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.

Program concentrations

Early childhood

The early childhood concentration prepares individuals to work with young children, from birth through age 5, with developmental disabilities and their families. Using a hybrid of online and face-to-face formats, the program is learner-centered, innovative, interactive and collaborative. Online discussions, meetings with faculty members, community partners, student peers and program graduates provide early childhood special education teacher candidates with multiple opportunities to engage in interactive, proactive and dynamic dialogues.

Successful completion of the degree program qualifies students for teacher licensure with endorsement in early childhood special education by the Virginia Department of Education, meaning you are prepared to intervene with infants and young children representing a wide range of abilities, including those at risk for developmental delays and those at risk for severe disabilities.

As a result of our training, students will be prepared to serve children and families in diverse and high-need communities in a variety of early intervention roles.

The program can be completed in five semesters of full-time study or six semesters of part-time study. In addition to course work, candidates will create an electronic portfolio that will showcase their knowledge, skills and dispositions in the special education early childhood curriculum.

Degree requirements for the early childhood 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.

Funding may be available for highly-qualified students within this concentration. Please contact the concentration coordinator, Mary Ellen Huennekens, at (804) 828-2663 or huennekensme@vcu.edu for more information.

General education

Want to learn more about our special education, general education program? Fill out our online form to connect with us.

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.

Contact us

To learn more about our special education, general education program, connect with us via our online form.

For more information, please contact:

Mary Ellen Huennekens, Ph.D.
Concentration coordinator, early childhood concentration
Phone: (804) 828-2663
Email: huennekensme@vcu.edu

Chin-Chih Chen, Ph.D.
Concentration coordinator, general education concentration
Phone: (804) 827-1239
Email: ccchen@vcu.edu

Beth Bader, Ph.D.
Concentration coordinator, severe disabilities concentration
Phone: (804) 828-9821
Email: babader@vcu.edu