Jul 20, 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

Distance Program Leading to Professional Licensure

Location Matters. This program is designed to meet the educational requirements for a professional license or certification and allows students to enroll in at least one course through distance education during the first semester. Pursuant to Federal Regulations, the program may only admit students who are located in states where the program meets the educational requirements for professional licensure or who attest in writing that they intend to seek licensure or employment in a state where the program meets those requirements. As part of your application to this program, you will be asked to provide additional information regarding your location to assist the program in determining your eligibility for admission. 

If you have questions regarding licensure, we encourage you to contact a program representative prior to submitting your admission application, as the application fee is non-refundable. For more information, visit USD’s Licensure-Track Programs page for links to the USD program websites and state licensure board websites. 

Additionally, this program is authorized to offer supervised field study experiences (internship, externship, clinical, rotation, practicum, independent study, study away, etc.) in South Dakota. Please be aware that there may be some restrictions on your ability to engage in supervised field study outside of South Dakota. If you have questions regarding supervised field study, please contact a program representative. 

Distance education courses or programs will not be offered outside of the United States without prior written approval from the University, which may be withheld for any reason. If you are taking distance courses while physically located outsides of the United States, it is your responsibility to confirm the following: (a) if the country will recognize an online degree; (b) whether the program meets licensure or certification requirements in the country including the availability of supervised field study opportunities in the country; and (c) if the country charges any additional taxes, withholdings or fees associated with online distance education programs.


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