Jul 14, 2024  
2023-2024 SGPP Catalog and Student Handbook 
2023-2024 SGPP Catalog and Student Handbook [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Special Education, M.A.

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Programs of Study

Program Description

The Master of Arts in Special Education degree program provides the skills, theories, and tools to develop an inclusive learning environment for learners at all ability levels. Individuals who would like to become licensed to teach in the special education areas of learning disabilities (LD), emotional/behavioral disorders (EBD), and/or autism spectrum disorders (ASD) take additional coursework, including field placement.  The special education coursework is based on the standards required by the Minnesota Professional Educator and Licensing Standards Board (PELSB). All standards and requirements must be successfully completed by candidates prior to recommendation to PELSB for licensure.

Program Outcomes

Upon completion of the Master of Arts in Special Education program, graduates are expected to do the following:

  1. Analyze educational principles, structures, and systems to identify and meet the needs of learners with exceptionalities.
  2. Apply due process procedures within legal parameters for learners with exceptionalities.
  3. Create and implement learner-specific instructional strategies.
  4. Maintain professionalism to cultivate collaborative relationships with learners, families, educators, other professionals, and the community.
  5. Develop intercultural competence to understand and inform educational practice for all learners, specifically learners from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
  6. Demonstrate critical thinking and reflection in analysis and decision making.
  7. Identify and continue to explore ethical frameworks to inform practice.

The M.A. in Special Education is no longer accepting students into the Master of Arts in Special Education without Licensure or Additional Licensure effective immediately.

Program Structure and Delivery

Students can complete the program in one of three ways.
Option 1  (30 credits) is for those who are seeking to fully understand special education issues and approaches, but do not wish to obtain a license in special education.
Option 2 (42 credits minimum) is for already licensed teachers in Minnesota who want to add licensure in one or more special education areas: emotional behavioral disorders (EBD), learning disabilities (LD), and/or autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
Option 3 (65 credits minimum) is for those without teacher licensure who want to be licensed to teach special education in Minnesota.

This program is fully online for option 1 and 2, however, option 3 has a remote delivery model for the education foundation courses. The online delivery model offers flexibility for students, while the remote delivery model gives students the benefits of synchronous instruction.

State Required Testing

In order to be recommended for licensure in the State of Minnesota, you must pass the Minnesota Teacher Licensing Examination (refer to the MA in SPED handbook for details on the examinations).

Field Placement

Experience applying theoretical concepts in real life settings is crucial to a teacher’s development as a professional. Saint Mary’s categorizes these experiences through three credits of practicum experience for those teachers adding a special education license, or a 6-credit student teaching experience for those students working on their initial teaching license.  
All students in the program, regardless of if they are seeking licensure, will be expected to access K-12 classrooms for observational practicum in order to complete course assignments and activities during the length of their program.  Students can expect a minimum of 3 hours and maximum of 15 hours of observational practicum per course.


The faculty members for this program have earned doctorate or master’s degrees. Faculty are selected for their combination of educational and professional experience and expertise.

Admission Requirements

Applicants may apply for admission to master degree programs at any time during the year. Applicants must have completed an undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution and maintained an overall grade point average of 2.75 on a 4.00 scale. Applicants must demonstrate the language proficiency necessary for successful graduate coursework. All applicants must complete an interview with a program administrator.

Application Process

Applicants must submit the following:

  1. Completed application form with the nonrefundable application fee (fee not required for alumni or students seeking readmission or veterans and active military personnel), and
  2. An official transcript(s) issued to Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota from the institution posting the applicant’s completed bachelor degree and other relevant transcripts documenting program prerequisites and potential transfer credits. (An official transcript is one that is sent to the university by the credit-granting institution. Transcripts from countries other than the U.S. must be evaluated on a course by course basis by a university accepted evaluation service, such as World Education Services, Educational Credential Evaluators, Educational Perspectives, or One Earth International Credential Evaluators and be deemed equivalent to accredited U.S. university standards).  Evaluations from an approved member of the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES.org) will also be accepted.
  3. A reflective essay which includes the following:
    1. brief description of the applicant’s background, training, and experience; and
    2. statement indicating the career goals of the applicant and their reasons for seeking admission to the program; and
    3. description of the areas the applicant considers to be their strengths and areas in which the applicant wishes to develop greater strengths and abilities; and
    4. personal information the applicant wishes to share.
  4. Letter(s) of recommendation that verify professional and/or volunteer experience and academic ability; and
  5. A current résumé listing educational background and work experience.
  6. Applicants with international transcripts may require an English language proficiency exam (TOEFL, IELTS, PTE or MELAB accepted.)

Please Note: Application materials should be sent to the attention of the Office of Admission on the Twin Cities Campus.

Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota
Office of Admission
2500 Park Ave S
Minneapolis, MN  55404

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Programs of Study