You are here: American University School of Education Master of Arts in Special Education

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Young student playing a pattern-matching game with teacher.

We firmly believe that every student deserves a top-quality education. The MA in Special Education program:

  • offers both full- and part-time tracks to fit working and family schedules
  • prepares teachers to meet the specific needs of preschool, elementary, junior high, high school, and adult students at risk for or living with learning disabilities
  • teaches practical individualized training in diagnostic-prescriptive teaching within a solid theoretical framework of the Sally L. Smith Methodology, resulting in 97% placement rate
  • partnership with DC's renowned Lab School of Washington for year-long student internships
  • NEW partnership with the Peace Corps!
  • gives exposure to a wide variety of methods, materials, and program-specific academic skills through the arts: graphics arts, woodworking, music, dance, drama, puppetry, film making, and a unique feature called Academic Clubs as used at the Lab School of Washington
  • does not require previous teaching experience and prepares new teachers for DC, Maryland, and Virginia licensure with reciprocity in over 40 states

A student's placement must go through a due diligence process for discriminatory policies and must be approved by the Program Director and Field Placement Coordinator.

Frequently Asked Questions

Our graduates go on to work in many different settings related to the special education field including: public schools, private schools, independent schools, clinics, treatment centers, government, and research institutions and go on to doctoral programs as well as school, organizational, and government leadership.

Full-time students can complete the program in as little as 1 year (Fall, Spring, and Summer). Full-time students typically take 3-4 courses per semester, plus the internship requirement. This means 12-15 credits per semester are completed on a full-time schedule.

Part-time students typically take 6 credits (2 courses) per semester to complete the program in 2 years (or 5 semesters).

Typically, graduate students are eligible for financial aid if enrolled at least part-time. Part-time status is defined as 5 credits for Fall, 5 credits for Spring, and 2 credits in the Summer semester.

Full-time work may be accommodated depending on the circumstances of the student. All SELD courses are offered from 5:30-8:00 PM.

Students who require student teaching credits complete a year-long placement at a partner school site (link here). Students completing the program in one year typically start their student teaching placement during their first semester.

During the year that your student teaching placement occurs, you are in a classroom from 7:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Students may work part-time jobs in the afternoon between student teaching placement and class.

(Sept-June academic year of placement)

Praxis CORE (or equivalencies) is not required for admission. 

All admitted students are required to take Praxis CORE (or equivalencies) by graduation with the strong recommendation to take by end of first semester. The DC teacher licensing agency sets passing scores as: Reading 156, Writing 162, and Math 150. To submit Praxis, use school code: 5007 (no department code). Praxis scores can take up to six weeks to arrive after the test date. See Educator Testing Flyer here or visit the OSSE website for additional test types.

Still have questions? Send us an email: specialed@american.edu
202-885-3731