Master of Science in Special Education

Not currently accepting applications

All students deserve a great education.

Being a Special Education instructor is far more than an ordinary teaching job. It represents a chance to open the world to exceptional students. St. Thomas University’s M.S. in Special Education online degree program gives you the enhanced knowledge and skills to help exceptional students thrive in grades K-12 – and into adulthood.

St. Thomas’ Special Education M.S. curriculum features built-in field experience: Get hands-on classroom training as you learn! Our 36-credit Special Education online master’s program gives you the theoretical grounding, assessment tools, and instructional and behavioral-management skills to effectively, compassionately teach and serve students with intellectual, emotional, and/or learning disabilities.

Experienced faculty guide you through courses focused on proven instructional strategies designed to improve the educational experience of students with special needs. You will also learn effective classroom management techniques and vocational therapies that prepare students for independent lives after graduation.


The expected outcome of the M.S. in Special Education from St. Thomas University is to equip you with the knowledge and resources to make a real difference in the lives of exceptional K-12 students. By completing our comprehensive course of study you will be able to:

  • Trace the history of special education in America, including landmark legislation and court decisions
  • Select the best assessment and evaluation tools for diagnosing learning disabilities
  • Design instructional strategies and interventions that promote a positive learning environment
  • Manage behavior and promote student growth in a special needs classroom
  • Teach adaptive life skills to prepare students for lives of greater independence


St. Thomas University’s M.S. in Special Education is a 36 credit-hour online degree program. Courses are five weeks in length, and the time to degree completion is approximately 16 months.

MS in Special Education (36 Credits)

Survey of Education of the Exceptional Child (3)
Foundations in exceptional student education in which historical perspectives, student characteristics, trends and issues, and medical and etiology of exceptional learners are discussed. Several techniques of prevention and intervention, from infancy through adulthood are explored.

Assessment of the Exceptional Child (3)
This course provides students with a basic understanding of assessment concepts and their application to appropriate test selection, administration, and especially interpretation. It is a survey of assessment tools used to classify, diagnose, and evaluate individuals with disabilities with an emphasis on understanding and interpreting the most recently developed instruments and the development of informal assessments.

Educational Measurement (3)
This course introduces teachers and educational leaders to elements of assessment that are essential to good teaching. It provides students with an understanding of the role of assessment in the instructional process. Students will learn how to construct effective test questions that are aligned with learning objectives and how to evaluate published tests and properly interpret scores of standardized tests as well as how to make appropriate modifications for ESOL students.

Language Development and Language Disabilities (3)
This course provides students with a basic understanding of the nature of speech and language, of the developmental progression in language acquisition, and of the techniques for evaluating language development and remediating language and communication disorders in children. The study of language development and disorders, which includes the impact of language on learning and augmentative forms of communication, will be presented. Individual needs and remediation concerns are addressed from early childhood to adulthood. Impact of inclusion and alternate strategies for delivery of services in the mainstream are investigated.

Vocational and Functional Life Skills (3)
This course covers the personal, social, and vocational skills that students with disabilities must acquire in order to transition from school to work and independent living. It focuses on the knowledge, strategies, and resources necessary to prepare adolescents and young adults with disabilities for the transition from school to work, continuing education, and independent living. Emphasis is placed on the context within which adolescence occurs, assessment and planning, instructional strategies, and collaboration with families and agencies.

Instructional Strategies for Students with Intellectual Disabilities (3)
Instructional strategies for teaching students with intellectual disabilities are discussed. The development, implementation and evaluation of individualized educational plans are stressed. Special approaches to teaching functional skills, developmental programming, and data based management to students ranging in age from kindergarten through high school are also discussed.

Instructional Strategies for Students with Learning Disabilities (3)
Instructional Strategies for Students with Emotional Disorders. Instructional strategies and specialized approaches for teaching children with emotional disabilities are emphasized.

Instructional Strategies for Students with Emotional Disorders (3)
Instructional strategies and specialized approaches for children with emotionally disabilities are emphasized. This course is specifically designed to help teachers, administrators, psychologists, and other service providers to work successfully with children who exhibit emotional and behavioral disorders. It provides a comprehensive and holistic repertoire of valuable, evidence-based treatment strategies. This course will also help school professionals to better understand the role of teachers and service providers, when dealing with the most prevalent behavioral disorders they encountered while working with students and adolescents with Emotional and behavioral disorders.

Psychological Foundations of Education (3)
An intermediate course designed to apply psychological theories and principles of learning and development to teaching and student learning in career areas related to education. Challenges of diversity and teacher effectiveness are emphasized.

Social, Philosophical and Historical Foundations of Education (3)
This course will assist student in examining and explaining the differing social contexts of schooling, the diverse value orientations represented in formal and informal education, and the major historical forces shaping schooling in America.


If you hold a valid teaching license from your state, you may be eligible to apply for a special education endorsement at the successful completion of the M.S. in Special Education from St. Thomas University. Check with your state teacher licensing agency for its requirements.

The candidate completing this program is eligible to apply for a Florida Temporary Certificate in Exceptional Student Education (Grades K-12). The applicant must be employed as a Florida educator and have his/her fingerprints processed and cleared to have the Temporary Certificate issued.


The need for qualified special education teachers and support staff in America’s schools is greater than ever. With an M.S. in Special Education from St. Thomas University, the following are just some of the careers you can pursue with your master’s degree in this important and deeply rewarding profession:

  • Elementary Special Education Teacher
  • Middle School Special Education Teacher
  • High School Special Education Teacher
  • Special Education Director of After-School Program
  • Special Education Curriculum Developer

Request InformationApply Now