Master of Education with a Major in Special Education (Functional)

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Online Special Education Degree Program

The Master of Education, Special Education Program (Functional) at Southwestern College Professional Studies is designed for those who wish to add a functional special education endorsement to a current teaching license. The functional program focuses on the education and development of life skills for students with severe to profound cognitive disabilities as well as students with multiple disabilities.

A core of 33 hours in a 36-hour program is required for the degree. Learners may apply for a functional special education endorsement to an existing Kansas teaching license for grades K-6 or a functional special education endorsement to an existing license for grades 6-12 with the completion of 33 hours and passing scores on the ETS Praxis II test required by the state.

The Special Education degree in Kansas is offered completely online. Two on-ground functional special education practicums are also required. Enrollment takes place every 12 weeks.

Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant Program

The TEACH grant is offered to students who intend to teach full-time in high-need subject areas such as Special Education for at least four years at schools that serve students from low-income families.

The grant provides full-time undergraduates, graduates and post-graduate teacher certification students with up to $4,000 per year. Graduate students of our program pursuing a Special Education degree in Kansas or online may receive up to $8,000. Learn how to apply for the TEACH grant now by contacting an admissions counselor today for more information.

Program Contact:

Christine Rogers, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Education
Christine.Rogers@sckans.edu
(620) 229-6053

Program Outcomes

  1. The educator will work with students with functional learning needs and demonstrates an understanding of philosophical, historical, and legal foundations of education and special education.
  2. The educator of students with functionallearning needs demonstrates an understanding of learners’ diversity and provides support for students’ cognitive, physical, social, emotional and career development.
  3. The educator of students with functional special education needs demonstrates assessment, diagnosis, and evaluation knowledge and skills.
  4. The educator of students with functional learning needs demonstrates knowledge and skill in planning and implementing effective instruction based upon knowledge of the subject matter, student, community, and curriculum goals.
  5. The educator of students with functional learning needs promotes learning by providing planned, orderly, supportive environments that encourage participation of individuals with functional learning needs.
  6. The educator of students with functional learning needs demonstrates knowledge and skill in managing behavior, facilitating problem-solving, developing social skills and promoting self-advocacy of students with functional learning needs.
  7. The educator of students with functional learning needs demonstrates effective communication and collaboration skills and knowledge related to individuals with functional learning needs.
  8. The educator of students with functional learning needs demonstrates professionalism and ethical knowledge.

Required Courses

Core Major Requirements: (33 credit hours) In Education:

EDUC514 Introduction to Special Education: Individual Educational Plan Development *
EDUC524 Introduction to Special Education *
EDUC525 Collaboration with Families and Communities
EDUC534 Transitions in Education
EDUC714 Characteristics of Children & Youth with Low-Incidence Disabilities
EDUC718 Methods: Life Skills and Community-based Instruction *
EDUC722 Functional Behavioral Assessment Positive Behavior Support and Classroom Management
EDUC724 Advanced Methods: Strategies for Students With Significant Sensory, Motor and Health Needs
EDUC735 Assessment, Diagnosis, and Evaluation
EDUC757 Communication and Literacy
EDUC758 Initial Practicum in Functional Special Education *
EDUC759 Advanced Practicum in Functional Special Education

Research requirements: (3 credit hours) In Education:

EDUC512 Action Research

*required for provisional certification


All classes are 3 credit hours unless otherwise indicated.
Successful completion of a program portfolio will be required for this major. The information and documents in the portfolio will demonstrate that the student has met KSDE as well as national standards (Common Core of Knowledge and Skills Essential for All Beginning Special Education Teachers from the Council for Exceptional Children) for special education teaching. Additionally, those desiring to be licensed in Kansas must complete the ETS national assessment in mild disabilities.

The KSDE approved and NCATE accredited Teacher Education Program offered by Southwestern College provides study and practice of the essential knowledge, skills, and dispositions for obtaining a teaching license. In addition to successfully completing the program of study, each student is required to take and pass one or more KSDE identified licensure exam(s) at or above the level of performance specified by KSDE. With successful completion of the teacher education program of study as well as passing the required licensure exam(s), Southwestern College will be able to recommend the successful student for a specific teaching license or endorsement.

If not applying to teach in the state of Kansas, please check with your state’s department of education for specific licensure testing requirements.

Course Descriptions

EDUC512: Action Research

This course will introduce students to action research, a form of self-reflective systematic inquiry by practitioners on their own practice. The primary objective of the course is to prepare students to do action research in schools. There are three other goals: 1) the development of professional community; 2) the illumination of power relationships; and 3) students’ recognition of their own expertise. Credit 3 hours.

EDUC514 Introduction to Special Education: Individual Educational Plan Development.

Course will provide training in the procedures for developing high quality individual education plans for students with disabilities, based on state curriculum standards and meeting all of the requirements of state and federal special education laws and regulations. This course can be taken in conjunction with EDUC524 Introduction to Special Education. Credit 1 hour.

EDUC524 Introduction to Special Education

This course is designed to provide a solid grounding in understanding the developmental and learning of students with all types of exceptionalities. The contemporary concepts and evidence-based practices necessary to prepare special educators for teaching students with disabilities will be presented. Course content includes the philosophical, historical, and legal foundations of special education and ensures an understanding of the mandate to provide students with appropriate access to the general education curriculum. Important ideas around least restrictive environment, accountability, inclusive practices, professional collaboration and Response-to-Intervention are integrated. Credit 2 hours.

EDUC525: Collaboration with Families and Communities

This course develops an understanding and valuing process relative to the importance and complexity of characteristics of young children’s families and communities through respectful, reciprocal relationships, and involve families and communities in their children’s development and learning. Credit 3 hours.

EDUC534: Transitions in Education

The focus of this course is on the theoretical constructs and practical considerations in programming for students with disabilities from the preschool through the secondary and post-secondary level. Credit 3 hours.

EDUC714 Characteristics of Children & Youth with Low-Incidence Disabilities.

This introductory course provides an overview of the characteristics of learners with significant needs for support. Learners will be introduced to the various classification systems and the implications of: low-incidence disabilities, significant cognitive disability, various vision and/or hearing impairments, motor disabilities, and health impairments. The diversity of curriculum needs for students at the functional level will be addressed; including cognitive, physical, social, and emotional needs across the developmental spectrum. The course prepares learners for more advanced study in specific areas, such as assessment, instructional methodology, behavior management and transition. Credit 3 hours.

EDUC718 Methods: Life Skills and Community-based Instruction.

This course will provide an overview of instructional practices contributing to community-referenced planning, community-based and life skills instruction. Students design community-based instructional programs, ecologically valid and age-appropriate to facilitate mastery of skills essential for community and social inclusions including family and student involvement, transportation, and administrative and policy support. Credit 3 hours.

EDUC722 Functional Behavioral Assessment Positive Behavior Support and Classroom Management.

This course provides a problem-solving approach and the framework for teaching and to develop pro-social behavior in students with functional disabilities in classrooms and school contexts. Students ascertain behaviors, discover the functions of behavior, and learn pro-social behaviors for home, school, and community settings. Credit 3 hours.

EDUC724 Advanced Methods: Strategies for Students With Significant Sensory, Motor and Health Needs.

In this course, students learn instructional strategies for teaching children and youth with sensory and/or motor impairments and complex medical needs. Students will learn use of residual and alternative senses; proper positioning and transfer for students with motor impairments, nutrition, hydration, medical monitoring, and seizure activity. Students will develop appropriate goals and objectives in the sensory and motor areas, incorporate related services into inclusive educational settings, embed sensory and motor skills training into the general education curriculum, adapt materials and apply assistive technologies. Credit 3 hours.

EDUC735Assessment, Diagnosis, and Evaluation.

This course will develop the use of observation techniques and the administration and interpretation of test instruments and strategies including screening tests, formal and informal tests, norm and criterion-referenced tests, and diagnostic and achievement tests. Individual assessment of developmental skills, academic achievement, adaptive behavior and processes will be included. Tests will be evaluated for their usefulness in diagnosis, placement, and intervention in special education and remedial programs. Credit 3 hours.

EDUC757 Communication and Literacy.

This course will provide overall instructional practices in the area of effective communication and literacy for students with significant disabilities. Students will demonstrate the ability to collaborate with related service providers, community personnel, general education teachers, families and paraprofessionals in the pre-assessment, construction, implementation and reassessment of both high and low tech communication systems. Students will also demonstrate the ability to design literacy objectives that align to the Common Core state standards and create formative and summative assessments to support the objectives. Credit 3 hours.

EDUC758 Initial Practicum in Functional Special Education.

This is a field-based course relating theory to application. Students will be placed in settings where they will obtain experiences working with students with functional disabilities. Credit 3 hours.

EDUC759 Advanced Practicum in Functional Special Education.

This is a field-based course relating theory to application. Students will be placed in settings where they will obtain experiences working with students with severe and profound cognitive disability, medically fragile, deafblind disabilities. Credit 3 hours.

Admission Requirements

The M.Ed., with a major in special education program is open to persons who are licensed to teach, or eligible for licensure, in Kansas. To be admitted into the M.Ed., with a major in special education program, candidates must submit the following:

Southwestern College Professional Studies Graduate Program Application form – Application forms are accepted on an ongoing basis. No application admission fee is charged. Complete the online application

Official transcripts of all prior college/university coursework- Applicants must hold a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution with a grade point average of 2.75 or higher (on a 4.0 scale).

Print a copy of the transcript request form and mail the request to the institution which awarded your bachelor’s degree.

Two confidential letters of recommendation – using the Graduate Recommendation Form (at least one from a current or former employer).

A one page Admissions Essay explaining why applicant wants to be a special education teacher – submit your written statement electronically to graduate@sckans.edu or via mail or fax to 316.688.5218.

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Applicants should have at least three years of professional work experience.

Students applying to pursue the major in special education must meet these additional requirements:

  • Hold an undergraduate degree in elementary or secondary education
  • Have a valid teaching certificate for the level for which they are seeking special education certification
  • Have successfully completed a course in survey of exceptionalities

All international learners must show evidence of their English language ability by providing the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) report. A score of 550 (paper test) or 213 (computer-based test) on the TOEFL is considered the minimum acceptable for admission to the M.Ed. program.

Applicants who hold bachelor’s degrees from a U.S. institution or from an institution in another English-only speaking country will receive a waiver of the TOEFL. Applicants who are from native English speaking countries are not required to take the TOEFL.

Admission requirements may differ for international learners, or for learners whose undergraduate degrees were awarded outside of the United States. Please contact an admissions counselor for more details.

In addition to the above, it is recommended that candidates have a working knowledge of word processing and presentation software.

A candidate’s file must be complete before an admissions decision may be made. It is the responsibility of each candidate to provide all of the information requested above. Candidates will receive a letter of admission to the program.