M.Ed. in Special Education


The M.Ed. in Special Education (non-endorsement) is designed for teachers and other professionals who seek specialization in the education of students with disabilities, ranging from students with mild to significant cross-categorical disabilities. An M.Ed. in Special Education will prepare you to fill a critical gap in K-12 general educator knowledge, providing service to students with disabilities.

This program provides for a practical, research- and evidence-based course of study on the latest theories and practices associated with the education of students with special needs in American public schools. An M.Ed. in Special Education may also provide a means to expanding potential career-building opportunities that come from obtaining an advanced degree in this field.

This is a non-licensure concentration designed for degree candidates interested in having a professional and meaningful impact on the education of students with disabilities. Courses are offered at the elementary and secondary level. It is recommended that candidates register for courses at the level of their existing license.

The Next Cohort Start Date is September 20th

M.Ed. in Special Education Program Goals

In addition to meeting the objectives for all Concordia University - Portland’s M.Ed. programs, successful candidates in the M.Ed. in Special Education program will:

  • Understand the field as an evolving and changing discipline based on philosophies, evidence-based principles and theories, relevant laws and policies, diverse and historical points of view, and on human issues that have historically influenced the field of special education
  • Demonstrate respect for their students first as unique human beings and then understand the effects that an exceptional condition can have on an individual’s learning in school and throughout the learner’s life
  • Possess a repertoire of evidence-based instructional strategies to individualize instruction for individuals with exceptional learning needs
  • Actively create learning environments for individuals with exceptional learning needs that foster cultural understanding, safety and emotional well-being, positive social interactions, and active engagement
  • Use individualized strategies to enhance language development and teach communication skills to individuals with exceptional learning needs
  • Facilitate instructional planning in a collaborative context that includes the individuals with exceptionalities, their families, professional colleagues, and personnel from outside agencies as appropriate
  • Understand the legal policies and ethical principles of measurement and assessment related to referral, eligibility, program planning, instruction, and placement for individuals with exceptional learning needs, including those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds
  • Use assessment information to identify supports and adaptations required for individuals with exceptional learning needs to access the general curriculum and to participate in school, system, and statewide assessment programs
  • Understand that professional practice requires ongoing attention to legal matters along with serious professional and ethical considerations to actively plan and engage in activities that foster professional growth and keep current with evidence-based best practices
  • Demonstrate knowledge on how to effectively collaborate with families, other educators, related service providers, and personnel from community agencies in culturally responsive ways to facilitate the successful transitions of individuals with exceptional learning needs across settings and services into adulthood

Course Descriptions

Earning Your Special Education Master's Degree Online

Using cutting-edge curriculum and easy-to-use online learning tools, Concordia University - Portland’s experienced education leaders will provide you with the best in theory and practice, preparing you for educational leadership positions in both K-12 and higher education. Online classes are five weeks in length, and can be accessed via the Internet at the times and from the locations that suit you best.

M.Ed. in Special Education (Non-Endorsement)
27 credits
EDSP 510 / EDSP 511 (3)
Introduction to Special Education
These courses focus on familiarizing the candidate with special education in today's schools, including the purpose and history of special education, the process to identify and serve students in need of specially designed instruction, and recommended practices for special education, such as access to the general education curriculum and inclusive practices. These courses address the continuum of services ranging from early childhood special education to transitions to adulthood.
EDSP 526 / EDSP 527 (3)
Managing and Teaching across Learning Environments for Students with Disabilities
The purpose of these courses is to gain in-depth knowledge of managing learning environments for students across the full continuum of disabilities. These courses address practices related to multi-tier support in order to ensure students with disabilities make progress in the general education curriculum; e.g., Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS), Response to Intervention (RtI) and Universal Design for Learning (UDL). The candidate will apply these concepts as they relate to providing a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE).
EDSP 524 / EDSP 528 (3)
Special Education Teacher Leadership Practices
Within these courses, the candidate will learn how to develop an IEP, how to coordinate meetings and how to work collaboratively with families and other education personnel including paraeducators, related services professionals, general education teachers, school administrators and any others relative to the education of students within the full continuum of disabilities. These courses also address classroom administration, scheduling logistics and understanding resource allocation as it pertains to providing access across instructional settings.
EDSP 572 / EDSP 573 (3)
Student Assessment and Evaluation across the Continuum of Disabilities
The purpose of these courses is to provide the candidate with knowledge of evidence-based practices in the areas of assessment and evaluation in special education. The candidate will acquire skills in administering formal and informal assessments and in evaluating assessment outcomes for program decision-making for students across the full continuum of disabilities. The candidate will explore the use of Response to Intervention (RtI) as it relates to eligibility for Students with Specific Learning Disabilities and the use of adaptive behavior scales in program development for students with moderate to severe disabilities.
EDSP 525 / EDSP 529 (3)
Evidence-based Practices in Language Arts, Literacy and Mathematics for Students with Disabilities
The purpose of these courses is to examine foundational strategies and methodologies related to language arts (reading, writing, speaking, listening), literacy in the content areas, and mathematics. The candidate will develop skills in applying evidence-based instructional strategies relevant to the full continuum of students with disabilities in a variety of instructional settings. These courses address the application of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) during instruction to promote learning for students with disabilities, and for students with disabilities who are English language learners.
EDSP 522 / EDSP 523 (3)
Developing and Applying a Functional Skills Curriculum
These courses are designed to prepare candidates with the necessary skills to effectively develop and implement functional skills programming, as appropriate, for the full continuum of students with disabilities. The candidate will learn evidence-based instructional strategies, methods and supports such as task analysis of daily routines, the use of assistive technology and augmentative communication systems, as they are applied across varied instructional settings. The candidate will learn to develop a functional instructional program using data-based decision making.
EDSP 622 (3)
Legal Aspects of Special Education Practice and Advocacy
This course is an in-depth examination of the history of legal issues and case law pertaining to special education services and practices. This course examines current legislative requirements defined by IDEA, ADA, 504, and ESEA. The candidate will critically review federal and state special education Administrative Rules and examine practical aspects of the assurance of FAPE on behalf of students eligible for special education services.
EDSP 602 (3)
Contemporary Educational Thought in Special Education
This course will stimulate informed and intellectual discussions though critical review of research-based practices, discussion of controversial issues identified in professional literature and contemplate the most current issues, initiatives, and legal case law decisions shaping Special Education policy, leadership decision-making and accountability in the provision for equitable educational opportunities on behalf of students with disabilities. The candidate will have the opportunity to critically analyze contemporary issues in Special Education. On-going active investigative dialogues should result in: willingness on the part of the course participants to promote a positive democratic society, uphold ethical practices and foster inclusive citizenship through effective change in their own schools and classrooms on behalf of individuals with special needs, families of children with disabilities and the school professional who serves these children.
EDGR 601 (3)
Educational Research
This course provides students with the basic competencies necessary to understand and evaluate the research of others, and to plan their own research with a minimum of assistance. This course includes the basics of both qualitative and quantitative research.

The Master of Education culminates with one of two courses
3 credits
EDGR 698 (3)
Action Research (CAPSTONE)
Action research is one of the capstone projects for the Master of Education program. During this five-week course, candidates will learn more about the action research methodology, complete final edits of the Literature Review, and design a complete Action Research proposal including data collection methods and analysis approaches. (During this course, the proposal will NOT be implemented with students/participants.)
This design provides students with the requisite skills and means to pursue the transformative practice called "Action Research" in their classroom, school, district or other work environment. The design method for the capstone project closely aligns with current classroom realities, with district and school requirements, and the needs of teachers and students.
EDGR 699 (3)
The Thesis offers the graduate student the opportunity to investigate, in depth, a topic in the field of education. The student, working with his or her thesis instructor, will explore relevant literature and present a thesis following the procedure established by the College of Education.

Either option provides candidates with an understanding of the role of research in the field of education as a tool to solve problems and as a way to improve student learning.


Career Opportunities

  • Curriculum development in special education (academic skills curriculum, functional skills curriculum)
  • Assessment and program development (eligibility and program development, core academic skills curriculum, functional skills curriculum)
  • Special education professional development for instructional personnel
  • Advocate for students with disabilities
  • Consultant/Advisor: students with disabilities
  • Multi-Tiered Models of Support: Response to Intervention (RtI), Positive Behavior Instructional Supports (PBIS), Universal Design for Learning (UDL)
  • Special education consultant: Policy Makers
  • Higher Education Instructor - Special Education

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