Special Education

MS in Special Education - In-Service (certified educators)

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 moderate 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, education technicians (Ed Techs), and people with a bachelor's degree seeking a new teaching career in special education are among those for whom the program is intended.

In-Service Concentration (certified educators)

This concentration is especially designed for educators who are interested in working with students who have disabilities and/or are gifted and talented. Through this concentration, students can also apply to the Applied Behavior Analysis certificate 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 to students who are gifted and talented.

Area of Expertise in Gifted and Talented

The In-service concentration has an area of expertise in Gifted and Talented (G/T). It is designed for educators who want to focus study on students who are gifted and talented.  This course of study requires 18 credits in G/T courses which can also be applied to the State for the Gifted and Talented endorsement. The remaining 9 credits are open for electives, of which 6 credits can be filled with additional Gifted and Talented courses offered through USM’s Professional Development Center or the student may branch out and support other areas of interest. All courses must 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. The Master’s completion courses are a 3 credit capstone and a 3 credit research methods prerequisite.

Program Requirements: 33 credits

Required- 18 credits

SED 550 Teaching Students who are Gifted in the Regular Classroom
SED 659 Education of students who are Gifted and Talented
SED 660 Curriculum and Methods for Teaching Students who are Gifted
SED 662 Creative Thinking and the Learner who is Gifted
SED 666 Models of Education for Students who are Gifted and Talented
SED 667 Social/Emotional Needs of Students who are Gifted/Talented

Electives- 9 credits

Capstone- 6 credits

EDU 600-Research Methods and Techniques
SED 699- Special Education Research Capstone

Area of Expertise in Core Knowledge and Skills

The In-service concentration with an area of expertise in core knowledge and skills provides the applicant the opportunity to strengthen core knowledge and skills in educating students with mild to moderate disabilities and set a foundation in applied behavior analysis.  There are 24 required credits, and the final 6 credits are electives which can be taken from any graduate department at USM or through the Professional Development Center at USM with prior approval by the advisor.  If the applicant wants to continue to strengthen the core knowledge and skills, there are recommended courses. If the applicant is interested in moving toward the ABA certification, there are recommended courses to move toward this goal. The Master’s completion courses are a 3 credit capstone and a 3 credit research methods prerequisite.

Program Requirements: 33 credits

Core knowledge and Skills/ABA required 21 credits

SED 518 Targeted and Individualized Instructional Strategies for Students with Disabilities 
SED 520 Multi-Tiered Systems of Classroom Support (K-8 only)
SED 615 Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS) 
SED 653 Assessment in Special Education
SED 682 Special Education Regulations, Procedures and the IEP Team
SED 693- Transitions Among Agency, School and Community (7-12 only)
SPY 601 Behavioral Principles of Learning
SPY 606 Principles and Procedures for Behavioral Interventions

Electives- Open 6 credits

Electives- Core knowledge and Skills- 3 credits

Electives- ABA- 3 credits

Capstone 6 credits

EDU 600-Research Methods and Techniques
SED 699- Special Education Research Capstone

Applicant Qualifications

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 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) in a baccalaureate degree program.

Applicants who do not have a 3.0 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 professional teacher certification in any subject and in any state.

Application Procedures and Required Materials

Application Deadline:

Rolling with priority deadlines of May 1 for fall matriculation and October 15 for spring matriculation

Applicants are required to provide the following materials: 

  • Application: Online Application
  • Application fee: $65.00 paid through the online application.
  • Transcripts: Official transcripts from all colleges or universities attended, excluding the seven campuses of the University of Maine System (UMS transcripts are accessible to USM). A transcript is official when sent directly from the institution.
    • International College transcripts: In addition to an official copy of the transcript, an official evaluation of college-level transcripts from a NACES (National Association of Credential Evaluation Services) approved transcript analysis agency is required.
  • Resume: Submit a resume or CV that outlines professional, volunteer, and community experience.
  • Essay: see below.
  • 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.
  • Completed and signed Teacher Credential Summary form
  • TOEFL or IELTS: Students whose first language is not English are required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and submit official scores as part of the application process. See additional information below regarding test scores.

International Applicants 

In addition to the standard application materials, international students must also provide the following materials:

  • College transcript evaluation: official course-by-course evaluation of college-level transcripts from a NACES (National Association of Credential Evaluation Services) approved transcript analysis agency
  • Declaration of Finances form accompanied by the appropriate financial documentation
  • International students whose first language is not English are required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and submit official scores as part of the application process. Only applicants with TOEFL scores of 79 or higher on the internet-based test 550 or higher on the paper-based test, or 213 or higher on the computer-based test; or IELTS scores of 6.5 or higher will be considered for admission to a graduate program.

Applicants whose first language is not English 

Students whose first language is not English are required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and submit official scores as part of the application process. Only applicants with TOEFL scores of 79 or higher on the internet-based test, 550 or higher on the paper-based test, or 213 or higher on the computer-based test; or IELTS scores of 6.5 or higher will be considered for admission to a graduate program.

Where to send transcripts and application materials 

Official transcripts and other supporting documents can be sent to:

Application Processing Center
University of Maine System
P.O. Box 412
Bangor, ME 04402-0412

Colleges and universities that participate in electronic submission of transcripts can send official transcripts to edocs@maine.edu. Resumes, essays, and other documents can also be sent to edocs@maine.edu.

For a transcript or recommendation to be considered official, it must be sent by the institution or the person writing the recommendation.

Special Essay Questions for In-Service Concentration

As a teacher holding professional certification with teaching experience describe why you are seeking a Special Education Master’s degree in either the Gifted and Talented pathway or the Critical Core Knowledge and Skills pathway.

What is at least one aspect of your teaching that you feel will be strengthened through earning this master's degree? What experiences will you bring with you as you complete this degree? How will earning this master’s degree make a difference to the students, colleagues and school community you work in?

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 concentration after matriculation: A candidate must apply to the new concentration 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.