Students enrolled in our graduate level special education programs experience a combination of content knowledge as well as practical application through in-class practice coupled with numerous field experiences. Depending on the program of study, graduate students also apply content knowledge, skills and dispositions while:
- Student teaching in the public schools
- Completing internships with supervisors of special education in school districts
- Serving in other educational settings or through internships and practicums in public schools or in related service environments.
- General admission requirements of the School of Graduate Studies and the Special Education Program:
a) A one‐page letter of intent stating professional background, experience, and rationale for wanting to be admitted to the department
b) Two letters of recommendation
c) A resume
d) An interview with the chair or graduate advisor
e) A copy of a valid PA teaching certificate, if applicable
f) An official transcript(s)
g) An undergraduate cumulative QPA of 3.0. If average is below a 3.0, the student may be admitted as provisional. This may be eliminated after completion of 6 semester hours in which a QPA of 3.0 or better is earned. No Cs may be earned during a probationary period.
- All graduate students must satisfy the following requirements* of the Special Education Program prior to enrolling in courses. These documents must be submitted to the Office of the Department of Exceptionality Programs.
• Documentation of valid Act 34 (Criminal Record), Act 114 (Federal Criminal History) and Act 151 (Child Abuse) clearances. Clearances are valid for one year from the date of issuance (see Graduate Resources).
• Possession and documentation of a professional liability insurance policy is required. Three available sources to university students include, but are not limited to: a) CEC; b) PSEA; c) own personal policy.
• Documentation of TB screening results.
- Students must satisfy the following requirements prior to completing 24 credits of coursework:
• Completion of the 10‐Day or 5-Day Field Experience, or documentation of valid field experiences (required for teacher certification (Special Education PK-4; ECE, Special Education PK-8, or Special Education 7-12 programs of study only).
• Submission of completed packet to graduate advisor which includes documentation of field experience ( if applicable) and copies of all up-to-date clearances, TB results and liability insurance. Advisor will review the packet, and make a recommendation to the chairperson regarding admission to the program.
* All graduate students must have documentation of current clearances, professional liability insurance policy, and TB screening on file in the Department of Exceptionality Programs prior to enrolling in any education course that requires a field experience. For courses that assign field experiences there is a deduction of points for noncompliance related to the documentation of up-to-date clearances, TB results and liability insurance policy. These documents must be on file in the Department of Exceptionality Programs Office.
Maintenance of a QPA of 3.0 as required for retention in the program. A maximum of two Cs is permissible. A "C minus" is not acceptable. If a C is earned in a practicum course, it must be repeated with a grade of a B or better within a time frame determined by the area of concentration.
- Maintenance and documentation of Act 34 (Criminal Record), Act 114 (Federal Criminal History), and Act 151 (Child Abuse) clearances
- Maintenance and documentation of professional liability insurance and TB screening
- Demonstration of satisfactory performance as outlined in the program of study and consistent with the Professional Competencies listed in PDE 354.33 and PDE Specific Program Guidelines
- Continuation of field and clinical experiences as outlined in the curriculum and/or program of study including hours completed in diverse settings and with diverse populations
For detailed description and additional requirements, see applicable Program of Study Packet (Initial or Advanced Programs) and/or Policy 3810 for the Initial Certification Program or the College of Education Policy 3.1 for all Advanced Programs (with or without certification).
All graduate students must have documentation of current clearances, professional liability insurance, and TB screening on file in the Department of Exceptionality Programs prior to enrolling in any education course that requires a field experience.
Exit Procedures for Special Education Graduate Program
- A cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or better.
- Completion of all other requirements as identified in Policy 3810 and College of Education Policy 3.1 and the Initial Teacher Certification Graduate Program and the Advanced Teacher Certification Graduate Program Packets.
The following Exit criteria apply to students enrolled in the Initial Teacher Certification Graduate Program:
- Demonstration of competency in Student Teaching as described by PDE 354 Standards and supported by:
- Written evaluations by cooperating teachers
- Written evaluations by university supervisors
- Grades of "C" or better (C minus does not meet this criterion)
- In order to receive Pennsylvania Department of Education Instructional Level I certification*, candidates must successfully complete the following Pennsylvania Educators Certification Tests (PECT):
- Special Education PK-8 (Modules 1 & 2)
- Grades PK-4: Core and Professional Knowledge (Modules 1, 2 & 3)
If you plan on teaching in a state other than Pennsylvania, make sure you are aware of the state's certification test requirements. It's suggested you complete certification in Pennsylvania first. Reciprocal agreements exist with many other states. If you do not have the initial certificate there exists no agreement.
Advanced Certification Graduate Program: If you are currently certified in education, your culminating course will be the practicum. Depending on which advanced certification* you are seeking, you will only need to take the PECT Special Education PK-8 (Modules 1 & 2) or the PECT Special Education 7-12 (Modules 1 & 2).
* Note: Achieving the Master of Education is separate from teacher certification.