Program goal

The Master of Education in Special Education program prepares graduates for work in one of three areas: early childhood, severe disabilities or general education. Applicants who do not already hold a teaching license must meet both licensure and degree requirements prior to the awarding of the Master of Education degree unless exempted as a professional from another discipline. Teacher candidates should plan carefully with their adviser to ensure that the appropriate courses and experiences are completed. Successful completion of the degree program leads to endorsement in early childhood special education, severe disabilities or special education-general education.

The Master of Education in Special Education program with an early childhood concentration is a sequentially planned series of courses and clinical experiences designed to prepare individuals to work with young children, from birth through age 5, with developmental disabilities and their families. The courses are delivered using a blend of online and face-to-face formats. The program is learner-centered, innovative, interactive and collaborative. Through online discussions and face-to-face meetings with faculty members, community partners, student peers and program graduates, the ECSE teacher candidates have multiple opportunities to engage in interactive, proactive and dynamic dialogues.

Successful completion of the degree program qualifies candidates for teacher licensure with endorsement in early childhood special education by the Virginia Department of Education and initial early intervention certification. Candidates are prepared to intervene with infants and young children representing a wide range of abilities, including those at risk for developmental delays. As a result of training, candidates will be prepared to serve children and families in diverse and high-need communities in a variety of early intervention roles. The program can be completed in five semesters of full-time study or six semesters of part-time study.

In addition to course work, candidates create an electronic portfolio to showcase their knowledge, skills and dispositions in the special education early childhood curriculum.

Student learning outcomes

  1. Learner and learning: Understand human development and learning theory appropriate to the age group they will teach and acquire an awareness of the diversity of the school-age population in cultural backgrounds and styles of learning
  2. Content: Demonstrate knowledge of the subjects they will teach
  3. Instructional practice: Demonstrate an ability to plan and implement effective teaching and measure student learning in ways that lead to sustained development and learning
  4. Professional responsibility: Develop an understanding of purposes for education and a defensible philosophical approach toward teaching and demonstrate professional dispositions

VCU Graduate Bulletin, VCU Graduate School and general academic policies and regulations for all graduate students in all graduate programs

The VCU Graduate Bulletin website documents the official admission and academic rules and regulations that govern graduate education for all graduate programs at the university. These policies are established by the graduate faculty of the university through their elected representatives to the University Graduate Council.

It is the responsibility of all graduate students, both on- and off-campus, to be familiar with the VCU Graduate Bulletin as well as the Graduate School website and academic regulations in individual school and department publications and on program websites. However, in all cases, the official policies and procedures of the University Graduate Council, as published on the VCU Graduate Bulletin and Graduate School websites, take precedence over individual program policies and guidelines.

Visit the academic regulations section for additional information on academic regulations for graduate students.

Degree candidacy requirements

A graduate student admitted to a program or concentration requiring a final research project, work of art, thesis or dissertation, must qualify for continuing master’s or doctoral status according to the degree candidacy requirements of the student’s graduate program. Admission to degree candidacy, if applicable, is a formal statement by the graduate student’s faculty regarding the student’s academic achievements and the student’s readiness to proceed to the final research phase of the degree program.

Graduate students and program directors should refer to the following degree candidacy policy as published in the VCU Graduate Bulletin for complete information and instructions.

Visit the academic regulations section for additional information on degree candidacy requirements.

Graduation requirements

As graduate students approach the end of their academic programs and the final semester of matriculation, they must make formal application to graduate. No degrees will be conferred until the application to graduate has been finalized.

Graduate students and program directors should refer to the following graduation requirements as published in the Graduate Bulletin for a complete list of instructions and a graduation checklist.

Visit the academic regulations section for additional information on graduation requirements.