Master’s in Special Education Degree Programs in California

California is a state of extremes. Located on the west coast of the United States, it is the most populous of the states, contains both the highest and lowest elevation points, boasts the largest, tallest and oldest trees, records the most number of annual earthquakes, is the center of the American entertainment industry and is home to the largest public university system in the United States.

In addition, California’s Master Plan for Higher Education is supported by hundreds of private colleges and universities. Master of Education programs in Special Education are available at the institution noted below with emphasis on Mild/Moderate Disabilities and Deaf/Hard of Hearing specializations.

Note: Those interested in distance learning programs should consult our recommendations for Online Master’s in Special Education.

Purdue University’s online MSEd in Special Education offers separate tracks for initial teacher licensure, and for licensed teachers looking to add advanced endorsements.

The online MSEd in Special Education from Saint Joseph’s University online MSEd in Special Education from Saint Joseph’s University offers concentrations in ASD, Hearing Impairment and the Wilson Reading System®.

Mount Saint Mary’s University

Mount Saint Mary’s University offers two primary master’s-level paths to a career in special education in California’s school systems: an MS in Special Education in Mild and Moderate Disabilities, and a highly specialized MS designed for Education Specialists working with pre-K students with hearing loss. Both programs are backed by the reputation that comes with a decades-long track record for producing graduates who go on to become skilled and dedicated educators in California school systems and beyond.

Master of Science in Education – Education Specialist Program in Mild to Moderate Disabilities

The Education Specialist Program in Mild to Moderate Disabilities at Mount Saint Mary’s comes with the California Education Specialist Credential Program built-in, including all the curriculum components and practical experiences you’ll need for a Preliminary Special Education Credential in Mild to Moderate Disabilities.

The 46-unit master’s program covers prerequisites and preliminary professional courses including:

  • Teaching English Learners
  • Child and Adolescent Development & Learning
  • Responsive Teaching for All Learners
  • Diversity & Schools
  • Elementary Instruction

While the program’s specialist courses consist of:

  • Assessment of Students with Special Needs
  • Positive Behavior Supports for Students and Special Needs
  • Supporting Students with Neurological Disorders

Contact Information

Doheny Campus
10 Chester Place
Los Angeles, CA 90007
Phone: 213.477.2800
Email: [email protected]

Master of Science in Education: Emphasis in Education Specialist Deaf and Hard of Hearing; Deaf Education

Master of Science in Education with Preliminary California Teaching Credential as an Education Specialist: Deaf and Hard of Hearing

Mount Saint Mary’s University, in partnership with the John Tracy Center, offers two highly specialized master’s programs that focus specifically on the needs of students with hearing impairments: a Master of Science in Deaf Education, and a Master of Science track with a Preliminary California teaching credential designed to prepare graduates to work with children who are deaf and hard-of-hearing. With a curriculum built to align with California Standards for the Teaching Profession, you’ll get the exact curriculum components you need to become licensed to teach in California classrooms and all the immersive field experiences you need to confidently transition into this important and highly specialized role. With assistive and augmentative technology front and center, mentoring, and guidance through diverse field experiences, graduates are well prepared to teach independently and contribute their part to helping children with hearing loss live fuller lives through effective communication.

With a focus on Listening and Spoken Language at the ECE level, to include students from birth to 22 months, the master’s consists of 3 semesters, while the master’s and credential program consists of 5, and both come with the same notable benefits:

  • Track record of 100% employment rate among graduates
  • Coursework and experiential learning take place at the esteemed John Tracy Center
  • Diverse practicums include parent-infant sessions, listening and spoken language therapy sessions, teletherapy sessions, parent education and support groups and more

Contact Information

Main JTC Reception
Tel: (213) 748-5481
Fax: (213) 749-1651
Email: [email protected]

Los Angeles Office
2160 West Adams Bl.
Los Angeles, CA 90018
Phone: (213) 748-5481

Long Beach Office
740 E Wardlow Rd.
Long Beach, CA 90807
Phone: (562) 426-2257


Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)
California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC)


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University of San Diego, CA
School of Leadership and Education Sciences (SOLES)

The University of San Diego School of Leadership and Education Sciences offers a Master of Arts (MA), Master of Education (MEd) and Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) to provide the skills needed for a career in education. Graduate studies include coursework, fieldwork and laboratory practice. Master’s degree programs include Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction, Master of Education in TESOL – Literacy and Culture, Master of Special Education, emphasis on Mild/Moderate Disabilities (K-12), and Master of Arts in Teaching – History/Social Science. Master of Education exclusive online programs are also available in the areas of Curriculum Instruction, Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM), 21st Century Literacy, and Universal Design for Learning and Inclusive Education.

Master of Special Education, emphasis on Mild/Moderate Disabilities (K-12) (MEd)

The Special Education graduate program prepares the student for a career as a teacher with emphasis on mild and moderate disabilities – ages K-12. This course of study addresses the needs of children exhibiting characteristics associated with mild to moderate retardation, autism spectrum disorder, traumatic brain injuries, learning disabilities and other health concerns. Instruction includes intervention techniques and analysis for improved life skill methodology.

This master’s degree requires 30 credits for completion and projected student competencies include:

• Assessment identification and transition
• Positive behavior and instruction
• Assistive technology
• Inclusion practices for mild/moderate disabilities
• Field-based assessment
• Leadership and management skills

A semester of fieldwork as a full-time student teacher in a inclusion classroom is also necessary for final credential authorization. The Master of Special Education degree program is nationally recognized by the Council for Exceptional Children.

Contact Information

Loma Hall 339
5998 Alcala Park
San Diego, CA 92110
(619) 260-4600


California Commission on Teacher Credentialing
National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).
The Council for Exceptional Children

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