Academic programs

M.Ed. in special education

The M.Ed. in special education prepares scholars for faculty and leadership roles, and provide aspiring educators with the tools they need to make a difference in the lives of children, youth and adults with disabilities through research, teaching, and service.

In addition to the instruction from our nationally-recognized faculty, our master’s students can take advantage of field experiences available through Virginia Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities training program as well.

Successful completion of our degree programs can lead to endorsement in areas such as early childhood special education, special education: general education curriculum or special education: adapted curriculum.

To hear stories from some of the faculty and students involved in the M.Ed. in special education program, visit our making online learning real page.

The M.Ed. in special education can also be pursued as part of the Richmond Teacher Residency program, an innovative graduate teacher residency that pairs candidates with an experienced mentor in Richmond Public Schools. View the program's website here.

Program concentrations

Early childhood

The early childhood concentration prepares individuals to work with families and young children, from birth through age 5, with and at risk for developmental disabilities. Using a hybrid of online and face-to-face formats, the program is learner-centered, innovative and collaborative. The program prepares students to serve infants and young children representing a wide range of abilities, including those at risk for developmental delays and those at risk for or with severe disabilities.

Program highlights:

  • Initial teacher licensure with endorsement in early childhood special education by the Virginia Department of Education
  • Completion of early intervention certification training
  • Program completion timelines from six semesters of full-time study to eight semesters of part-time study
  • Creation of an electronic portfolio that showcases knowledge, skills, and dispositions in early childhood special education
  • Access to professionals in the field through our advisory board members

Degree requirements for the early childhood concentration »

*Exact course requirements may vary depending on date of matriculation. Current and prospective students should consult their faculty adviser with any questions.

Starting fall 2018, Project 3IP will sponsor 20 early childhood special education students to engage in an intensive interdisciplinary training program across three disciplines: education, physical therapy and pediatrics. This project is possible with grant funding from the US Department of Education and is a partnership between the School of Allied Health Professions.

Fall 2018 3IP Masters of Special Education - Concentration in Early Childhood Extended Deadline Applicants:

Fall 2018 Extended Deadline: April 1

Special Admission Notes:

  1. Complete Online Graduate Application
  2. Submit all required additional documentation (three references, academic transcript(s), personal statement, GRE or MAT scores) directly to your Graduate Application
  3. Request and submit the 3IP Application to SOEinfo@vcu.edu

Once you submit all of your materials and 3IP application, you will be reviewed for acceptance into the Master's program and then if accepted, considered for the 3IP program. Students who are considered for admission will be asked to complete a personal interview for final consideration for the program and project.

General education

Accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and the Council for Exceptional Children, our general education concentration is designed to provide graduates with the professional knowledge and skills needed to work in a variety of settings, such as general education classrooms (where children with special needs are being taught collaboratively), resource rooms and residential programs.

Special training is provided in teaching reading and language, behavior management and the use of interactive strategies that teach positive social skills. Candidates are prepared to work with students in completing a variety of transitions, such as from special education to the general education classroom or from high school to employment and independent living.

Coursework for this concentration is available online or, for those interested in working in urban settings, as part of the Richmond Teacher Residency program. Please visit the RTR website for more information, including how to apply.

If you are already teaching in a classroom under a provisional license, you may be interested in our COVE licensure program, a series of online graduate-level courses that leads to a five-year renewable license with an endorsement in special education: general curriculum.

Degree requirements for the general education concentration »

Please keep in mind, however, that the exact course requirements may vary depending on when you matriculated into the program, so please consult your adviser or the program coordinator with any additional questions.

Severe disabilities

The severe disabilities concentration of our M.Ed. in special education prepares teachers to work with students with the most significant support needs in grades K-12 in public school settings. Courses address physical and medical management issues, functional assessment strategies, longitudinal curriculum planning, systematic instruction, augmentative and alternative communication systems, assistive technology, transition from school to adulthood, positive behavioral supports and the special needs of students with autism or physical, sensory and health-related disabilities.

Throughout the program, emphasis is placed on person-centered planning, school and community inclusion, transdisciplinary teamwork and the role of the family.

All core courses are offered through the Virginia Severe Disabilities Consortium, but are accessed through VCU. Students enrolled in the program complete a field-based externship in their school (if they currently serve students with severe disabilities) or in one of the many public schools in the Richmond area.

Six one-credit-hour externship experiences are spread throughout the course of study and are designed to meet the students’ needs for professional development.

All candidates are required to submit a final portfolio as the capstone requirement of the program. Successful completion of the 46-credit-hour program results in eligibility for Virginia endorsement in special education, adapted curriculum in addition to the Master of Education degree.

Degree requirements for the severe disabilities concentration »

Please keep in mind, however, that the exact course requirements may vary depending on when you matriculated into the program, so please consult your adviser or the program coordinator with any additional questions.


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Contact us today

Picture of Jenna Lenhardt
Jenna Lenhardt, Ph.D.
Recruitment specialist
(804) 827-2479
Email: SOEinfo@vcu.edu

Faculty coordinators

Picture of Mary Huennekens
Mary Ellen Huennekens, Ph.D.
Assistant professor and concentration coordinator, early childhood concentration
Counseling and Special Education

Picture of Chin-Chih Chen
Chin-Chih Chen, Ph.D.
Associate professor and concentration coordinator, general education concentration
Counseling and Special Education

Picture of Beth Bader
Beth Bader, Ph.D.
Associate professor and concentration coordinator, severe disabilities concentration
Counseling and Special Education