COE: MEd: Special Education | Autism & Developmental Disabilities
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MEd: Special Education
Autism & Developmental Disabilities

Create Learning Environments Designed for Children with Autism

There has never been a greater need for all educators to understand and appreciate the uniquenesses presented by children on the Autism Spectrum. Such a diagnosis in children is typically accompanied by related, complex concerns that all educators should know about and seek to accommodate in school environments. School district employment officials claim that professionals with background, understanding, and knowledge of Autism and Developmental Disabilities, by receiving UMSL's Autism Certificate, are at the top of their recruitment efforts. The need for professionals prepared by UMSL's College of Education team of instructors in Special Education, with a specialty in Autism, has never been more critical than now.

UMSL's Master's Degree in Special Education provides its graduates comprehensive understanding, experience, and application of current, evidence-based best practices in K-12 Special Education. The implementation of strategies and interventions, about which students learn and apply, allows for program graduates to address the nearly 90% of children with special needs who attend public school-based, general education (inclusive) learning environments throughout the academic school year.

No other master's degree-level, Special Education program - among higher education opportunities in the Greater St. Louis Area - comes close to harnessing and presenting the expertise and practical applications that bring success to practicing "special" educators.

Master of Education (MEd)

Contact Advisors:

Marty Woytus & Susan Johnson

116 South Campus Classroom Building (SCCB)
p: (314) 516-5930

Deadlines to Apply:
Fall - July 1
Spring - December 1
Summer - May 1


Slide 1 Katelyn Freiert Named Teacher of the Year in Fort Zumwalt School District
"It feels amazing to be recognized for a job that I love doing. I couldn’t be more grateful for everything that my students teach me each and every day.”

The M. Ed. Program in Special Education explores important core knowledge in Special Education. The program's primary goal is to empower professionals as thoughtful educators who use best practices when assisting and empowering students with disabilities. Research and data-based decision-making are emphasized throughout the program. Graduate students will apply learned and evaluated research into practice in their courses, and learn to analyze multiple types of assessment data. The M.Ed. Program in Special Education consists of an initial required core of courses, a concentration area corresponding to the chosen emphasis area, and a capstone or exit course block.

When graduate students are accepted into the program, their transcripts may be reviewed, as necessary,  to identify compliance with state education certification guidelines. Students who wish to be certified in the education of children with cross-categorical disabilities will be required to fulfill general certification requirements, as well as graduate coursework. Upon completion of this advanced degree, professionals will have developed an in-depth knowledge-base related to

  • various learning contexts within and outside of the school setting
  • the multiple influences on educational practices in schools
  • the characteristics and instructional needs of learners with disabilities
  • assessment strategies for monitoring instruction
  • instructional best practices
  • using research to inform practice in the classroom
  • diversity awareness
  • contexts that affect student learning
  • the powerful interactions between setting events and specific learner outcomes
  • a life-perspective of students with exceptional learning needs, both young children who transition into kindergarten and those transitioning into adulthood.
1) Required Foundation Courses (9 hours)
Students are required to complete the following courses within the first 15 hours of study.
TCH ED 6010Examining History, Community and Social Justice in Education3
TCH ED 6020Teacher Action, Advocacy and Leadership3
ED PSY 6030Instruction, Learning and Assessment3
2) Required Research Courses (6 hours)
These two research courses should be taken in sequence (not together) at the end of your program since the first course prepares you with the knowledge and skills to successfully complete an Action Research project in the capstone exit course. You will design and execute a piece of original practitioner research and present your findings in a public forum.
TCH ED 6909Teacher Action Research I3
TCH ED 6910Teacher Action Research Capstone 13
3) 9-hour Concentration Choices
A. Special Education Concentration I: 9 hours
ED PSY 6545Consultation in Schools and Related Settings3
SPEC ED 6325Advanced Studies in Classroom & Behavior Management 23
or SPEC ED 6437 Applied Behavior Analysis: Functional Assessment and Interventions
SPEC ED 6415The Law and Special Education3
B. Special Education Concentration II Electives 9 hours
Students have the option of enrolling in a 3 credit hour course from either the Early Childhood Special Education or Autism Studies concentrations, or enrolling in an additional course in the Cross-Categorical concentration in order to meet the 9 credit hour course requirement for Concentration II.
i. Cross Categorical Disabilities Concentration II: 6 +3 hours from i, ii, or iii.
CHOOSE 2 + 1 from this or another designated Concentration II area
SPEC ED 6315Understnding/Implmnting Speech & Lang Interventions that Assist Chldrn w/ Sp Needs3
SPEC ED 6345Characteristics and Education of Students with High-Incidence Disabilities3
SPEC ED 6342Transition Education for Adult Life3
SPEC ED 6346Reading Instruction and Intervention in Special Education3
ED PSY 6542Social-Emotional and Behavior Interventions3
ii. Autism and Developmental Disabilities Concentration II (9 hours)
SPEC ED 6430Characteristics and Education of Individuals with Low-Incidence Disabilities3
SPEC ED 6610Foundations of Autism Spectrum Disorder: Research to Practice3
SPEC ED 6620Assessment and Interventions for Children and Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder3
iii. Early Childhood Special Education Concentration II (9 hours)
SPEC ED 6372Screening and Diagnosis of Developmental Delays: Birth to 5 Years3
SPEC ED 6462Introduction to Early Childhood Special Education3
SPEC ED 6463Curriculum, Methods, and Materials for Early Childhood Special Ed3

Total hours: minimum 33 credit hours

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April Regester, Ph.D.
Associate Professor

April Regester received her Ph.D. In Special Education, Disabilities & Risk Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2009. She also holds a M.A. In Special Education, and a Preliminary Education Specialist Credential for students with moderate to severe disabilities.