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Master of Science in Special Education

Candidates in this master's degree program work toward attaining leadership positions in public and private schools and agencies in the community that provide services for individuals with disabilities. The program is aimed at developing advanced skills and knowledge of current research in special education, and demonstration of the ability to engage in reflective inquiry. The program culminates with a thesis or comprehensive exam. The program does not result in a credential to teach students with disabilities. Candidates who want to teach individuals with disabilities should refer to the Education Specialist Credential Program section. Candidates who are in the Preliminary Education Specialist Credential Program may be eligible to apply to the master's degree program the semester prior to completing coursework. Please contact your program advisor.

Visit the program website for program details (


The following are required for admission to the program:

1. Baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university, to include 24 upper-division units in 4 areas of study:

  • A. Human development:
    • EDP 301 or EDP 302 (or equivalent).
  • B. Statistics and measurement:
    • EDP 400 (or equivalent).
  • C. Individual differences:
    • EDSP 350 or EDSP 355A or EDSP 355B (or equivalent).
  • D. Special Education Assessment:
    • EDSP 564 (or equivalent).

2. Minimum 2.85 overall grade point average in last degree (not credential or certificate) earned from an accredited institution of higher education. Applicants whose overall GPA is less than 2.85 but meet the University minimum GPA requirement and who present compelling evidence of academic and professional potential either through recent academic performance and/or experiential background, may be considered for admission at the discretion of the program admission committee.

3. Special education teaching credential, or equivalent experience.

4. International applicants have additional university application requirements including meeting the English language proficiency requirement. Please visit The Center for International Education (CIE) website at for more information.


Candidates must apply separately to both the university and the program by posted deadlines. Applications should be submitted at the same time.

The application for Graduate Admission to the University is available online through CSUMentor ( One complete set of official transcripts must be submitted with the university application. This set of transcripts will be used to determine grade point average eligibility. Failure to submit transcripts in a timely manner will result in a delayed review of the application.

A separate application to the Special Education program must be submitted to the College of Education Graduate Studies Office (ED1-7). An application and directions can be downloaded at The program application does not require a set of transcripts. Prospective candidates should attend an on-campus program orientation.

Conditional Admission

Successful applicants are admitted to the program with Conditional Admission status.

Advancement to Candidacy - Clear Admission

Students should advance to candidacy as early as possible. For advancement to candidacy (Clear Admission status), students must:

1. Fulfill the campus Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR).

2. Maintain a 3.0 grade point average in all course work.

3. Resolve all incomplete grades.

4. Submit to the Graduate Studies Office an Advancement to Candidacy form signed by the program advisor.


Students must complete a minimum of 30 units of upper-division and graduate courses with a minimum of 21 units at the 500/600-level taken at this university. Degree requirements include the following courses:

1. Foundation Courses:

Take one of the following:

  • EDP 520 Quantitative Research Methods in Education (3)
    Prerequisites: For majors in MA in Educational Psychology: ED P 419 or equivalent. For other majors: ED P 400 or equivalent.
  • EDP 595 Qualitative Research Methods in Educ (3)
    Prerequisites: EDP 400 or equivalent.

Take both of the following:

  • EDSP 546 Induction in Special Education (3)
    Prerequisites: None.
  • EDSP 550 Emerging Perspectives in Special Education (3)
    Prerequisites: None.

2. Required Specialization Courses:

  • EDSP 535 Collaborative Partnerships and Effective Communication in School Settings (3)
    Prerequisites: Acceptance in Education Specialist program or Master of Science in Special Education program, development of individualized Induction Plan, or consent of instructor.
  • EDSP 525 Advocacy and the Educational Context of Disability (3)
    Prerequisite: Acceptance in the Master of Science in Special Education Program or consent of instructor.
  • EDSP 582 Research in Special Education: Assessment, Curriculum and Instruction (3)
    Prerequisites: Acceptance in the Master of Science in Special Education program or by instructor consent and EDSP 520.

3. One of the following advanced methods courses:

  • EDSP 577 Instructional Methods and Strategies for Individuals with Mild/Moderate Disabilities (3)
    Prerequistites: Full admittance to Level 1 Education Specialist Credential Program or ITEP, completion of ETEC 110 or equivalent, and EDSP 564.
  • EDSP 578 Instructional Methods and Strategies for Individuals with Moderate/Severe Disabilities (3)
    Prerequisites: Full admittance to Level 1 Education Specialist Credential Program or ITEP, and completion of ETEC 110 or equivalent, and EDSP 564.

4. One of the following pathways with advisor consultation:

  • A. Comprehensive exam: EDSP 695S, Seminar (3 units) and written comprehensive exam;
  • B. Thesis: EDP 698, Thesis (must take 6 units).

5. Take 3-6 units of electives with advisor consultation to reach the 30-unit requirement.

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