Special Education

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. How do I become matriculated into the Abilities and Disabilities Studies Program?
2. I am not clear on the admissions requirements. Do I need to take the GRE, MAT, or the PRAXIS?
3. How many classes can I take before I actually apply to the program?
4.What are my choices of concentrations, or focus area, for the Masters of Science in Special Education?
5. What are my choices of certificates of graduate studies, in Special Education, if I do not want to complete a full master’s program?
Course, Program, and Advising Questions
7. Do I really need to schedule a meeting with my advisor?
8. How long do I have to complete my program of study?
9. How can I register for classes? When can I register? How much will it cost?
10. What happens if a class is "closed" or "cancelled"?
11. I will not be able to enroll in classes for one semester. Is there anything I need to be aware of?
12. How do I find out if a course has prerequisites?
Professional Portfolio Questions
13. What is the Professional Portfolio and what do I need to do for it?
14. What portfolio guidelines do I follow?

2. How do I become matriculated into the Special Education Program?
A matriculated (degree-seeking) student is a student who has been accepted into the Master of Science in Special Education, through completing a graduate application form and meeting the requirements of matriculation of the program. Some of the benefits of becoming matriculated included having the opportunity to:

  • Count all your courses taken toward your degree, if approved by your advisor. Taking courses while not being matriculated may mean taking courses that will not count toward a degree, as only certain courses can transfer into degree programs when you matriculate. The graduate school’s rule about transfer credits is two courses (six credits) can be taken before matriculating and two courses (six credits) can be taken while apply. Courses which are being transferred into a program are evaluated when applying, with no guarantees of acceptance.
  • Register for courses prior (three weeks is typical) to non-matriculated students,
  • Meet (via in-person, phone, or email) with a program advisor to discuss various aspects of your program,
  • Attend Special Education events and take SED 601: Introduction to Student Programming and Master's Goal-setting so that you develop an accurate vision of what is expected from you during your program of study, and
  • Receive emails regarding upcoming events, reminders, and other pieces of information (via our program and/or advisor listserv).

Special Education also offers Certificates of Graduate Studies, which are four course sequences in a particular area of focus, Teaching ALL Students, Gifted and Talented Education, and Moderate-to-Severe Disabilities. You enter these programs of study through completing a certificate of Graduate studies application and meeting the requirements of application of the program. Some of the benefits of becoming enrolled in a Certificate of Graduate Studies included having the opportunity to:

  • Register for courses prior (two weeks is typical) to non-matriculated students,
  • Meet (via in-person, phone, or email) with a certificate advisor to discuss various aspects of your program,
  • Attend Special Education events, and
  • Receive emails regarding upcoming events, reminders, and other pieces of information (via our program and/or advisor listserv).

3. I am not clear on the admissions requirements. Do I need to take the GRE, MAT, or the PRAXIS?
No, your proof of teacher certification, or another professional certificate, condition, provisional, or professional, replaces the need to take any admissions testing.

4. How many classes can I take before I actually apply to the program?
Non-matriculated students may take two courses (six credit hours) that they pass with a grade of “B” or better prior to applying. Students may enroll in up to two courses for the semester in which they apply (for a total of six credit hours). Only courses taken within five years of application will be considered for transfer. Transfer credits are evaluated during the admissions process, so syllabi and course description of courses you want transferred should accompany your application. If an applicant has questions on whether courses will transfer into a program or not, they should discuss the credit transfer with the Program Coordinator. Not all previously taken courses, or courses taken during application process, are guaranteed to be transferred and accepted as credits toward a program of study, including University of Maine System courses. All courses are evaluated during the application process and compared with the required courses for the program of study the student is applying.

5. What are my choices of concentrations, or focus area, for the Masters of Science in Special Education?
Students have the following options:

Gifted and Talented: A 36-credit concentration focusing on working with students who are gifted and talented in a pull-out program and/or an integrated program as a gifted and talented teachers, or as a general education classroom teacher. In the concentration, 24 credits are specific requirements, and 12 credits are electives. (put link in here to this program)

Teaching ALL Students: A 39-credit concentration specially designed for general education teachers and specialty teachers focusing on working with students who have disabilities, are gifted and talented, and/or are English language learners. The concentration also has an emphasis on Universal Design and differentiated instruction. All 39 credits in this concentration are pre-determined to give educators knowledge in working specifically with students in these populations, and whole classes, to meet the needs of ALL students.

Self-Design in Special Education: A 36-credit concentration specially designed for special education teachers looking for higher level special education courses and general education teachers and other educational professionals looking for knowledge and understanding on how to work with and support youth with mild-to-severe disabilities. The self-design nature of this concentration allows students to choose what they want to focus their graduate program of study on, allowing students to gain knowledge and understanding in areas where they want their knowledge and understanding to grow the most. Within this concentration, students can focus on Applied Behavior Analysis, Response to Intervention (RTI), Moderate-to-Severe Disabilities, along many other self-made options. In this concentration, 12 credits are core courses, and 24 credits are electives chosen with your advisor.

6. What are my choices of certificates of graduate studies, in Special Education, if I do not want to complete a full master’s program?
Students have the following three options:

Gifted and Talented: This 12-credit certificate has one required courses of three credits and nine credits of electives, chosen with a faculty member in Abilities and Disabilities Studies. The certificate program is designed for educators who work as a gifted and talented teacher, one who is seeking 690 Gifted and Talented Teacher Endorsement, and General Education Teachers who would like more knowledge and understanding in working with youth who are gifted and talented.

Teaching ALL Students: This 12-credit certificate is a shorten version of the Teaching ALL Students Masters Concentration. It takes a course from each of the specialty areas: Students with disabilities, who are gifted and talented, and who are English language Learners. The fourth course focuses on differentiated instruction.

Moderate-to-Severe Disabilities: This 12-credit certificate has two required courses on moderate-to-severe disabilities and teaching life skills, a choice between two different transition courses, and three credits in electives, chosen with a certificate advisor.

Course, Program, and Advising Questions

7. Do I really need to schedule a meeting with my advisor?
You are required in SED 601, a required course for all Master of Science in Abilities and Disabilities Studies, to meet with your advisor and plan your program of study and to discuss your self-selected goals for your masters program. It is very important to continue to have contact with your advisor, especially before registration each semester, if you change courses in your program of study, if you need to take a leave of absence from your graduate program, and prior to your capstone courses at the end of your program. Advisors support students in developing their program of study to make sure they are planning to take courses when they are offered, so they can finish their program in their time frame. Advisors also approve electives in programs of study. Taking a course for an elective without prior advisor approval may result in the course not being accepted as an elective toward your degree.

Advisors are available to work with students in multiple ways (in office meeting, via phone, via email, etc). Please contact your advisor to schedule an appointment.

8. How long do I have to complete my program of study?
You have five years from the date of your admission into the program.

9. How can I register for classes? When can I register? How much will it cost?
You can search for the courses that you are interested in MaineStreet. Some course prefixes which you can look under for courses are SED, EPA, EPB, EPC, and EPS. These prefixes are for courses in Abilities and Disabilities Studies (ADS) and in the Professional Development Center, where students in ADS take many electives. To see the proposed schedule of when Abilities and Disabilities Studies courses will be offered, please see our 3-year course schedule (pdf).

Here are some other helpful links:

If you are a non-matriculated (non-enrolled) student, it is possible you will not be eligible to take some Abilities and Disabilities Studies courses. If you have any questions, you can contact the instructor directly to ask for permission to enroll and/or the coordinator of Abilities and Disabilities Studies. If you do not have a MaineStreet account, you will need to register directly with the Registrar’s Office.

10. What happens if a class is "closed" or "canceled"?
If a course is "closed," it means that it has reached its capacity. The course search function will indicate course status by highlighting the course information in a gray tone.

At this point, you can contact the Professional Education Department and ask to be added to the wait-list for the course you are interested in. If seats become available, people on the wait-list will be contacted in the order that they are listed. If you do not hear from someone about the course, then no seats available, and you should consider other course options.

If a course has been "canceled," it means that the course section is no longer offered that semester. Courses can be canceled due to low enrollment or other factors. If you are registered for a course that has become canceled, then you will be contacted as soon as possible through your USM email address. The course search function will indicate course status by highlighting the course information in a gray tone.

11. I will not be able to enroll in classes for one semester. Is there anything I need to be aware of?
The University has a continuous enrollment policy, which states that matriculated students must take at least six (6) credits a year to remain active in the program. If you decide that you cannot take courses or you have a medical/family reason which prevent you from enrolling, then you need to send a written letter to your advisor informing him/her of your intentions, and fill out and submit a leave of absence form.

12. How do I find out if a course has prerequisites?
This information is typically printed in the course schedules. In the Abilities and Disabilities Studies Program, the following courses have prerequisites:

Additionally, students who wish to take EDU 600: Research Methods must be matriculated.

Professional Portfolio Questions

13. What is the Professional Portfolio and what do I need to do for it?
The Professional Portfolio is the culmination of all of your effort and study in the Master of Science in Abilities and Disabilities Studies. The purpose of the portfolio is to provide an opportunity for students to reflect upon the knowledge, skills, and understanding they have acquired in the program. Components of the Portfolio are aligned with the Council for Exceptional Children’s Teaching Standards. For more information, review the guidelines of the Professional Portfolio (pdf).

For students who are matriculated in the Abilities and Disabilities Studies Masters of Science, and students thinking of matriculating, the program faculty high recommend attending a Student Presentation Day, 1st Saturday in December and 1st Saturday in May. At these fun-filled and educational practice sharing days, students present their Professional Portfolios and research projects completed in SED 697 and SED 699. In addition, the day has a pot luck lunch for socializing with students who are and were in the program, and also with full- and part-time faculty.

14. What portfolio guidelines do I follow?
Students follow the guidelines specified for the year they were admitted into the program. Detailed information about the portfolio itself and the process is available to students in SED 601. If you are unsure, please look at thePortfolio Requirements (pdf) online or contact your advisor.

Check out the New-to-USM Online Learning Guide (pdf) to services for students such as parkingtextbooks, accessing your e-mail account and BlackBoard, and other important services.

 


NEWS FOR PROSPECTIVE AND CURRENT STUDENTS

Graduate Studies Open House

Monday, September 29, 2014
4:30 - 6:00 PM
Abromson Center Second Floor Mezzanine
USM Portland Campus

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