2013-14 Catalogs

MS in Special Education

The Master of Science in Special Education is designed for people teaching exceptional children, whether new to the profession or already having experience. The Special Education master's provides:

  • courses and internships for initial teacher certification in teaching students with mild to severe disabilities,
  • coursework in various specialty areas such as teaching students who are gifted and talented and students on the autism spectrum, and
  • preparation to collaborate effectively in school-wide, multi-tiered systems of support, e.g., Response to Intervention (RTI).

Current general education teachers, specialty area professionals such as occupational therapists, special education teachers, paraeducators, and people with a bachelor's degree seeking a new teaching career in special education are among those for whom the program is intended.

The program has two strands:

1. Initial Certification: Teaching Students with Mild to Moderate Disabilities

The strand includes the coursework for two initial special education teaching certificates: teacher of students with disabilities K-8 and 7-12 (Maine 282) or teacher of students with severe disabilities K - 12 (286). Maine initial special education teacher certification requires student teaching. Student teaching in both areas is available.

2. In-service: special education and gifted talented education

The three in-service concentrations require teaching in a teaching position and professional teacher certification for entrance and comprise a core of courses and a professional portfolio. All core courses include educators in all three in-service concentrations, creating an interdisciplinary conversation and understanding. There are concentrations in Gifted and Talented, Self-Design in Special Education, and Teaching ALL Students.

Program Requirements – Initial Certification Strand

Teaching Students with Mild to Moderate Disabilities

The special education teacher certification and master's degree program integrating the requirements for Maine certification as a Teacher of Students with Disabilities (K-8 and 7-12) and a Teacher of Students with Severe Impairments (K-12).

The 39 credit Master's degree program includes :

  1. Recommendation for Maine provisional special education teacher certification in one of two areas: (1) 282 K-8 or 7-12, for mild to moderate disabilities, or (2) Maine 286 provisional special education teacher certification, K-12, for severe disabilities.  
  2. Nine elective credits selected by the candidate and approved by the advisor. Elective credits can contribute to graduate certificates in Applied Behavior Analysis, Response to Intervention: Academics and Behavior, Gifted and Talented Education, and Special Education Consultant, among other
  3. Master of Science in Special Education
Teacher of Students with Disabilities: 282 Certification Concentration (39 credits, plus prerequisite)

Prerequisites:  Maine certification Exceptionality Course-  SED 540, SED 335, or course course approved by the Maine Office of Certification.  Passing scores for Praxis I  Pre-Professional Skills Test.

SED 615 Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports  
SED 653 Assessment in Special Education  
SED 682 Special Education Law 
SED 693 Transitions Among Agency, School, and Community 
SED 518 Instructional Strategies for Learners with Special Needs
SPY 620 Multi-Tier Systems of Student Support 
SPY 625 Multi-Tier Mathematics Instruction for General and Special Education
SPY 627 Multi-Tier Reading Instruction for General and Special Education
SED 688 Internship in Special Education for Students with Mild to Moderate Disabilities 

Recommended for 282 Certification following completion of internship, above coursework, and meeting Maine passing scores for Praxis I Pre-Professional Skills Test and Praxis II Special Education:  Core Knowledge and Applications

Continuing coursework for Master’s degree:

EDU 600 Research Methods   
Electives nine (9) credits with advisor approval

Teacher of Students with Severe Disabilities: 286 Certification Concentration (39 credits, plus prerequisite)

Prerequisites:  Maine certification Exceptionality Course-  SED 540, SED 335, or course course approved by the Maine Office of Certification.  Passing scores for Praxis I  Pre-Professional Skills Test.

SED 612 Youth with Moderate to Severe Disabilities
SED 615 Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports
SED 621 Teaching Functional Life Skills 
SED 653 Assessment in Special Education   
SED 682 Special Education Law 
SED 693 Transitions Among Agency, School, and Community
SED 695  Internship in Special Education for Students with Severe Disabilities
SPY 601 Behavioral Principles of Learning
SPY 629 ABA and Developmental Disabilities

Recommended for 286 Certification following completion of internship, above coursework, and meeting Maine passing scores for Praxis I Pre-Professional Skills Test and Praxis II Special Education:  Teaching Students with Mental Retardation

Continuing coursework for Master’s degree:

EDU 600 Research Methods   
Electives nine (9) credits with advisor approval

Tk20 Student Data Management System

All undergraduate and graduate students who matriculate into an educator preparation program or pathway in USM summer 2013 or later are required to subscribe to the Tk20 online data management system. The subscription allows students to use the system for assessment, advisement, field experience and career portfolio management. The subscription fee of $103 covers some of the expenses related to the administration and assessment of the program. For loan purposes, it will be eligible for consideration as part of costs. The subscription is a one-time payment and must be made by each student during the first semester of program or pathway matriculation (check with individual programs and pathways for specific subscription timelines). Subscription instructions are posted on the Office of Educator Preparation web site: http://usm.maine.edu/educatorpreparation 

The Office of Educator Preparation at USM will consider, on a limited basis, individual requests for financial support to assist in payment of this fee for students who have challenging and extenuating  financial circumstances (e.g., unexpected medical expenses; a sudden unforeseen life event that causes a dire financial burden). To apply for a subsidy, complete the application form on the Office of Educator Preparation web site under Tk20 (http://usm.maine.edu/educatorpreparation).  Submit the application to Colleen Pleau in the Office of Educator Preparation (8 Bailey Hall) or via email (cpleau@usm.maine.edu). Applications for this subsidy must be received no later than four weeks following the start of a student’s matriculation semester by Kim Warren, SEHD Director of Student Affairs. 

Professional Licensure and Certification Notice

Students who are pursuing degrees leading to application for professional licensure or certification, and/or who will be participating in clinical placements, internships, or practica through their USM program should be aware that their host facility may require a criminal background check, finger printing, or drug screening. In such situations, each student is responsible for obtaining and paying for the background check or other screening process and for delivering required documentation to the facility. Although the University will make reasonable efforts to place admitted students in field experiences and internships, it will be up to the host facility to determine whether a student will be allowed to work at that facility. Students should further be aware that a criminal record may jeopardize licensure by the state certification body. Students may consult the certification body corresponding to their intended occupation for more details. Successful completion of a program of study at USM does not guarantee licensure, certification, or employment in the relevant occupation.


Program Requirements – In-Service Strand (certified educators):

Three concentrations in:

  1. Gifted and Talented
  2. Self-Design in Special Education
  3. Teaching ALL Students

Students in the in-service concentrations will create, in SED 601, the goals and objectives they plan to accomplish through their plan of study and their teaching philosophy statement. Goals and objectives can be an expansion of the admissions essay they write for matriculation into the program.

The professional portfolio will consist of the student's reflection of their goals and objectives and teaching philosophies created in SED 601 and on her/his evidence of meeting four of the Council for Exceptional Children's Teaching Standards. The purpose of the portfolio is to provide an opportunity for students to demonstrate and reflect upon what they have gained in the program. It is expected that the goals and objectives will integrate the principles of one's concentration, the application of knowledge to practice, an understanding of research methodology, and the ability to communicate effectively.

Students are responsible for compiling the elements of their portfolio throughout their program of study. Completion of portfolios will occur during SED 698, after all their other courses are completed. The portfolio will demonstrate how students have met the goals and objectives they planned at the beginning of their program, and the new and unexpected knowledge that they gained in their program. Students will then present live, or via video, their portfolios. If a student fails all or part of the portfolio, the student will meet with program advisors and coordinator to discuss the results. Note that students are permitted to resubmit their portfolios only once.

For course descriptions, please click here: http://usm.maine.edu/sehd

1. Gifted and Talented Education Concentration (36 credits)

This concentration is especially designed for educators who are interested in working with students who have gifts and talents, either in general education classrooms and/or in special resource programs. Through the G/T concentration, educators can apply, through the state, for an endorsement in Gifted and Talented Education after completing the twelve specialization credits of the concentration

Core (12 Credits)
     EDU 600 Research Methods and Techniques
     SED 653 Assessment of Academic Achievement
     SED 601 Introduction to Student Programming and Master's Goal Setting (1 credit)
     SED 698 Capstone Seminar and Portfolio – last course (2 credits)
     SED 699 Directed Study

Specialization (12 Credits)
     SED 659 Education of the Gifted/Talented
     SED 660 Curriculum and Methods for Teaching the Gifted OR
     SED 618 Programming for Learners with Special Needs
     SED 662 Productive Thinking and the Gifted Learner
     SED 666 Models in Education of the Gifted

Electives (12 Credits)
     SED 550 Teaching Gifted Students in the Regular Classroom
     SED 664 Gifted Students in Special Populations
     SED 665 Institute for the Program Planners in Education of the Gifted/Talented
     SED 667 Social/Emotional Needs of the Gifted
     SED 670 Secondary Programs in the Gifted and Talented
     Other courses may be taken from within USM with advisor's approval.

2. Self-Design in Special Education (36 Credits)

This concentration is especially designed for educators who are interested in working with students who have disabilities. The flexibility of twenty-four credits makes this program unique, as students can take courses that are geared towards the special education environment in which they are working. Through this concentration, students can also complete the Applied Behavior Analysis Certificate (ABAC) of Graduate Study or one of the Certificates of Graduate Study in Response to Intervention in the Educational Psychology Program. In addition, the courses that graduate students may select for their electives range from working with students with mild disabilities in a general education classroom to working with students in a life skills classroom who have severe disabilities. Educators in this concentration already certified in special education apply for an area of certification not already held, i.e., teaching students with disabilities (282) or teaching students with moderate to severe disabilities (286) while in the program, through the state.

Core Courses (12 credits)
     EDU 600 Research Methods and Techniques (3 credits)
     SED 601 Introduction to Student Programming and Master's Goal-Setting (1credit)
     SED 697 Universal Design Implemented (3 credits)
     SED 698 Capstone Seminar and Portfolio (must be taken last) (2 credits)
     SED 699 Directed Study (3 credits)

Electives (24 credits)

The elective courses allow students to tailor their master's programs to their interests and the areas they feel they need further study in to become better teachers for students with exceptionalities. These courses will be discussed with the student's advisor and written in an agreement between the student and his/her advisor. Any course changes from this agreement will need to be approved, in writing, by the student's advisor.

At least fifteen of these credits need to be directly related to working with students with disabilities. All courses need to be graduate level. They can be taken from any graduate department at USM or through the Professional Development Center at USM with prior approval by the advisor.

3. Teaching ALL Students (39 credits)

This concentration is especially designed for educators who are working in general education, classroom teachers, and specialty teachers who would like to better educate and interact with students with disabilities, who are gifted and talented, and/or are English language learners. The interdisciplinary nature of this concentration is unique, and also incorporates Universal Design and differentiated instruction, so educators can become more effective in working with all of their students.

Core Course (7 credits)
     EDU 600 Research Methods and Techniques
     SED 601 Introduction to Student Programming and Master's Goal Setting (1 credit)
     EDU 562 Linguistic and Cultural Diversity in the Classroom

Special Education (12 credits)
     SED 614 Methods of Teaching Mathematics for Students with Special Needs
     SED 615 Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports
     SED 618 Programming for Learners with Special Needs
     SED 679 Consultation and Special Education (6 credits)

Gifted and Talented (6 credits)
     SED 550 Teaching Gifted Students in the Regular Classroom
     SED 662 Productive Thinking and the Gifted Learner (9 credits)

English Language Learners (9 credits)
     EDU 559 Aspects of Reading for Multilingual Learners
     EDU 561 Aspects of the English Language
     EDU 563 ESL Testing and Assessment

Capstone (5 credits)
     SED 697 Universal Design Implementation
     SED 698 Capstone Seminar and Portfolio–last course only (2 credits)

Admission Requirements - Both Strands (Initial Certification and In-Service)

Minimum Requirements: Applicant must have a bachelor's degree, from a regionally accredited college or university, and have earned a cumulative grade point average of 2.5 (on a 4.0 scale) in a baccalaureate degree program.

Applicants who do not have a 2.5 overall GPA must enclose a letter asking for special consideration, in which they provide evidence of an ability to complete graduate studies successfully. Without such a letter, applicants who fail to meet eligibility requirements may be automatically denied. The applicant must also have attained teacher certification in any subject and in any state.

Application Deadline

See individual strands for admission application deadline.

Candidates should submit all application materials to the USM Office of Graduate Admissions, P.O. Box 9300, Portland, ME 04104-9300 by the application deadline.

Application must include:
  • A submitted online graduate admission application;
  • The application fee of $65.00;
  • Two sets of official transcripts from all colleges or universities attended, including USM;
  • Three letters of recommendation attesting to the applicant's knowledge of current scholarship, capacity to connect theory and practice in posing and solving educational problems, achievement of success in educational practice, and demonstrated capability and motivation to engage in advanced graduate study. Recommendations are easily submitted using our online application form. You will simply need to provide the name and email address for each of your recommenders during the application process. Once you submit your application, an email will be automatically generated to your recommenders directing them to fill out the electronic letter of recommendation.
  • Essay: see essay question below;
  • Certification of finances (international students only);
  • Submission of official TOEFL or IELTS scores (if English is not the applicant's first language);
  • Syllabi and course descriptions for courses asking to transfer in; and
  • Current resume.
Testing Requirement

Submit official TOEFL scores of 550 or higher on the paper-based test, 79 or higher on the Internet-based test, or 213 or higher on the computer-based test, or an IELTS score of 6.5 or higher if the applicant is an international student whose first language is not English. International students who have received their undergraduate degree from an English-speaking institution may apply for a waiver of this requirement.

For those applying to the In-Service strand, additional admission requirements include:

  • Completed and signed Teacher Credential Summary form
  • Special Essay Question (for In-Service strand)
    Describe why you are enrolling in this program.
         a. What goals do you have for yourself by obtaining a master's in Special Education in this concentration?
         b. What is at least one aspect of your teaching that you feel you will strengthen through earning this master's degree?
    Describe your past experience with youth, either in teaching or in another capacity.
         a. What did you learn about youth through this experience?
         b. What did you learn about yourself through this experience?

Application Deadline for the In-Service Strand is: Rolling with priority deadlines May1 for fall matriculation and October 15 for spring matriculation

For those applying to the Initial Certification strand, additional admission requirements include:

  • Praxis I exam passed based on Maine's standards
  • Completion of Maine’s required exceptionality course for all teachers at USM or another institution.  If not from USM, the candidate provides documentation that the course has been approved as an exceptionality course by the Maine Office of Certification.
  • Special Essay Question (for Pre-Service Strand)
    A free appropriate public education for students with disabilities represents our democratic society's commitment to educating all its children. A teacher lives out this commitment in his/her daily instruction and professional activities as an educator. Please describe what you think it means as a teacher to provide equitable learning opportunities for all students, including students with disabilities.

Application Deadline for the Pre-Service Strand: Rolling with priority deadlines: March 1 for summer matriculation,   Oct 15 for spring matriculation,  May 1 for fall matriculation

Transfer Policies

Transferring courses into the degree: Non-matriculated students may take two graduate-level courses (six credit hours) that they pass with a grade of 'B' or better prior to applying. Students may enroll in up to two graduate-level courses for the semester in which they apply (six graduate credit hours). A possible total of twelve graduate-level credits may be completed before matriculating in the program. Only courses taken within five years of application will be considered. Transfer credits are evaluated during the admissions process, so syllabi and course description of courses for transfer credit requests should accompany the application. If an applicant has questions on whether courses will transfer into a program or not, s/he should discuss the credit transfer with the Program Coordinator.

Transferring to a different strand after matriculation: A candidate must apply to the new strand using a Re-Application form with a processing fee of $15. The application and supporting materials are sent to the Office of Graduate Admissions. The application will be reviewed by faculty for approval. (Students matriculated before Spring 2013, can transfer to a different strand with no reapplication and processing fee.)