Special Education


The Special Education programs are designed for individuals seeking to earn certification to teach special education or enhance their skills to support students with various learning needs.There are four concentrations in the Master of Science in Special Education. The Special Education program provides experiences across several disciplines looking beyond just understanding. Students apply learning through projects and assignments that are practical and connected to their professional fields.

Courses offered are fully online, synchronously or asynchronously. For student convenience, courses that meet synchronously are in the evenings or on weekends.

Special Education currently offers several undergraduate courses: (1) SED 235 Students with Exceptionalities in General Education (state approved Exceptionality course and Diversity Core course), (2) SED 420 Multi-Tiered Systems Support (MTSS) in Education, and (3) SED 300 Ethics and Youth with Exceptionalities (core course in Ethical Inquiry, Social Responsibility, and Citizenship).

The Special Education Department offers the Master of Science (MS) in Special Education program with four different concentrations that are designed to meet the needs of educators at different career levels. In addition, the Department offers a Certificate of Graduate Study in Gifted and Talented Education.:

1. MS in Special Education - Effective Instruction and Assessment for Students with Suspected and Identified Disabilities
This concentration is available in an accelerated (7 week classes) online format.

The Effective Instruction and Assessment Master’s degree concentration is for individuals seeking knowledge and skills in providing evidencebased services for students with suspected and identified disabilities. The courses include principles of systematic and explicit instruction and assessment, Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, Multi-Tiered Systems of Student Support, and assistive technology. The subplan is designed for people not seeking special education teacher certification. The audience includes individuals with teacher licensure in other areas of teaching such as general education, individuals licensed in other educational services, such as school psychology or social work, and individuals with experience with agencies and programs serving students with mild to moderate disabilities.

2. M.S. in Special Education In-Service (Certified Educators): Special Education, and Gifted and Talented Education
This in-service concentration includes a core set of courses specifically designed for special education teachers or teachers wanting a degree in special education but not the initial state certification. The concentration requires prior teaching experience and conditional or professional teacher certification for entrance.

3. M.S. in Special Education: Integrated General Education and Special Education
This concentration in integrated general education and special education is designed for those seeking initial teacher certification in general education and special education. The program has three outcomes: (1) USM Master of Science in Special Education, (2) recommendation for K-8 elementary or 7-12 content area teacher certification, and (3) recommendation for K-8 or 7-12 (282) Teacher of Students with Disabilities certification. The program begins in May of each year.

4. M.S. in Special Education: Pre-Service (Initial Certification): Teaching Students with Mild to Moderate Disabilities
This pre-service concentration includes the coursework for an initial special education teaching certificate in teacher of students with disabilities K-8 and 7-12 (Maine 282). Maine initial special education teacher certification requires student teaching. Student teaching is available through current employment at a school setting or arranged through USM as a placement. The program has two outcomes: (1) USM Master of Science in Special Education, and 2) recommendation for K-8 or 7-12 (282) teacher of students with disabilities. The program has rolling admissions with options to complete toward recommendation for certification in 3, 6 or more semesters and finishing with the Master’s courses. Advising allows for customization of course sequencing to meet individual needs.

Special Education Core Values:

  • Educators interact with others based on a belief in the infinite possibilities of and for human growth and development; all youth have the potential to learn and express knowledge through their unique styles of acquiring and demonstrating knowledge.
  • Educators are responsible for supporting and guiding each student on his/her journey from potentials to performances through personally meaningful, respectful, and accessible pathways.
  • Educators create learning opportunities that honor and enhance the gifts and talents of each individual and make possible the contributions of each student to self and to society.
  • Educators create learning environments where every child feels welcome and accepted for their unique attributes, including her/his cultural background, strengths, and weaknesses.
  • Educators always use person-first language and thinking; everyone is valued and viewed as a whole person, not strictly by a label or one characteristic.
  • Educators use multiple assessments and evaluations when measuring students’ successes and abilities and in understanding their needs.
  • Educators are collaborative, respectful, and supportive with all educators they come in direct and indirect contact with, including parents, maintenance workers, and administrative assistants.
  • Educators base all of their behaviors on the belief that each individual has intrinsic and global value to the evolution of human kind.