior Specialist I (3-6 credits)
    • Students take this course for three semester hours.
  • ETR 524 Assessing Students with Special Needs (3 credits)
  • One graduate-level course in research, such as SESE 792, or approved by advisor.

You'll need to submit:

  • Your application to the Graduate School.
  • Your official transcripts (our faculty select those applicants who are most qualified, typically requiring a GPA of 3.0 or higher for the last two years of your undergraduate work) and test scores.
  • Two letters of recommendation from your employers, supervisors or professors.
  • Your personal statement of why you're applying and your goals for a career in special education.
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During your program of study, you will:

  • Write a personalized philosophy of special education based on historical, legal, civil rights and research in the special education field
  • Write and teach lesson and unit plans for students with mild, moderate and severe disabilities based on individual student needs and characteristics.
  • Develop and implement a behavior intervention plan for a student with challenging behavior.
  • Describe assistive technologies to use for students with disabilities based on their unique needs and characteristics.

Some classes in the Advanced Special Education Practices specialization are offered in a hybrid online/in-person format. Online class sessions are determined by each professor.

Most classes in our Learning Behavior Specialist I program are offered in person at the DeKalb, Naperville or Hoffman Estates campuses. Some might be offere in a hybrid online/in-person format.