Jun 14, 2024  
2024-2025 Graduate Catalog 
2024-2025 Graduate Catalog

Special Education (M.A.)

Program Overview

The master’s in special education is intended for individuals wanting to work with special needs students. Students may select from one of two specializations. The Advanced Specialist in Disabilities specialization prepares current special education teachers with advanced knowledge and skills to meet the unique needs of each and every learner. The Multicategorical K-12 SPED specialization is a nationally accredited program that prepares students for initial teacher licensure as a special education teacher. Whether you’re already a special education teacher or are seeking to become one, this program will prepare you with the skill set to make a difference in children’s lives. 

NOTE: Students who are not currently certified special education teachers may only pursue the Multicategorical specialization. Those seeking initial teacher licensure will need to complete additional coursework and certification requirements, including the successful completion of a series of Praxis exams. 

Students pursuing initial teacher certification must: 

  1. Pass the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators test for admission to the Teacher Education Program. Students may be fully admitted to the Special Education Multicategorical  program, however, admission to Teacher Education is provisional until the content knowledge test is successfully passed. 
  2. Pass the Praxis subject-specific Content Knowledge test to be eligible to student teach. 
  3. Pass the Principles of Learning Test (PLT) for successful program completion and teacher 
  4. Students who are seeking teacher certification are encouraged to meet with an advisor in Teacher Education for clarification of requirements for initial teacher certification.

DELIVERY: On campus | Online

Master of Arts, Special Education (non-thesis): Total 30-34 credit hours

M.A. in Special Education - Advanced Specialist in Disabilities (ASD) Specialization (Non-Thesis): Total 32 credit hours

Supporting Area Coursework

Accelerated Master’s Program: B.A. or B.S./M.A.

Up to 12 credits applied toward the B.S. program may be used to satisfy graduate credit in the Special Education, M.A.-Advanced Specialist in Disabilities (ASD) specialization, M.A., (non-thesis) option. This accelerated option is available only to those currently enrolled in a USD B.A. or B.S. program.

The following restrictions apply:

  1. Dual-listed courses taken at the 500-level can be applied to both the B.A. or B.S. and M.A. degrees. Dual-listed courses must be taken at the 500-level.
  2. The student must apply to, and be admitted to, the acceleratedogram prior to taking courses to be credited toward the accelerated program.
  3. No courses taken prior to admission to the accelerated program may be counted toward an accelerated graduate degree.
  4. Courses that are “double counted” must be approved by the program coordinator for inclusion in the program of study prior to registration for the course or the credits will not be applied toward the accelerated graduate degree.
  5. Only courses taken at the student’s home institution are eligible for accelerated program credit. No transferred courses from other institutions will be allowed to count toward the accelerated master’s degree.
  6. Students admitted to the accelerated M.A. Program may be allowed to register for all courses included in his/her program of study and these credit hours may apply to both undergraduate and graduate degree requirements.

M.A. in Special Education - Multicategorical SPED K-12 (MSEK-12) Specialization (Non-Thesis): Total 30-42 credit hours

Multicategorical Specialization Endorsement in Special Education & Initial Teacher Certification

Major Area Coursework

Supporting Area Coursework (6-13 credit hours)

General Application Requirements

  1. Completed application
  2. $35 application fee
  3. Official transcripts*
  4. Letters of recommendation*
  5. Statement of purpose
  6. Resume/CV*

*Requirements for admission vary by program and may require different documentation and have different deadlines. This list is not all-inclusive, to view specific program requirements and submission deadlines, follow the “Admissions Information” hyperlink at the top of this page OR visit the specific program/dept. page found here: link.usd.edu/grad-catalog

Courses or Programs Leading to Professional Licensure or Certification

The educational curriculum for your academic program may or may not meet educational prerequisites for professional licensure or certification in states other than South Dakota. If you are planning to apply for licensure/certification in a state other than South Dakota after completion of your program, please review that state and your program on USD’s Licensure-Track Programs webpage. Licensure-Track Programs

If your learning placement course (internship, externship, clinical, rotation, practicum, independent study, study away, etc.) or your online course will be taken outside South Dakota, please reference USD’s State Authorization webpage.

State Authorization


Division of Teacher Residency and Education
605-658-6639 | tre@usd.edu | usd.edu/tre

Graduate Admissions 
605-658-6140 | gradadmissions@usd.edu  | usd.edu/grad