There are several Master’s in Special Education degree programs in West Virginia that are designed to prepare current and future teachers for working with the challenges of today’s special education environment. The institutions in the State of West Virginia offer programs at a variety of levels, from undergraduate through graduate-level programs, in addition to professional certifications and endorsement programs.
The field of special education is incredibly varied. Teachers can work with a variety of ages, from birth through adulthood. In addition, they can work in early intervention settings, elementary schools, secondary and high schools, transition programs, residential programs, private or public clinics and tutoring centers. Finally, special education teachers can work with a variety of severities, from at-risk students or those with mild disabilities, to those with profound, non-verbal or multiple disabilities. In some cases, special education services are provided to students who can access the general curriculum and just need some simple accommodations to succeed. In other cases, special education services are provided to individuals who must access an adapted curriculum and educational services are focused on self-help or basic educational skills.
The following four institutions offer several different special education programs designed to prepare future teachers to work in a variety of settings with many different types of students.
The education department at Bethany College primarily offers bachelor’s degrees in the field of education. The department offers undergraduate majors in elementary education, secondary education and a psychology and education interdisciplinary dual major. The department also offers one master’s degree: a Master of Arts in Teaching, in addition to endorsements in reading and autism/multi-categorical special education. The school currently has approximately 100 students in the undergraduate program and 10 in the graduate program, allowing for all students to receive the personal attention needed to really thrive in the program. The department emphasizes hands-on field experiences, as well as self-efficacy and being a global citizen. The department has several goals for all students in the program, including enabling career changes for professionals in fields outside of education, providing comprehensive curricular and field experiences, providing integrated, sequenced programs with a collaborative cohort, preparing future educational leaders, preparing teachers to become reflective practitioners and to enable teaching candidates to utilize the 21st century’s recognized best practices for education in order to meet state and national standards.
Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) with a Multi-categorical Special Education K-6 endorsement
Bethany College offers the MAT as the institution’s only advanced degree. This program can be completed either full time or part time, with most of the coursework occurring on weekends, in the evenings or in the summer. Some classes are also available online. The program emphasizes the integration of current technology, as well as an interdisciplinary, problem-solving curriculum and collaboration. The Multi-categorical Special Education K-6 endorsement can be added to the teaching degree, allowing the individual to work with children who have learning disabilities, behavior disorders or cognitive impairments. Students in this program are required to complete courses on exceptionalities, the special education process, assessment in special needs and behavior modification. This program is appropriate for both experienced teachers and those seeking to begin a career in the field of education after earning a bachelor’s degree in another field.
The Teacher Preparation Program at Bethany College is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).
Bethany, WV 26032
Professional Education Unit for Teacher Education in the School of Graduate Studies
The School of Graduate Studies at Concord University is relatively small, offering just four programs: Master of Education, Master of Arts in Health Promotion, Master of Arts in Teaching and Master of Social Work. The Professional Education Unit for Teacher Education, however, is dedicated to providing outstanding faculty, a supportive environment and high quality programs in order to allow professionals to advance in their education and careers. As a result, students in the program receive individualized attention, experience small class sizes and enjoy hands-on clinical or field-based experiences designed to give students advanced knowledge in their field. The program uses the Informed and Thoughtful Decision-Maker conceptual framework. This university-designed program offers a common language for faculty, students and public school professionals to use when designing programs within the university. The Professional Education Unit for Teacher Education also emphasizes collaboration, with representatives from the university collaborating with public schools, professional groups, government agencies and other educational programs in order to provide mutually beneficial information to the organizations, as well as to the students in the university’s educational programs. The university has a strong history of producing high quality educators, with a quarter of the degrees earned each year are degrees in the field of education.
M.Ed. with a specialization in Special Education Curriculum and Instruction/Pedagogy
The M.Ed. program is designed for individuals who already hold a teaching license and would like to pursue advanced studies in the field of education. Upon completion of this program, students will be qualified to earn certification in special education to be added to the initial teaching license. All participants in this program must complete a 15 hour professional education core int he areas of curriculum and instruction, educational research, integrating technology, assessment and evaluation and action research. In addition, there is a 21 hour special education curriculum with courses in the areas of legal and historical foundations of special education, reading strategies, assessment, positive behavior support, inclusive mathematics instruction and foundations of reading.
M.Ed. with an endorsement in Autism
The autism endorsement can be added to any of the M.Ed. programs: Educational Leadership and Supervision, Reading Specialist or Special Education. In order to earn this endorsement, students must complete six credit hours in two courses: Introduction to Autism Spectrum Disorders and Methods for Teaching Students with Autism. Those who already hold a multi categorical certification can substitute to special education courses for additional pedagogy courses in the areas of special education, education leadership or reading.
All of the teacher preparation programs at Concord University are accredited by the National Council of Accreditation for Teacher Education (NCATE).
Campus Box D-116
PO Box 1000
Athens, WV 24712-1000
West Virginia State University
Department of Education
The Department of Education at West Virginia State University has been preparing teachers for over 120 years. Their motto is to “prepare teachers as human developers who love to teach.” This program offers several teaching specializations, including early education, elementary education, secondary education, adolescent education, reading education and special education. In order to graduate from the program, WVSU requires all future teachers to demonstrate a firm belief that all public school students can learn. Program graduates are also required to be strong role models for public school students. West Virginia State University has a reputation of having one of the most affordable tuition rates in the state. The university currently enrolls approximately 2,600 students among the 25 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.
Bachelor of Science in Education with a specialization in Multi-categorical Special Education: K-6
This undergraduate program requires 128 hours of general education and concentration courses prior to graduation. There are 49 credit hours in the general education portion of the program. Course requirements include English, education, math, fine arts, physical sciences and history. Once these courses are complete, students may start on the courses related to their major. Students in this program are required to also complete the Elementary Education specialization requirements, including an academic capstone experience. Finally, students in this program will complete the special education block. Upon completion, students will be qualified to sit for professional examinations and earn their initial teaching license and special education endorsement. This program prepares future teachers to teach all content subjects to students with special needs in kindergarten through sixth grade.
Bachelor of Science in Education with a specialization in Multi-categorical Special Education: 5-Adult
Unlike the K-6 program, students in this program must choose one content area to specialize in: biology, chemistry, English, general science, mathematics or social studies. This program only allows the teacher to actively teach within this content area, although he or she may serve as a consultant in other content areas. Individuals completing this program may work with students from five years of age through adults in the content area chosen for the program.
West Virginia State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. West Virginia State University is also accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).
West Virginia State University
P.O. Box 1000
Institute, WV 25112-1000
West Virginia University
College of Education and Human Services: Department of Special Education
The College of Education and Human Services: Department of Special Education at West Virginia University offers extensive undergraduate, master’s level and doctoral-level programs in special education, gifted education and disability services. In addition, the department offers a Disabilities Studies Program, an interdisciplinary program offered at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. There are also several professional certification programs, including an undergraduate program in Child Development and Family Studies, a five year teacher education program, and post-baccalaureate certification programs in autism spectrum disorders, early childhood special education, gifted education, low vision/blindness, multi categorical special education and multiple/severe disabilities. Many of the programs can be completed online, either entirely online or as part of a hybrid online/campus-based program. The US News and World Report has ranked West Virginia University’s online graduate programs in the field of special education as being 26th out of over 200 programs nationwide.
Masters Degree in Special Education with Certification in Autism Grades K-6 or 5-Adult
This online program is designed for individuals who would like to work exclusively with students who have autism spectrum disorders. Teachers completing this program may work in early intervention, special education and adult habilitation services with individuals on the spectrum. This program qualifies teachers to work with all areas of the autism spectrum, from Asperger’s Syndrome and mild autism to profound autism. This is a 36 credit hour program. Program participants are required to complete courses in behavior management, technology applications, content area literacy instruction, learning characteristics of autism spectrum disorders, educational interventions for autism spectrum disorders and collaborative-consultative inclusion strategies.
Masters Degree in Special Education plus Certification in Preschool Special Needs Grades PreK-K
The Masters Degree in Special Education plus Certification in Preschool Special Needs Grades PreK-K program is designed for future teachers that would like to work with infants, toddlers, preschoolers and kindergartners. Individuals in the program also learn techniques for collaborating and working with members of the child’s family in order to provide well-rounded and family-oriented services to young children with special needs or at risk of educational failure. This 36 credit hour program can be completed entirely online, with the exception of a six credit hour supervised practicum. Participants in this program will take courses in family and professional collaboration, typical and atypical development, early learning curriculum, responsive interventions, behavior guidance and support and communication intervention. All students are required to successfully complete the Education of Exceptional Students: Preschool/Early Childhood PRAXIS examination prior to enrolling in the practicum. In addition, the department recommends taking the Early Childhood Education PRAXIS examination, although it is not required for licensure by West Virginia state law.
Master’s Degree in Special Education plus Certification in Low Vision/Blindness Grades PreK–Adult
The low vision/blindness certification is an online graduate program that prepares future teachers to work with students who have low vision or blindness, from preschool through adulthood. This program requires 36 credit hours, including a six hour practicum in the area of specialization. Students will be required to complete courses in assistive technology, behavior modification, introduction to braille, braille reading and literacy development, the Nemeth code, and basic orientation and mobility skills. Prior to enrolling in the practicum course, all program participants must complete two PRAXIS examinations, one in general education and the other in special education with visual impairments.
Masters Degree in Special Education plus Certification in Gifted Education Grades 1-12
The Masters Degree in Special Education plus Certification in Gifted Education Grades 1-12 can be completed entirely online, with the exception of the six-credit hour practicum. Program participants will be qualified to use research-based practices in acceleration and enrichment programs for those identified as being cognitively or academically gifted. This 36 hour credit program includes courses in the area of technology applications, teaching strategies, creativity in gifted children and the legal and educational foundations of special education.
Masters Degree in Special Education plus Certification in Multicategorical Special Education Grades K-6 or 5-Adult
The Masters Degree in Special Education plus Certification in Multicategorical Special Education Grades K-6 or 5-Adult is an online program with a goal to prepare future teachers to work with children and adults who have mild to moderate special needs, including specific learning disabilities and emotional or behavior disorders. The program focuses on training teachers to provide high quality educational services based on research-based practices. Program participants can choose to specialize in K-6 or 5-Adult education. Those in the K-6 program can teach in any content area, where those in the 5-Adult are required to teach only in the specific content area listed on their license. In addition, all program participants have the option to complete an additional six credit hours in the field of autism spectrum disorders in order to earn the additional autism endorsement. Examples of courses in this program include academic interventions, behavior management, collaborative-consultive inclusion strategies, mathematics for special needs and reading for special needs.
Masters Degree in Special Education plus Certification in Severe Disabilities Grades K-Adult
This online graduate program is designed to prepare teachers to work in educational and habilitation setting with children, adolescents and adults with multiple or profound disabilities. This program is a 36 credit hour program with a six credit-hour block comprised of a supervised practicum. Course topics include assistive technology, educational adaptation, family and professional collaboration, communication intervention, formal and informal assessments, instructional programming, adult programs, positive behavior supports and standards-based curriculum. Prior to the practicum, all students must complete the Principles of Learning and Teaching PRAXIS examination, in addition to the Special Education: Core Knowledge and Severe to Profound Applications PRAXIS examination.
West Virginia University is accredited by the North Central Association. In addition, the teacher training programs are accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and meet all of the professional standards of the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC).
West Virginia University
College of Education and Human Services
355 Oakland Street
P.O. Box 6122
Morgantown, WV 26506-6122
In the State of West Virginia, there are several options for pursuing undergraduate or graduate degrees in the field of special education. Special education is an in-demand field as the rate of childhood learning, behavior and emotional diagnoses are rapidly increasing. Several programs in West Virginia offer very specialized programs in autism spectrum disorders and visual disabilities, offering additional opportunities to make a difference in these underserved populations. Pursing Special Education Degree Programs in West Virginia is an important step in becoming prepared and qualified to work with students in a variety of settings who have special educational, behavioral or emotional learning needs.